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´╗┐Title: The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Volume 1
Author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Volume 1" ***

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[Illustration: Bookcover]

[Illustration: Spine


By Walter Scott






[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Illustration: Titlepage_1]

[Illustration: First Poem]


               Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots,
               Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's,
               If there's a hole in a' your coats,
                                   I rede ye tent it;
               A chiel's amang you takin' notes,
                                   An' faith he'll prent it!


SCOTT began to work on "The Heart of Mid-Lothian" almost before he had
completed "Rob Roy." On Nov. 10, 1817, he writes to Archibald Constable
announcing that the negotiations for the sale of the story to Messrs.
Longman have fallen through, their firm declining to relieve the
Ballantynes of their worthless "stock." "So you have the staff in your
own hands, and, as you are on the spot, can manage it your own way.
Depend on it that, barring unforeseen illness or death, these will be the
best volumes which have appeared. I pique myself on the first tale, which
is called 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian.'" Sir Walter had thought of adding a
romance, "The Regalia," on the Scotch royal insignia, which had been
rediscovered in the Castle of Edinburgh. This story he never wrote. Mr.
Cadell was greatly pleased at ousting the Longmans--"they have themselves
to blame for the want of the Tales, and may grumble as they choose: we
have Taggy by the tail, and, if we have influence to keep the best author
of the day, we ought to do it."--[Archibald Constable, iii. 104.]

Though contemplated and arranged for, "The Heart of Mid-Lothian" was not
actually taken in hand till shortly after Jan. 15, 1818, when Cadell
writes that the tracts and pamphlets on the affair of Porteous are to be
collected for Scott. "The author was in great glee . . . he says that he
feels very strong with what he has now in hand." But there was much
anxiety concerning Scott's health. "I do not at all like this illness of
Scott's," said James Ballantyne to Hogg. "I have eften seen him look
jaded of late, and am afraid it is serious." "Hand your tongue, or I'll
gar you measure your length on the pavement," replied Hogg. "You fause,
down-hearted loon, that ye are, you daur to speak as if Scott were on his
death-bed! It cannot be, it must not be! I will not suffer you to speak
that gait." Scott himself complains to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe of
"these damned spasms. The merchant Abudah's hag was a henwife to them
when they give me a real night of it."

"The Heart of Mid-Lothian," in spite of the author's malady, was
published in June 1818. As to its reception, and the criticism which it
received, Lockhart has left nothing to be gleaned. Contrary to his
custom, he has published, but without the writer's name, a letter from
Lady Louisa Stuart, which really exhausts what criticism can find to say
about the new novel. "I have not only read it myself," says Lady Louisa,
"but am in a house where everybody is tearing it out of each other's
hands, and talking of nothing else." She preferred it to all but
"Waverley," and congratulates him on having made "the perfectly good
character the most interesting. . . . Had this very story been conducted
by a common hand, Effie would have attracted all our concern and
sympathy, Jeanie only cold approbation. Whereas Jeanie, without youth,
beauty, genius, warns passions, or any other novel-perfection, is here
our object from beginning to end." Lady Louisa, with her usual frankness,
finds the Edinburgh lawyers tedious, in the introduction, and thinks that
Mr. Saddletree "will not entertain English readers." The conclusion
"flags"; "but the chief fault I have to find relates to the reappearance
and shocking fate of the boy. I hear on all sides 'Oh, I do not like
that!' I cannot say what I would have had instead, but I do not like it
either; it is a lame, huddled conclusion. I know you so well in it,
by-the-by! You grow tired yourself, want to get rid of the story, and
hardly care how." Lady Lousia adds that Sir George Staunton would never
have hazarded himself in the streets of Edinburgh. "The end of poor Madge
Wildfire is most pathetic. The meeting at Muschat's Cairn tremendous.
Dumbiedikes and Rory Beau are delightful. . . . I dare swear many of your
readers never heard of the Duke of Argyle before." She ends: "If I had
known nothing, and the whole world had told me the contrary, I should
have found you out in that one parenthesis, 'for the man was mortal, and
had been a schoolmaster.'"

Lady Louisa omits a character who was probably as essential to Scott's
scheme as any--Douce Davie Deans, the old Cameronian. He had almost been
annoyed by the criticism of his Covenanters in "Old Mortality," "the
heavy artillery out of the Christian Instructor or some such obscure
field work," and was determined to "tickle off" another. There are signs
of a war between literary Cavaliers and literary Covenanters at this
time, after the discharge of Dr. McCrie's "heavy artillery." Charles
Kirkpatrick Sharpe was presented by Surtees of Mainsforth with a
manuscript of Kirkton's unprinted "History of the Church of Scotland."
This he set forth to edite, with the determination not to "let the Whig
dogs have the best of it." Every Covenanting scandal and absurdity, such
as the old story of Mess David Williamson--"Dainty Davie"--and his
remarkable prowess, and presence of mind at Cherrytrees, was raked up,
and inserted in notes to Kirkton. Scott was Sharpe's ally in this
enterprise. "I had in the persons of my forbears a full share, you see,
of religious persecution . . . for all my greatgrandfathers were under
the ban, and I think there were hardly two of them out of jail at once."
"I think it would be most scandalous to let the godly carry it oft thus."
"It" seems to have been the editing of Kirkton. "It is very odd the
volume of Wodrow, containing the memoir of Russell concerning the murder,
is positively vanished from the library" (the Advocates' Library).
"Neither book nor receipt is to be found: surely they have stolen it in
the fear of the Lord." The truth seems to have been that Cavaliers and
Covenanters were racing for the manuscripts wherein they found smooth
stones of the brook to pelt their opponents withal. Soon after Scott
writes: "It was not without exertion and trouble that I this day detected
Russell's manuscript (the account of the murder of Sharpe by one of the
murderers), also Kirkton and one or two others, which Mr. McCrie had
removed from their place in the library and deposited in a snug and
secret corner." The Covenanters had made a raid on the ammunition of the
Cavaliers. "I have given," adds Sir Walter, "an infernal row on the
subject of hiding books in this manner." Sharpe replies that the
"villainous biographer of John Knox" (Dr. McCrie), "that canting rogue,"
is about to edite Kirkton. Sharpe therefore advertised his own edition at
once, and edited Kirkton by forced marches as it were. Scott reviewed the
book in the Quarterly (Jan. 1818). He remarked that Sharpe "had not
escaped the censure of these industrious literary gentlemen of opposite
principles, who have suffered a work always relied upon as one of their
chief authorities to lie dormant for a hundred and forty years." Their
"querulous outcries" (probably from the field-work of the Christian
Instructor) he disregards. Among the passions of this literary "bicker,"
which Scott allowed to amuse him, was Davie Deans conceived. Scott was
not going to be driven by querulous outcries off the Covenanting field,
where he erected another trophy. This time he was more friendly to the
"True Blue Presbyterians." His Scotch patriotism was one of his most
earnest feelings, the Covenanters, at worst, were essentially Scotch, and
he introduced a new Cameronian, with all the sterling honesty, the
Puritanism, the impracticable ideas of the Covenant, in contact with
changed times, and compelled to compromise.

He possessed a curious pamphlet, Haldane's "Active Testimony of the true
blue Presbyterians" (12mo, 1749). It is a most impartial work,
"containing a declaration and testimony against the late unjust invasion
of Scotland by Charles, Pretended Prince of Wales, and William, Pretended
Duke of Cumberland." Everything and everybody not Covenanted, the House
of Stuart, the House of Brunswick, the House of Hapsburg, Papists,
Prelatists and Turks, are cursed up hill and down dale, by these worthy
survivors of the Auld Leaven. Everybody except the authors, Haldane and
Leslie, "has broken the everlasting Covenant." The very Confession of
Westminster is arraigned for its laxity. "The whole Civil and Judicial
Law of God," as given to the Jews (except the ritual, polygamy, divorce,
slavery, and so forth), is to be maintained in the law of Scotland.
Sins are acknowledged, and since the Covenant every political
step--Cromwell's Protectorate, the Restoration, the Revolution, the
accession of the "Dukes of Hanover"--has been a sin. A Court of Elders
is to be established to put in execution the Law of Moses. All offenders
against the Kirk are to be "capitally punished." Stage plays are to be
suppressed by the successors of the famous convention at Lanark, Anno
1682. Toleration of all religions is "sinful," and "contrary to the word
of God." Charles Edward and the Duke of Cumberland are cursed. "Also we
reckon it a great vice in Charles, his foolish Pity and Lenity, in
sparing these profane, blasphemous Redcoats, that Providence delivered
into his hand, when, by putting them to death, this poor land might have
been eased of the heavy burden of these vermin of Hell." The Auld Leaven
swore terribly in Scotland. The atrocious cruelties of Cumberland after
Culloden are stated with much frankness and power. The German soldiers
are said to have carried off "a vast deal of Spoil and Plunder into
Germany," and the Redcoats had Plays and Diversions (cricket, probably)
on the Inch of Perth, on a Sabbath. "The Hellish, Pagan, Juggler plays
are set up and frequented with more impudence and audacity than ever."
Only the Jews, "our elder Brethren," are exempted from the curses of
Haldane and Leslie, who promise to recover for them the Holy Land. "The
Massacre in Edinburgh" in 1736, by wicked Porteous, calls for vengeance
upon the authors and abettors thereof. The army and navy are "the most
wicked and flagitious in the Universe." In fact, the True Blue Testimony
is very active indeed, and could be delivered, thanks to hellish
Toleration, with perfect safety, by Leslie and Haldane. The candour of
their eloquence assuredly proves that Davie Deans is not overdrawn;
indeed, he is much less truculent than those who actually were
testifying even after his decease.

In "The Heart of Mid-Lothian" Scott set himself to draw his own people at
their best. He had a heroine to his hand in Helen Walker, "a character so
distinguished for her undaunted love of virtue," who, unlike Jeanie
Deans, "lived and died in poverty, if not want." In 1831 he erected a
pillar over her grave in the old Covenanting stronghold of Irongray. The
inscription ends--

                   Respect the Grave of Poverty,
                   When combined with Love of Truth
                          And Dear Affection.

The sweetness, the courage, the spirit, the integrity of Jeanie Deans
have made her, of all Scott's characters, the dearest to her countrymen,
and the name of Jeanie was given to many children, in pious memory of the
blameless heroine. The foil to her, in the person of Effie, is not less
admirable. Among Scott's qualities was one rare among modern authors: he
had an affectionate toleration for his characters. If we compare Effie
with Hetty in "Adam Bede," this charming and genial quality of Scott's
becomes especially striking. Hetty and Dinah are in very much the same
situation and condition as Effie and Jeanie Deans. But Hetty is a
frivolous little animal, in whom vanity and silliness do duty for
passion: she has no heart: she is only a butterfly broken on the wheel of
the world. Doubtless there are such women in plenty, yet we feel that her
creator persecutes her, and has a kind of spite against her. This was
impossible to Scott. Effie has heart, sincerity, passion, loyalty,
despite her flightiness, and her readiness, when her chance comes, to
play the fine lady. It was distasteful to Scott to create a character not
human and sympathetic on one side or another. Thus his robber "of milder
mood," on Jeanie's journey to England, is comparatively a good fellow,
and the scoundrel Ratcliffe is not a scoundrel utterly. "'To make a Lang
tale short, I canna undertake the job. It gangs against my conscience.'
'Your conscience, Rat?' said Sharpitlaw, with a sneer, which the reader
will probably think very natural upon the occasion. 'Ou ay, sir,'
answered Ratcliffe, calmly, 'just my conscience; a body has a conscience,
though it may be ill wunnin at it. I think mine's as weel out o' the gate
as maist folk's are; and yet it's just like the noop of my elbow, it
whiles gets a bit dirl on a corner.'" Scott insists on leaving his worst
people in possession of something likeable, just as he cannot dismiss
even Captain Craigengelt without assuring us that Bucklaw made a
provision for his necessities. This is certainly a more humane way of
writing fiction than that to which we are accustomed in an age of
humanitarianism. Nor does Scott's art suffer from his kindliness, and
Effie in prison, with a heart to be broken, is not less pathetic than the
heartless Hetty, in the same condemnation.

As to her lover, Robertson, or Sir George Staunton, he certainly verges
on the melodramatic. Perhaps we know too much about the real George
Robertson, who was no heir to a title in disguise, but merely a "stabler
in Bristol" accused "at the instance of Duncan Forbes, Esq. of Culloden,
his Majesty's advocate, for the crimes of Stouthrieff, Housebreaking, and
Robbery." Robertson "kept an inn in Bristo, at Edinburgh, where the
Newcastle carrier commonly did put up," and is believed to have been a
married man. It is not very clear that the novel gains much by the
elevation of the Bristo innkeeper to a baronetcy, except in so far as
Effie's appearance in the character of a great lady is entertaining and
characteristic, and Jeanie's conquest of her own envy is exemplary. The
change in social rank calls for the tragic conclusion, about which almost
every reader agrees with the criticism of Lady Louisa Stuart and her
friends. Thus the novel "filled more pages" than Mr. Jedediah
Cleishbotham had "opined," and hence comes a languor which does not beset
the story of "Old Mortality." Scott's own love of adventure and of
stirring incidents at any cost is an excellent quality in a novelist, but
it does, in this instance, cause him somewhat to dilute those immortal
studies of Scotch character which are the strength of his genius.
The reader feels a lack of reality in the conclusion, the fatal encounter
of the father and the lost son, an incident as old as the legend of
Odysseus. But this is more than atoned for by the admirable part of Madge
Wildfire, flitting like a _feu follet_ up and down among the douce
Scotch, and the dour rioters. Madge Wildfire is no repetition of Meg
Merrilies, though both are unrestrained natural things, rebels against
the settled life, musical voices out of the past, singing forgotten songs
of nameless minstrels. Nowhere but in Shakspeare can we find such a
distraught woman as Madge Wildfire, so near akin to nature and to the
moods of "the bonny lady Moon." Only he who created Ophelia could have
conceived or rivalled the scene where Madge accompanies the hunters of
Staunton on the moonlit hill and sings her warnings to the fugitive.

                When the glede's in the blue cloud,
                      The lavrock lies still;
                When the hound's in the green-wood,
                      The hind keeps the hill.
                There's a bloodhound ranging Tinwald wood,
                      There's harness glancing sheen;
                There's a maiden sits on Tinwald brae,
                      And she sings loud between.
                O sleep ye sound, Sir James, she said,
                      When ye suld rise and ride?
                There's twenty men, wi' bow and blade,
                       Are seeking where ye hide.

The madness of Madge Wildfire has its parallel in the wildness of
Goethe's Marguerite, both of them lamenting the lost child, which, to
Madge's fancy, is now dead, now living in a dream. But the gloom that
hangs about Muschat's Cairn, the ghastly vision of "crying up Ailie
Muschat, and she and I will hae a grand bouking-washing, and bleach our
claise in the beams of the bonny Lady Moon," have a terror beyond the
German, and are unexcelled by Webster or by Ford. "But the moon, and the
dew, and the night-wind, they are just like a caller kail-blade laid on
my brow; and whiles I think the moon just shines on purpose to pleasure
me, when naebody sees her but mysell." Scott did not deal much in the
facile pathos of the death-bed, but that of Madge Wildfire has a grace of
poetry, and her latest song is the sweetest and wildest of his lyrics,
the most appropriate in its setting. When we think of the contrasts to
her--the honest, dull good-nature of Dumbiedikes; the common-sense and
humour of Mrs. Saddletree; the pragmatic pedantry of her husband;
the Highland pride, courage, and absurdity of the Captain of
Knockdander--when we consider all these so various and perfect
creations, we need not wonder that Scott was "in high glee" over "The
Heart of Mid-Lothian," "felt himself very strong," and thought that
these would be "the best volumes that have appeared." The difficulty, as
usual, is to understand how, in all this strength, he permitted himself
to be so careless over what is really by far the easiest part of the
novelist's task--the construction. But so it was; about "The Monastery"
he said, "it was written with as much care as the rest, that is, with no
care at all." His genius flowed free in its own unconscious abundance:
where conscious deliberate workmanship was needed, "the forthright
craftsman's hand," there alone he was lax and irresponsible. In
Shakspeare's case we can often account for similar incongruities by the
constraint of the old plot which he was using; but Scott was making his
own plots, or letting them make themselves. "I never could lay down a
plan, or, having laid it down, I never could adhere to it; the action of
composition always diluted some passages and abridged or omitted others;
and personages were rendered important or insignificant, not according
to their agency in the original conception of the plan, but according to
the success or otherwise with which I was able to bring them out. I only
tried to make that which I was actually writing diverting and
interesting, leaving the rest to fate. . . When I chain my mind to ideas
which are purely imaginative--for argument is a different thing--it
seems to me that the sun leaves the landscape, that I think away the
whole vivacity and spirit of my original conception, and that the
results are cold, tame, and spiritless."

In fact, Sir Walter was like the Magician who can raise spirits that,
once raised, dominate him. Probably this must ever be the case, when an
author's characters are not puppets but real creations. They then have a
will and a way of their own; a free-will which their creator cannot
predetermine and correct. Something like this appears to have been
Scott's own theory of his lack of constructive power. No one was so
assured of its absence, no one criticised it more severely than he did
himself. The Edinburgh Review about this time counselled the "Author of
Waverley" to attempt a drama, doubting only his powers of compression.
Possibly work at a drama might have been of advantage to the genius of
Scott. He was unskilled in selection and rejection, which the drama
especially demands. But he detested the idea of writing for actors, whom
he regarded as ignorant, dull, and conceited. "I shall not fine and renew
a lease of popularity upon the theatre. To write for low, ill-informed,
and conceited actors, whom you must please, for your success is
necessarily at their mercy, I cannot away with," he wrote to Southey.
"Avowedly, I will never write for the stage; if I do, 'call me horse,'"
he remarks to Terry. He wanted "neither the profit nor the shame of it."
"I do not think that the character of the audience in London is such that
one could have the least pleasure in pleasing them." He liked helping
Terry to "Terryfy" "The Heart of Mid-Lothian," and his other novels, but
he had no more desire than a senator of Rome would have had to see his
name become famous by the Theatre. This confirmed repulsion in one so
learned in the dramatic poets is a curious trait in Scott's character.
He could not accommodate his genius to the needs of the stage, and that
crown which has most potently allured most men of genius he would have
thrust away, had it been offered to him, with none of Caesar's
reluctance. At the bottom of all this lay probably the secret conviction
that his genius was his master, that it must take him where it would, on
paths where he was compelled to follow. Terse and concentrated, of set
purpose, he could not be. A notable instance of this inability occurs in
the Introductory Chapter to "The Heart of Mid-Lothian," which has
probably frightened away many modern readers. The Advocate and the Writer
to the Signet and the poor Client are persons quite uncalled for, and
their little adventure at Gandercleugh is unreal. Oddly enough, part of
their conversation is absolutely in the manner of Dickens.

"'I think,' said I, . . . 'the metropolitan county may, in that case, be
said to have a sad heart.'

"'Right as my glove, Mr. Pattieson,' added Mr. Hardie; 'and a close
heart, and a hard heart--Keep it up, Jack.'

"'And a wicked heart, and a poor heart,' answered Halkit, doing his best.

"'And yet it may be called in some sort a strong heart, and a high
heart,' rejoined the advocate. 'You see I can put you both out of

Fortunately we have no more of this easy writing, which makes such very
melancholy reading.

The narrative of the Porteous mob, as given by the novelist, is not, it
seems, entirely accurate. Like most artists, Sir Walter took the liberty
of "composing" his picture. In his "Illustrations of the Author of
Waverley" (1825) Mr. Robert Chambers records the changes in facts made by
Scott. In the first place, Wilson did not attack his guard, and enable
Robertson to escape, after the sermon, but as soon as the criminals took
their seats in the pew. When fleeing out, Robertson tripped over "the
plate," set on a stand to receive alms and oblations, whereby he hurt
himself, and was seen to stagger and fall in running down the stairs
leading to the Cowgate. Mr. McQueen, Minister of the New Kirk, was coming
up the stairs. He conceived it to be his duty to set Robertson on his
feet again, "and covered his retreat as much as possible from the pursuit
of the guard." Robertson ran up the Horse Wynd, out at Potter Row Port,
got into the King's Park, and headed for the village of Duddingston,
beside the loch on the south-east of Arthur's Seat. He fainted after
jumping a dyke, but was picked up and given some refreshment. He lay in
hiding till he could escape to Holland.

The conspiracy to hang Porteous did not, in fact, develop in a few hours,
after his failure to appear on the scaffold. The Queen's pardon (or a
reprieve) reached Edinburgh on Thursday, Sept. 2; the Riot occurred on
the night of Sept. 7. The council had been informed that lynching was
intended, thirty-six hours before the fatal evening, but pronounced the
reports to be "caddies' clatters." Their negligence, of course, must have
increased the indignation of the Queen. The riot, according to a very old
man, consulted by Mr. Chambers, was headed by two butchers, named
Cumming, "tall, strong, and exceedingly handsome men, who dressed in
women's clothes as a disguise." The rope was tossed out of a window in a
"small wares shop" by a woman, who received a piece of gold in exchange.
This extravagance is one of the very few points which suggest that people
of some wealth may have been concerned in the affair. Tradition,
according to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, believed in noble leaders of the
riot. It is certain that several witnesses of good birth and position
testified very strongly against Porteous, at his trial.

According to Hogg, Scott's "fame was now so firmly established that he
cared not a fig for the opinion of his literary friends beforehand." He
was pleased, however, by the notice of "Ivanhoe," "The Heart of
Mid-Lothian," and "The Bride of Lammermoor" in the Edinburgh Review of
1820, as he showed by quoting part of its remarks. The Reviewer frankly
observed "that, when we began with one of these works, we were conscious
that we never knew how to leave off. The Porteous mob is rather heavily
described, and the whole part of George Robertson, or Staunton, is
extravagant and displeasing. The final catastrophe is needlessly
improbable and startling." The critic felt that he must be critical, but
his praise of Effie and Jeanie Deans obviously comes from his heart.
Jeanie's character "is superior to anything we can recollect in the
history of invention . . . a remarkable triumph over the greatest of all
difficulties in the conduct of a fictitious narrative." The critique
ends with "an earnest wish that the Author would try his hand in the
lore of Shakspeare"; but, wiser than the woers of Penelope, Scott
refused to make that perilous adventure.
                                             ANDREW LANG.

An essay by Mr. George Ormond, based on manuscripts in the Edinburgh
Record office (Scottish Review, July, 1892), adds little to what is known
about the Porteous Riot. It is said that Porteous was let down alive, and
hanged again, more than once, that his arm was broken by a Lochaber axe,
and that a torch was applied to the foot from which the shoe had fallen.
A pamphlet of 1787 says that Robertson became a spy on smugglers in
Holland, returned to London, procured a pardon through the Butcher
Cumberland, and "at last died in misery in London." It is plain that
Colonel Moyle might have rescued Porteous, but he was naturally cautious
about entering the city gates without a written warrant from the civil

                        TO THE BEST OF PATRONS,

                          JEDEDIAH CLEISHBOTHAM

Courteous Reader,

If ingratitude comprehendeth every vice, surely so foul a stain worst of
all beseemeth him whose life has been devoted to instructing youth in
virtue and in humane letters. Therefore have I chosen, in this
prolegomenon, to unload my burden of thanks at thy feet, for the favour
with which thou last kindly entertained the Tales of my Landlord. Certes,
if thou hast chuckled over their factious and festivous descriptions, or
hadst thy mind filled with pleasure at the strange and pleasant turns of
fortune which they record, verily, I have also simpered when I beheld a
second storey with attics, that has arisen on the basis of my small
domicile at Gandercleugh, the walls having been aforehand pronounced by
Deacon Barrow to be capable of enduring such an elevation. Nor has it
been without delectation that I have endued a new coat (snuff-brown, and
with metal buttons), having all nether garments corresponding thereto. We
do therefore lie, in respect of each other, under a reciprocation of
benefits, whereof those received by me being the most solid (in respect
that a new house and a new coat are better than a new tale and an old
song), it is meet that my gratitude should be expressed with the louder
voice and more preponderating vehemence. And how should it be so
expressed?--Certainly not in words only, but in act and deed. It is with
this sole purpose, and disclaiming all intention of purchasing that
pendicle or poffle of land called the Carlinescroft, lying adjacent to my
garden, and measuring seven acres, three roods, and four perches, that I
have committed to the eyes of those who thought well of the former tomes,
these four additional volumes of the Tales of my Landlord. Not the less,
if Peter Prayfort be minded to sell the said poffle, it is at his own
choice to say so; and, peradventure, he may meet with a purchaser: unless
(gentle reader) the pleasing pourtraictures of Peter Pattieson, now given
unto thee in particular, and unto the public in general, shall have lost
their favour in thine eyes, whereof I am no way distrustful. And so much
confidence do I repose in thy continued favour, that, should thy lawful
occasions call thee to the town of Gandercleugh, a place frequented by
most at one time or other in their lives, I will enrich thine eyes with a
sight of those precious manuscripts whence thou hast derived so much
delectation, thy nose with a snuff from my mull, and thy palate with a
dram from my bottle of strong waters, called by the learned of
Gandercleugh, the Dominie's Dribble o' Drink.

It is there, O highly esteemed and beloved reader, thou wilt be able to
bear testimony, through the medium of thine own senses, against the
children of vanity, who have sought to identify thy friend and servant
with I know not what inditer of vain fables; who hath cumbered the world
with his devices, but shrunken from the responsibility thereof. Truly,
this hath been well termed a generation hard of faith; since what can a
man do to assert his property in a printed tome, saving to put his name
in the title-page thereof, with his description, or designation, as the
lawyers term it, and place of abode? Of a surety I would have such
sceptics consider how they themselves would brook to have their works
ascribed to others, their names and professions imputed as forgeries, and
their very existence brought into question; even although, peradventure,
it may be it is of little consequence to any but themselves, not only
whether they are living or dead, but even whether they ever lived or no.
Yet have my maligners carried their uncharitable censures still farther.

These cavillers have not only doubted mine identity, although thus
plainly proved, but they have impeached my veracity and the authenticity
of my historical narratives! Verily, I can only say in answer, that I
have been cautelous in quoting mine authorities. It is true, indeed, that
if I had hearkened with only one ear, I might have rehearsed my tale with
more acceptation from those who love to hear but half the truth. It is,
it may hap, not altogether to the discredit of our kindly nation of
Scotland, that we are apt to take an interest, warm, yea partial, in the
deeds and sentiments of our forefathers. He whom his adversaries describe
as a perjured Prelatist, is desirous that his predecessors should be held
moderate in their power, and just in their execution of its privileges,
when truly, the unimpassioned peruser of the annals of those times shall
deem them sanguinary, violent, and tyrannical. Again, the representatives
of the suffering Nonconformists desire that their ancestors, the
Cameronians, shall be represented not simply as honest enthusiasts,
oppressed for conscience' sake, but persons of fine breeding, and valiant
heroes. Truly, the historian cannot gratify these predilections. He must
needs describe the cavaliers as proud and high-spirited, cruel,
remorseless, and vindictive; the suffering party as honourably tenacious
of their opinions under persecution; their own tempers being, however,
sullen, fierce, and rude; their opinions absurd and extravagant; and
their whole course of conduct that of persons whom hellebore would better
have suited than prosecutions unto death for high-treason. Natheless,
while such and so preposterous were the opinions on either side, there
were, it cannot be doubted, men of virtue and worth on both, to entitle
either party to claim merit from its martyrs. It has been demanded of me,
Jedediah Cleishbotham, by what right I am entitled to constitute myself
an impartial judge of their discrepancies of opinions, seeing (as it is
stated) that I must necessarily have descended from one or other of the
contending parties, and be, of course, wedded for better or for worse,
according to the reasonable practice of Scotland, to its dogmata, or
opinions, and bound, as it were, by the tie matrimonial, or, to speak
without metaphor, _ex jure sanguinis,_ to maintain them in preference to
all others.

But, nothing denying the rationality of the rule, which calls on all now
living to rule their political and religious opinions by those of their
great-grandfathers, and inevitable as seems the one or the other horn of
the dilemma betwixt which my adversaries conceive they have pinned me to
the wall, I yet spy some means of refuge, and claim a privilege to write
and speak of both parties with impartiality. For, O ye powers of logic!
when the Prelatists and Presbyterians of old times went together by the
ears in this unlucky country, my ancestor (venerated be his memory!) was
one of the people called Quakers, and suffered severe handling from
either side, even to the extenuation of his purse and the incarceration
of his person.

Craving thy pardon, gentle Reader, for these few words concerning me and
mine, I rest, as above expressed, thy sure and obligated friend,*

J. C.
this 1st of April, 1818.

* Note A. Author's connection with Quakerism.


The author has stated, in the preface to the Chronicles of the Canongate,
1827, that he received from an anonymous correspondent an account of the
incident upon which the following story is founded. He is now at liberty
to say, that the information was conveyed to him by a late amiable and
ingenious lady, whose wit and power of remarking and judging of character
still survive in the memory of her friends. Her maiden name was Miss
Helen Lawson, of Girthhead, and she was wife of Thomas Goldie, Esq. of
Craigmuie, Commissary of Dumfries.

Her communication was in these words:--

"I had taken for summer lodgings a cottage near the old Abbey of
Lincluden. It had formerly been inhabited by a lady who had pleasure in
embellishing cottages, which she found perhaps homely and even poor
enough; mine, therefore, possessed many marks of taste and elegance
unusual in this species of habitation in Scotland, where a cottage is
literally what its name declares.

"From my cottage door I had a partial view of the old Abbey before
mentioned; some of the highest arches were seen over, and some through,
the trees scattered along a lane which led down to the ruin, and the
strange fantastic shapes of almost all those old ashes accorded
wonderfully well with the building they at once shaded and ornamented.

"The Abbey itself from my door was almost on a level with the cottage;
but on coming to the end of the lane, it was discovered to be situated on
a high perpendicular bank, at the foot of which run the clear waters of
the Cluden, where they hasten to join the sweeping Nith,

                 'Whose distant roaring swells and fa's.'

As my kitchen and parlour were not very far distant, I one day went in to
purchase some chickens from a person I heard offering them for sale. It
was a little, rather stout-looking woman, who seemed to be between
seventy and eighty years of age; she was almost covered with a tartan
plaid, and her cap had over it a black silk hood, tied under the chin, a
piece of dress still much in use among elderly women of that rank of life
in Scotland; her eyes were dark, and remarkably lively and intelligent; I
entered into conversation with her, and began by asking how she
maintained herself, etc.

"She said that in winter she footed stockings, that is, knit feet to
country-people's stockings, which bears about the same relation to
stocking-knitting that cobbling does to shoe-making, and is of course
both less profitable and less dignified; she likewise taught a few
children to read, and in summer she whiles reared a few chickens.

"I said I could venture to guess from her face she had never been
married. She laughed heartily at this, and said, 'I maun hae the queerest
face that ever was seen, that ye could guess that. Now, do tell me,
madam, how ye cam to think sae?' I told her it was from her cheerful
disengaged countenance. She said, 'Mem, have ye na far mair reason to be
happy than me, wi' a gude husband and a fine family o' bairns, and plenty
o' everything? for me, I'm the puirest o' a' puir bodies, and can hardly
contrive to keep mysell alive in a' the wee bits o' ways I hae tell't
ye.' After some more conversation, during which I was more and more
pleased with the old womans sensible conversation, and the _naivete_ of
her remarks, she rose to go away, when I asked her name. Her countenance
suddenly clouded, and she said gravely, rather colouring, 'My name is
Helen Walker; but your husband kens weel about me.'

"In the evening I related how much I had been pleased, and inquired what
was extraordinary in the history of the poor woman. Mr. ---- said, there
were perhaps few more remarkable people than Helen Walker. She had been
left an orphan, with the charge of a sister considerably younger than
herself, and who was educated and maintained by her exertions. Attached
to herby so many ties, therefore, it will not be easy to conceive her
feelings, when she found that this only sister must be tried by the laws
of her country for child-murder, and upon being called as principal
witness against her. The counsel for the prisoner told Helen, that if she
could declare that her sister had made any preparations, however slight,
or had given her any intimation on the subject, that such a statement
would save her sister's life, as she was the principal witness against
her. Helen said, 'It is impossible for me to swear to a falsehood; and,
whatever may be the consequence, I will give my oath according to my

"The trial came on, and the sister was found guilty and condemned; but in
Scotland six weeks must elapse between the sentence and the execution,
and Helen Walker availed herself of it. The very day of her sister's
condemnation she got a petition drawn, stating the peculiar circumstances
of the case, and that very night set out on foot to London.

"Without introduction or recommendation, with her simple (perhaps
ill-expressed) petition, drawn up by some inferior clerk of the court,
she presented herself, in her tartan plaid and country attire, to the
late Duke of Argyle, who immediately procured the pardon she petitioned
for, and Helen returned with it on foot just in time to save her sister.

"I was so strongly interested by this narrative, that I determined
immediately to prosecute my acquaintance with Helen Walker; but as I was
to leave the country next day, I was obliged to defer it till my return
in spring, when the first walk I took was to Helen Walker's cottage.

"She had died a short time before. My regret was extreme, and I
endeavoured to obtain some account of Helen from an old woman who
inhabited the other end of her cottage. I inquired if Helen ever spoke of
her past history--her journey to London, etc., 'Na,' the old woman said,
'Helen was a wily body, and whene'er ony o' the neebors asked anything
about it, she aye turned the conversation.'

"In short, every answer I received only tended to increase my regret, and
raise my opinion of Helen Walker, who could unite so much prudence with
so much heroic virtue."

This narrative was inclosed in the following letter to the author,
without date or signature--

"Sir,--The occurrence just related happened to me twenty-six years ago.
Helen Walker lies buried in the churchyard of Irongray, about six miles
from Dumfries. I once proposed that a small monument should have been
erected to commemorate so remarkable a character, but I now prefer
leaving it to you to perpetuate her memory in a more durable manner."

The reader is now able to judge how far the author has improved upon, or
fallen short of, the pleasing and interesting sketch of high principle
and steady affection displayed by Helen Walker, the prototype of the
fictitious Jeanie Deans. Mrs. Goldie was unfortunately dead before the
author had given his name to these volumes, so he lost all opportunity of
thanking that lady for her highly valuable communication. But her
daughter, Miss Goldie, obliged him with the following additional

"Mrs. Goldie endeavoured to collect further particulars of Helen Walker,
particularly concerning her journey to London, but found this nearly
impossible; as the natural dignity of her character, and a high sense of
family respectability, made her so indissolubly connect her sister's
disgrace with her own exertions, that none of her neighbours durst ever
question her upon the subject. One old woman, a distant relation of
Helen's, and who is still living, says she worked an harvest with her,
but that she never ventured to ask her about her sister's trial, or her
journey to London; 'Helen,' she added, 'was a lofty body, and used a high
style o' language.' The same old woman says, that every year Helen
received a cheese from her sister, who lived at Whitehaven, and that she
always sent a liberal portion of it to herself, or to her father's
family. This fact, though trivial in itself, strongly marks the affection
subsisting between the two sisters, and the complete conviction on the
mind of the criminal that her sister had acted solely from high
principle, not from any want of feeling, which another small but
characteristic trait will further illustrate. A gentleman, a relation of
Mrs. Goldie's, who happened to be travelling in the North of England, on
coming to a small inn, was shown into the parlour by a female servant,
who, after cautiously shutting the door, said, 'Sir, I'm Nelly Walker's
sister.' Thus practically showing that she considered her sister as
better known by her high conduct than even herself by a different kind of

"Mrs. Goldie was extremely anxious to have a tombstone and an inscription
upon it erected in Irongray Churchyard; and if Sir Walter Scott will
condescend to write the last, a little subscription could be easily
raised in the immediate neighbourhood, and Mrs. Goldie's wish be thus

It is scarcely necessary to add that the request of Miss Goldie will be
most willingly complied with, and without the necessity of any tax on the
public.* Nor is there much occasion to repeat how much the author
conceives himself obliged to his unknown correspondent, who thus supplied
him with a theme affording such a pleasing view of the moral dignity of
virtue, though unaided by birth, beauty, or talent. If the picture has
suffered in the execution, it is from the failure of the author's powers
to present in detail the same simple and striking portrait exhibited in
Mrs. Goldie's letter.

Abbotsford, April 1, 1830.

* [Note B. Tombstone to Helen Walker.]


Although it would be impossible to add much to Mrs. Goldie's picturesque
and most interesting account of Helen Walker, the prototype of the
imaginary Jeanie Deans, the Editor may be pardoned for introducing two or
three anecdotes respecting that excellent person, which he has collected
from a volume entitled, _Sketches from Nature,_ by John M'Diarmid, a
gentleman who conducts an able provincial paper in the town of Dumfries.

Helen was the daughter of a small farmer in a place called Dalwhairn, in
the parish of Irongray; where, after the death of her father, she
continued, with the unassuming piety of a Scottish peasant, to support
her mother by her own unremitted labour and privations; a case so common,
that even yet, I am proud to say, few of my countrywomen would shrink
from the duty.

Helen Walker was held among her equals _pensy,_ that is, proud or
conceited; but the facts brought to prove this accusation seem only to
evince a strength of character superior to those around her. Thus it was
remarked, that when it thundered, she went with her work and her Bible to
the front of the cottage, alleging that the Almighty could smite in the
city as well as in the field.

Mr. M'Diarmid mentions more particularly the misfortune of her sister,
which he supposes to have taken place previous to 1736. Helen Walker,
declining every proposal of saving her relation's life at the expense of
truth, borrowed a sum of money sufficient for her journey, walked the
whole distance to London barefoot, and made her way to John Duke of
Argyle. She was heard to say, that, by the Almighty strength, she had
been enabled to meet the Duke at the most critical moment, which, if
lost, would have caused the inevitable forfeiture of her sister's life.

Isabella, or Tibby Walker, saved from the fate which impended over her,
was married by the person who had wronged her (named Waugh), and lived
happily for great part of a century, uniformly acknowledging the
extraordinary affection to which she owed her preservation.

Helen Walker died about the end of the year 1791, and her remains are
interred in the churchyard of her native parish of Irongray, in a
romantic cemetery on the banks of the Cairn. That a character so
distinguished for her undaunted love of virtue, lived and died in
poverty, if not want, serves only to show us how insignificant, in the
sight of Heaven, are our principal objects of ambition upon earth.


              So down thy hill, romantic Ashbourn, glides
                The Derby dilly, carrying six insides.

The times have changed in nothing more (we follow as we were wont the
manuscript of Peter Pattieson) than in the rapid conveyance of
intelligence and communication betwixt one part of Scotland and another.
It is not above twenty or thirty years, according to the evidence of many
credible witnesses now alive, since a little miserable horse-cart,
performing with difficulty a journey of thirty miles _per diem,_ carried
our mails from the capital of Scotland to its extremity. Nor was Scotland
much more deficient in these accommodations than our rich sister had been
about eighty years before. Fielding, in his Tom Jones, and Farquhar, in a
little farce called the Stage-Coach, have ridiculed the slowness of these
vehicles of public accommodation. According to the latter authority, the
highest bribe could only induce the coachman to promise to anticipate by
half-an-hour the usual time of his arrival at the Bull and Mouth.

But in both countries these ancient, slow, and sure modes of conveyance
are now alike unknown; mail-coach races against mail-coach, and
high-flyer against high-flyer, through the most remote districts of
Britain. And in our village alone, three post-coaches, and four coaches
with men armed, and in scarlet cassocks, thunder through the streets each
day, and rival in brilliancy and noise the invention of the celebrated

              Demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen,
             AEre et cornipedum pulsu, simularat, equorum.

Now and then, to complete the resemblance, and to correct the presumption
of the venturous charioteers, it does happen that the career of these
dashing rivals of Salmoneus meets with as undesirable and violent a
termination as that of their prototype. It is on such occasions that the
Insides and Outsides, to use the appropriate vehicular phrases, have
reason to rue the exchange of the slow and safe motion of the ancient
Fly-coaches, which, compared with the chariots of Mr. Palmer, so ill
deserve the name. The ancient vehicle used to settle quietly down, like a
ship scuttled and left to sink by the gradual influx of the waters, while
the modern is smashed to pieces with the velocity of the same vessel
hurled against breakers, or rather with the fury of a bomb bursting at
the conclusion of its career through the air. The late ingenious Mr.
Pennant, whose humour it was to set his face in stern opposition to these
speedy conveyances, had collected, I have heard, a formidable list of
such casualties, which, joined to the imposition of innkeepers, whose
charges the passengers had no time to dispute, the sauciness of the
coachman, and the uncontrolled and despotic authority of the tyrant
called the guard, held forth a picture of horror, to which murder, theft,
fraud, and peculation, lent all their dark colouring. But that which
gratifies the impatience of the human disposition will be practised in
the teeth of danger, and in defiance of admonition; and, in despite of
the Cambrian antiquary, mail-coaches not only roll their thunders round
the base of Penman-Maur and Cader-Idris, but

                      Frighted Skiddaw hears afar
                      The rattling of the unscythed car.

And perhaps the echoes of Ben Nevis may soon be awakened by the bugle,
not of a warlike chieftain, but of the guard of a mail-coach.

It was a fine summer day, and our little school had obtained a
half-holiday, by the intercession of a good-humoured visitor.*

* His honour Gilbert Goslinn of Gandercleugh; for I love to be precise in
matters of importance.--J. C.

I expected by the coach a new number of an interesting periodical
publication, and walked forward on the highway to meet it, with the
impatience which Cowper has described as actuating the resident in the
country when longing for intelligence from the mart of news.--

                                      The grand debate,
                    The popular harangue,--the tart reply,--
                    The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
                    And the loud laugh,--I long to know them all;--
                    I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free,
                    And give them voice and utterance again.

It was with such feelings that I eyed the approach of the new coach,
lately established on our road, and known by the name of the Somerset,
which, to say truth, possesses some interest for me, even when it conveys
no such important information. The distant tremulous sound of its wheels
was heard just as I gained the summit of the gentle ascent, called the
Goslin-brae, from which you command an extensive view down the valley of
the river Gander. The public road, which comes up the side of that
stream, and crosses it at a bridge about a quarter of a mile from the
place where I was standing, runs partly through enclosures and
plantations, and partly through open pasture land. It is a childish
amusement perhaps,--but my life has been spent with children, and why
should not my pleasures be like theirs?--childish as it is then, I must
own I have had great pleasure in watching the approach of the carriage,
where the openings of the road permit it to be seen. The gay glancing of
the equipage, its diminished and toy-like appearance at a distance,
contrasted with the rapidity of its motion, its appearance and
disappearance at intervals, and the progressively increasing sounds that
announce its nearer approach, have all to the idle and listless
spectator, who has nothing more important to attend to, something of
awakening interest. The ridicule may attach to me, which is flung upon
many an honest citizen, who watches from the window of his villa the
passage of the stage-coach; but it is a very natural source of amusement
notwithstanding, and many of those who join in the laugh are perhaps not
unused to resort to it in secret.

On the present occasion, however, fate had decreed that I should not
enjoy the consummation of the amusement by seeing the coach rattle past
me as I sat on the turf, and hearing the hoarse grating voice of the
guard as he skimmed forth for my grasp the expected packet, without the
carriage checking its course for an instant. I had seen the vehicle
thunder down the hill that leads to the bridge with more than its usual
impetuosity, glittering all the while by flashes from a cloudy tabernacle
of the dust which it had raised, and leaving a train behind it on the
road resembling a wreath of summer mist. But it did not appear on the top
of the nearer bank within the usual space of three minutes, which
frequent observation had enabled me to ascertain was the medium time for
crossing the bridge and mounting the ascent. When double that space had
elapsed, I became alarmed, and walked hastily forward. As I came in sight
of the bridge, the cause of delay was too manifest, for the Somerset had
made a summerset in good earnest, and overturned so completely, that it
was literally resting upon the ground, with the roof undermost, and the
four wheels in the air. The "exertions of the guard and coachman," both
of whom were gratefully commemorated in the newspapers, having succeeded
in disentangling the horses by cutting the harness, were now proceeding
to extricate the insides by a sort of summary and Caesarean process of
delivery, forcing the hinges from one of the doors which they could not
open otherwise. In this manner were two disconsolate damsels set at
liberty from the womb of the leathern conveniency. As they immediately
began to settle their clothes, which were a little deranged, as may be
presumed, I concluded they had received no injury, and did not venture to
obtrude my services at their toilette, for which, I understand, I have
since been reflected upon by the fair sufferers. The _outsides,_ who must
have been discharged from their elevated situation by a shock resembling
the springing of a mine, escaped, nevertheless, with the usual allowance
of scratches and bruises, excepting three, who, having been pitched into
the river Gander, were dimly seen contending with the tide like the
relics of AEneas's shipwreck,--

                  Rari apparent mantes in gurgite vasto.

I applied my poor exertions where they seemed to be most needed, and with
the assistance of one or two of the company who had escaped unhurt,
easily succeeded in fishing out two of the unfortunate passengers, who
were stout active young fellows; and, but for the preposterous length of
their greatcoats, and the equally fashionable latitude and longitude of
their Wellington trousers, would have required little assistance from any
one. The third was sickly and elderly, and might have perished but for
the efforts used to preserve him.

When the two greatcoated gentlemen had extricated themselves from the
river, and shaken their ears like huge water-dogs, a violent altercation
ensued betwixt them and the coachman and guard, concerning the cause of
their overthrow. In the course of the squabble, I observed that both my
new acquaintances belonged to the law, and that their professional
sharpness was likely to prove an overmatch for the surly and official
tone of the guardians of the vehicle. The dispute ended in the guard
assuring the passengers that they should have seats in a heavy coach
which would pass that spot in less than half-an-hour, provided it were
not full. Chance seemed to favour this arrangement, for when the expected
vehicle, arrived, there were only two places occupied in a carriage which
professed to carry six. The two ladies who had been disinterred out of
the fallen vehicle were readily admitted, but positive objections were
stated by those previously in possession to the admittance of the two
lawyers, whose wetted garments being much of the nature of well-soaked
sponges, there was every reason to believe they would refund a
considerable part of the water they had collected, to the inconvenience
of their fellow-passengers. On the other hand, the lawyers rejected a
seat on the roof, alleging that they had only taken that station for
pleasure for one stage, but were entitled in all respects to free egress
and regress from the interior, to which their contract positively
referred. After some altercation, in which something was said upon the
edict _Nautae caupones stabularii,_ the coach went off, leaving the
learned gentlemen to abide by their action of damages.

They immediately applied to me to guide them to the next village and the
best inn; and from the account I gave them of the Wallace Head, declared
they were much better pleased to stop there than to go forward upon the
terms of that impudent scoundrel the guard of the Somerset. All that they
now wanted was a lad to carry their travelling bags, who was easily
procured from an adjoining cottage; and they prepared to walk forward,
when they found there was another passenger in the same deserted
situation with themselves. This was the elderly and sickly-looking
person, who had been precipitated into the river along with the two young
lawyers. He, it seems, had been too modest to push his own plea against
the coachman when he saw that of his betters rejected, and now remained
behind with a look of timid anxiety, plainly intimating that he was
deficient in those means of recommendation which are necessary passports
to the hospitality of an inn.

I ventured to call the attention of the two dashing young blades, for
such they seemed, to the desolate condition of their fellow-traveller.
They took the hint with ready good-nature.

"O, true, Mr. Dunover," said one of the youngsters, "you must not remain
on the pave' here; you must go and have some dinner with us--Halkit and I
must have a post-chaise to go on, at all events, and we will set you down
wherever suits you best."

The poor man, for such his dress, as well as his diffidence, bespoke him,
made the sort of acknowledging bow by which says a Scotsman, "It's too
much honour for the like of me;" and followed humbly behind his gay
patrons, all three besprinkling the dusty road as they walked along with
the moisture of their drenched garments, and exhibiting the singular and
somewhat ridiculous appearance of three persons suffering from the
opposite extreme of humidity, while the summer sun was at its height, and
everything else around them had the expression of heat and drought. The
ridicule did not escape the young gentlemen themselves, and they had made
what might be received as one or two tolerable jests on the subject
before they had advanced far on their peregrination.

"We cannot complain, like Cowley," said one of them, "that Gideon's
fleece remains dry, while all around is moist; this is the reverse of the

"We ought to be received with gratitude in this good town; we bring a
supply of what they seem to need most," said Halkit.

"And distribute it with unparalleled generosity," replied his companion;
"performing the part of three water-carts for the benefit of their dusty

"We come before them, too," said Halkit, "in full professional
force--counsel and agent"--

"And client," said the young advocate, looking behind him; and then
added, lowering his voice, "that looks as if he had kept such dangerous
company too long."

It was, indeed, too true, that the humble follower of the gay young men
had the threadbare appearance of a worn-out litigant, and I could not but
smile at the conceit, though anxious to conceal my mirth from the object
of it.

When we arrived at the Wallace Inn, the elder of the Edinburgh gentlemen,
and whom I understood to be a barrister, insisted that I should remain
and take part of their dinner; and their inquiries and demands speedily
put my landlord and his whole family in motion to produce the best cheer
which the larder and cellar afforded, and proceed to cook it to the best
advantage, a science in which our entertainers seemed to be admirably
skilled. In other respects they were lively young men, in the hey-day of
youth and good spirits, playing the part which is common to the higher
classes of the law at Edinburgh, and which nearly resembles that of the
young Templars in the days of Steele and Addison. An air of giddy gaiety
mingled with the good sense, taste, and information which their
conversation exhibited; and it seemed to be their object to unite the
character of men of fashion and lovers of the polite arts. A fine
gentleman, bred up in the thorough idleness and inanity of pursuit, which
I understand is absolutely necessary to the character in perfection,
might in all probability have traced a tinge of professional pedantry
which marked the barrister in spite of his efforts, and something of
active bustle in his companion, and would certainly have detected more
than a fashionable mixture of information and animated interest in the
language of both. But to me, who had no pretensions to be so critical, my
companions seemed to form a very happy mixture of good-breeding and
liberal information, with a disposition to lively rattle, pun, and jest,
amusing to a grave man, because it is what he himself can least easily

The thin pale-faced man, whom their good-nature had brought into their
society, looked out of place as well as out of spirits; sate on the edge
of his seat, and kept the chair at two feet distance from the table; thus
incommoding himself considerably in conveying the victuals to his mouth,
as if by way of penance for partaking of them in the company of his
superiors. A short time after dinner, declining all entreaty to partake
of the wine, which circulated freely round, he informed himself of the
hour when the chaise had been ordered to attend; and saying he would be
in readiness, modestly withdrew from the apartment.

"Jack," said the barrister to his companion, "I remember that poor
fellow's face; you spoke more truly than you were aware of; he really is
one of my clients, poor man."

"Poor man!" echoed Halkit--"I suppose you mean he is your one and only

"That's not my fault, Jack," replied the other, whose name I discovered
was Hardie. "You are to give me all your business, you know; and if you
have none, the learned gentleman here knows nothing can come of nothing."

"You seem to have brought something to nothing though, in the case of
that honest man. He looks as if he were just about to honour with his
residence the Heart of Mid-Lothian."

"You are mistaken--he is just delivered from it.--Our friend here looks
for an explanation. Pray, Mr. Pattieson, have you been in Edinburgh?"

I answered in the affirmative.

"Then you must have passed, occasionally at least, though probably not so
faithfully as I am doomed to do, through a narrow intricate passage,
leading out of the north-west corner of the Parliament Square, and
passing by a high and antique building with turrets and iron grates,

                         Making good the saying odd,
                         'Near the church and far from God'"--

Mr. Halkit broke in upon his learned counsel, to contribute his moiety to
the riddle--"Having at the door the sign of the Red man"--

"And being on the whole," resumed the counsellor interrupting his friend
in his turn, "a sort of place where misfortune is happily confounded with
guilt, where all who are in wish to get out"--

"And where none who have the good luck to be out, wish to get in," added
his companion.

"I conceive you, gentlemen," replied I; "you mean the prison."

"The prison," added the young lawyer--"You have hit it--the very reverend
Tolbooth itself; and let me tell you, you are obliged to us for
describing it with so much modesty and brevity; for with whatever
amplifications we might have chosen to decorate the subject, you lay
entirely at our mercy, since the Fathers Conscript of our city have
decreed that the venerable edifice itself shall not remain in existence
to confirm or to confute its."

"Then the Tolbooth of Edinburgh is called the Heart of Mid-Lothian?" said

"So termed and reputed, I assure you."

"I think," said I, with the bashful diffidence with which a man lets slip
a pun in presence of his superiors, "the metropolitan county may, in that
case, be said to have a sad heart."

"Right as my glove, Mr. Pattieson," added Mr. Hardie; "and a close heart,
and a hard heart--Keep it up, Jack."

"And a wicked heart, and a poor heart," answered Halkit, doing his best.

"And yet it may be called in some sort a strong heart, and a high heart,"
rejoined the advocate. "You see I can put you both out of heart."

"I have played all my hearts," said the younger gentleman.

"Then we'll have another lead," answered his companion.--"And as to the
old and condemned Tolbooth, what pity the same honour cannot be done to
it as has been done to many of its inmates. Why should not the Tolbooth
have its 'Last Speech, Confession, and Dying Words?' The old stones would
be just as conscious of the honour as many a poor devil who has dangled
like a tassel at the west end of it, while the hawkers were shouting a
confession the culprit had never heard of."

"I am afraid," said I, "if I might presume to give my opinion, it would
be a tale of unvaried sorrow and guilt."

"Not entirely, my friend," said Hardie; "a prison is a world within
itself, and has its own business, griefs, and joys, peculiar to its
circle. Its inmates are sometimes short-lived, but so are soldiers on
service; they are poor relatively to the world without, but there are
degrees of wealth and poverty among them, and so some are relatively rich
also. They cannot stir abroad, but neither can the garrison of a besieged
fort, or the crew of a ship at sea; and they are not under a dispensation
quite so desperate as either, for they may have as much food as they have
money to buy, and are not obliged to work, whether they have food or

"But what variety of incident," said I (not without a secret view to my
present task), "could possibly be derived from such a work as you are
pleased to talk of?"

"Infinite," replied the young advocate. "Whatever of guilt, crime,
imposture, folly, unheard-of misfortunes, and unlooked-for change of
fortune, can be found to chequer life, my Last Speech of the Tolbooth
should illustrate with examples sufficient to gorge even the public's
all-devouring appetite for the wonderful and horrible. The inventor of
fictitious narratives has to rack his brains for means to diversify his
tale, and after all can hardly hit upon characters or incidents which
have not been used again and again, until they are familiar to the eye of
the reader, so that the development, _enle'vement,_ the desperate wound
of which the hero never dies, the burning fever from which the heroine is
sure to recover, become a mere matter of course. I join with my honest
friend Crabbe, and have an unlucky propensity to hope, when hope is lost,
and to rely upon the cork-jacket, which carries the heroes of romance
safe through all the billows of affliction." He then declaimed the
following passage, rather with too much than too little emphasis:--

               Much have I feared, but am no more afraid,
               When some chaste beauty by some wretch betrayed,
               Is drawn away with such distracted speed,
               That she anticipates a dreadful deed.
               Not so do I--Let solid walls impound
               The captive fair, and dig a moat around;
               Let there be brazen locks and bars of steel,
               And keepers cruel, such as never feel;
               With not a single note the purse supply,
               And when she begs, let men and maids deny;
               Be windows there from which she dare not fall,
               And help so distant, 'tis in vain to call;
               Still means of freedom will some Power devise,
               And from the baffled ruffian snatch his prize.

"The end of uncertainty," he concluded, "is the death of interest; and
hence it happens that no one now reads novels."

"Hear him, ye gods!" returned his companion. "I assure you, Mr.
Pattieson, you will hardly visit this learned gentleman, but you are
likely to find the new novel most in repute lying on his table,--snugly
intrenched, however, beneath Stair's Institutes, or an open volume of
Morrison's Decisions."

"Do I deny it?" said the hopeful jurisconsult, "or wherefore should I,
since it is well known these Delilahs seduce my wisers and my betters?
May they not be found lurking amidst the multiplied memorials of our most
distinguished counsel, and even peeping from under the cushion of a
judge's arm-chair? Our seniors at the bar, within the bar, and even on
the bench, read novels; and, if not belied, some of them have written
novels into the bargain. I only say, that I read from habit and from
indolence, not from real interest; that, like ancient Pistol devouring
his leek, I read and swear till I get to the end of the narrative. But
not so in the real records of human vagaries--not so in the State Trials,
or in the Books of Adjournal, where every now and then you read new pages
of the human heart, and turns of fortune far beyond what the boldest
novelist ever attempted to produce from the coinage of his brain."

"And for such narratives," I asked, "you suppose the History of the
Prison of Edinburgh might afford appropriate materials?"

"In a degree unusually ample, my dear sir," said Hardie--"Fill your
glass, however, in the meanwhile. Was it not for many years the place in
which the Scottish parliament met? Was it not James's place of refuge,
when the mob, inflamed by a seditious preacher, broke, forth, on him with
the cries of 'The sword of the Lord and of Gideon--bring forth the wicked
Haman?' Since that time how many hearts have throbbed within these walls,
as the tolling of the neighbouring bell announced to them how fast the
sands of their life were ebbing; how many must have sunk at the
sound--how many were supported by stubborn pride and dogged
resolution--how many by the consolations of religion? Have there not
been some, who, looking back on the motives of their crimes, were scarce
able to understand how they should have had such temptation as to seduce
them from virtue; and have there not, perhaps, been others, who,
sensible of their innocence, were divided between indignation at the
undeserved doom which they were to undergo, consciousness that they had
not deserved it, and racking anxiety to discover some way in which they
might yet vindicate themselves? Do you suppose any of these deep,
powerful, and agitating feelings, can be recorded and perused without
exciting a corresponding depth of deep, powerful, and agitating
interest?--Oh! do but wait till I publish the _Causes Ce'le'bres_ of
Caledonia, and you will find no want of a novel or a tragedy for some
time to come. The true thing will triumph over the brightest inventions
of the most ardent imagination. _Magna est veritas, et praevalebit._"

"I have understood," said I, encouraged by the affability of my rattling
entertainer, "that less of this interest must attach to Scottish
jurisprudence than to that of any other country. The general morality of
our people, their sober and prudent habits"--

"Secure them," said the barrister, "against any great increase of
professional thieves and depredators, but not against wild and wayward
starts of fancy and passion, producing crimes of an extraordinary
description, which are precisely those to the detail of which we listen
with thrilling interest. England has been much longer a highly civilised
country; her subjects have been very strictly amenable to laws
administered without fear or favour, a complete division of labour has
taken place among her subjects, and the very thieves and robbers form a
distinct class in society, subdivided among themselves according to the
subject of the depredations, and the mode in which they carry them on,
acting upon regular habits and principles, which can be calculated and
anticipated at Bow Street, Hatton Garden, or the Old Bailey. Our sister
kingdom is like a cultivated field,--the farmer expects that, in spite of
all his care, a certain number of weeds will rise with the corn, and can
tell you beforehand their names and appearance. But Scotland is like one
of her own Highland glens, and the moralist who reads the records of her
criminal jurisprudence, will find as many curious anomalous facts in the
history of mind, as the botanist will detect rare specimens among her
dingles and cliffs."

"And that's all the good you have obtained from three perusals of the
Commentaries on Scottish Criminal Jurisprudence?" said his companion. "I
suppose the learned author very little thinks that the facts which his
erudition and acuteness have accumulated for the illustration of legal
doctrines, might be so arranged as to form a sort of appendix to the
half-bound and slip-shod volumes of the circulating library."

"I'll bet you a pint of claret," said the elder lawyer, "that he will not
feel sore at the comparison. But as we say at the bar, 'I beg I may not
be interrupted;' I have much more to say, upon my Scottish collection of
_Causes Ce'le'bres._ You will please recollect the scope and motive given
for the contrivance and execution of many extraordinary and daring
crimes, by the long civil dissensions of Scotland--by the hereditary
jurisdictions, which, until 1748, rested the investigation of crises in
judges, ignorant, partial, or interested--by the habits of the gentry,
shut up in their distant and solitary mansion-houses, nursing their
revengeful Passions just to keep their blood from stagnating--not to
mention that amiable national qualification, called the _perfervidum
ingenium Scotorum,_ which our lawyers join in alleging as a reason for
the severity of some of our enactments. When I come to treat of matters
so mysterious, deep, and dangerous, as these circumstances have given
rise to, the blood of each reader shall be curdled, and his epidermis
crisped into goose skin.--But, hist!--here comes the landlord, with
tidings, I suppose, that the chaise is ready."

It was no such thing--the tidings bore, that no chaise could be had that
evening, for Sir Peter Plyem had carried forward my landlord's two pairs
of horses that morning to the ancient royal borough of Bubbleburgh, to
look after his interest there. But as Bubbleburgh is only one of a set of
five boroughs which club their shares for a member of parliament, Sir
Peter's adversary had judiciously watched his departure, in order to
commence a canvass in the no less royal borough of Bitem, which, as all
the world knows, lies at the very termination of Sir Peter's avenue, and
has been held in leading-strings by him and his ancestors for time
immemorial. Now Sir Peter was thus placed in the situation of an
ambitious monarch, who, after having commenced a daring inroad into his
enemy's territories, is suddenly recalled by an invasion of his own
hereditary dominions. He was obliged in consequence to return from the
half-won borough of Bubbleburgh, to look after the half-lost borough of
Bitem, and the two pairs of horses which had carried him that morning to
Bubbleburgh were now forcibly detained to transport him, his agent, his
valet, his jester, and his hard-drinker, across the country to Bitem. The
cause of this detention, which to me was of as little consequence as it
may be to the reader, was important enough to my companions to reconcile
them to the delay. Like eagles, they smelled the battle afar off, ordered
a magnum of claret and beds at the Wallace, and entered at full career
into the Bubbleburgh and Bitem politics, with all the probable "Petitions
and complaints" to which they were likely to give rise.

In the midst of an anxious, animated, and, to me, most unintelligible
discussion, concerning provosts, bailies, deacons, sets of boroughs,
leets, town-clerks, burgesses resident and non-resident, all of a sudden
the lawyer recollected himself. "Poor Dunover, we must not forget him;"
and the landlord was despatched in quest of the _pauvre honteux,_ with an
earnestly civil invitation to him for the rest of the evening. I could
not help asking the young gentlemen if they knew the history of this poor
man; and the counsellor applied himself to his pocket to recover the
memorial or brief from which he had stated his cause.

"He has been a candidate for our _remedium miserabile,_" said Mr. Hardie,
"commonly called a _cessio bonorum._ As there are divines who have
doubted the eternity of future punishments, so the Scotch lawyers seem to
have thought that the crime of poverty might be atoned for by something
short of perpetual imprisonment. After a month's confinement, you must
know, a prisoner for debt is entitled, on a sufficient statement to our
Supreme Court, setting forth the amount of his funds, and the nature of
his misfortunes, and surrendering all his effects to his creditors, to
claim to be discharged from prison."

"I had heard," I replied, "of such a humane regulation."

"Yes," said Halkit, "and the beauty of it is, as the foreign fellow said,
you may get the _cessio,_ when the _bonorums_ are all spent--But what,
are you puzzling in your pockets to seek your only memorial among old
play-bills, letters requesting a meeting of the Faculty, rules of the
Speculative Society,* syllabus' of lectures--all the miscellaneous
contents of a young advocate's pocket, which contains everything but
briefs and bank-notes?

* [A well-known debating club in Edinburgh.]

Can you not state a case of _cessio_ without your memorial? Why, it is
done every Saturday. The events follow each other as regularly as
clock-work, and one form of condescendence might suit every one of them."

"This is very unlike the variety of distress which this gentleman stated
to fall under the consideration of your judges," said I.

"True," replied Halkit; "but Hardie spoke of criminal jurisprudence, and
this business is purely civil. I could plead a _cessio_ myself without
the inspiring honours of a gown and three-tailed periwig--Listen.--My
client was bred a journeyman weaver--made some little money--took a
farm--(for conducting a farm, like driving a gig, comes by nature)--late
severe times--induced to sign bills with a friend, for which he received
no value--landlord sequestrates--creditors accept a composition--pursuer
sets up a public-house--fails a second time--is incarcerated for a debt
of ten pounds seven shillings and sixpence--his debts amount to
blank--his losses to blank--his funds to blank--leaving a balance of blank
in his favour. There is no opposition; your lordships will please grant
commission to take his oath."

Hardie now renounced this ineffectual search, in which there was perhaps
a little affectation, and told us the tale of poor Dunover's distresses,
with a tone in which a degree of feeling, which he seemed ashamed of as
unprofessional, mingled with his attempts at wit, and did him more
honour. It was one of those tales which seem to argue a sort of ill-luck
or fatality attached to the hero. A well-informed, industrious, and
blameless, but poor and bashful man, had in vain essayed all the usual
means by which others acquire independence, yet had never succeeded
beyond the attainment of bare subsistence. During a brief gleam of hope,
rather than of actual prosperity, he had added a wife and family to his
cares, but the dawn was speedily overcast. Everything retrograded with
him towards the verge of the miry Slough of Despond, which yawns for
insolvent debtors; and after catching at each twig, and experiencing the
protracted agony of feeling them one by one elude his grasp, he actually
sunk into the miry pit whence he had been extricated by the professional
exertions of Hardie.

"And, I suppose, now you have dragged this poor devil ashore, you will
leave him half naked on the beach to provide for himself?" said Halkit.
"Hark ye,"--and he whispered something in his ear, of which the
penetrating and insinuating words, "Interest with my Lord," alone reached

"It is _pessimi exempli,_" said Hardie, laughing, "to provide for a
ruined client; but I was thinking of what you mention, provided it can be
managed--But hush! here he comes."

The recent relation of the poor man's misfortunes had given him, I was
pleased to observe, a claim to the attention and respect of the young
men, who treated him with great civility, and gradually engaged him in a
conversation, which, much to my satisfaction, again turned upon the
_Causes Ce'le'bres_ of Scotland. Imboldened by the kindness with which he
was treated, Mr. Dunover began to contribute his share to the amusement
of the evening. Jails, like other places, have their ancient traditions,
known only to the inhabitants, and handed down from one set of the
melancholy lodgers to the next who occupy their cells. Some of these,
which Dunover mentioned, were interesting, and served to illustrate the
narratives of remarkable trials, which Hardie had at his finger-ends, and
which his companion was also well skilled in. This sort of conversation
passed away the evening till the early hour when Mr. Dunover chose to
retire to rest, and I also retreated to take down memorandums of what I
had learned, in order to add another narrative to those which it had been
my chief amusement to collect, and to write out in detail. The two young
men ordered a broiled bone, Madeira negus, and a pack of cards, and
commenced a game at picquet.

Next morning the travellers left Gandercleugh. I afterwards learned from
the papers that both have been since engaged in the great political cause
of Bubbleburgh and Bitem, a summary case, and entitled to particular
despatch; but which, it is thought, nevertheless, may outlast the
duration of the parliament to which the contest refers. Mr. Halkit, as
the newspapers informed me, acts as agent or solicitor; and Mr. Hardie
opened for Sir Peter Plyem with singular ability, and to such good
purpose, that I understand he has since had fewer play-bills and more
briefs in his pocket. And both the young gentlemen deserve their good
fortune; for I learned from Dunover, who called on me some weeks
afterwards, and communicated the intelligence with tears in his eyes,
that their interest had availed to obtain him a small office for the
decent maintenance of his family; and that, after a train of constant and
uninterrupted misfortune, he could trace a dawn of prosperity to his
having the good fortune to be flung from the top of a mail-coach into the
river Gander, in company with an advocate and a writer to the Signet. The
reader will not perhaps deem himself equally obliged to the accident,
since it brings upon him the following narrative, founded upon the
conversation of the evening.



               Whoe'er's been at Paris must needs know the Gre've,
               The fatal retreat of the unfortunate brave,
               Where honour and justice most oddly contribute,
               To ease heroes' pains by an halter and gibbet.

               There death breaks the shackles which force had put on,
               And the hangman completes what the judge but began;
               There the squire of the poet, and knight of the post,
               Find their pains no more baulked, and their hopes no more

In former times, England had her Tyburn, to which the devoted victims of
justice were conducted in solemn procession up what is now called Oxford
Street. In Edinburgh, a large open street, or rather oblong square,
surrounded by high houses, called the Grassmarket, was used for the same
melancholy purpose. It was not ill chosen for such a scene, being of
considerable extent, and therefore fit to accommodate a great number of
spectators, such as are usually assembled by this melancholy spectacle.
On the other hand, few of the houses which surround it were, even in
early times, inhabited by persons of fashion; so that those likely to be
offended or over deeply affected by such unpleasant exhibitions were not
in the way of having their quiet disturbed by them. The houses in the
Grassmarket are, generally speaking, of a mean description; yet the place
is not without some features of grandeur, being overhung by the southern
side of the huge rock on which the Castle stands, and by the moss-grown
battlements and turreted walls of that ancient fortress.

It was the custom, until within these thirty years or thereabouts, to use
this esplanade for the scene of public executions. The fatal day was
announced to the public by the appearance of a huge black gallows-tree
towards the eastern end of the Grassmarket. This ill-omened apparition
was of great height, with a scaffold surrounding it, and a double ladder
placed against it, for the ascent of the unhappy criminal and
executioner. As this apparatus was always arranged before dawn, it seemed
as if the gallows had grown out of the earth in the course of one night,
like the production of some foul demon; and I well remember the fright
with which the schoolboys, when I was one of their number, used to regard
these ominous signs of deadly preparation. On the night after the
execution the gallows again disappeared, and was conveyed in silence and
darkness to the place where it was usually deposited, which was one of
the vaults under the Parliament House, or courts of justice. This mode of
execution is now exchanged for one similar to that in front of
Newgate,--with what beneficial effect is uncertain. The mental
sufferings of the convict are indeed shortened. He no longer stalks
between the attendant clergymen, dressed in his grave-clothes, through a
considerable part of the city, looking like a moving and walking corpse,
while yet an inhabitant of this world; but, as the ultimate purpose of
punishment has in view the prevention of crimes, it may at least be
doubted, whether, in abridging the melancholy ceremony, we have not in
part diminished that appalling effect upon the spectators which is the
useful end of all such inflictions, and in consideration of which alone,
unless in very particular cases, capital sentences can be altogether

On the 7th day of September 1736, these ominous preparations for
execution were descried in the place we have described, and at an early
hour the space around began to be occupied by several groups, who gazed
on the scaffold and gibbet with a stern and vindictive show of
satisfaction very seldom testified by the populace, whose good nature, in
most cases, forgets the crime of the condemned person, and dwells only on
his misery. But the act of which the expected culprit had been convicted
was of a description calculated nearly and closely to awaken and irritate
the resentful feelings of the multitude. The tale is well known; yet it
is necessary to recapitulate its leading circumstances, for the better
understanding what is to follow; and the narrative may prove long, but I
trust not uninteresting even to those who have heard its general issue.
At any rate, some detail is necessary, in order to render intelligible
the subsequent events of our narrative.

Contraband trade, though it strikes at the root of legitimate government,
by encroaching on its revenues,--though it injures the fair trader, and
debauches the mind of those engaged in it,--is not usually looked upon,
either by the vulgar or by their betters, in a very heinous point of
view. On the contrary, in those countries where it prevails, the
cleverest, boldest, and most intelligent of the peasantry, are uniformly
engaged in illicit transactions, and very often with the sanction of the
farmers and inferior gentry. Smuggling was almost universal in Scotland
in the reigns of George I. and II.; for the people, unaccustomed to
imposts, and regarding them as an unjust aggression upon their ancient
liberties, made no scruple to elude them whenever it was possible to do

The county of Fife, bounded by two firths on the south and north, and by
the sea on the east, and having a number of small seaports, was long
famed for maintaining successfully a contraband trade; and, as there were
many seafaring men residing there, who had been pirates and buccaneers in
their youth, there were not wanting a sufficient number of daring men to
carry it on. Among these, a fellow called Andrew Wilson, originally a
baker in the village of Pathhead, was particularly obnoxious to the
revenue officers. He was possessed of great personal strength, courage,
and cunning,--was perfectly acquainted with the coast, and capable of
conducting the most desperate enterprises. On several occasions he
succeeded in baffling the pursuit and researches of the king's officers;
but he became so much the object of their suspicions and watchful
attention, that at length he was totally ruined by repeated seizures. The
man became desperate. He considered himself as robbed and plundered; and
took it into his head that he had a right to make reprisals, as he could
find opportunity. Where the heart is prepared for evil, opportunity is
seldom long wanting. This Wilson learned that the Collector of the
Customs at Kirkcaldy had come to Pittenweem, in the course of his
official round of duty, with a considerable sum of public money in his
custody. As the amount was greatly within the value of the goods which
had been seized from him, Wilson felt no scruple of conscience in
resolving to reimburse himself for his losses, at the expense of the
Collector and the revenue. He associated with himself one Robertson, and
two other idle young men, whom, having been concerned in the same illicit
trade, he persuaded to view the transaction in the same justifiable light
in which he himself considered it. They watched the motions of the
Collector; they broke forcibly into the house where he lodged,--Wilson,
with two of his associates, entering the Collector's apartment, while
Robertson, the fourth, kept watch at the door with a drawn cutlass in his
hand. The officer of the customs, conceiving his life in danger, escaped
out of his bedroom window, and fled in his shirt, so that the plunderers,
with much ease, possessed themselves of about two hundred pounds of
public money. The robbery was committed in a very audacious manner, for
several persons were passing in the street at the time. But Robertson,
representing the noise they heard as a dispute or fray betwixt the
Collector and the people of the house, the worthy citizens of Pittenweem
felt themselves no way called on to interfere in behalf of the obnoxious
revenue officer; so, satisfying themselves with this very superficial
account of the matter, like the Levite in the parable, they passed on the
opposite side of the way. An alarm was at length given, military were
called in, the depredators were pursued, the booty recovered, and Wilson
and Robertson tried and condemned to death, chiefly on the evidence of an

Many thought that, in consideration of the men's erroneous opinion of the
nature of the action they had committed, justice might have been
satisfied with a less forfeiture than that of two lives. On the other
hand, from the audacity of the fact, a severe example was judged
necessary; and such was the opinion of the Government. When it became
apparent that the sentence of death was to be executed, files, and other
implements necessary for their escape, were transmitted secretly to the
culprits by a friend from without. By these means they sawed a bar out of
one of the prison-windows, and might have made their escape, but for the
obstinacy of Wilson, who, as he was daringly resolute, was doggedly
pertinacious of his opinion. His comrade, Robertson, a young and slender
man, proposed to make the experiment of passing the foremost through the
gap they had made, and enlarging it from the outside, if necessary, to
allow Wilson free passage. Wilson, however, insisted on making the first
experiment, and being a robust and lusty man, he not only found it
impossible to get through betwixt the bars, but, by his struggles, he
jammed himself so fast, that he was unable to draw his body back again.
In these circumstances discovery became unavoidable, and sufficient
precautions were taken by the jailor to prevent any repetition of the
same attempt. Robertson uttered not a word of reflection on his companion
for the consequences of his obstinacy; but it appeared from the sequel,
that Wilson's mind was deeply impressed with the recollection that, but
for him, his comrade, over whose mind he exercised considerable
influence, would not have engaged in the criminal enterprise which had
terminated thus fatally; and that now he had become his destroyer a
second time, since, but for his obstinacy, Robertson might have effected
his escape. Minds like Wilson's, even when exercised in evil practices,
sometimes retain the power of thinking and resolving with enthusiastic
generosity. His whole thoughts were now bent on the possibility of saving
Robertson's life, without the least respect to his own. The resolution
which he adopted, and the manner in which he carried it into effect, were
striking and unusual.

Adjacent to the tolbooth or city jail of Edinburgh, is one of three
churches into which the cathedral of St. Giles is now divided, called,
from its vicinity, the Tolbooth Church. It was the custom that criminals
under sentence of death were brought to this church, with a sufficient
guard, to hear and join in public worship on the Sabbath before
execution. It was supposed that the hearts of these unfortunate persons,
however hardened before against feelings of devotion, could not but be
accessible to them upon uniting their thoughts and voices, for the last
time, along with their fellow-mortals, in addressing their Creator. And
to the rest of the congregation, it was thought it could not but be
impressive and affecting, to find their devotions mingling with those,
who, sent by the doom of an earthly tribunal to appear where the whole
earth is judged, might be considered as beings trembling on the verge of
eternity. The practice, however edifying, has been discontinued, in
consequence of the incident we are about to detail.

The clergyman, whose duty it was to officiate in the Tolbooth Church, had
concluded an affecting discourse, part of which was particularly directed
to the unfortunate men, Wilson and Robertson, who were in the pew set
apart for the persons in their unhappy situation, each secured betwixt
two soldiers of the city guard. The clergyman had reminded them, that the
next congregation they must join would be that of the just, or of the
unjust; that the psalms they now heard must be exchanged, in the space of
two brief days, for eternal hallelujahs, or eternal lamentations; and
that this fearful alternative must depend upon the state to which they
might be able to bring their minds before the moment of awful
preparation: that they should not despair on account of the suddenness of
the summons, but rather to feel this comfort in their misery, that,
though all who now lifted the voice, or bent the knee in conjunction with
them, lay under the same sentence of certain death, _they_ only had the
advantage of knowing the precise moment at which it should be executed
upon them. "Therefore," urged the good man, his voice trembling with
emotion, "redeem the time, my unhappy brethren, which is yet left; and
remember, that, with the grace of Him to whom space and time are but as
nothing, salvation may yet be assured, even in the pittance of delay
which the laws of your country afford you."

Robertson was observed to weep at these words; but Wilson seemed as one
whose brain had not entirely received their meaning, or whose thoughts
were deeply impressed with some different subject;--an expression so
natural to a person in his situation, that it excited neither suspicion
nor surprise.

The benediction was pronounced as usual, and the congregation was
dismissed, many lingering to indulge their curiosity with a more fixed
look at the two criminals, who now, as well as their guards, rose up, as
if to depart when the crowd should permit them. A murmur of compassion
was heard to pervade the spectators, the more general, perhaps, on
account of the alleviating circumstances of the case; when all at once,
Wilson, who, as we have already noticed, was a very strong man, seized
two of the soldiers, one with each hand, and calling at the same time to
his companion, "Run, Geordie, run!" threw himself on a third, and
fastened his teeth on the collar of his coat. Robertson stood for a
second as if thunderstruck, and unable to avail himself of the
opportunity of escape; but the cry of "Run, run!" being echoed from many
around, whose feelings surprised them into a very natural interest in his
behalf, he shook off the grasp of the remaining soldier, threw himself
over the pew, mixed with the dispersing congregation, none of whom felt
inclined to stop a poor wretch taking his last chance for his life,
gained the door of the church, and was lost to all pursuit.

The generous intrepidity which Wilson had displayed on this occasion
augmented the feeling of compassion which attended his fate. The public,
where their own prejudices are not concerned, are easily engaged on the
side of disinterestedness and humanity, admired Wilson's behaviour, and
rejoiced in Robertson's escape. This general feeling was so great, that
it excited a vague report that Wilson would be rescued at the place of
execution, either by the mob or by some of his old associates, or by some
second extraordinary and unexpected exertion of strength and courage on
his own part. The magistrates thought it their duty to provide against
the possibility of disturbance. They ordered out, for protection of the
execution of the sentence, the greater part of their own City Guard,
under the command of Captain Porteous, a man whose name became too
memorable from the melancholy circumstances of the day, and subsequent
events. It may be necessary to say a word about this person, and the
corps which he commanded. But the subject is of importance sufficient to
deserve another chapter.


                         And thou, great god of aquavitae!
                         Wha sways the empire of this city
                         (When fou we're sometimes capernoity),

                         Be thou prepared,
                         To save us frae that black banditti,

                         The City Guard!
                                        Fergusson's _Daft Days._

Captain John Porteous, a name memorable in the traditions of Edinburgh,
as well as in the records of criminal jurisprudence, was the son of a
citizen of Edinburgh, who endeavoured to breed him up to his own
mechanical trade of a tailor. The youth, however, had a wild and
irreclaimable propensity to dissipation, which finally sent him to serve
in the corps long maintained in the service of the States of Holland, and
called the Scotch Dutch. Here he learned military discipline; and,
returning afterwards, in the course of an idle and wandering life, to his
native city, his services were required by the magistrates of Edinburgh
in the disturbed year 1715, for disciplining their City Guard, in which
he shortly afterwards received a captain's commission. It was only by his
military skill and an alert and resolute character as an officer of
police, that he merited this promotion, for he is said to have been a man
of profligate habits, an unnatural son, and a brutal husband. He was,
however, useful in his station, and his harsh and fierce habits rendered
him formidable to rioters or disturbers of the public peace.

The corps in which he held his command is, or perhaps we should rather
say _was,_ a body of about one hundred and twenty soldiers divided into
three companies, and regularly armed, clothed, and embodied. They were
chiefly veterans who enlisted in this cogs, having the benefit of working
at their trades when they were off duty. These men had the charge of
preserving public order, repressing riots and street robberies, acting,
in short, as an armed police, and attending on all public occasions where
confusion or popular disturbance might be expected.*

* The Lord Provost was ex-officio commander and colonel of the corps,
which might be increased to three hundred men when the times required it.
No other drum but theirs was allowed to sound on the High Street  between
the Luckenbooths and the Netherbow.

Poor Fergusson, whose irregularities sometimes led him into unpleasant
rencontres with these military conservators of public order, and who
mentions them so often that he may be termed their poet laureate,* thus
admonishes his readers, warned doubtless by his own experience:--

* [Robert Fergusson, the Scottish Poet, born 1750, died 1774.]

                    "Gude folk, as ye come frae the fair,
                    Bide yont frae this black squad:
                    There's nae sic savages elsewhere
                    Allowed to wear cockad."

In fact, the soldiers of the City Guard, being, as we have said, in
general discharged veterans, who had strength enough remaining for this
municipal duty, and being, moreover, for the greater part, Highlanders,
were neither by birth, education, nor former habits, trained to endure
with much patience the insults of the rabble, or the provoking petulance
of truant schoolboys, and idle debauchees of all descriptions, with whom
their occupation brought them into contact. On the contrary, the tempers
of the poor old fellows were soured by the indignities with which the mob
distinguished them on many occasions, and frequently might have required
the soothing strains of the poet we have just quoted--

                    "O soldiers! for your ain dear sakes,
                    For Scotland's love, the Land o' Cakes,
                    Gie not her bairns sic deadly paiks,
                    Nor be sae rude,
                    Wi' firelock or Lochaber-axe,
                    As spill their bluid!"

On all occasions when a holiday licensed some riot and irregularity, a
skirmish with these veterans was a favourite recreation with the rabble
of Edinburgh. These pages may perhaps see the light when many have in
fresh recollection such onsets as we allude to. But the venerable corps,
with whom the contention was held, may now be considered as totally
extinct. Of late the gradual diminution of these civic soldiers reminds
one of the abatement of King Lear's hundred knights. The edicts of each
succeeding set of magistrates have, like those of Goneril and Regan,
diminished this venerable band with the similar question, "What need we
five-and-twenty?--ten?--or five?" And it is now nearly come to, "What
need one?" A spectre may indeed here and there still be seen, of an old
grey-headed and grey-bearded Highlander, with war-worn features, but bent
double by age; dressed in an old fashioned cocked-hat, bound with white
tape instead of silver lace; and in coat, waistcoat, and breeches, of a
muddy-coloured red, bearing in his withered hand an ancient weapon,
called a Lochaber-axe; a long pole, namely, with an axe at the extremity,
and a hook at the back of the hatchet.*

* This hook was to enable the bearer of the Lochaber-axe to scale a
gateway, by grappling the top of the door, and swinging himself up by the
staff of his weapon.

Such a phantom of former days still creeps, I have been informed, round
the statue of Charles the Second, in the Parliament Square, as if the
image of a Stuart were the last refuge for any memorial of our ancient
manners; and one or two others are supposed to glide around the door of
the guardhouse assigned to them in the Luckenbooths, when their ancient
refuge in the High Street was laid low.*

* This ancient corps is now entirely disbanded. Their last march to do
duty at Hallowfair had something in it affecting. Their drums and fifes
had been wont on better days to play, on this joyous occasion, the lively
tune of "Jockey to the fair;" but on his final occasion the afflicted
veterans moved slowly to the dirge of

"The last time I came ower the muir."

But the fate of manuscripts bequeathed to friends and executors is so
uncertain, that the narrative containing these frail memorials of the old
Town Guard of Edinburgh, who, with their grim and valiant corporal, John
Dhu (the fiercest-looking fellow I ever saw), were, in my boyhood, the
alternate terror and derision of the petulant brood of the High School,
may, perhaps, only come to light when all memory of the institution has
faded away, and then serve as an illustration of Kay's caricatures, who
has preserved the features of some of their heroes. In the preceding
generation, when there was a perpetual alarm for the plots and activity
of the Jacobites, some pains were taken by the magistrates of Edinburgh
to keep this corps, though composed always of such materials as we have
noticed, in a more effective state than was afterwards judged necessary,
when their most dangerous service was to skirmish with the rabble on the
king's birthday. They were, therefore, more the objects of hatred, and
less that of scorn, than they were afterwards accounted.

To Captain John Porteous, the honour of his command and of his corps
seems to have been a matter of high interest and importance. He was
exceedingly incensed against Wilson for the affront which he construed
him to have put upon his soldiers, in the effort he made for the
liberation of his companion, and expressed himself most ardently on the
subject. He was no less indignant at the report, that there was an
intention to rescue Wilson himself from the gallows, and uttered many
threats and imprecations upon that subject, which were afterwards
remembered to his disadvantage. In fact, if a good deal of determination
and promptitude rendered Porteous, in one respect, fit to command guards
designed to suppress popular commotion, he seems, on the other, to have
been disqualified for a charge so delicate, by a hot and surly temper,
always too ready to come to blows and violence; a character void of
principle; and a disposition to regard the rabble, who seldom failed to
regale him and his soldiers with some marks of their displeasure, as
declared enemies, upon whom it was natural and justifiable that he should
seek opportunities of vengeance. Being, however, the most active and
trustworthy among the captains of the City Guard, he was the person to
whom the magistrates confided the command of the soldiers appointed to
keep the peace at the time of Wilson's execution. He was ordered to guard
the gallows and scaffold, with about eighty men, all the disposable force
that could be spared for that duty.

But the magistrates took farther precautions, which affected Porteous's
pride very deeply. They requested the assistance of part of a regular
infantry regiment, not to attend upon the execution, but to remain drawn
up on the principal street of the city, during the time that it went
forward, in order to intimidate the multitude, in case they should be
disposed to be unruly, with a display of force which could not be
resisted without desperation. It may sound ridiculous in our ears,
considering the fallen state of this ancient civic corps, that its
officer should have felt punctiliously jealous of its honour. Yet so it
was. Captain Porteous resented, as an indignity, the introducing the
Welsh Fusileers within the city, and drawing them up in the street where
no drums but his own were allowed to be sounded without the special
command or permission of the magistrates. As he could not show his
ill-humour to his patrons the magistrates, it increased his indignation
and his desire to be revenged on the unfortunate criminal Wilson, and all
who favoured him. These internal emotions of jealousy and rage wrought a
change on the man's mien and bearing, visible to all who saw him on the
fatal morning when Wilson was appointed to suffer. Porteous's ordinary
appearance was rather favourable. He was about the middle size, stout,
and well made, having a military air, and yet rather a gentle and mild
countenance. His complexion was brown, his face somewhat fretted with the
sears of the smallpox, his eyes rather languid than keen or fierce. On
the present occasion, however, it seemed to those who saw him as if he
were agitated by some evil demon. His step was irregular, his voice
hollow and broken, his countenance pale, his eyes staring and wild, his
speech imperfect and confused, and his whole appearance so disordered,
that many remarked he seemed to be _fey,_ a Scottish expression, meaning
the state of those who are driven on to their impending fate by the
strong impulse of some irresistible necessity.

One part of his conduct was truly diabolical, if indeed it has not been
exaggerated by the general prejudice entertained against his memory. When
Wilson, the unhappy criminal, was delivered to him by the keeper of the
prison, in order that he might be conducted to the place of execution,
Porteous, not satisfied with the usual precautions to prevent escape,
ordered him to be manacled. This might be justifiable from the character
and bodily strength of the malefactor, as well as from the apprehensions
so generally entertained of an expected rescue. But the handcuffs which
were produced being found too small for the wrists of a man so big-boned
as Wilson, Porteous proceeded with his own hands, and by great exertion
of strength, to force them till they clasped together, to the exquisite
torture of the unhappy criminal. Wilson remonstrated against such
barbarous usage, declaring that the pain distracted his thoughts from the
subjects of meditation proper to his unhappy condition.

"It signifies little," replied Captain Porteous; "your pain will soon be
at an end."

"Your cruelty is great," answered the sufferer. "You know not how soon
you yourself may have occasion to ask the mercy which you are now
refusing to a fellow-creature. May God forgive you!"

These words, long afterwards quoted and remembered, were all that passed
between Porteous and his prisoner; but as they took air, and became known
to the people, they greatly increased the popular compassion for Wilson,
and excited a proportionate degree of indignation against Porteous;
against whom, as strict, and even violent in the discharge of his
unpopular office, the common people had some real, and many imaginary
causes of complaint.

When the painful procession was completed, and Wilson, with the escort,
had arrived at the scaffold in the Grassmarket, there appeared no signs
of that attempt to rescue him which had occasioned such precautions. The
multitude, in general, looked on with deeper interest than at ordinary
executions; and there might be seen, on the countenances of many, a stern
and indignant expression, like that with which the ancient Cameronians
might be supposed to witness the execution of their brethren, who
glorified the Covenant on the same occasion, and at the same spot. But
there was no attempt at violence. Wilson himself seemed disposed to
hasten over the space that divided time from eternity. The devotions
proper and usual on such occasions were no sooner finished than he
submitted to his fate, and the sentence of the law was fulfilled.

He had been suspended on the gibbet so long as to be totally deprived of
life, when at once, as if occasioned by some newly received impulse,
there arose a tumult among the multitude. Many stones were thrown at
Porteous and his guards; some mischief was done; and the mob continued to
press forward with whoops, shrieks, howls, and exclamations. A young
fellow, with a sailor's cap slouched over his face, sprung on the
scaffold, and cut the rope by which the criminal was suspended. Others
approached to carry off the body, either to secure for it a decent grave,
or to try, perhaps, some means of resuscitation. Captain Porteous was
wrought, by this appearance of insurrection against his authority, into a
rage so headlong as made him forget, that, the sentence having been fully
executed, it was his duty not to engage in hostilities with the misguided
multitude, but to draw off his men as fast as possible. He sprung from
the scaffold, snatched a musket from one of his soldiers, commanded the
party to give fire, and, as several eye-witnesses concurred in swearing,
set them the example, by discharging his piece, and shooting a man dead
on the spot. Several soldiers obeyed his command or followed his example;
six or seven persons were slain, and a great many were hurt and wounded.

After this act of violence, the Captain proceeded to withdraw his men
towards their guard-house in the High Street. The mob were not so much
intimidated as incensed by what had been done. They pursued the soldiers
with execrations, accompanied by volleys of stones. As they pressed on
them, the rearmost soldiers turned, and again fired with fatal aim and
execution. It is not accurately known whether Porteous commanded this
second act of violence; but of course the odium of the whole transactions
of the fatal day attached to him, and to him alone. He arrived at the
guard-house, dismissed his soldiers, and went to make his report to the
magistrates concerning the unfortunate events of the day.

Apparently by this time Captain Porteous had began to doubt the propriety
of his own conduct, and the reception he met with from the magistrates
was such as to make him still more anxious to gloss it over. He denied
that he had given orders to fire; he denied he had fired with his own
hand; he even produced the fusee which he carried as an officer for
examination; it was found still loaded. Of three cartridges which he was
seen to put in his pouch that morning, two were still there; a white
handkerchief was thrust into the muzzle of the piece, and re-turned
unsoiled or blackened. To the defence founded on these circumstances it
was answered, that Porteous had not used his own piece, but had been seen
to take one from a soldier. Among the many who had been killed and
wounded by the unhappy fire, there were several of better rank; for even
the humanity of such soldiers as fired over the heads of the mere rabble
around the scaffold, proved in some instances fatal to persons who were
stationed in windows, or observed the melancholy scene from a distance.
The voice of public indignation was loud and general; and, ere men's
tempers had time to cool, the trial of Captain Porteous took place before
the High Court of Justiciary. After a long and patient hearing, the jury
had the difficult duty of balancing the positive evidence of many
persons, and those of respectability, who deposed positively to the
prisoner's commanding his soldiers to fire, and himself firing his piece,
of which some swore that they saw the smoke and flash, and beheld a man
drop at whom it was pointed, with the negative testimony of others, who,
though well stationed for seeing what had passed, neither heard Porteous
give orders to fire, nor saw him fire himself; but, on the contrary,
averred that the first shot was fired by a soldier who stood close by
him. A great part of his defence was also founded on the turbulence of
the mob, which witnesses, according to their feelings, their
predilections, and their opportunities of observation, represented
differently; some describing as a formidable riot, what others
represented as a trifling disturbance such as always used to take place
on the like occasions, when the executioner of the law, and the men
commissioned to protect him in his task, were generally exposed to some
indignities. The verdict of the jury sufficiently shows how the evidence
preponderated in their minds. It declared that John Porteous fired a gun
among the people assembled at the execution; that he gave orders to his
soldiers to fire, by which many persons were killed and wounded; but, at
the same time, that the prisoner and his guard had been wounded and
beaten, by stones thrown at them by the multitude. Upon this verdict, the
Lords of Justiciary passed sentence of death against Captain John
Porteous, adjudging him, in the common form, to be hanged on a gibbet at
the common place of execution, on Wednesday, 8th September 1736, and all
his movable property to be forfeited to the king's use, according to the
Scottish law in cases of wilful murder.*

* The signatures affixed to the death-warrant of Captain Porteous were--
Andrew Fletcher of Milton, Lord Justice-Clerk.
Sir James Mackenzie, Lord Royston.
David Erskine, Lord Dun.
Sir Walter Pringle, Lord Newhall.
Sir Gilbert Elliot, Lord Minto.


                   "The hour's come, but not the man."*

* There is a tradition, that while a little stream was swollen into a
torrent by recent showers, the discontented voice of the Water Spirit was
heard to pronounce these words. At the some moment a man, urged on by his
fate, or, in Scottish language, _fey,_ arrived at a gallop, and prepared
to cross the water. No remonstrance from the bystanders was of power to
stop him--he plunged into the stream, and perished.


On the day when the unhappy Porteous was expected to suffer the sentence
of the law, the place of execution, extensive as it is, was crowded
almost to suffocation. There was not a window in all the lofty tenements
around it, or in the steep and crooked street called the Bow, by which
the fatal procession was to descend from the High Street, that was not
absolutely filled with spectators. The uncommon height and antique
appearance of these houses, some of which were formerly the property of
the Knights Templars, and the Knights of St. John, and still exhibit on
their fronts and gables the iron cross of these orders, gave additional
effect to a scene in itself so striking. The area of the Grassmarket
resembled a huge dark lake or sea of human heads, in the centre of which
arose the fatal tree, tall, black, and ominous, from which dangled the
deadly halter. Every object takes interest from its uses and
associations, and the erect beam and empty noose, things so simple in
themselves, became, on such an occasion, objects of terror and of solemn

Amid so numerous an assembly there was scarcely a word spoken, save in
whispers. The thirst of vengeance was in some degree allayed by its
supposed certainty; and even the populace, with deeper feeling than they
are wont to entertain, suppressed all clamorous exultation, and prepared
to enjoy the scene of retaliation in triumph, silent and decent, though
stern and relentless. It seemed as if the depth of their hatred to the
unfortunate criminal scorned to display itself in anything resembling the
more noisy current of their ordinary feelings. Had a stranger consulted
only the evidence of his ears, he might have supposed that so vast a
multitude were assembled for some purpose which affected them with the
deepest sorrow, and stilled those noises which, on all ordinary
occasions, arise from such a concourse; but if he had gazed upon their
faces, he would have been instantly undeceived. The compressed lip, the
bent brow, the stern and flashing eye of almost everyone on whom he
looked, conveyed the expression of men come to glut their sight with
triumphant revenge. It is probable that the appearance of the criminal
might have somewhat changed the temper of the populace in his favour, and
that they might in the moment of death have forgiven the man against whom
their resentment had been so fiercely heated. It had, however, been
destined, that the mutability of their sentiments was not to be exposed
to this trial.

The usual hour for producing the criminal had been past for many minutes,
yet the spectators observed no symptom of his appearance. "Would they
venture to defraud public justice?" was the question which men began
anxiously to ask at each other. The first answer in every case was bold
and positive,--"They dare not." But when the point was further canvassed,
other opinions were entertained, and various causes of doubt were
suggested. Porteous had been a favourite officer of the magistracy of the
city, which, being a numerous and fluctuating body, requires for its
support a degree of energy in its functionaries, which the individuals
who compose it cannot at all times alike be supposed to possess in their
own persons. It was remembered, that in the Information for Porteous (the
paper, namely, in which his case was stated to the Judges of the criminal
court), he had been described by his counsel as the person on whom the
magistrates chiefly relied in all emergencies of uncommon difficulty. It
was argued, too, that his conduct, on the unhappy occasion of Wilson's
execution, was capable of being attributed to an imprudent excess of zeal
in the execution of his duty, a motive for which those under whose
authority he acted might be supposed to have great sympathy. And as these
considerations might move the magistrates to make a favourable
representation of Porteous's case, there were not wanting others in the
higher departments of Government, which would make such suggestions
favourably listened to.

The mob of Edinburgh, when thoroughly excited, had been at all times one
of the fiercest which could be found in Europe; and of late years they
had risen repeatedly against the Government, and sometimes not without
temporary success. They were conscious, therefore, that they were no
favourites with the rulers of the period, and that, if Captain Porteous's
violence was not altogether regarded as good service, it might certainly
be thought, that to visit it with a capital punishment would render it
both delicate and dangerous for future officers, in the same
circumstances, to act with effect in repressing tumults. There is also a
natural feeling, on the part of all members of Government, for the
general maintenance of authority; and it seemed not unlikely, that what
to the relatives of the sufferers appeared a wanton and unprovoked
massacre, should be otherwise viewed in the cabinet of St. James's. It
might be there supposed, that upon the whole matter, Captain Porteous was
in the exercise of a trust delegated to him by the lawful civil
authority; that he had been assaulted by the populace, and several of his
men hurt; and that, in finally repelling force by force, his conduct
could be fairly imputed to no other motive than self-defence in the
discharge of his duty.

These considerations, of themselves very powerful, induced the spectators
to apprehend the possibility of a reprieve; and to the various causes
which might interest the rulers in his favour, the lower part of the
rabble added one which was peculiarly well adapted to their
comprehension. It was averred, in order to increase the odium against
Porteous, that while he repressed with the utmost severity the slightest
excesses of the poor, he not only overlooked the license of the young
nobles and gentry, but was very willing to lend them the countenance of
his official authority, in execution of such loose pranks as it was
chiefly his duty to have restrained. This suspicion, which was perhaps
much exaggerated, made a deep impression on the minds of the populace;
and when several of the higher rank joined in a petition, recommending
Porteous to the mercy of the Crown, it was generally supposed he owed
their favour not to any conviction of the hardship of his case, but to
the fear of losing a convenient accomplice in their debaucheries. It is
scarcely necessary to say how much this suspicion augmented the people's
detestation of this obnoxious criminal, as well as their fear of his
escaping the sentence pronounced against him.

While these arguments were stated and replied to, and canvassed and
supported, the hitherto silent expectation of the people became changed
into that deep and agitating murmur, which is sent forth by the ocean
before the tempest begins to howl. The crowded populace, as if their
motions had corresponded with the unsettled state of their minds,
fluctuated to and fro without any visible cause of impulse, like the
agitation of the waters, called by sailors the ground-swell. The news,
which the magistrates had almost hesitated to communicate to them, were
at length announced, and spread among the spectators with a rapidity like
lightning. A reprieve from the Secretary of State's office, under the
hand of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, had arrived, intimating the
pleasure of Queen Caroline (regent of the kingdom during the absence of
George II. on the Continent), that the execution of the sentence of death
pronounced against John Porteous, late Captain-Lieutenant of the City
Guard of Edinburgh, present prisoner in the Tolbooth of that city, be
respited for six weeks from the time appointed for his execution.

The assembled spectators of almost all degrees, whose minds had been
wound up to the pitch which we have described, uttered a groan, or rather
a roar of indignation and disappointed revenge, similar to that of a
tiger from whom his meal has been rent by his keeper when he was just
about to devour it. This fierce exclamation seemed to forbode some
immediate explosion of popular resentment, and, in fact, such had been
expected by the magistrates, and the necessary measures had been taken to
repress it. But the shout was not repeated, nor did any sudden tumult
ensue, such as it appeared to announce. The populace seemed to be ashamed
of having expressed their disappointment in a vain clamour, and the sound
changed, not into the silence which had preceded the arrival of these
stunning news, but into stifled mutterings, which each group maintained
among themselves, and which were blended into one deep and hoarse murmur
which floated above the assembly.

Yet still, though all expectation of the execution was over, the mob
remained assembled, stationary, as it were, through very resentment,
gazing on the preparations for death, which had now been made in vain,
and stimulating their feelings, by recalling the various claims which
Wilson might have had on royal mercy, from the mistaken motives on which
he acted, as well as from the generosity he had displayed towards his
accomplice. "This man," they said,--"the brave, the resolute, the
generous, was executed to death without mercy for stealing a purse of
gold, which in some sense he might consider as a fair reprisal; while the
profligate satellite, who took advantage of a trifling tumult,
inseparable from such occasions, to shed the blood of twenty of his
fellow-citizens, is deemed a fitting object for the exercise of the royal
prerogative of mercy. Is this to be borne?--would our fathers have borne
it? Are not we, like them, Scotsmen and burghers of Edinburgh?"

The officers of justice began now to remove the scaffold, and other
preparations which had been made for the execution, in hopes, by doing
so, to accelerate the dispersion of the multitude. The measure had the
desired effect; for no sooner had the fatal tree been unfixed from the
large stone pedestal or socket in which it was secured, and sunk slowly
down upon the wain intended to remove it to the place where it was
usually deposited, than the populace, after giving vent to their feelings
in a second shout of rage and mortification, began slowly to disperse to
their usual abodes and occupations.

The windows were in like manner gradually deserted, and groups of the
more decent class of citizens formed themselves, as if waiting to return
homewards when the streets should be cleared of the rabble. Contrary to
what is frequently the case, this description of persons agreed in
general with the sentiments of their inferiors, and considered the cause
as common to all ranks. Indeed, as we have already noticed, it was by no
means amongst the lowest class of the spectators, or those most likely to
be engaged in the riot at Wilson's execution, that the fatal fire of
Porteous's soldiers had taken effect. Several persons were killed who
were looking out at windows at the scene, who could not of course belong
to the rioters, and were persons of decent rank and condition. The
burghers, therefore, resenting the loss which had fallen on their own
body, and proud and tenacious of their rights, as the citizens of
Edinburgh have at all times been, were greatly exasperated at the
unexpected respite of Captain Porteous.

It was noticed at the time, and afterwards more particularly remembered,
that, while the mob were in the act of dispersing, several individuals
were seen busily passing from one place and one group of people to
another, remaining long with none, but whispering for a little time with
those who appeared to be declaiming most violently against the conduct of
Government. These active agents had the appearance of men from the
country, and were generally supposed to be old friends and confederates
of Wilson, whose minds were of course highly excited against Porteous.

If, however, it was the intention of these men to stir the multitude to
any sudden act of mutiny, it seemed for the time to be fruitless. The
rabble, as well as the more decent part of the assembly, dispersed, and
went home peaceably; and it was only by observing the moody discontent on
their brows, or catching the tenor of the conversation they held with
each other, that a stranger could estimate the state of their minds. We
will give the reader this advantage, by associating ourselves with one of
the numerous groups who were painfully ascending the steep declivity of
the West Bow, to return to their dwellings in the Lawnmarket.

"An unco thing this, Mrs. Howden," said old Peter Plumdamas to his
neighbour the rouping-wife, or saleswoman, as he offered her his arm to
assist her in the toilsome ascent, "to see the grit folk at Lunnon set
their face against law and gospel, and let loose sic a reprobate as
Porteous upon a peaceable town!"

"And to think o' the weary walk they hae gien us," answered Mrs. Howden,
with a groan; "and sic a comfortable window as I had gotten, too, just
within a penny-stane-cast of the scaffold--I could hae heard every word
the minister said--and to pay twalpennies for my stand, and a' for

"I am judging," said Mr. Plumdamas, "that this reprieve wadna stand gude
in the auld Scots law, when the kingdom was a kingdom."

"I dinna ken muckle about the law," answered Mrs. Howden; "but I ken,
when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament men o' our ain, we
could aye peeble them wi' stanes when they werena gude bairns--But
naebody's nails can reach the length o' Lunnon."

"Weary on Lunnon, and a' that e'er came out o't!" said Miss Grizel
Damahoy, an ancient seamstress; "they hae taen away our parliament, and
they hae oppressed our trade. Our gentles will hardly allow that a Scots
needle can sew ruffles on a sark, or lace on an owerlay."

"Ye may say that--Miss Damahoy, and I ken o' them that hae gotten raisins
frae Lunnon by forpits at ance," responded Plumdamas; "and then sic an
host of idle English gaugers and excisemen as hae come down to vex and
torment us, that an honest man canna fetch sae muckle as a bit anker o'
brandy frae Leith to the Lawnmarket, but he's like to be rubbit o' the
very gudes he's bought and paid for.--Weel, I winna justify Andrew Wilson
for pitting hands on what wasna his; but if he took nae mair than his
ain, there's an awfu' difference between that and the fact this man
stands for."

"If ye speak about the law," said Mrs. Howden, "here comes Mr.
Saddletree, that can settle it as weel as ony on the bench."

The party she mentioned, a grave elderly person, with a superb periwig,
dressed in a decent suit of sad-coloured clothes, came up as she spoke,
and courteously gave his arm to Miss Grizel Damahoy.

It may be necessary to mention, that Mr. Bartoline Saddletree kept an
excellent and highly-esteemed shop for harness, saddles, &c. &c., at the
sign of the Golden Nag, at the head of Bess Wynd.*

* [Maitland calls it Best's Wynd, and later writers Beth's Wynd. As the
name implies, it was an open thoroughfare or alley leading from the
Lawnmarket, and extended in a direct line between the old Tolbooth to
near the head of the Cowgate. It was partly destroyed by fire in 1786,
and was totally removed in 1809, preparatory to the building of the new
libraries of the Faculty of Advocates and writers to the Signet.]

His genius, however (as he himself and most of his neighbours conceived),
lay towards the weightier matters of the law, and he failed not to give
frequent attendance upon the pleadings and arguments of the lawyers and
judges in the neighbouring square, where, to say the truth, he was
oftener to be found than would have consisted with his own emolument; but
that his wife, an active painstaking person, could, in his absence, make
an admirable shift to please the customers and scold the journeymen. This
good lady was in the habit of letting her husband take his way, and go on
improving his stock of legal knowledge without interruption; but, as if
in requital, she insisted upon having her own will in the domestic and
commercial departments which he abandoned to her. Now, as Bartoline
Saddletree had a considerable gift of words, which he mistook for
eloquence, and conferred more liberally upon the society in which he
lived than was at all times gracious and acceptable, there went forth a
saying, with which wags used sometimes to interrupt his rhetoric, that,
as he had a golden nag at his door, so he had a grey mare in his shop.
This reproach induced Mr. Saddletree, on all occasions, to assume rather
a haughty and stately tone towards his good woman, a circumstance by
which she seemed very little affected, unless he attempted to exercise
any real authority, when she never failed to fly into open rebellion. But
such extremes Bartoline seldom provoked; for, like the gentle King Jamie,
he was fonder of talking of authority than really exercising it. This
turn of mind was, on the whole, lucky for him; since his substance was
increased without any trouble on his part, or any interruption of his
favourite studies.

This word in explanation has been thrown in to the reader, while
Saddletree was laying down, with great precision, the law upon Porteous's
case, by which he arrived at this conclusion, that, if Porteous had fired
five minutes sooner, before Wilson was cut down, he would have been
_versans in licito;_ engaged, that is, in a lawful act, and only liable
to be punished _propter excessum,_ or for lack of discretion, which might
have mitigated the punishment to _poena ordinaria._

"Discretion!" echoed Mrs. Howden, on whom, it may well be supposed, the
fineness of this distinction was entirely thrown away,--"whan had Jock
Porteous either grace, discretion, or gude manners?--I mind when his

"But, Mrs. Howden," said Saddletree--

"And I," said Miss Damahoy, "mind when his mother"

"Miss Damahoy," entreated the interrupted orator

"And I," said Plumdamas, "mind when his wife"

"Mr. Plumdamas--Mrs. Howden--Miss Damahoy," again implored the
orator,--"Mind the distinction, as Counsellor Crossmyloof says--'I,'
says he, 'take a distinction.' Now, the body of the criminal being cut
down, and the execution ended, Porteous was no longer official; the act
which he came to protect and guard, being done and ended, he was no
better than _cuivis ex populo._"

"_Quivis--quivis,_ Mr. Saddletree, craving your pardon," said (with a
prolonged emphasis on the first syllable) Mr. Butler, the
deputy-schoolmaster of a parish near Edinburgh, who at that moment came
up behind them as the false Latin was uttered.

"What signifies interrupting me, Mr. Butler?--but I am glad to see ye
notwithstanding--I speak after Counsellor Crossmyloof, and he said

"If Counsellor Crossmyloof used the dative for the nominative, I would
have crossed his loof with a tight leathern strap, Mr. Saddletree; there
is not a boy on the booby form but should have been scourged for such a
solecism in grammar."

"I speak Latin like a lawyer, Mr. Butler, and not like a schoolmaster,"
retorted Saddletree.

"Scarce like a schoolboy, I think," rejoined Butler.

"It matters little," said Bartoline; "all I mean to say is, that Porteous
has become liable to the _poena extra ordinem,_ or capital
punishment--which is to say, in plain Scotch, the gallows--simply
because he did not fire when he was in office, but waited till the body
was cut down, the execution whilk he had in charge to guard implemented,
and he himself exonered of the public trust imposed on him."

"But, Mr. Saddletree," said Plumdamas, "do ye really think John
Porteous's case wad hae been better if he had begun firing before ony
stanes were flung at a'?"

"Indeed do I, neighbour Plumdamas," replied Bartoline, confidently, "he
being then in point of trust and in point of power, the execution being
but inchoat, or, at least, not implemented, or finally ended; but after
Wilson was cut down it was a' ower--he was clean exauctorate, and had nae
mair ado but to get awa wi' his guard up this West Bow as fast as if
there had been a caption after him--And this is law, for I heard it laid
down by Lord Vincovincentem."

"Vincovincentem?--Is he a lord of state, or a lord of seat?" inquired
Mrs. Howden.*

* A nobleman was called a Lord of State. The Senators of the College * of
Justice were termed Lords of Seat, or of the Session.

"A lord of seat--a lord of session.--I fash mysell little wi' lords o'
state; they vex me wi' a wheen idle questions about their saddles, and
curpels, and holsters and horse-furniture, and what they'll cost, and
whan they'll be ready--a wheen galloping geese--my wife may serve the
like o' them."

"And so might she, in her day, hae served the best lord in the land, for
as little as ye think o' her, Mr. Saddletree," said Mrs. Howden, somewhat
indignant at the contemptuous way in which her gossip was mentioned;
"when she and I were twa gilpies, we little thought to hae sitten doun
wi' the like o' my auld Davie Howden, or you either, Mr. Saddletree."

While Saddletree, who was not bright at a reply, was cudgelling his
brains for an answer to this homethrust, Miss Damahoy broke in on him.

"And as for the lords of state," said Miss Damahoy, "ye suld mind the
riding o' the parliament, Mr. Saddletree, in the gude auld time before
the Union,--a year's rent o' mony a gude estate gaed for horse-graith and
harnessing, forby broidered robes and foot-mantles, that wad hae stude by
their lane wi' gold brocade, and that were muckle in my ain line."

"Ay, and then the lusty banqueting, with sweetmeats and comfits wet and
dry, and dried fruits of divers sorts," said Plumdamas. "But Scotland was
Scotland in these days."

"I'll tell ye what it is, neighbours," said Mrs. Howden, "I'll ne'er
believe Scotland is Scotland ony mair, if our kindly Scots sit doun with
the affront they hae gien us this day. It's not only the blude that _is_
shed, but the blude that might hae been shed, that's required at our
hands; there was my daughter's wean, little Eppie Daidle--my oe, ye ken,
Miss Grizel--had played the truant frae the school, as bairns will do, ye
ken, Mr. Butler"

"And for which," interjected Mr. Butler, "they should be soundly scourged
by their well-wishers."

"And had just cruppen to the gallows' foot to see the hanging, as was
natural for a wean; and what for mightna she hae been shot as weel as the
rest o' them, and where wad we a' hae been then? I wonder how Queen
Carline (if her name be Carline) wad hae liked to hae had ane o' her ain
bairns in sic a venture?"

"Report says," answered Butler, "that such a circumstance would not have
distressed her majesty beyond endurance."

"Aweel," said Mrs. Howden, "the sum o' the matter is, that, were I a man,
I wad hae amends o' Jock Porteous, be the upshot what like o't, if a' the
carles and carlines in England had sworn to the nay-say."

"I would claw down the Tolbooth door wi' my nails," said Miss Grizel,
"but I wad be at him."

"Ye may be very right, ladies," said Butler, "but I would not advise you
to speak so loud."

"Speak!" exclaimed both the ladies together, "there will be naething else
spoken about frae the Weigh-house to the Water-gate, till this is either
ended or mended."

The females now departed to their respective places of abode. Plumdamas
joined the other two gentlemen in drinking their _meridian_ (a
bumper-dram of brandy), as they passed the well-known low-browed shop in
the Lawnmarket, where they were wont to take that refreshment. Mr.
Plumdamas then departed towards his shop, and Mr. Butler, who happened to
have some particular occasion for the rein of an old bridle (the truants
of that busy day could have anticipated its application), walked down the
Lawnmarket with Mr. Saddletree, each talking as he could get a word
thrust in, the one on the laws of Scotland, the other on those of syntax,
and neither listening to a word which his companion uttered.


            Elswhair he colde right weel lay down the law,
                But in his house was meek as is a daw.
                                                  Davie Lindsay.

"There has been Jock Driver the carrier here, speering about his new
graith," said Mrs. Saddletree to her husband, as he crossed his
threshold, not with the purpose, by any means, of consulting him upon his
own affairs, but merely to intimate, by a gentle recapitulation, how much
duty she had gone through in his absence.

"Weel," replied Bartoline, and deigned not a word more.

"And the laird of Girdingburst has had his running footman here, and ca'd
himsell (he's a civil pleasant young gentleman), to see when the
broidered saddle-cloth for his sorrel horse will be ready, for he wants
it agane the Kelso races."

"Weel, aweel," replied Bartoline, as laconically as before.

"And his lordship, the Earl of Blazonbury, Lord Flash and Flame, is like
to be clean daft, that the harness for the six Flanders mears, wi' the
crests, coronets, housings, and mountings conform, are no sent hame
according to promise gien."

"Weel, weel, weel--weel, weel, gudewife," said Saddletree, "if he gangs
daft, we'll hae him cognosced--it's a' very weel."

"It's weel that ye think sae, Mr. Saddletree," answered his helpmate,
rather nettled at the indifference with which her report was received;
"there's mony ane wad hae thought themselves affronted, if sae mony
customers had ca'd and naebody to answer them but women-folk; for a' the
lads were aff, as soon as your back was turned, to see Porteous hanged,
that might be counted upon; and sae, you no being at hame"

"Houts, Mrs. Saddletree," said Bartoline, with an air of consequence,
"dinna deave me wi' your nonsense; I was under the necessity of being
elsewhere--_non omnia_--as Mr. Crossmyloof said, when he was called by
two macers at once--_non omnia possumus--pessimus--possimis_--I ken our
law-latin offends Mr. Butler's ears, but it means, Naebody, an it were
the Lord President himsell, can do twa turns at ance."

"Very right, Mr. Saddletree," answered his careful helpmate, with a
sarcastic smile; "and nae doubt it's a decent thing to leave your wife to
look after young gentlemen's saddles and bridles, when ye gang to see a
man, that never did ye nae ill, raxing a halter."

"Woman," said Saddletree, assuming an elevated tone, to which the
_meridian_ had somewhat contributed, "desist,--I say forbear, from
intromitting with affairs thou canst not understand. D'ye think I was
born to sit here brogging an elshin through bend-leather, when sic men as
Duncan Forbes, and that other Arniston chield there, without muckle
greater parts, if the close-head speak true, than mysell maun be
presidents and king's advocates, nae doubt, and wha but they? Whereas,
were favour equally distribute, as in the days of the wight Wallace"

"I ken naething we wad hae gotten by the wight Wallace," said Mrs.
Saddletree, "unless, as I hae heard the auld folk tell, they fought in
thae days wi' bend-leather guns, and then it's a chance but what, if he
had bought them, he might have forgot to pay for them. And as for the
greatness of your parts, Bartley, the folk in the close-head* maun ken
mair about them than I do, if they make sic a report of them."

* [_Close-head,_ the entrance of a blind alley.]

"I tell ye, woman," said Saddletree, in high dudgeon, "that ye ken
naething about these matters. In Sir William Wallace's days there was nae
man pinned down to sic a slavish wark as a saddler's, for they got ony
leather graith that they had use for ready-made out of Holland."

"Well," said Butler, who was, like many of his profession, something of a
humorist and dry joker, "if that be the case, Mr. Saddletree, I think we
have changed for the better; since we make our own harness, and only
import our lawyers from Holland."

"It's ower true, Mr. Butler," answered Bartoline, with a sigh; "if I had
had the luck--or rather, if my father had had the sense to send me to
Leyden and Utrecht to learn the Substitutes and Pandex"

"You mean the Institutes--Justinian's Institutes, Mr. Saddletree?" said

"Institutes and substitutes are synonymous words, Mr. Butler, and used
indifferently as such in deeds of tailzie, as you may see in Balfour's
Practiques, or Dallas of St. Martin's Styles. I understand these things
pretty weel, I thank God but I own I should have studied in Holland."

"To comfort you, you might not have been farther forward than you are
now, Mr. Saddletree," replied Mr. Butler; "for our Scottish advocates are
an aristocratic race. Their brass is of the right Corinthian quality, and
_Non cuivis contigit adire Corinthum_--Aha, Mr. Saddletree?"

"And aha, Mr. Butler," rejoined Bartoline, upon whom, as may be well
supposed, the jest was lost, and all but the sound of the words, "ye said
a gliff syne it was _quivis,_ and now I heard ye say _cuivis_ with my ain
ears, as plain as ever I heard a word at the fore-bar."

"Give me your patience, Mr. Saddletree, and I'll explain the discrepancy
in three words," said Butler, as pedantic in his own department, though
with infinitely more judgment and learning, as Bartoline was in his
self-assumed profession of the law--"Give me your patience for a
moment--You'll grant that the nominative case is that by which a person or
thing is nominated or designed, and which may be called the primary case,
all others being formed from it by alterations of the termination in the
learned languages, and by prepositions in our modern Babylonian
jargons--You'll grant me that, I suppose, Mr. Saddletree?"

"I dinna ken whether I will or no--_ad avisandum,_ ye ken--naebody should
be in a hurry to make admissions, either in point of law, or in point of
fact," said Saddletree, looking, or endeavouring to look, as if he
understood what was said.

"And the dative case," continued Butler

"I ken what a tutor dative is," said Saddletree, "readily enough."

"The dative case," resumed the grammarian, "is that in which anything is
given or assigned as properly belonging to a person or thing--You cannot
deny that, I am sure."

"I am sure I'll no grant it, though," said Saddletree.

"Then, what the _deevil_ d'ye take the nominative and the dative cases to
be?" said Butler, hastily, and surprised at once out of his decency of
expression and accuracy of pronunciation.

"I'll tell you that at leisure, Mr. Butler," said Saddletree, with a very
knowing look; "I'll take a day to see and answer every article of your
condescendence, and then I'll hold you to confess or deny as accords."

"Come, come, Mr. Saddletree," said his wife, "we'll hae nae confessions
and condescendences here; let them deal in thae sort o' wares that are
paid for them--they suit the like o' us as all as a demipique saddle
would suit a draught ox."

"Aha!" said Mr. Butler, "_Optat ephippia bos piger,_ nothing new under
the sun--But it was a fair hit of Mrs. Saddletree, however."

"And it wad far better become ye, Mr. Saddletree," continued his
helpmate, "since ye say ye hae skeel o' the law, to try if ye can do
onything for Effie Deans, puir thing, that's lying up in the tolbooth
yonder, cauld, and hungry, and comfortless--A servant lass of ours, Mr.
Butler, and as innocent a lass, to my thinking, and as usefu' in the
shop--When Mr. Saddletree gangs out,--and ye're aware he's seldom at hame
when there's ony o' the plea-houses open,--poor Effie used to help me to
tumble the bundles o' barkened leather up and down, and range out the
gudes, and suit a' body's humours--And troth, she could aye please the
customers wi' her answers, for she was aye civil, and a bonnier lass
wasna in Auld Reekie. And when folk were hasty and unreasonable, she
could serve them better than me, that am no sae young as I hae been, Mr.
Butler, and a wee bit short in the temper into the bargain. For when
there's ower mony folks crying on me at anes, and nane but ae tongue to
answer them, folk maun speak hastily, or they'll ne'er get through their
wark--Sae I miss Effie daily."

"_De die in diem,_" added Saddletree.

"I think," said Butler, after a good deal of hesitation, "I have seen the
girl in the shop--a modest-looking, fair-haired girl?"

"Ay, ay, that's just puir Effie," said her mistress. "How she was
abandoned to hersell, or whether she was sackless o' the sinful deed, God
in Heaven knows; but if she's been guilty, she's been sair tempted, and I
wad amaist take my Bible-aith she hasna been hersell at the time."

Butler had by this time become much agitated; he fidgeted up and down the
shop, and showed the greatest agitation that a person of such strict
decorum could be supposed to give way to. "Was not this girl," he said,
"the daughter of David Deans, that had the parks at St. Leonard's taken?
and has she not a sister?"

"In troth has she,--puir Jeanie Deans, ten years aulder than hersell; she
was here greeting a wee while syne about her tittie. And what could I say
to her, but that she behoved to come and speak to Mr. Saddletree when he
was at hame? It wasna that I thought Mr. Saddletree could do her or ony
ither body muckle good or ill, but it wad aye serve to keep the puir
thing's heart up for a wee while; and let sorrow come when sorrow maun."

"Ye're mistaen though, gudewife," said Saddletree scornfully, "for I
could hae gien her great satisfaction; I could hae proved to her that her
sister was indicted upon the statute saxteen hundred and ninety, chapter
one--For the mair ready prevention of child-murder--for concealing her
pregnancy, and giving no account of the child which she had borne."

"I hope," said Butler,--"I trust in a gracious God, that she can clear

"And sae do I, Mr. Butler," replied Mrs. Saddletree. "I am sure I wad hae
answered for her as my ain daughter; but wae's my heart, I had been
tender a' the simmer, and scarce ower the door o' my room for twal weeks.
And as for Mr. Saddletree, he might be in a lying-in hospital, and ne'er
find out what the women cam there for. Sae I could see little or naething
o' her, or I wad hae had the truth o' her situation out o' her, I'se
warrant ye--But we a' think her sister maun be able to speak something to
clear her."

"The haill Parliament House," said Saddletree, "was speaking o' naething
else, till this job o' Porteous's put it out o' head--It's a beautiful
point of presumptive murder, and there's been nane like it in the
Justiciar Court since the case of Luckie Smith the howdie, that suffered
in the year saxteen hundred and seventy-nine."

"But what's the matter wi' you, Mr. Butler?" said the good woman; "ye are
looking as white as a sheet; will ye tak a dram?"

"By no means," said Butler, compelling himself to speak. "I walked in
from Dumfries yesterday, and this is a warm day."

"Sit down," said Mrs. Saddletree, laying hands on him kindly, "and rest
ye--yell kill yoursell, man, at that rate.--And are we to wish you joy o'
getting the scule, Mr. Butler?"

"Yes--no--I do not know," answered the young man vaguely. But Mrs.
Saddletree kept him to point, partly out of real interest, partly from

"Ye dinna ken whether ye are to get the free scule o' Dumfries or no,
after hinging on and teaching it a' the simmer?"

"No, Mrs. Saddletree--I am not to have it," replied Butler, more
collectedly. "The Laird of Black-at-the-Bane had a natural son bred to
the kirk, that the Presbytery could not be prevailed upon to license; and

"Ay, ye need say nae mair about it; if there was a laird that had a puir
kinsman or a bastard that it wad suit, there's enough said.--And ye're
e'en come back to Liberton to wait for dead men's shoon?--and for as
frail as Mr. Whackbairn is, he may live as lang as you, that are his
assistant and successor."

"Very like," replied Butler, with a sigh; "I do not know if I should wish
it otherwise."

"Nae doubt, it's a very vexing thing," continued the good lady, "to be in
that dependent station; and you that hae right and title to sae muckle
better, I wonder how ye bear these crosses."

"_Quos diligit castigat,_" answered Butler; "even the pagan Seneca could
see an advantage in affliction, The Heathens had their philosophy, and
the Jews their revelation, Mrs. Saddletree, and they endured their
distresses in their day. Christians have a better dispensation than
either--but doubtless"

He stopped and sighed.

"I ken what ye mean," said Mrs. Saddletree, looking toward her husband;
"there's whiles we lose patience in spite of baith book and Bible--But ye
are no gaun awa, and looking sae poorly--ye'll stay and take some kale
wi' us?"

Mr. Saddletree laid aside Balfour's Practiques (his favourite study, and
much good may it do him), to join in his wife's hospitable importunity.
But the teacher declined all entreaty, and took his leave upon the spot.

"There's something in a' this," said Mrs. Saddletree, looking after him
as he walked up the street; "I wonder what makes Mr. Butler sae
distressed about Effie's misfortune--there was nae acquaintance atween
them that ever I saw or heard of; but they were neighbours when David
Deans was on the Laird o' Dumbiedikes' land. Mr. Butler wad ken her
father, or some o' her folk.--Get up, Mr. Saddletree--ye have set
yoursell down on the very brecham that wants stitching--and here's little
Willie, the prentice.--Ye little rin-there-out deil that ye are, what
takes you raking through the gutters to see folk hangit?--how wad ye like
when it comes to be your ain chance, as I winna ensure ye, if ye dinna
mend your manners?--And what are ye maundering and greeting for, as if a
word were breaking your banes?--Gang in by, and be a better bairn another
time, and tell Peggy to gie ye a bicker o' broth, for ye'll be as gleg as
a gled, I'se warrant ye.--It's a fatherless bairn, Mr. Saddletree, and
motherless, whilk in some cases may be waur, and ane would take care o'
him if they could--it's a Christian duty."

"Very true, gudewife," said Saddletree in reply, "we are _in loco
parentis_ to him during his years of pupillarity, and I hae had thoughts
of applying to the Court for a commission as factor _loco tutoris,_
seeing there is nae tutor nominate, and the tutor-at-law declines to act;
but only I fear the expense of the procedure wad not be _in rem versam,_
for I am not aware if Willie has ony effects whereof to assume the

He concluded this sentence with a self-important cough, as one who has
laid down the law in an indisputable manner.

"Effects!" said Mrs. Saddletree, "what effects has the puir wean?--he was
in rags when his mother died; and the blue polonie that Effie made for
him out of an auld mantle of my ain, was the first decent dress the bairn
ever had on. Poor Effie! can ye tell me now really, wi' a' your law, will
her life be in danger, Mr. Saddletree, when they arena able to prove that
ever there was a bairn ava?"

"Whoy," said Mr. Saddletree, delighted at having for once in his life
seen his wife's attention arrested by a topic of legal discussion--"Whoy,
there are two sorts of _murdrum_ or _murdragium,_ or what you
_populariter et vulgariser_ call murther. I mean there are many sorts;
for there's your _murthrum per vigilias et insidias,_ and your _murthrum_
under trust."

"I am sure," replied his moiety, "that murther by trust is the way that
the gentry murther us merchants, and whiles make us shut the booth
up--but that has naething to do wi' Effie's misfortune."

"The case of Effie (or Euphemia) Deans," resumed Saddletree, "is one of
those cases of murder presumptive, that is, a murder of the law's
inferring or construction, being derived from certain _indicia_ or
grounds of suspicion."

"So that," said the good woman, "unless poor Effie has communicated her
situation, she'll be hanged by the neck, if the bairn was still-born, or
if it be alive at this moment?"

"Assuredly," said Saddletree, "it being a statute made by our Sovereign
Lord and Lady, to prevent the horrid delict of bringing forth children in
secret--The crime is rather a favourite of the law, this species of
murther being one of its ain creation."

"Then, if the law makes murders," said Mrs. Saddletree, "the law should
be hanged for them; or if they wad hang a lawyer instead, the country wad
find nae faut."

A summons to their frugal dinner interrupted the farther progress of the
conversation, which was otherwise like to take a turn much less
favourable to the science of jurisprudence and its professors, than Mr.
Bartoline Saddletree, the fond admirer of both, had at its opening


                   But up then raise all Edinburgh.
                   They all rose up by thousands three.
                                      Johnnie Armstrang's _Goodnight._

Butler, on his departure from the sign of the Golden Nag, went in quest
of a friend of his connected with the law, of whom he wished to make
particular inquiries concerning the circumstances in which the
unfortunate young woman mentioned in the last chapter was placed, having,
as the reader has probably already conjectured, reasons much deeper than
those dictated by mere humanity for interesting himself in her fate. He
found the person he sought absent from home, and was equally unfortunate
in one or two other calls which he made upon acquaintances whom he hoped
to interest in her story. But everybody was, for the moment, stark-mad on
the subject of Porteous, and engaged busily in attacking or defending the
measures of Government in reprieving him; and the ardour of dispute had
excited such universal thirst, that half the young lawyers and writers,
together with their very clerks, the class whom Butler was looking after,
had adjourned the debate to some favourite tavern. It was computed by an
experienced arithmetician, that there was as much twopenny ale consumed
on the discussion as would have floated a first-rate man-of-war.

Butler wandered about until it was dusk, resolving to take that
opportunity of visiting the unfortunate young woman, when his doing so
might be least observed; for he had his own reasons for avoiding the
remarks of Mrs. Saddletree, whose shop-door opened at no great distance
from that of the jail, though on the opposite or south side of the
street, and a little higher up. He passed, therefore, through the narrow
and partly covered passage leading from the north-west end of the
Parliament Square.

He stood now before the Gothic entrance of the ancient prison, which, as
is well known to all men, rears its ancient front in the very middle of
the High Street, forming, as it were, the termination to a huge pile of
buildings called the Luckenbooths, which, for some inconceivable reason,
our ancestors had jammed into the midst of the principal street of the
town, leaving for passage a narrow street on the north; and on the south,
into which the prison opens, a narrow crooked lane, winding betwixt the
high and sombre walls of the Tolbooth and the adjacent houses on the one
side, and the butresses and projections of the old Cathedral upon the
other. To give some gaiety to this sombre passage (well known by the name
of the Krames), a number of little booths, or shops, after the fashion of
cobblers' stalls, are plastered, as it were, against the Gothic
projections and abutments, so that it seemed as if the traders had
occupied with nests, bearing the same proportion to the building, every
buttress and coign of vantage, as the martlett did in Macbeth's Castle.
Of later years these booths have degenerated into mere toy-shops, where
the little loiterers chiefly interested in such wares are tempted to
linger, enchanted by the rich display of hobby-horses, babies, and Dutch
toys, arranged in artful and gay confusion; yet half-scared by the cross
looks of the withered pantaloon, or spectacled old lady, by whom these
tempting stores are watched and superintended. But, in the times we write
of, the hosiers, the glovers, the hatters, the mercers, the milliners,
and all who dealt in the miscellaneous wares now termed haberdasher's
goods, were to be found in this narrow alley.

To return from our digression. Butler found the outer turnkey, a tall
thin old man, with long silver hair, in the act of locking the outward
door of the jail. He addressed himself to this person, and asked
admittance to Effie Deans, confined upon accusation of child-murder. The
turnkey looked at him earnestly, and, civilly touching his hat out of
respect to Butler's black coat and clerical appearance, replied, "It was
impossible any one could be admitted at present."

"You shut up earlier than usual, probably on account of Captain
Porteous's affair?" said Butler.

The turnkey, with the true mystery of a person in office, gave two grave
nods, and withdrawing from the wards a ponderous key of about two feet in
length, he proceeded to shut a strong plate of steel, which folded down
above the keyhole, and was secured by a steel spring and catch. Butler
stood still instinctively while the door was made fast, and then looking
at his watch, walked briskly up the street, muttering to himself, almost

               Porta adversa, ingens, solidoque adamante columnae;
               Vis ut nulla virum, non ipsi exscindere ferro
               Coelicolae valeant--Stat ferrea turris ad auras--etc.*
                                        Dryden's _Virgil,_ Book vi.

* Wide is the fronting gate, and, raised on high, With adamantine columns
threats the sky; Vain is the force of man, and Heaven's as vain, To crush
the pillars which the pile sustain: Sublime on these a tower of steel is

Having wasted half-an-hour more in a second fruitless attempt to find his
legal friend and adviser, he thought it time to leave the city and return
to his place of residence, in a small village about two miles and a half
to the southward of Edinburgh. The metropolis was at this time surrounded
by a high wall, with battlements and flanking projections at some
intervals, and the access was through gates, called in the Scottish
language _ports,_ which were regularly shut at night. A small fee to the
keepers would indeed procure egress and ingress at any time, through a
wicket left for that purpose in the large gate; but it was of some
importance, to a man so poor as Butler, to avoid even this slight
pecuniary mulct; and fearing the hour of shutting the gates might be
near, he made for that to which he found himself nearest, although, by
doing so, he somewhat lengthened his walk homewards. Bristo Port was that
by which his direct road lay, but the West Port, which leads out of the
Grassmarket, was the nearest of the city gates to the place where he
found himself, and to that, therefore, he directed his course. He reached
the port in ample time to pass the circuit of the walls, and entered a
suburb called Portsburgh, chiefly inhabited by the lower order of
citizens and mechanics. Here he was unexpectedly interrupted.

He had not gone far from the gate before he heard the sound of a drum,
and, to his great surprise, met a number of persons, sufficient to occupy
the whole front of the street, and form a considerable mass behind,
moving with great speed towards the gate he had just come from, and
having in front of them a drum beating to arms. While he considered how
he should escape a party, assembled, as it might be presumed, for no
lawful purpose, they came full on him and stopped him.

"Are you a clergyman?" one questioned him.

Butler replied that "he was in orders, but was not a placed minister."

"It's Mr. Butler from Liberton," said a voice from behind, "he'll
discharge the duty as weel as ony man."

"You must turn back with us, sir," said the first speaker, in a tone
civil but peremptory.

"For what purpose, gentlemen?" said Mr. Butler. "I live at some distance
from town--the roads are unsafe by night--you will do me a serious injury
by stopping me."

"You shall be sent safely home--no man shall touch a hair of your
head--but you must and shall come along with us."

"But to what purpose or end, gentlemen?" said Butler. "I hope you will be
so civil as to explain that to me."

"You shall know that in good time. Come along--for come you must, by
force or fair means; and I warn you to look neither to the right hand nor
the left, and to take no notice of any man's face, but consider all that
is passing before you as a dream."

"I would it were a dream I could awaken from," said Butler to himself;
but having no means to oppose the violence with which he was threatened,
he was compelled to turn round and march in front of the rioters, two men
partly supporting and partly holding him. During this parley the
insurgents had made themselves masters of the West Port, rushing upon the
Waiters (so the people were called who had the charge of the gates), and
possessing themselves of the keys. They bolted and barred the folding
doors, and commanded the person, whose duty it usually was, to secure the
wicket, of which they did not understand the fastenings. The man,
terrified at an incident so totally unexpected, was unable to perform his
usual office, and gave the matter up, after several attempts. The
rioters, who seemed to have come prepared for every emergency, called for
torches, by the light of which they nailed up the wicket with long nails,
which, it seemed probable, they had provided on purpose.

While this was going on, Butler could not, even if he had been willing,
avoid making remarks on the individuals who seemed to lead this singular
mob. The torch-light, while it fell on their forms and left him in the
shade, gave him an opportunity to do so without their observing him.
Several of those who seemed most active were dressed in sailors' jackets,
trousers, and sea-caps; others in large loose-bodied greatcoats, and
slouched hats; and there were several who, judging from their dress,
should have been called women, whose rough deep voices, uncommon size,
and masculine, deportment and mode of walking, forbade them being so
interpreted. They moved as if by some well-concerted plan of arrangement.
They had signals by which they knew, and nicknames by which they
distinguished each other. Butler remarked, that the name of Wildfire was
used among them, to which one stout Amazon seemed to reply.

The rioters left a small party to observe the West Port, and directed the
Waiters, as they valued their lives, to remain within their lodge, and
make no attempt for that night to repossess themselves of the gate. They
then moved with rapidity along the low street called the Cowgate, the mob
of the city everywhere rising at the sound of their drum, and joining
them. When the multitude arrived at the Cowgate Port, they secured it
with as little opposition as the former, made it fast, and left a small
party to observe it. It was afterwards remarked, as a striking instance
of prudence and precaution, singularly combined with audacity, that the
parties left to guard those gates did not remain stationary on their
posts, but flitted to and fro, keeping so near the gates as to see that
no efforts were made to open them, yet not remaining so long as to have
their persons closely observed. The mob, at first only about one hundred
strong, now amounted to thousands, and were increasing every moment. They
divided themselves so as to ascend with more speed the various narrow
lanes which lead up from the Cowgate to the High Street; and still
beating to arms as they went, an calling on all true Scotsmen to join
them, they now filled the principal street of the city.

The Netherbow Port might be called the Temple Bar of Edinburgh, as,
intersecting the High Street at its termination, it divided Edinburgh,
properly so called, from the suburb named the Canongate, as Temple Bar
separates London from Westminster. It was of the utmost importance to the
rioters to possess themselves of this pass, because there was quartered
in the Canongate at that time a regiment of infantry, commanded by
Colonel Moyle, which might have occupied the city by advancing through
this gate, and would possess the power of totally defeating their
purpose. The leaders therefore hastened to the Netherbow Port, which they
secured in the same manner, and with as little trouble, as the other
gates, leaving a party to watch it, strong in proportion to the
importance of the post.

The next object of these hardy insurgents was at once to disarm the City
Guard, and to procure arms for themselves; for scarce any weapons but
staves and bludgeons had been yet seen among them. The Guard-house was a
long, low, ugly building (removed in 1787), which to a fanciful
imagination might have suggested the idea of a long black snail crawling
up the middle of the High Street, and deforming its beautiful esplanade.
This formidable insurrection had been so unexpected, that there were no
more than the ordinary sergeant's guard of the city-corps upon duty; even
these were without any supply of powder and ball; and sensible enough
what had raised the storm, and which way it was rolling, could hardly be
supposed very desirous to expose themselves by a valiant defence to the
animosity of so numerous and desperate a mob, to whom they were on the
present occasion much more than usually obnoxious.

There was a sentinel upon guard, who (that one town-guard soldier might
do his duty on that eventful evening) presented his piece, and desired
the foremost of the rioters to stand off. The young Amazon, whom Butler
had observed particularly active, sprung upon the soldier, seized his
musket, and after a struggle succeeded in wrenching it from him, and
throwing him down on the causeway. One or two soldiers, who endeavoured
to turn out to the support of their sentinel, were in the same manner
seized and disarmed, and the mob without difficulty possessed themselves
of the Guard-house, disarming and turning out of doors the rest of the
men on duty. It was remarked, that, notwithstanding the city soldiers had
been the instruments of the slaughter which this riot was designed to
revenge, no ill usage or even insult was offered to them. It seemed as if
the vengeance of the people disdained to stoop at any head meaner than
that which they considered as the source and origin of their injuries.

On possessing themselves of the guard, the first act of the multitude was
to destroy the drums, by which they supposed an alarm might be conveyed
to the garrison in the castle; for the same reason they now silenced
their own, which was beaten by a young fellow, son to the drummer of
Portsburgh, whom they had forced upon that service. Their next business
was to distribute among the boldest of the rioters the guns, bayonets,
partisans, halberts, and battle or Lochaber axes. Until this period the
principal rioters had preserved silence on the ultimate object of their
rising, as being that which all knew, but none expressed. Now, however,
having accomplished all the preliminary parts of their design, they
raised a tremendous shout of "Porteous! Porteous! To the Tolbooth! To the

[Illustration: Tolbooth, Cannongate]

They proceeded with the same prudence when the object seemed to be nearly
in their grasp, as they had done hitherto when success was more dubious.
A strong party of the rioters, drawn up in front of the Luckenbooths, and
facing down the street, prevented all access from the eastward, and the
west end of the defile formed by the Luckenbooths was secured in the same
manner; so that the Tolbooth was completely surrounded, and those who
undertook the task of breaking it open effectually secured against the
risk of interruption.

The magistrates, in the meanwhile, had taken the alarm, and assembled in
a tavern, with the purpose of raising some strength to subdue the
rioters. The deacons, or presidents of the trades, were applied to, but
declared there was little chance of their authority being respected by
the craftsmen, where it was the object to save a man so obnoxious. Mr.
Lindsay, member of parliament for the city, volunteered the perilous task
of carrying a verbal message, from the Lord Provost to Colonel Moyle, the
commander of the regiment lying in the Canongate, requesting him to force
the Netherbow Port, and enter the city to put down the tumult. But Mr.
Lindsay declined to charge himself with any written order, which, if
found on his person by an enraged mob, might have cost him his life; and
the issue, of the application was, that Colonel Moyle having no written
requisition from the civil authorities, and having the fate of Porteous
before his eyes as an example of the severe construction put by a jury on
the proceedings of military men acting on their own responsibility,
declined to encounter the risk to which the Provost's verbal
communication invited him.

More than one messenger was despatched by different ways to the Castle,
to require the commanding officer to march down his troops, to fire a few
cannon-shot, or even to throw a shell among the mob, for the purpose of
clearing the streets. But so strict and watchful were the various patrols
whom the rioters had established in different parts of the streets, that
none of the emissaries of the magistrates could reach the gate of the
Castle. They were, however, turned back without either injury or insult,
and with nothing more of menace than was necessary to deter them from
again attempting to accomplish their errand.

The same vigilance was used to prevent everybody of the higher, and those
which, in this case, might be deemed the more suspicious orders of
society, from appearing in the street, and observing the movements, or
distinguishing the persons, of the rioters. Every person in the garb of a
gentleman was stopped by small parties of two or three of the mob, who
partly exhorted, partly required of them, that they should return to the
place from whence they came. Many a quadrille table was spoilt that
memorable evening; for the sedan chairs of ladies; even of the highest
rank, were interrupted in their passage from one point to another, in
spite of the laced footmen and blazing flambeaux. This was uniformly done
with a deference and attention to the feelings of the terrified females,
which could hardly have been expected from the videttes of a mob so
desperate. Those who stopped the chair usually made the excuse, that
there was much disturbance on the streets, and that it was absolutely
necessary for the lady's safety that the chair should turn back. They
offered themselves to escort the vehicles which they had thus interrupted
in their progress, from the apprehension, probably, that some of those
who had casually united themselves to the riot might disgrace their
systematic and determined plan of vengeance, by those acts of general
insult and license which are common on similar occasions.

Persons are yet living who remember to have heard from the mouths of
ladies thus interrupted on their journey in the manner we have described,
that they were escorted to their lodgings by the young men who stopped
them, and even handed out of their chairs, with a polite attention far
beyond what was consistent with their dress, which was apparently that of
journeymen mechanics.*

* A near relation of the author's used to tell of having been stopped by
the rioters, and escorted home in the manner described. On reaching her
own home one of her attendants, in the appearance a _baxter_, a baker's
lad, handed her out of her chair, and took leave with a bow, which, in
the lady's opinion, argued breeding that could hardly be learned at the
oven's mouth.

It seemed as if the conspirators, like those who assassinated Cardinal
Beatoun in former days, had entertained the opinion, that the work about
which they went was a judgment of Heaven, which, though unsanctioned by
the usual authorities, ought to be proceeded in with order and gravity.

While their outposts continued thus vigilant, and suffered themselves
neither from fear nor curiosity to neglect that part of the duty assigned
to them, and while the main guards to the east and west secured them
against interruption, a select body of the rioters thundered at the door
of the jail, and demanded instant admission. No one answered, for the
outer keeper had prudently made his escape with the keys at the
commencement of the riot, and was nowhere to be found. The door was
instantly assailed with sledge-hammers, iron crows, and the coulters of
ploughs, ready provided for the purpose, with which they prized, heaved,
and battered for some time with little effect; for the door, besides
being of double oak planks, clenched, both endlong and athwart, with
broad-headed nails, was so hung and secured as to yield to no means of
forcing, without the expenditure of much time. The rioters, however,
appeared determined to gain admittance. Gang after gang relieved each
other at the exercise, for, of course, only a few could work at once; but
gang after gang retired, exhausted with their violent exertions, without
making much progress in forcing the prison door. Butler had been led up
near to this the principal scene of action; so near, indeed, that he was
almost deafened by the unceasing clang of the heavy fore-hammers against
the iron-bound portal of the prison. He began to entertain hopes, as the
task seemed protracted, that the populace might give it over in despair,
or that some rescue might arrive to disperse them. There was a moment at
which the latter seemed probable.

The magistrates, having assembled their officers, and some of the
citizens who were willing to hazard themselves for the public
tranquillity, now sallied forth from the tavern where they held their
sitting, and approached the point of danger. Their officers went before
them with links and torches, with a herald to read the riot-act, if
necessary. They easily drove before them the outposts and videttes of the
rioters; but when they approached the line of guard which the mob, or
rather, we should say, the conspirators, had drawn across the street in
the front of the Luckenbooths, they were received with an unintermitted
volley of stones, and, on their nearer approach, the pikes, bayonets, and
Lochaber-axes, of which the populace had possessed themselves, were
presented against them. One of their ordinary officers, a strong resolute
fellow, went forward, seized a rioter, and took from him a musket; but,
being unsupported, he was instantly thrown on his back in the street, and
disarmed in his turn. The officer was too happy to be permitted to rise
and run away without receiving any farther injury; which afforded another
remarkable instance of the mode in which these men had united a sort of
moderation towards all others, with the most inflexible inveteracy
against the object of their resentment. The magistrates, after vain
attempts to make themselves heard and obeyed, possessing no means of
enforcing their authority, were constrained to abandon the field to the
rioters, and retreat in all speed from the showers of missiles that
whistled around their ears.

The passive resistance of the Tolbooth gate promised to do more to baffle
the purpose of the mob than the active interference of the magistrates.
The heavy sledge-hammers continued to din against it without
intermission, and with a noise which, echoed from the lofty buildings
around the spot, seemed enough to have alarmed the garrison in the
Castle. It was circulated among the rioters, that the troops would march
down to disperse them, unless they could execute their purpose without
loss of time; or that, even without quitting the fortress, the garrison
might obtain the same end by throwing a bomb or two upon the street.

Urged by such motives for apprehension, they eagerly relieved each other
at the labour of assailing the Tolbooth door: yet such was its strength,
that it still defied their efforts. At length, a voice was heard to
pronounce the words, "Try it with fire." The rioters, with an unanimous
shout, called for combustibles, and as all their wishes seemed to be
instantly supplied, they were soon in possession of two or three empty
tar-barrels. A huge red glaring bonfire speedily arose close to the door
of the prison, sending up a tall column of smoke and flame against its
antique turrets and strongly-grated windows, and illuminating the
ferocious and wild gestures of the rioters, who surrounded the place, as
well as the pale and anxious groups of those, who, from windows in the
vicinage, watched the progress of this alarming scene. The mob fed the
fire with whatever they could find fit for the purpose. The flames roared
and crackled among the heaps of nourishment piled on the fire, and a
terrible shout soon announced that the door had kindled, and was in the
act of being destroyed. The fire was suffered to decay, but, long ere it
was quite extinguished, the most forward of the rioters rushed, in their
impatience, one after another, over its yet smouldering remains. Thick
showers of sparkles rose high in the air, as man after man bounded over
the glowing embers, and disturbed them in their passage. It was now
obvious to Butler, and all others who were present, that the rioters
would be instantly in possession of their victim, and have it in their
power to work their pleasure upon him, whatever that might be.*

* Note C. The Old Tolbooth.


                         The evil you teach us,
          We will execute; and it shall go hard, but we will
                        Better the instruction.
                                               Merchant of Venice.

The unhappy object of this remarkable disturbance had been that day
delivered from the apprehension of public execution, and his joy was the
greater, as he had some reason to question whether Government would have
run the risk of unpopularity by interfering in his favour, after he had
been legally convicted by the verdict of a jury, of a crime so very
obnoxious. Relieved from this doubtful state of mind, his heart was merry
within him, and he thought, in the emphatic words of Scripture on a
similar occasion, that surely the bitterness of death was past. Some of
his friends, however, who had watched the manner and behaviour of the
crowd when they were made acquainted with the reprieve, were of a
different opinion. They augured, from the unusual sternness and silence
with which they bore their disappointment, that the populace nourished
some scheme of sudden and desperate vengeance; and they advised Porteous
to lose no time in petitioning the proper authorities, that he might be
conveyed to the Castle under a sufficient guard, to remain there in
security until his ultimate fate should be determined. Habituated,
however, by his office, to overawe the rabble of the city, Porteous could
not suspect them of an attempt so audacious as to storm a strong and
defensible prison; and, despising the advice by which he might have been
saved, he spent the afternoon of the eventful day in giving an
entertainment to some friends who visited him in jail, several of whom,
by the indulgence of the Captain of the Tolbooth, with whom he had an old
intimacy, arising from their official connection, were even permitted to
remain to supper with him, though contrary to the rules of the jail.

It was, therefore, in the hour of unalloyed mirth, when this unfortunate
wretch was "full of bread," hot with wine, and high in mistimed and
ill-grounded confidence, and alas! with all his sins full blown, when the
first distant' shouts of the rioters mingled with the song of merriment
and intemperance. The hurried call of the jailor to the guests, requiring
them instantly to depart, and his yet more hasty intimation that a
dreadful and determined mob had possessed themselves of the city gates
and guard-house, were the first explanation of these fearful clamours.

Porteous might, however, have eluded the fury from which the force of
authority could not protect him, had he thought of slipping on some
disguise, and leaving the prison along with his guests. It is probable
that the jailor might have connived at his escape, or even that in the
hurry of this alarming contingency, he might not have observed it. But
Porteous and his friends alike wanted presence of mind to suggest or
execute such a plan of escape. The former hastily fled from a place where
their own safety seemed compromised, and the latter, in a state
resembling stupefaction, awaited in his apartment the termination of the
enterprise of the rioters. The cessation of the clang of the instruments
with which they had at first attempted to force the door, gave him
momentary relief. The flattering hopes, that the military had marched
into the city, either from the Castle or from the suburbs, and that the
rioters were intimidated, and dispersing, were soon destroyed by the
broad and glaring light of the flames, which, illuminating through the
grated window every corner of his apartment, plainly showed that the mob,
determined on their fatal purpose, had adopted a means of forcing
entrance equally desperate and certain.

The sudden glare of light suggested to the stupified and astonished
object of popular hatred the possibility of concealment or escape. To
rush to the chimney, to ascend it at the risk of suffocation, were the
only means which seemed to have occurred to him; but his progress was
speedily stopped by one of those iron gratings, which are, for the sake
of security, usually placed across the vents of buildings designed for
imprisonment. The bars, however, which impeded his farther progress,
served to support him in the situation which he had gained, and he seized
them with the tenacious grasp of one who esteemed himself clinging to his
last hope of existence. The lurid light which had filled the apartment,
lowered and died away; the sound of shouts was heard within the walls,
and on the narrow and winding stair, which, eased within one of the
turrets, gave access to the upper apartments of the prison. The huzza of
the rioters was answered by a shout wild and desperate as their own, the
cry, namely, of the imprisoned felons, who, expecting to be liberated in
the general confusion, welcomed the mob as their deliverers. By some of
these the apartment of Porteous was pointed out to his enemies. The
obstacle of the lock and bolts was soon overcome, and from his hiding
place the unfortunate man heard his enemies search every corner of the
apartment, with oaths and maledictions, which would but shock the reader
if we recorded them, but which served to prove, could it have admitted of
doubt, the settled purpose of soul with which they sought his

A place of concealment so obvious to suspicion and scrutiny as that which
Porteous had chosen, could not long screen him from detection. He was
dragged from his lurking-place, with a violence which seemed to argue an
intention to put him to death on the spot. More than one weapon was
directed towards him, when one of the rioters, the same whose female
disguise had been particularly noticed by Butler, interfered in an
authoritative tone. "Are ye mad?" he said, "or would ye execute an act of
justice as if it were a crime and a cruelty? This sacrifice will lose
half its savour if we do not offer it at the very horns of the altar. We
will have him die where a murderer should die, on the common gibbet--We
will have him die where he spilled the blood of so many innocents!"

A loud shout of applause followed the proposal, and the cry, "To the
gallows with the murderer!--to the Grassmarket with him!" echoed on all

"Let no man hurt him," continued the speaker; "let him make his peace
with God, if he can; we will not kill both his soul and body."

"What time did he give better folk for preparing their account?" answered
several voices. "Let us mete to him with the same measure he measured to

But the opinion of the spokesman better suited the temper of those he
addressed, a temper rather stubborn than impetuous, sedate though
ferocious, and desirous of colouring their cruel and revengeful action
with a show of justice and moderation.

For an instant this man quitted the prisoner, whom he consigned to a
selected guard, with instructions to permit him to give his money and
property to whomsoever he pleased. A person confined in the jail for debt
received this last deposit from the trembling hand of the victim, who was
at the same time permitted to make some other brief arrangements to meet
his approaching fate. The felons, and all others who, wished to leave the
jail, were now at full liberty to do so; not that their liberation made
any part of the settled purpose of the rioters, but it followed as almost
a necessary consequence of forcing the jail doors. With wild cries of
jubilee they joined the mob, or disappeared among the narrow lanes to
seek out the hidden receptacles of vice and infamy, where they were
accustomed to lurk and conceal themselves from justice.

Two persons, a man about fifty years old and a girl about eighteen, were
all who continued within the fatal walls, excepting two or three debtors,
who probably saw no advantage in attempting their escape. The persons we
have mentioned remained in the strong room of the prison, now deserted by
all others. One of their late companions in misfortune called out to the
man to make his escape, in the tone of an acquaintance. "Rin for it,
Ratcliffe--the road's clear."

"It may be sae, Willie," answered Ratcliffe, composedly, "but I have taen
a fancy to leave aff trade, and set up for an honest man."

"Stay there, and be hanged, then, for a donnard auld deevil!" said the
other, and ran down the prison stair.

The person in female attire whom we have distinguished as one of the most
active rioters, was about the same time at the ear of the young woman.
"Flee, Effie, flee!" was all he had time to whisper. She turned towards
him an eye of mingled fear, affection, and upbraiding, all contending
with a sort of stupified surprise. He again repeated, "Flee, Effie, flee!
for the sake of all that's good and dear to you!" Again she gazed on him,
but was unable to answer. A loud noise was now heard, and the name of
Madge Wildfire was repeatedly called from the bottom of the staircase.

"I am coming,--I am coming," said the person who answered to that
appellative; and then reiterating hastily, "For God's sake--for your own
sake--for my sake, flee, or they'll take your life!" he left the strong

The girl gazed after him for a moment, and then, faintly muttering,
"Better tyne life, since tint is gude fame," she sunk her head upon her
hand, and remained, seemingly, unconscious as a statue of the noise and
tumult which passed around her.

That tumult was now transferred from the inside to the outside of the
Tolbooth. The mob had brought their destined victim forth, and were about
to conduct him to the common place of execution, which they had fixed as
the scene of his death. The leader, whom they distinguished by the name
of Madge Wildfire, had been summoned to assist at the procession by the
impatient shouts of his confederates.

"I will insure you five hundred pounds," said the unhappy man, grasping
Wildfire's hand,--"five hundred pounds for to save my life."

The other answered in the same undertone, and returning his grasp with
one equally convulsive, "Five hundredweight of coined gold should not
save you.--Remember Wilson!"

A deep pause of a minute ensued, when Wildfire added, in a more composed
tone, "Make your peace with Heaven.--Where is the clergyman?"

Butler, who in great terror and anxiety, had been detained within a few
yards of the Tolbooth door, to wait the event of the search after
Porteous, was now brought forward, and commanded to walk by the
prisoner's side, and to prepare him for immediate death. His answer was a
supplication that the rioters would consider what they did. "You are
neither judges nor jury," said he. "You cannot have, by the laws of God
or man, power to take away the life of a human creature, however
deserving he may be of death. If it is murder even in a lawful magistrate
to execute an offender otherwise than in the place, time, and manner
which the judges' sentence prescribes, what must it be in you, who have
no warrant for interference but your own wills? In the name of Him who is
all mercy, show mercy to this unhappy man, and do not dip your hands in
his blood, nor rush into the very crime which you are desirous of

"Cut your sermon short--you are not in your pulpit," answered one of the

"If we hear more of your clavers," said another, "we are like to hang you
up beside him."

"Peace--hush!" said Wildfire. "Do the good man no harm--he discharges his
conscience, and I like him the better."

He then addressed Butler. "Now, sir, we have patiently heard you, and we
just wish you to understand, in the way of answer, that you may as well
argue to the ashlar-work and iron stanchels of the Tolbooth as think to
change our purpose--Blood must have blood. We have sworn to each other by
the deepest oaths ever were pledged, that Porteous shall die the death he
deserves so richly; therefore, speak no more to us, but prepare him for
death as well as the briefness of his change will permit."

They had suffered the unfortunate Porteous to put on his night-gown and
slippers, as he had thrown off his coat and shoes, in order to facilitate
his attempted escape up the chimney. In this garb he was now mounted on
the hands of two of the rioters, clasped together, so as to form what is
called in Scotland, "The King's Cushion." Butler was placed close to his
side, and repeatedly urged to perform a duty always the most painful
which can be imposed on a clergyman deserving of the name, and now
rendered more so by the peculiar and horrid circumstances of the
criminal's case. Porteous at first uttered some supplications for mercy,
but when he found that there was no chance that these would be attended
to, his military education, and the natural stubbornness of his
disposition, combined to support his spirits.

"Are you prepared for this dreadful end?" said Butler, in a faltering
voice. "O turn to Him, in whose eyes time and space have no existence,
and to whom a few minutes are as a lifetime, and a lifetime as a minute."

"I believe I know what you would say," answered Porteous sullenly. "I was
bred a soldier; if they will murder me without time, let my sins as well
as my blood lie at their door."

"Who was it," said the stern voice of Wildfire, "that said to Wilson at
this very spot, when he could not pray, owing to the galling agony of his
fetters, that his pains would soon be over?--I say to you to take your
own tale home; and if you cannot profit by the good man's lessons, blame
not them that are still more merciful to you than you were to others."

[Illustration: The Porteous Mob--95]

The procession now moved forward with a slow and determined pace. It was
enlightened by many blazing, links and torches; for the actors of this
work were so far from affecting any secrecy on the occasion, that they
seemed even to court observation. Their principal leaders kept close to
the person of the prisoner, whose pallid yet stubborn features were seen
distinctly by the torch-light, as his person was raised considerably
above the concourse which thronged around him. Those who bore swords,
muskets, and battle-axes, marched on each side, as if forming a regular
guard to the procession. The windows, as they went along, were filled
with the inhabitants, whose slumbers had been broken by this unusual
disturbance. Some of the spectators muttered accents of encouragement;
but in general they were so much appalled by a sight so strange and
audacious, that they looked on with a sort of stupified astonishment. No
one offered, by act or word, the slightest interruption.

The rioters, on their part, continued to act with the same air of
deliberate confidence and security which had marked all their
proceedings. When the object of their resentment dropped one of his
slippers, they stopped, sought for it, and replaced it upon his foot with
great deliberation.*

* This little incident, characteristic of the extreme composure of this
extraordinary mob, was witnessed by a lady, who, disturbed like others
from her slumbers, had gone to the window. It was told to the Author by
the lady's daughter.

As they descended the Bow towards the fatal spot where they designed to
complete their purpose, it was suggested that there should be a rope kept
in readiness. For this purpose the booth of a man who dealt in cordage
was forced open, a coil of rope fit for their purpose was selected to
serve as a halter, and the dealer next morning found that a guinea had
been left on his counter in exchange; so anxious were the perpetrators of
this daring action to show that they meditated not the slightest wrong or
infraction of law, excepting so far as Porteous was himself concerned.

Leading, or carrying along with them, in this determined and regular
manner, the object of their vengeance, they at length reached the place
of common execution, the scene of his crime, and destined spot of his
sufferings. Several of the rioters (if they should not rather be
described as conspirators) endeavoured to remove the stone which filled
up the socket in which the end of the fatal tree was sunk when it was
erected for its fatal purpose; others sought for the means of
constructing a temporary gibbet, the place in which the gallows itself
was deposited being reported too secure to be forced, without much loss
of time. Butler endeavoured to avail himself of the delay afforded by
these circumstances, to turn the people from their desperate design. "For
God's sake," he exclaimed, "remember it is the image of your Creator
which you are about to deface in the person of this unfortunate man!
Wretched as he is, and wicked as he may be, he has a share in every
promise of Scripture, and you cannot destroy him in impenitence without
blotting his name from the Book of Life--Do not destroy soul and body;
give time for preparation."

"What time had they," returned a stern voice, "whom he murdered on this
very spot?--The laws both of God and man call for his death."

"But what, my friends," insisted Butler, with a generous disregard to his
own safety--"what hath constituted you his judges?"

"We are not his judges," replied the same person; "he has been already
judged and condemned by lawful authority. We are those whom Heaven, and
our righteous anger, have stirred up to execute judgment, when a corrupt
Government would have protected a murderer."

"I am none," said the unfortunate Porteous; "that which you charge upon
me fell out in self-defence, in the lawful exercise of my duty."

"Away with him--away with him!" was the general cry.

"Why do you trifle away time in making a gallows?--that dyester's pole is
good enough for the homicide."

The unhappy man was forced to his fate with remorseless rapidity. Butler,
separated from him by the press, escaped the last horrors of his
struggles. Unnoticed by those who had hitherto detained him as a
prisoner,--he fled from the fatal spot, without much caring in what
direction his course lay. A loud shout proclaimed the stern delight with
which the agents of this deed regarded its completion. Butler, then, at
the opening into the low street called the Cowgate, cast back a terrified
glance, and, by the red and dusky light of the torches, he could discern
a figure wavering and struggling as it hung suspended above the heads of
the multitude, and could even observe men striking at it with their
Lochaber-axes and partisans. The sight was of a nature to double his
horror, and to add wings to his flight.

The street down which the fugitive ran opens to one of the eastern ports
or gates of the city. Butler did not stop till he reached it, but found
it still shut. He waited nearly an hour, walking up and down in
inexpressible perturbation of mind. At length he ventured to call out,
and rouse the attention of the terrified keepers of the gate, who now
found themselves at liberty to resume their office without interruption.
Butler requested them to open the gate. They hesitated. He told them his
name and occupation.

"He is a preacher," said one; "I have heard him preach in Haddo's-hole."

"A fine preaching has he been at the night," said another "but maybe
least said is sunest mended."

Opening then the wicket of the main gate, the keepers suffered Butler to
depart, who hastened to carry his horror and fear beyond the walls of
Edinburgh. His first purpose was instantly to take the road homeward; but
other fears and cares, connected with the news he had learned in that
remarkable day, induced him to linger in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh
until daybreak. More than one group of persons passed him as he was
whiling away the hours of darkness that yet remained, whom, from the
stifled tones of their discourse, the unwonted hour when they travelled,
and the hasty pace at which they walked, he conjectured to have been
engaged in the late fatal transaction.

Certain it was, that the sudden and total dispersion of the rioters, when
their vindictive purpose was accomplished, seemed not the least
remarkable feature of this singular affair. In general, whatever may be
the impelling motive by which a mob is at first raised, the attainment of
their object has usually been only found to lead the way to farther
excesses. But not so in the present case. They seemed completely satiated
with the vengeance they had prosecuted with such stanch and sagacious
activity. When they were fully satisfied that life had abandoned their
victim, they dispersed in every direction, throwing down the weapons
which they had only assumed to enable them to carry through their
purpose. At daybreak there remained not the least token of the events of
the night, excepting the corpse of Porteous, which still hung suspended
in the place where he had suffered, and the arms of various kinds which
the rioters had taken from the city guard-house, which were found
scattered about the streets as they had thrown them from their hands when
the purpose for which they had seized them was accomplished.

The ordinary magistrates of the city resumed their power, not without
trembling at the late experience of the fragility of its tenure. To march
troops into the city, and commence a severe inquiry into the transactions
of the preceding night, were the first marks of returning energy which
they displayed. But these events had been conducted on so secure and
well-calculated a plan of safety and secrecy, that there was little or
nothing learned to throw light upon the authors or principal actors in a
scheme so audacious. An express was despatched to London with the
tidings, where they excited great indignation and surprise in the council
of regency, and particularly in the bosom of Queen Caroline, who
considered her own authority as exposed to contempt by the success of
this singular conspiracy. Nothing was spoke of for some time save the
measure of vengeance which should be taken, not only on the actors of
this tragedy, so soon as they should be discovered, but upon the
magistrates who had suffered it to take place, and upon the city which
had been the scene where it was exhibited. On this occasion, it is still
recorded in popular tradition, that her Majesty, in the height of her
displeasure, told the celebrated John Duke of Argyle, that, sooner than
submit to such an insult, she would make Scotland a hunting-field. "In
that case, Madam," answered that high-spirited nobleman, with a profound
bow, "I will take leave of your Majesty, and go down to my own country to
get my hounds ready."

The import of the reply had more than met the ear; and as most of the
Scottish nobility and gentry seemed actuated by the same national spirit,
the royal displeasure was necessarily checked in mid-volley, and milder
courses were recommended and adopted, to some of which we may hereafter
have occasion to advert.*

* Note D. Memorial concerning the murder of Captain Porteous.


                    Arthur's Seat shall be my bed,
                    The sheets shall ne'er be pressed by me,
                    St. Anton's well shall be my drink,
                    Sin' my true-love's forsaken me.
                                               Old Song.

If I were to choose a spot from which the rising or setting sun could be
seen to the greatest possible advantage, it would be that wild path
winding around the foot of the high belt of semicircular rocks, called
Salisbury Crags, and marking the verge of the steep descent which slopes
down into the glen on the south-eastern side of the city of Edinburgh.
The prospect, in its general outline, commands a close-built, high-piled
city, stretching itself out beneath in a form, which, to a romantic
imagination, may be supposed to represent that of a dragon; now, a noble
arm of the sea, with its rocks, isles, distant shores, and boundary of
mountains; and now, a fair and fertile champaign country, varied with
hill, dale, and rock, and skirted by the picturesque ridge of the
Pentland mountains. But as the path gently circles around the base of the
cliffs, the prospect, composed as it is of these enchanting and sublime
objects, changes at every step, and presents them blended with, or
divided from, each other, in every possible variety which can gratify the
eye and the imagination. When a piece of scenery so beautiful, yet so
varied,--so exciting by its intricacy, and yet so sublime,--is lighted up
by the tints of morning or of evening, and displays all that variety of
shadowy depth, exchanged with partial brilliancy, which gives character
even to the tamest of landscapes, the effect approaches near to
enchantment. This path used to be my favourite evening and morning
resort, when engaged with a favourite author, or new subject of study. It
is, I am informed, now become totally impassable; a circumstance which,
if true, reflects little credit on the taste of the Good Town or its

* A beautiful and solid pathway has, within a few years, been formed
around these romantic rocks; and the Author has the pleasure to think,
that the passage in the text gave rise to the undertaking.

 It was from this fascinating path--the scene to me of so much delicious
musing, when life was young and promised to be happy, that I have been
unable to pass it over without an episodical description--it was, I say,
from this romantic path that Butler saw the morning arise the day after
the murder of Porteous. It was possible for him with ease to have found a
much shorter road to the house to which he was directing his course, and,
in fact, that which he chose was extremely circuitous. But to compose his
own spirits, as well as to while away the time, until a proper hour for
visiting the family without surprise or disturbance, he was induced to
extend his circuit by the foot of the rocks, and to linger upon his way
until the morning should be considerably advanced. While, now standing
with his arms across, and waiting the slow progress of the sun above the
horizon, now sitting upon one of the numerous fragments which storms had
detached from the rocks above him, he is meditating, alternately upon the
horrible catastrophe which he had witnessed, and upon the melancholy, and
to him most interesting, news which he had learned at Saddletree's, we
will give the reader to understand who Butler was, and how his fate was
connected with that of Effie Deans, the unfortunate handmaiden of the
careful Mrs. Saddletree.

Reuben Butler was of English extraction, though born in Scotland. His
grandfather was a trooper in Monk's army, and one of the party of
dismounted dragoons which formed the forlorn hope at the storming of
Dundee in 1651. Stephen Butler (called from his talents in reading and
expounding, Scripture Stephen, and Bible Butler) was a stanch
Independent, and received in its fullest comprehension the promise that
the saints should inherit the earth. As hard knocks were what had chiefly
fallen to his share hitherto in the division of this common property, he
lost not the opportunity which the storm and plunder of a commercial
place afforded him, to appropriate as large a share of the better things
of this world as he could possibly compass. It would seem that he had
succeeded indifferently well, for his exterior circumstances appeared, in
consequence of this event, to have been much mended.

The troop to which he belonged was quartered at the village of Dalkeith,
as forming the bodyguard of Monk, who, in the capacity of general for the
Commonwealth, resided in the neighbouring castle. When, on the eve of the
Restoration, the general commenced his march from Scotland, a measure
pregnant with such important consequences, he new-modelled his troops,
and more especially those immediately about his person, in order that
they might consist entirely of individuals devoted to himself. On this
occasion Scripture Stephen was weighed in the balance, and found wanting.
It was supposed he felt no call to any expedition which might endanger
the reign of the military sainthood, and that he did not consider himself
as free in conscience to join with any party which might be likely
ultimately to acknowledge the interest of Charles Stuart, the son of "the
last man," as Charles I. was familiarly and irreverently termed by them
in their common discourse, as well as in their more elaborate
predications and harangues. As the time did not admit of cashiering such
dissidents, Stephen Butler was only advised in a friendly way to give up
his horse and accoutrements to one of Middleton's old troopers who
possessed an accommodating conscience of a military stamp, and which
squared itself chiefly upon those of the colonel and paymaster. As this
hint came recommended by a certain sum of arrears presently payable,
Stephen had carnal wisdom enough to embrace the proposal, and with great
indifference saw his old corps depart for Coldstream, on their route for
the south, to establish the tottering Government of England on a new

The _zone_ of the ex-trooper, to use Horace's phrase, was weighty enough
to purchase a cottage and two or three fields (still known by the name of
Beersheba), within about a Scottish mile of Dalkeith; and there did
Stephen establish himself with a youthful helpmate, chosen out of the
said village, whose disposition to a comfortable settlement on this side
of the grave reconciled her to the gruff manners, serious temper, and
weather-beaten features of the martial enthusiast. Stephen did not long
survive the falling on "evil days and evil tongues," of which Milton, in
the same predicament, so mournfully complains. At his death his consort
remained an early widow, with a male child of three years old, which, in
the sobriety wherewith it demeaned itself, in the old-fashioned and even
grim cast of its features, and in its sententious mode of expressing
itself, would sufficiently have vindicated the honour of the widow of
Beersheba, had any one thought proper to challenge the babe's descent
from Bible Butler.

Butler's principles had not descended to his family, or extended
themselves among his neighbours. The air of Scotland was alien to the
growth of independency, however favourable to fanaticism under other
colours. But, nevertheless, they were not forgotten; and a certain
neighbouring Laird, who piqued himself upon the loyalty of his principles
"in the worst of times" (though I never heard they exposed him to more
peril than that of a broken head, or a night's lodging in the main guard,
when wine and cavalierism predominated in his upper storey), had found it
a convenient thing to rake up all matter of accusation against the
deceased Stephen. In this enumeration his religious principles made no
small figure, as, indeed, they must have seemed of the most exaggerated
enormity to one whose own were so small and so faintly traced, as to be
well nigh imperceptible. In these circumstances, poor widow Butler was
supplied with her full proportion of fines for nonconformity, and all the
other oppressions of the time, until Beersheba was fairly wrenched out of
her hands, and became the property of the Laird who had so wantonly, as
it had hitherto appeared, persecuted this poor forlorn woman. When his
purpose was fairly achieved, he showed some remorse or moderation, of
whatever the reader may please to term it, in permitting her to occupy
her husband's cottage, and cultivate, on no very heavy terms, a croft of
land adjacent. Her son, Benjamin, in the meanwhile, grew up to mass
estate, and, moved by that impulse which makes men seek marriage, even
when its end can only be the perpetuation of misery, he wedded and
brought a wife, and, eventually, a son, Reuben, to share the poverty of

The Laird of Dumbiedikes* had hitherto been moderate in his exactions,
perhaps because he was ashamed to tax too highly the miserable means of
support which remained to the widow Butler.

* Dumbiedikes, selected as descriptive of the taciturn character of the
imaginary owner, is really the name of a house bordering on the King's
Park, so called because the late Mr. Braidwood, an instructor of the deaf
and dumb, resided there with his pupils. The situation of the real house
is different from that assigned to the ideal mansion.

But when a stout active young fellow appeared as the labourer of the
croft in question, Dumbiedikes began to think so broad a pair of
shoulders might bear an additional burden. He regulated, indeed, his
management of his dependants (who fortunately were but few in number)
much upon the principle of the carters whom he observed loading their
carts at a neighbouring coal-hill, and who never failed to clap an
additional brace of hundredweights on their burden, so soon as by any
means they had compassed a new horse of somewhat superior strength to
that which had broken down the day before. However reasonable this
practice appeared to the Laird of Dumbiedikes, he ought to have observed,
that it may be overdone, and that it infers, as a matter of course, the
destruction and loss of both horse, and cart, and loading. Even so it
befell when the additional "prestations" came to be demanded of Benjamin
Butler. A man of few words, and few ideas, but attached to Beersheba with
a feeling like that which a vegetable entertains to the spot in which it
chances to be planted, he neither remonstrated with the Laird, nor
endeavoured to escape from him, but, toiling night and day to accomplish
the terms of his taskmaster, fell into a burning fever and died. His wife
did not long survive him; and, as if it had been the fate of this family
to be left orphans, our Reuben Butler was, about the year 1704-5, left in
the same circumstances in which his father had been placed, and under the
same guardianship, being that of his grandmother, the widow of Monk's old

The same prospect of misery hung over the head of another tenant of this
hardhearted lord of the soil. This was a tough true-blue Presbyterian,
called Deans, who, though most obnoxious to the Laird on account of
principles in church and state, contrived to maintain his ground upon the
estate by regular payment of mail-duties, kain, arriage, carriage, dry
multure, lock, gowpen, and knaveship, and all the various exactions now
commuted for money, and summed up in the emphatic word rent. But the
years 1700 and 1701, long remembered in Scotland for dearth and general
distress, subdued the stout heart of the agricultural whig. Citations by
the ground-officer, decreets of the Baron Court, sequestrations,
poindings of outside and inside plenishing, flew about his ears as fast
as the tory bullets whistled around those of the Covenanters at Pentland,
Bothwell Brigg, or Airsmoss. Struggle as he might, and he struggled
gallantly, "Douce David Deans" was routed horse and foot, and lay at the
mercy of his grasping landlord just at the time that Benjamin Butler
died. The fate of each family was anticipated; but they who prophesied
their expulsion to beggary and ruin were disappointed by an accidental

On the very term-day when their ejection should have taken place, when
all their neighbours were prepared to pity, and not one to assist them,
the minister of the parish, as well as a doctor from Edinburgh, received
a hasty summons to attend the Laird of Dumbiedikes. Both were surprised,
for his contempt for both faculties had been pretty commonly his theme
over an extra bottle, that is to say, at least once every day. The leech
for the soul, and he for the body, alighted in the court of the little
old manor-house at almost the same time; and when they had gazed a moment
at each other with some surprise, they in the same breath expressed their
conviction that Dumbiedikes must needs be very ill indeed, since he
summoned them both to his presence at once. Ere the servant could usher
them to his apartment, the party was augmented by a man of law, Nichil
Novit, writing himself procurator before the sheriff-court, for in those
days there were no solicitors. This latter personage was first summoned
to the apartment of the Laird, where, after some short space, the
soul-curer and the body-curer were invited to join him.

Dumbiedikes had been by this time transported into the best bedroom, used
only upon occasions of death and marriage, and called, from the former of
these occupations, the Dead-Room. There were in this apartment, besides
the sick person himself and Mr. Novit, the son and heir of the patient, a
tall gawky silly-looking boy of fourteen or fifteen, and a housekeeper, a
good buxom figure of a woman, betwixt forty and fifty, who had kept the
keys and managed matters at Dumbiedikes since the lady's death. It was to
these attendants that Dumbiedikes addressed himself pretty nearly in the
following words; temporal and spiritual matters, the care of his health
and his affairs, being strangely jumbled in a head which was never one of
the clearest.

"These are sair times wi' me, gentlemen and neighbours! amaist as ill as
at the aughty-nine, when I was rabbled by the collegeaners.*

* Immediately previous to the Revolution, the students at the Edinburgh
College were violent anti-catholics. They were strongly suspected of
burning the house of Prestonfield, belonging to Sir James Dick, the Lord
Provost; and certainly were guilty of creating considerable riots in

--They mistook me muckle--they ca'd me a papist, but there was never a
papist bit about me, minister.--Jock, ye'll take warning--it's a debt we
maun a' pay, and there stands Nichil Novit that will tell ye I was never
gude at paying debts in my life.--Mr. Novit, ye'll no forget to draw the
annual rent that's due on the yerl's band--if I pay debt to other folk, I
think they suld pay it to me--that equals aquals.--Jock, when ye hae
naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be
growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping.*

* The Author has been flattered by the assurance, that this _naive_ mode
of recommending arboriculture (which was actually delivered in these very
words by a Highland laird, while on his death-bed, to his son) had so
much weight with a Scottish earl as to lead to his planting a large tract
of country.

"My father tauld me sae forty years sin', but I ne'er fand time to mind
him--Jock, ne'er drink brandy in the morning, it files the stamach sair;
gin ye take a morning's draught, let it be aqua mirabilis; Jenny there
makes it weel--Doctor, my breath is growing as scant as a broken-winded
piper's, when he has played for four-and-twenty hours at a penny
wedding--Jenny, pit the cod aneath my head--but it's a' needless!--Mass
John, could ye think o' rattling ower some bit short prayer, it wad do
me gude maybe, and keep some queer thoughts out o' my head, Say
something, man."

"I cannot use a prayer like a rat-rhyme," answered the honest clergyman;
"and if you would have your soul redeemed like a prey from the fowler,
Laird, you must needs show me your state of mind."

"And shouldna ye ken that without my telling you?" answered the patient.
"What have I been paying stipend and teind, parsonage and vicarage, for,
ever sin' the aughty-nine, and I canna get a spell of a prayer for't, the
only time I ever asked for ane in my life?--Gang awa wi' your whiggery,
if that's a' ye can do; auld Curate Kilstoup wad hae read half the
prayer-book to me by this time--Awa wi' ye!--Doctor, let's see if ye can
do onything better for me."

The doctor, who had obtained some information in the meanwhile from the
housekeeper on the state of his complaints, assured him the medical art
could not prolong his life many hours.

"Then damn Mass John and you baith!" cried the furious and intractable
patient. "Did ye come here for naething but to tell me that ye canna help
me at the pinch? Out wi' them, Jenny--out o' the house! and, Jock, my
curse, and the curse of Cromwell, go wi' ye, if ye gie them either fee or
bountith, or sae muckle as a black pair o' cheverons!"*


The clergyman and doctor made a speedy retreat out of the apartment,
while Dumbiedikes fell into one of those transports of violent and
profane language, which had procured him the surname of Damn-me-dikes.
"Bring me the brandy bottle, Jenny, ye b--," he cried, with a voice in
which passion contended with pain. "I can die as I have lived, without
fashing ony o' them. But there's ae thing," he said, sinking his
voice--"there's ae fearful thing hings about my heart, and an anker of
brandy winna wash it away.--The Deanses at Woodend!--I sequestrated them
in the dear years, and now they are to flit, they'll starve--and that
Beersheba, and that auld trooper's wife and her oe, they'll
starve--they'll starve! --Look out, Jock; what kind o' night is't?"

"On-ding o' snaw, father," answered Jock, after having opened the window,
and looked out with great composure.

"They'll perish in the drifts!" said the expiring sinner--"they'll perish
wi' cauld!--but I'll be het eneugh, gin a' tales be true."

This last observation was made under breath, and in a tone which made the
very attorney shudder. He tried his hand at ghostly advice, probably for
the first time in his life, and recommended as an opiate for the agonised
conscience of the Laird, reparation of the injuries he had done to these
distressed families, which, he observed by the way, the civil law called
_restitutio in integrum._ But Mammon was struggling with Remorse for
retaining his place in a bosom he had so long possessed; and he partly
succeeded, as an old tyrant proves often too strong for his insurgent

"I canna do't," he answered, with a voice of despair. "It would kill me
to do't--how can ye bid me pay back siller, when ye ken how I want it? or
dispone Beersheba, when it lies sae weel into my ain plaid-nuik? Nature
made Dumbiedikes and Beersheba to be ae man's land--She did, by Nichil,
it wad kill me to part them."

"But ye maun die whether or no, Laird," said Mr. Novit; "and maybe ye wad
die easier--it's but trying. I'll scroll the disposition in nae time."

"Dinna speak o't, sir," replied Dumbiedikes, "or I'll fling the stoup at
your head.--But, Jock, lad, ye see how the warld warstles wi' me on my
deathbed--be kind to the puir creatures, the Deanses and the Butlers--be
kind to them, Jock. Dinna let the warld get a grip o' ye, Jock--but keep
the gear thegither! and whate'er ye do, dispone Beersheba at no rate. Let
the creatures stay at a moderate mailing, and hae bite and soup; it will
maybe be the better wi' your father whare he's gaun, lad."

After these contradictory instructions, the Laird felt his mind so much
at ease, that he drank three bumpers of brandy continuously, and "soughed
awa," as Jenny expressed it, in an attempt to sing "Deil stick the

His death made a revolution in favour of the distressed families. John
Dumbie, now of Dumbiedikes, in his own right, seemed to be close and
selfish enough, but wanted the grasping spirit and active mind of his
father; and his guardian happened to agree with him in opinion, that his
father's dying recommendation should be attended to. The tenants,
therefore, were not actually turned out of doors among the snow-wreaths,
and were allowed wherewith to procure butter-milk and peas-bannocks,
which they ate under the full force of the original malediction. The
cottage of Deans, called Woodend, was not very distant from that at
Beersheba. Formerly there had been but little intercourse between the
families. Deans was a sturdy Scotsman, with all sort of prejudices
against the southern, and the spawn of the southern. Moreover, Deans was,
as we have said, a stanch Presbyterian, of the most rigid and unbending
adherence to what he conceived to be the only possible straight line, as
he was wont to express himself, between right-hand heats and extremes and
left-hand defections; and, therefore, he held in high dread and horror
all Independents, and whomsoever he supposed allied to them.

But, notwithstanding these national prejudices and religious professions,
Deans and the widow Butler were placed in such a situation, as naturally
and at length created some intimacy between the families. They had shared
a common danger and a mutual deliverance. They needed each other's
assistance, like a company, who, crossing a mountain stream, are
compelled to cling close together, lest the current should be too
powerful for any who are not thus supported.

On nearer acquaintance, too, Deans abated some of his prejudices. He
found old Mrs. Butler, though not thoroughly grounded in the extent and
bearing of the real testimony against the defections of the times, had no
opinions in favour of the Independent party; neither was she an
Englishwoman. Therefore, it was to be hoped, that, though she was the
widow of an enthusiastic corporal of Cromwell's dragoons, her grandson
might be neither schismatic nor anti-national, two qualities concerning
which Goodman Deans had as wholesome a terror as against papists and
malignants, Above all (for Douce Davie Deans had his weak side), he
perceived that widow Butler looked up to him with reverence, listened to
his advice, and compounded for an occasional fling at the doctrines of
her deceased husbands to which, as we have seen, she was by no means
warmly attached, in consideration of the valuable counsels which the
Presbyterian afforded her for the management of her little farm. These
usually concluded with "they may do otherwise in England, neighbour
Butler, for aught I ken;" or, "it may be different in foreign parts;" or,
"they wha think differently on the great foundation of our covenanted
reformation, overturning and mishguggling the government and discipline
of the kirk, and breaking down the carved work of our Zion, might be for
sawing the craft wi' aits; but I say peace, peace." And as his advice was
shrewd and sensible, though conceitedly given, it was received with
gratitude, and followed with respect.

The intercourse which took place betwixt the families at Beersheba and
Woodend became strict and intimate, at a very early period, betwixt
Reuben Butler, with whom the reader is already in some degree acquainted,
and Jeanie Deans, the only child of Douce Davie Deans by his first wife,
"that singular Christian woman," as he was wont to express himself,
"whose name was savoury to all that knew her for a desirable professor,
Christian Menzies in Hochmagirdle." The manner of which intimacy, and the
consequences thereof, we now proceed to relate.


              Reuben and Rachel, though as fond as doves,
              Were yet discreet and cautious in their loves,
              Nor would attend to Cupid's wild commands,
              Till cool reflection bade them join their hands;
              When both were poor, they thought it argued ill
                Of hasty love to make them poorer still.
                                      Crabbe's _Parish Register._

While widow Butler and widower Deans struggled with poverty, and the hard
and sterile soil of "those parts and portions" of the lands of
Dumbiedikes which it was their lot to occupy, it became gradually
apparent that Deans was to gain the strife, and his ally in the conflict
was to lose it. The former was a Man, and not much past the prime of
life--Mrs. Butler a woman, and declined into the vale of years, This,
indeed, ought in time to have been balanced by the circumstance, that
Reuben was growing up to assist his grandmothers labours, and that Jeanie
Deans, as a girl, could be only supposed to add to her father's burdens.
But Douce Davie Deans know better things, and so schooled and trained the
young minion, as he called her, that from the time she could walk,
upwards, she was daily employed in some task or other, suitable to her
age and capacity; a circumstance which, added to her father's daily
instructions and lectures, tended to give her mind, even when a child, a
grave, serious, firm, and reflecting cast. An uncommonly strong and
healthy temperament, free from all nervous affection and every other
irregularity, which, attacking the body in its more noble functions, so
often influences the mind, tended greatly to establish this fortitude,
simplicity, and decision of character.

On the other hand, Reuben was weak in constitution, and, though not timid
in temper might be safely pronounced anxious, doubtful, and apprehensive.
He partook of the temperament of his mother, who had died of a
consumption in early age. He was a pale, thin, feeble, sickly boy, and
somewhat lame, from an accident in early youth. He was, besides, the
child of a doting grandmother, whose too solicitous attention to him soon
taught him a sort of diffidence in himself, with a disposition to
overrate his own importance, which is one of the very worst consequences
that children deduce from over-indulgence.

Still, however, the two children clung to each other's society, not more
from habit than from taste. They herded together the handful of sheep,
with the two or three cows, which their parents turned out rather to seek
food than actually to feed upon the unenclosed common of Dumbiedikes. It
was there that the two urchins might be seen seated beneath a blooming
bush of whin, their little faces laid close together under the shadow of
the same plaid drawn over both their heads, while the landscape around
was embrowned by an overshadowing cloud, big with the shower which had
driven the children to shelter. On other occasions they went together to
school, the boy receiving that encouragement and example from his
companion, in crossing the little brooks which intersected their path,
and encountering cattle, dogs, and other perils, upon their journey,
which the male sex in such cases usually consider it as their prerogative
to extend to the weaker. But when, seated on the benches of the
school-house, they began to con their lessons together, Reuben, who was
as much superior to Jeanie Deans in acuteness of intellect, as inferior
to her in firmness of constitution, and in that insensibility to fatigue
and danger which depends on the conformation of the nerves, was able
fully to requite the kindness and countenance with which, in other
circumstances, she used to regard him. He was decidedly the best scholar
at the little parish school; and so gentle was his temper and
disposition, that he was rather admired than envied by the little mob who
occupied the noisy mansion, although he was the declared favourite of the
master. Several girls, in particular (for in Scotland they are taught
with the boys), longed to be kind to and comfort the sickly lad, who was
so much cleverer than his companions. The character of Reuben Butler was
so calculated as to offer scope both for their sympathy and their
admiration, the feelings, perhaps, through which the female sex (the more
deserving part of them at least) is more easily attached.

But Reuben, naturally reserved and distant, improved none of these
advantages; and only became more attached to Jeanie Deans, as the
enthusiastic approbation of his master assured him of fair prospects in
future life, and awakened his ambition. In the meantime, every advance
that Reuben made in learning (and, considering his opportunities, they
were uncommonly great) rendered him less capable of attending to the
domestic duties of his grandmother's farm. While studying the _pons
asinorum_ in Euclid, he suffered every _cuddie_ upon the common to
trespass upon a large field of peas belonging to the Laird, and nothing
but the active exertions of Jeanie Deans, with her little dog Dustiefoot,
could have saved great loss and consequent punishment. Similar
miscarriages marked his progress in his classical studies. He read
Virgil's Georgics till he did not know bere from barley; and had nearly
destroyed the crofts of Beersheba while attempting to cultivate them
according to the practice of Columella and Cato the Censor.

These blunders occasioned grief to his grand-dame, and disconcerted the
good opinion which her neighbour, Davie Deans, had for some time
entertained of Reuben.

"I see naething ye can make of that silly callant, neighbour Butler,"
said he to the old lady, "unless ye train him to the wark o' the
ministry. And ne'er was there mair need of poorfu' preachers than e'en
now in these cauld Gallio days, when men's hearts are hardened like the
nether mill-stone, till they come to regard none of these things. It's
evident this puir callant of yours will never be able to do an usefu'
day's wark, unless it be as an ambassador from our Master; and I will
make it my business to procure a license when he is fit for the same,
trusting he will be a shaft cleanly polished, and meet to be used in the
body of the kirk; and that he shall not turn again, like the sow, to
wallow in the mire of heretical extremes and defections, but shall have
the wings of a dove, though he hath lain among the pots."

The poor widow gulped down the affront to her husband's principles,
implied in this caution, and hastened to take Butler from the High
School, and encourage him in the pursuit of mathematics and divinity, the
only physics and ethics that chanced to be in fashion at the time.

Jeanie Deans was now compelled to part from the companion of her labour,
her study, and her pastime, and it was with more than childish feeling
that both children regarded the separation. But they were young, and hope
was high, and they separated like those who hope to meet again at a more
auspicious hour. While Reuben Butler was acquiring at the University of
St. Andrews the knowledge necessary for a clergyman, and macerating his
body with the privations which were necessary in seeking food for his
mind, his grand-dame became daily less able to struggle with her little
farm, and was at length obliged to throw it up to the new Laird of
Dumbiedikes. That great personage was no absolute Jew, and did not cheat
her in making the bargain more than was tolerable. He even gave her
permission to tenant the house in which she had lived with her husband,
as long as it should be "tenantable;" only he protested against paying
for a farthing of repairs, any benevolence which he possessed being of
the passive, but by no means of the active mood.

In the meanwhile, from superior shrewdness, skill, and other
circumstances, some of them purely accidental, Davie Deans gained a
footing in the world, the possession of some wealth, the reputation of
more, and a growing disposition to preserve and increase his store; for
which, when he thought upon it seriously, he was inclined to blame
himself. From his knowledge in agriculture, as it was then practised, he
became a sort of favourite with the Laird, who had no great pleasure
either in active sports or in society, and was wont to end his daily
saunter by calling at the cottage of Woodend.

Being himself a man of slow ideas and confused utterance, Dumbiedikes
used to sit or stand for half-an-hour with an old laced hat of his
father's upon his head, and an empty tobacco-pipe in his mouth, with his
eyes following Jeanie Deans, or "the lassie" as he called her, through
the course of her daily domestic labour; while her father, after
exhausting the subject of bestial, of ploughs, and of harrows, often took
an opportunity of going full-sail into controversial subjects, to which
discussions the dignitary listened with much seeming patience, but
without making any reply, or, indeed, as most people thought, without
understanding a single word of what the orator was saying. Deans, indeed,
denied this stoutly, as an insult at once to his own talents for
expounding hidden truths, of which he was a little vain, and to the
Laird's capacity of understanding them. He said, "Dumbiedikes was nane of
these flashy gentles, wi' lace on their skirts and swords at their tails,
that were rather for riding on horseback to hell than gauging barefooted
to heaven. He wasna like his father--nae profane company-keeper--nae
swearer--nae drinker--nae frequenter of play-house, or music-house, or
dancing-house--nae Sabbath-breaker--nae imposer of aiths, or bonds, or
denier of liberty to the flock.--He clave to the warld, and the warld's
gear, a wee ower muckle, but then there was some breathing of a gale upon
his spirit," etc. etc. All this honest Davie said and believed.

It is not to be supposed, that, by a father and a man of sense and
observation, the constant direction of the Laird's eyes towards Jeanie
was altogether unnoticed. This circumstance, however, made a much greater
impression upon another member of his family, a second helpmate, to wit,
whom he had chosen to take to his bosom ten years after the death of his
first. Some people were of opinion, that Douce Davie had been rather
surprised into this step, for, in general, he was no friend to marriages
or giving in marriage, and seemed rather to regard that state of society
as a necessary evil,--a thing lawful, and to be tolerated in the
imperfect state of our nature, but which clipped the wings with which we
ought to soar upwards, and tethered the soul to its mansion of clay, and
the creature-comforts of wife and bairns. His own practice, however, had
in this material point varied from his principles, since, as we have
seen, he twice knitted for himself this dangerous and ensnaring

Rebecca, his spouse, had by no means the same horror of matrimony, and as
she made marriages in imagination for every neighbour round, she failed
not to indicate a match betwixt Dumbiedikes and her step-daughter Jeanie.
The goodman used regularly to frown and pshaw whenever this topic was
touched upon, but usually ended by taking his bonnet and walking out of
the house, to conceal a certain gleam of satisfaction, which, at such a
suggestion, involuntarily diffused itself over his austere features.

The more youthful part of my readers may naturally ask, whether Jeanie
Deans was deserving of this mute attention of the Laird of Dumbiedikes;
and the historian, with due regard to veracity, is compelled to answer,
that her personal attractions were of no uncommon description. She was
short, and rather too stoutly made for her size, had grey eyes, light
coloured hair, a round good-humoured face, much tanned with the sun, and
her only peculiar charm was an air of inexpressible serenity, which a
good conscience, kind feelings, contented temper, and the regular
discharge of all her duties, spread over her features. There was nothing,
it may be supposed, very appalling in the form or manners of this rustic
heroine; yet, whether from sheepish bashfulness, or from want of decision
and imperfect knowledge of his own mind on the subject, the Laird of
Dumbiedikes, with his old laced hat and empty tobacco-pipe, came and
enjoyed the beatific vision of Jeanie Deans day after day, week after
week, year after year, without proposing to accomplish any of the
prophecies of the stepmother.

This good lady began to grow doubly impatient on the subject, when, after
having been some years married, she herself presented Douce Davie with
another daughter, who was named Euphemia, by corruption, Effie. It was
then that Rebecca began to turn impatient with the slow pace at which the
Laird's wooing proceeded, judiciously arguing, that, as Lady Dumbiedikes
would have but little occasion for tocher, the principal part of her
gudeman's substance would naturally descend to the child by the second
marriage. Other step-dames have tried less laudable means for clearing
the way to the succession of their own children; but Rebecca, to do her
justice, only sought little Effie's advantage through the promotion, or
which must have generally been accounted such, of her elder sister. She
therefore tried every female art within the compass of her simple skill,
to bring the Laird to a point; but had the mortification to perceive that
her efforts, like those of an unskilful angler, only scared the trout she
meant to catch. Upon one occasion, in particular, when she joked with the
Laird on the propriety of giving a mistress to the house of Dumbiedikes,
he was so effectually startled, that neither laced hat, tobacco-pipe, nor
the intelligent proprietor of these movables, visited Woodend for a
fortnight. Rebecca was therefore compelled to leave the Laird to proceed
at his own snail's pace, convinced, by experience, of the grave-digger's
aphorism, that your dull ass will not mend his pace for beating.

Reuben, in the meantime, pursued his studies at the university, supplying
his wants by teaching the younger lads the knowledge he himself acquired,
and thus at once gaining the means of maintaining himself at the seat of
learning, and fixing in his mind the elements of what he had already
obtained. In this manner, as is usual among the poorer students of
divinity at Scottish universities, he contrived not only to maintain
himself according to his simple wants, but even to send considerable
assistance to his sole remaining parent, a sacred duty, of which the
Scotch are seldom negligent. His progress in knowledge of a general kind,
as well as in the studies proper to his profession, was very
considerable, but was little remarked, owing to the retired modesty of
his disposition, which in no respect qualified him to set off his
learning to the best advantage. And thus, had Butler been a man given to
make complaints, he had his tale to tell, like others, of unjust
preferences, bad luck, and hard usage. On these subjects, however, he was
habitually silent, perhaps from modesty, perhaps from a touch of pride,
or perhaps from a conjunction of both.

He obtained his license as a preacher of the gospel, with some
compliments from the Presbytery by whom it was bestowed; but this did not
lead to any preferment, and he found it necessary to make the cottage at
Beersheba his residence for some months, with no other income than was
afforded by the precarious occupation of teaching in one or other of the
neighbouring families. After having greeted his aged grandmother, his
first visit was to Woodend, where he was received by Jeanie with warm
cordiality, arising from recollections which had never been dismissed
from her mind, by Rebecca with good-humoured hospitality, and by old
Deans in a mode peculiar to himself.

Highly as Douce Davie honoured the clergy, it was not upon each
individual of the cloth that he bestowed his approbation; and, a little
jealous, perhaps, at seeing his youthful acquaintance erected into the
dignity of a teacher and preacher, he instantly attacked him upon various
points of controversy, in order to discover whether he might not have
fallen into some of the snares, defections, and desertions of the time.
Butler was not only a man of stanch Presbyterian principles, but was also
willing to avoid giving pain to his old friend by disputing upon points
of little importance; and therefore he might have hoped to have come like
fine gold out of the furnace of Davie's interrogatories. But the result
on the mind of that strict investigator was not altogether so favourable
as might have been hoped and anticipated. Old Judith Butler, who had
hobbled that evening as far as Woodend, in order to enjoy the
congratulations of her neighbours upon Reuben's return, and upon his high
attainments, of which she was herself not a little proud, was somewhat
mortified to find that her old friend Deans did not enter into the
subject with the warmth she expected. At first, in he seemed rather
silent than dissatisfied; and it was not till Judith had essayed the
subject more than once that it led to the following dialogue.

"Aweel, neibor Deans, I thought ye wad hae been glad to see Reuben amang
us again, poor fellow."

"I _am_ glad, Mrs. Butler," was the neighbour's concise answer.

"Since he has lost his grandfather and his father (praised be Him that
giveth and taketh!), I ken nae friend he has in the world that's been sae
like a father to him as the sell o'ye, neibor Deans."

"God is the only father of the fatherless," said Deans, touching his
bonnet and looking upwards. "Give honour where it is due, gudewife, and
not to an unworthy instrument."

"Aweel, that's your way o' turning it, and nae doubt ye ken best; but I
hae ken'd ye, Davie, send a forpit o' meal to Beersheba when there wasna
a bow left in the meal-ark at Woodend; ay, and I hae ken'd ye"

"Gudewife," said Davie, interrupting her, "these are but idle tales to
tell me; fit for naething but to puff up our inward man wi' our ain vain
acts. I stude beside blessed Alexander Peden, when I heard him call the
death and testimony of our happy martyrs but draps of blude and scarts of
ink in respect of fitting discharge of our duty; and what suld I think of
ony thing the like of me can do?"

"Weel, neibor Deans, ye ken best; but I maun say that, I am sure you are
glad to see my bairn again--the halt's gane now, unless he has to walk
ower mony miles at a stretch; and he has a wee bit colour in his cheek,
that glads my auld een to see it; and he has as decent a black coat as
the minister; and"

"I am very heartily glad he is weel and thriving," said Mr. Deans, with a
gravity that seemed intended to cut short the subject; but a woman who is
bent upon a point is not easily pushed aside from it.

"And," continued Mrs. Butler, "he can wag his head in a pulpit now,
neibor Deans, think but of that--my ain oe--and a'body maun sit still and
listen to him, as if he were the Paip of Rome."

"The what?--the who?--woman!" said Deans, with a sternness far beyond his
usual gravity, as soon as these offensive words had struck upon the
tympanum of his ear.

"Eh, guide us!" said the poor woman; "I had forgot what an ill will ye
had aye at the Paip, and sae had my puir gudeman, Stephen Butler. Mony an
afternoon he wad sit and take up his testimony again the Paip, and again
baptizing of bairns, and the like."

"Woman!" reiterated Deans, "either speak about what ye ken something o',
or be silent; I say that independency is a foul heresy, and anabaptism a
damnable and deceiving error, whilk suld be rooted out of the land wi'
the fire o' the spiritual, and the sword o' the civil magistrate."

"Weel, weel, neibor, I'll no say that ye mayna be right," answered the
submissive Judith. "I am sure ye are right about the sawing and the
mawing, the shearing and the leading, and what for suld ye no be right
about kirkwark, too?--But concerning my oe, Reuben Butler"

"Reuben Butler, gudewife," said David, with solemnity, "is a lad I wish
heartily weel to, even as if he were mine ain son--but I doubt there will
be outs and ins in the track of his walk. I muckle fear his gifts will
get the heels of his grace. He has ower muckle human wit and learning,
and thinks as muckle about the form of the bicker as he does about the
healsomeness of the food--he maun broider the marriage-garment with lace
and passments, or it's no gude eneugh for him. And it's like he's
something proud o' his human gifts and learning, whilk enables him to
dress up his doctrine in that fine airy dress. But," added he, at seeing
the old woman's uneasiness at his discourse, "affliction may gie him a
jagg, and let the wind out o' him, as out o' a cow that's eaten wet
clover, and the lad may do weel, and be a burning and a shining light;
and I trust it will be yours to see, and his to feel it, and that soon."

Widow Butler was obliged to retire, unable to make anything more of her
neighbour, whose discourse, though she did not comprehend it, filled her
with undefined apprehensions on her grandson's account, and greatly
depressed the joy with which she had welcomed him on his return. And it
must not be concealed, in justice to Mr. Deans's discernment, that
Butler, in their conference, had made a greater display of his learning
than the occasion called for, or than was likely to be acceptable to the
old man, who, accustomed to consider himself as a person preeminently
entitled to dictate upon theological subjects of controversy, felt rather
humbled and mortified when learned authorities were placed in array
against him. In fact, Butler had not escaped the tinge of pedantry which
naturally flowed from his education, and was apt, on many occasions, to
make parade of his knowledge, when there was no need of such vanity.

Jeanie Deans, however, found no fault with this display of learning, but,
on the contrary, admired it; perhaps on the same score that her sex are
said to admire men of courage, on account of their own deficiency in that
qualification. The circumstances of their families threw the young people
constantly together; their old intimacy was renewed, though upon a
footing better adapted to their age; and it became at length understood
betwixt them, that their union should be deferred no longer than until
Butler should obtain some steady means of support, however humble. This,
however, was not a matter speedily to be accomplished. Plan after plan
was formed, and plan after plan failed. The good-humoured cheek of Jeanie
lost the first flush of juvenile freshness; Reuben's brow assumed the
gravity of manhood, yet the means of obtaining a settlement seemed remote
as ever. Fortunately for the lovers, their passion was of no ardent or
enthusiastic cast; and a sense of duty on both sides induced them to
bear, with patient fortitude, the protracted interval which divided them
from each other.

In the meanwhile, time did not roll on without effecting his usual
changes. The widow of Stephen Butler, so long the prop of the family of
Beersheba, was gathered to her fathers; and Rebecca, the careful spouse
of our friend Davie Deans, wa's also summoned from her plans of
matrimonial and domestic economy. The morning after her death, Reuben
Butler went to offer his mite of consolation to his old friend and
benefactor. He witnessed, on this occasion, a remarkable struggle betwixt
the force of natural affection and the religious stoicism which the
sufferer thought it was incumbent upon him to maintain under each earthly
dispensation, whether of weal or woe.

On his arrival at the cottage, Jeanie, with her eyes overflowing with
tears, pointed to the little orchard, "in which," she whispered with
broken accents, "my poor father has been since his misfortune." Somewhat
alarmed at this account, Butler entered the orchard, and advanced slowly
towards his old friend, who, seated in a small rude arbour, appeared to
be sunk in the extremity of his affliction. He lifted his eyes somewhat
sternly as Butler approached, as if offended at the interruption; but as
the young man hesitated whether he ought to retreat or advance, he arose,
and came forward to meet him with a self-possessed, and even dignified

"Young man," said the sufferer, "lay it not to heart, though the
righteous perish, and the merciful are removed, seeing, it may well be
said, that they are taken away from the evils to come. Woe to me were I
to shed a tear for the wife of my bosom, when I might weep rivers of
water for this afflicted Church, cursed as it is with carnal seekers, and
with the dead of heart."

"I am happy," said Butler, "that you can forget your private affliction
in your regard for public duty."

"Forget, Reuben?" said poor Deans, putting his handkerchief to his
eyes--"She's not to be forgotten on this side of time; but He that gives
the wound can send the ointment. I declare there have been times during
this night when my meditation hae been so rapt, that I knew not of my
heavy loss. It has been with me as with the worthy John Semple, called
Carspharn John,* upon a like trial--I have been this night on the banks
of Ulai, plucking an apple here and there!"

* Note E. Carspharn John.

Notwithstanding the assumed fortitude of Deans, which he conceived to be
the discharge of a great Christian duty, he had too good a heart not to
suffer deeply under this heavy loss. Woodend became altogether
distasteful to him; and as he had obtained both substance and experience
by his management of that little farm, he resolved to employ them as a
dairy-farmer, or cowfeeder, as they are called in Scotland. The situation
he chose for his new settlement was at a place called Saint Leonard's
Crags, lying betwixt Edinburgh and the mountain called Arthur's Seat, and
adjoining to the extensive sheep pasture still named the King's Park,
from its having been formerly dedicated to the preservation of the royal
game. Here he rented a small lonely house, about half-a-mile distant from
the nearest point of the city, but the site of which, with all the
adjacent ground, is now occupied by the buildings which form the
southeastern suburb. An extensive pasture-ground adjoining, which Deans
rented from the keeper of the Royal Park, enabled him to feed his
milk-cows; and the unceasing industry and activity of Jeanie, his oldest
daughter, were exerted in making the most of their produce.

She had now less frequent opportunities of seeing Reuben, who had been
obliged, after various disappointments, to accept the subordinate
situation of assistant in a parochial school of some eminence, at three
or four miles' distance from the city. Here he distinguished himself, and
became acquainted with several respectable burgesses, who, on account of
health, or other reasons, chose that their children should commence their
education in this little village. His prospects were thus gradually
brightening, and upon each visit which he paid at Saint Leonard's he had
an opportunity of gliding a hint to this purpose into Jeanie's ear. These
visits were necessarily very rare, on account of the demands which the
duties of the school made upon Butler's time. Nor did he dare to make
them even altogether so frequent as these avocations would permit. Deans
received him with civility indeed, and even with kindness; but Reuben, as
is usual in such cases, imagined that he read his purpose in his eyes,
and was afraid too premature an explanation on the subject would draw
down his positive disapproval. Upon the whole, therefore, he judged it
prudent to call at Saint Leonard's just so frequently as old acquaintance
and neighbourhood seemed to authorise, and no oftener. There was another
person who was more regular in his visits.

[Illustration: The Laird in Jeanie's Cottage--130]

When Davie Deans intimated to the Laird of Dumbiedikes his purpose of
"quitting wi' the land and house at Woodend," the Laird stared and said
nothing. He made his usual visits at the usual hour without remark, until
the day before the term, when, observing the bustle of moving furniture
already commenced, the great east-country _awmrie_ dragged out of its
nook, and standing with its shoulder to the company, like an awkward
booby about to leave the room, the Laird again stared mightily, and was
heard to ejaculate,--"Hegh, sirs!" Even after the day of departure was
past and gone, the Laird of Dumbiedikes, at his usual hour, which was
that at which David Deans was wont to "loose the pleugh," presented
himself before the closed door of the cottage at Woodend, and seemed as
much astonished at finding it shut against his approach as if it was not
exactly what he had to expect. On this occasion he was heard to
ejaculate, "Gude guide us!" which, by those who knew him, was considered
as a very unusual mark of emotion. From that moment forward Dumbiedikes
became an altered man, and the regularity of his movements, hitherto so
exemplary, was as totally disconcerted as those of a boy's watch when he
has broken the main-spring. Like the index of the said watch did
Dumbiedikes spin round the whole bounds of his little property, which may
be likened unto the dial of the timepiece, with unwonted velocity. There
was not a cottage into which he did not enter, nor scarce a maiden on
whom he did not stare. But so it was, that although there were better
farm-houses on the land than Woodend, and certainly much prettier girls
than Jeanie Deans, yet it did somehow befall that the blank in the
Laird's time was not so pleasantly filled up as it had been. There was no
seat accommodated him so well as the "bunker" at Woodend, and no face he
loved so much to gaze on as Jeanie Deans's. So, after spinning round and
round his little orbit, and then remaining stationary for a week, it
seems to have occurred to him that he was not pinned down to circulate on
a pivot, like the hands of the watch, but possessed the power of shifting
his central point, and extending his circle if he thought proper. To
realise which privilege of change of place, he bought a pony from a
Highland drover, and with its assistance and company stepped, or rather
stumbled, as far as Saint Leonard's Crags.

Jeanie Deans, though so much accustomed to the Laird's staring that she
was sometimes scarce conscious of his presence, had nevertheless some
occasional fears lest he should call in the organ of speech to back those
expressions of admiration which he bestowed on her through his eyes.
Should this happen, farewell, she thought, to all chance of a union with
Butler. For her father, however stouthearted and independent in civil and
religious principles, was not without that respect for the laird of the
land, so deeply imprinted on the Scottish tenantry of the period.
Moreover, if he did not positively dislike Butler, yet his fund of carnal
learning was often the object of sarcasms on David's part, which were
perhaps founded in jealousy, and which certainly indicated no partiality
for the party against whom they were launched. And lastly, the match with
Dumbiedikes would have presented irresistible charms to one who used to
complain that he felt himself apt to take "ower grit an armfu' o' the
warld." So that, upon the whole, the Laird's diurnal visits were
disagreeable to Jeanie from apprehension of future consequences, and it
served much to console her, upon removing from the spot where she was
bred and born, that she had seen the last of Dumbiedikes, his laced hat,
and tobacco-pipe. The poor girl no more expected he could muster courage
to follow her to Saint Leonard's Crags than that any of her apple-trees
or cabbages which she had left rooted in the "yard" at Woodend, would
spontaneously, and unaided, have undertaken the same journey. It was
therefore with much more surprise than pleasure that, on the sixth day
after their removal to Saint Leonard's, she beheld Dumbiedikes arrive,
laced hat, tobacco-pipe, and all, and, with the self-same greeting of
"How's a' wi' ye, Jeanie?--Whare's the gudeman?" assume as nearly as he
could the same position in the cottage at Saint Leonard's which he had so
long and so regularly occupied at Woodend. He was no sooner, however,
seated, than with an unusual exertion of his powers of conversation, he
added, "Jeanie--I say, Jeanie, woman"--here he extended his hand towards
her shoulder with all the fingers spread out as if to clutch it, but in
so bashful and awkward a manner, that when she whisked herself beyond its
reach, the paw remained suspended in the air with the palm open, like the
claw of a heraldic griffin--"Jeanie," continued the swain in this moment
of inspiration--"I say, Jeanie, it's a braw day out-by, and the roads are
no that ill for boot-hose."

[Illustration: Jeanie--I say, Jeanie, woman--133

"The deil's in the daidling body," muttered Jeanie between her teeth;
"wha wad hae thought o' his daikering out this length?" And she
afterwards confessed that she threw a little of this ungracious sentiment
into her accent and manner; for her father being abroad, and the "body,"
as she irreverently termed the landed proprietor, "looking unco gleg and
canty, she didna ken what he might be coming out wi' next."

Her frowns, however, acted as a complete sedative, and the Laird relapsed
from that day into his former taciturn habits, visiting the cowfeeder's
cottage three or four times every week, when the weather permitted, with
apparently no other purpose than to stare at Jeanie Deans, while Douce
Davie poured forth his eloquence upon the controversies and testimonies
of the day.


              Her air, her manners, all who saw admired,
              Courteous, though coy, and gentle, though retired;
              The joy of youth and health her eyes displayed;
              And ease of heart her every look conveyed.

The visits of the Laird thus again sunk into matters of ordinary course,
from which nothing was to be expected or apprehended. If a lover could
have gained a fair one as a snake is said to fascinate a bird, by
pertinaciously gazing on her with great stupid greenish eyes, which began
now to be occasionally aided by spectacles, unquestionably Dumbiedikes
would have been the person to perform the feat. But the art of
fascination seems among the _artes perditae,_ and I cannot learn that
this most pertinacious of starers produced any effect by his attentions
beyond an occasional yawn.

In the meanwhile, the object of his gaze was gradually attaining the
verge of youth, and approaching to what is called in females the middle
age, which is impolitely held to begin a few years earlier with their
more fragile sex than with men. Many people would have been of opinion,
that the Laird would have done better to have transferred his glances to
an object possessed of far superior charms to Jeanie's, even when
Jeanie's were in their bloom, who began now to be distinguished by all
who visited the cottage at St. Leonard's Crags.

Effie Deans, under the tender and affectionate care of her sister, had
now shot up into a beautiful and blooming girl. Her Grecian shaped head
was profusely rich in waving ringlets of brown hair, which, confined by a
blue snood of silk, and shading a laughing Hebe countenance, seemed the
picture of health, pleasure, and contentment. Her brown russet short-gown
set off a shape, which time, perhaps, might be expected to render too
robust, the frequent objection to Scottish beauty, but which, in her
present early age, was slender and taper, with that graceful and easy
sweep of outline which at once indicates health and beautiful proportion
of parts.

These growing charms, in all their juvenile profusion, had no power to
shake the steadfast mind, or divert the fixed gaze of the constant Laird
of Dumbiedikes. But there was scarce another eye that could behold this
living picture of health and beauty, without pausing on it with pleasure.
The traveller stopped his weary horse on the eve of entering the city
which was the end of his journey, to gaze at the sylph-like form that
tripped by him, with her milk-pail poised on her head, bearing herself so
erect, and stepping so light and free under her burden, that it seemed
rather an ornament than an encumbrance. The lads of the neighbouring
suburb, who held their evening rendezvous for putting the stone, casting
the hammer, playing at long bowls, and other athletic exercises, watched
the motions of Effie Deans, and contended with each other which should
have the good fortune to attract her attention. Even the rigid
Presbyterians of her father's persuasion, who held each indulgence of the
eye and sense to be a snare at least if not a crime, were surprised into
a moment's delight while gazing on a creature so exquisite,--instantly
checked by a sigh, reproaching at once their own weakness, and mourning
that a creature so fair should share in the common and hereditary guilt
and imperfection of our nature, which she deserved as much by her
guileless purity of thought, speech, and action, as by her uncommon
loveliness of face and person.

Yet there were points in Effie's character which gave rise not only to
strange doubt and anxiety on the part of Douce David Deans, whose ideas
were rigid, as may easily be supposed, upon the subject of youthful
amusements, but even of serious apprehension to her more indulgent
sister. The children of the Scotch of the inferior classes are usually
spoiled by the early indulgence of their parents; how, wherefore, and to
what degree, the lively and instructive narrative of the amiable and
accomplished authoress of "Glenburnie"* has saved me and all future
scribblers the trouble of recording.

* [The late Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton.]

Effie had had a double share of this inconsiderate and misjudged
kindness. Even the strictness of her father's principles could not
condemn the sports of infancy and childhood; and to the good old man, his
younger daughter, the child of his old age, seemed a child for some years
after she attained the years of womanhood, was still called the "bit
lassie," and "little Effie," and was permitted to run up and down
uncontrolled, unless upon the Sabbath, or at the times of family worship.
Her sister, with all the love and care of a mother, could not be supposed
to possess the same authoritative influence; and that which she had
hitherto exercised became gradually limited and diminished as Effie's
advancing years entitled her, in her own conceit at least, to the right
of independence and free agency. With all the innocence and goodness of
disposition, therefore, which we have described, the Lily of St.
Leonard's possessed a little fund of self-conceit and obstinacy, and some
warmth and irritability of temper, partly natural perhaps, but certainly
much increased by the unrestrained freedom of her childhood. Her
character will be best illustrated by a cottage evening scene.

The careful father was absent in his well-stocked byre, foddering those
useful and patient animals on whose produce his living depended, and the
summer evening was beginning to close in, when Jeanie Deans began to be
very anxious for the appearance of her sister, and to fear that she would
not reach home before her father returned from the labour of the evening,
when it was his custom to have "family exercise," and when she knew that
Effie's absence would give him the most serious displeasure. These
apprehensions hung heavier upon her mind, because, for several preceding
evenings, Effie had disappeared about the same time, and her stay, at
first so brief as scarce to be noticed, had been gradually protracted to
half-an-hour, and an hour, and on the present occasion had considerably
exceeded even this last limit. And now, Jeanie stood at the door, with
her hand before her eyes to avoid the rays of the level sun, and looked
alternately along the various tracks which led towards their dwelling, to
see if she could descry the nymph-like form of her sister. There was a
wall and a stile which separated the royal domain, or King's Park, as it
is called, from the public road; to this pass she frequently directed her
attention, when she saw two persons appear there somewhat suddenly, as if
they had walked close by the side of the wall to screen themselves from
observation. One of them, a man, drew back hastily; the other, a female,
crossed the stile, and advanced towards her--It was Effie. She met her
sister with that affected liveliness of manner, which, in her rank, and
sometimes in those above it, females occasionally assume to hide surprise
or confusion; and she carolled as she came--

                    "The elfin knight sate on the brae,
                    The broom grows bonny, the broom grows fair;
                    And by there came lilting a lady so gay,
                    And we daurna gang down to the broom nae mair."

"Whisht, Effie," said her sister; "our father's coming out o' the byre."
--The damsel stinted in her song.--"Whare hae ye been sae late at e'en?"

"It's no late, lass," answered Effie.

"It's chappit eight on every clock o' the town, and the sun's gaun down
ahint the Corstorphine hills--Whare can ye hae been sae late?"

"Nae gate," answered Effie.

"And wha was that parted wi' you at the stile?"

"Naebody," replied Effie once more.

"Nae gate?--Naebody?--I wish it may be a right gate, and a right body,
that keeps folk out sae late at e'en, Effie."

"What needs ye be aye speering then at folk?" retorted Effie. "I'm sure,
if ye'll ask nae questions, I'll tell ye nae lees. I never ask what
brings the Laird of Dumbiedikes glowering here like a wull-cat (only his
een's greener, and no sae gleg), day after day, till we are a' like to
gaunt our charts aft."

"Because ye ken very weel he comes to see our father," said Jeanie, in
answer to this pert remark.

"And Dominie Butler--Does he come to see our father, that's sae taen wi'
his Latin words?" said Effie, delighted to find that by carrying the war
into the enemy's country, she could divert the threatened attack upon
herself, and with the petulance of youth she pursued her triumph over her
prudent elder sister. She looked at her with a sly air, in which there
was something like irony, as she chanted, in a low but marked tone, a
scrap of an old Scotch song--

                    "Through the kirkyard
                    I met wi' the Laird,
                    The silly puir body he said me nae harm;
                    But just ere 'twas dark,
                    I met wi' the clerk"

Here the songstress stopped, looked full at her sister, and, observing
the tears gather in her eyes, she suddenly flung her arms round her neck,
and kissed them away. Jeanie, though hurt and displeased, was unable to
resist the caresses of this untaught child of nature, whose good and evil
seemed to flow rather from impulse than from reflection. But as she
returned the sisterly kiss, in token of perfect reconciliation, she could
not suppress the gentle reproof--"Effie, if ye will learn fule sangs, ye
might make a kinder use of them."

"And so I might, Jeanie," continued the girl, clinging to her sister's
neck; "and I wish I had never learned ane o' them--and I wish we had
never come here--and I wish my tongue had been blistered or I had vexed

"Never mind that, Effie," replied the affectionate sister; "I canna be
muckle vexed wi' ony thing ye say to me--but O, dinna vex our father!"

"I will not--I will not," replied Effie; "and if there were as mony
dances the morn's night as there are merry dancers in the north firmament
on a frosty e'en, I winna budge an inch to gang near ane o' them."

"Dance!" echoed Jeanie Deans in astonishment. "O Effie, what could take
ye to a dance?"

It is very possible, that, in the communicative mood into which the Lily
of St. Leonard's was now surprised, she might have given her sister her
unreserved confidence, and saved me the pain of telling a melancholy
tale; but at the moment the word dance was uttered, it reached the ear of
old David Deans, who had turned the corner of the house, and came upon
his daughters ere they were aware of his presence. The word _prelate,_ or
even the word _pope,_ could hardly have produced so appalling an effect
upon David's ear; for, of all exercises, that of dancing, which he termed
a voluntary and regular fit of distraction, he deemed most destructive of
serious thoughts, and the readiest inlet to all sorts of licentiousness;
and he accounted the encouraging, and even permitting, assemblies or
meetings, whether among those of high or low degree, for this fantastic
and absurd purpose, or for that of dramatic representations, as one of
the most flagrant proofs of defection and causes of wrath. The
pronouncing of the word _dance_ by his own daughters, and at his own
door, now drove him beyond the verge of patience. "Dance!" he exclaimed.
"Dance!--dance, said ye? I daur ye, limmers that ye are, to name sic a
word at my door-cheek! It's a dissolute profane pastime, practised by the
Israelites only at their base and brutal worship of the Golden Calf at
Bethel, and by the unhappy lass wha danced aff the head of John the
Baptist, upon whilk chapter I will exercise this night for your farther
instruction, since ye need it sae muckle, nothing doubting that she has
cause to rue the day, lang or this time, that e'er she suld hae shook a
limb on sic an errand. Better for her to hae been born a cripple, and
carried frae door to door, like auld Bessie Bowie, begging bawbees, than
to be a king's daughter, fiddling and flinging the gate she did. I hae
often wondered that ony ane that ever bent a knee for the right purpose,
should ever daur to crook a hough to fyke and fling at piper's wind and
fiddler's squealing. And I bless God (with that singular worthy, Peter
Walker the packman at Bristo-Port),* that ordered my lot in my dancing
days, so that fear of my head and throat, dread of bloody rope and swift
bullet, and trenchant swords and pain of boots and thumkins, cauld and
hunger, wetness and weariness, stopped the lightness of my head, and the
wantonness of my feet.

* Note F. Peter Walker.

And now, if I hear ye, quean lassies, sae muckle as name dancing, or
think there's sic a thing in this warld as flinging to fiddler's sounds,
and piper's springs, as sure as my father's spirit is with the just, ye
shall be no more either charge or concern of mine! Gang in, then--gang
in, then, hinnies," he added, in a softer tone, for the tears of both
daughters, but especially those of Effie, began to flow very fast,--"Gang
in, dears, and we'll seek grace to preserve us frae all, manner of
profane folly, whilk causeth to sin, and promoteth the kingdom of
darkness, warring with the kingdom of light."

The objurgation of David Deans, however well meant, was unhappily timed.
It created a division of feelings in Effie's bosom, and deterred her from
her intended confidence in her sister. "She wad hand me nae better than
the dirt below her feet," said Effie to herself, "were I to confess I hae
danced wi' him four times on the green down by, and ance at Maggie
Macqueens's; and she'll maybe hing it ower my head that she'll tell my
father, and then she wad be mistress and mair. But I'll no gang back
there again. I'm resolved I'll no gang back. I'll lay in a leaf of my
Bible,* and that's very near as if I had made an aith, that I winna gang

* This custom of making a mark by folding a leaf in the party's Bible,
when a solemn resolution is formed, is still held to be, in some sense,
an appeal to Heaven for his or her sincerity.

And she kept her vow for a week, during which she was unusually cross and
fretful, blemishes which had never before been observed in her temper,
except during a moment of contradiction.

There was something in all this so mysterious as considerably to alarm
the prudent and affectionate Jeanie, the more so as she judged it unkind
to her sister to mention to their father grounds of anxiety which might
arise from her own imagination. Besides, her respect for the good old man
did not prevent her from being aware that he was both hot-tempered and
positive, and she sometimes suspected that he carried his dislike to
youthful amusements beyond the verge that religion and reason demanded.
Jeanie had sense enough to see that a sudden and severe curb upon her
sister's hitherto unrestrained freedom might be rather productive of harm
than good, and that Effie, in the headstrong wilfulness of youth, was
likely to make what might be overstrained in her father's precepts an
excuse to herself for neglecting them altogether. In the higher classes,
a damsel, however giddy, is still under the dominion of etiquette, and
subject to the surveillance of mammas and chaperons; but the country
girl, who snatches her moment of gaiety during the intervals of labour,
is under no such guardianship or restraint, and her amusement becomes so
much the more hazardous. Jeanie saw all this with much distress of mind,
when a circumstance occurred which appeared calculated to relieve her

Mrs. Saddletree, with whom our readers have already been made acquainted,
chanced to be a distant relation of Douce David Deans, and as she was a
woman orderly in her life and conversation, and, moreover, of good
substance, a sort of acquaintance was formally kept up between the
families. Now, this careful dame, about a year and a half before our
story commences, chanced to need, in the line of her profession, a better
sort of servant, or rather shop-woman. "Mr. Saddletree," she said, "was
never in the shop when he could get his nose within the Parliament House,
and it was an awkward thing for a woman-body to be standing among bundles
o' barkened leather her lane, selling saddles and bridles; and she had
cast her eyes upon her far-awa cousin Effie Deans, as just the very sort
of lassie she would want to keep her in countenance on such occasions."

In this proposal there was much that pleased old David,--there was bed,
board, and bountith--it was a decent situation--the lassie would be under
Mrs. Saddletree's eye, who had an upright walk, and lived close by the
Tolbooth Kirk, in which might still be heard the comforting doctrines of
one of those few ministers of the Kirk of Scotland who had not bent the
knee unto Baal, according to David's expression, or become accessory to
the course of national defections,--union, toleration, patronages, and a
bundle of prelatical Erastian oaths which had been imposed on the church
since the Revolution, and particularly in the reign of "the late woman"
(as he called Queen Anne), the last of that unhappy race of Stuarts. In
the good man's security concerning the soundness of the theological
doctrine which his daughter was to hear, he was nothing disturbed on
account of the snares of a different kind, to which a creature so
beautiful, young, and wilful, might be exposed in the centre of a
populous and corrupted city. The fact is, that he thought with so much
horror on all approaches to irregularities of the nature most to be
dreaded in such cases, that he would as soon have suspected and guarded
against Effie's being induced to become guilty of the crime of murder. He
only regretted that she should live under the same roof with such a
worldly-wise man as Bartoline Saddletree, whom David never suspected of
being an ass as he was, but considered as one really endowed with all the
legal knowledge to which he made pretension, and only liked him the worse
for possessing it. The lawyers, especially those amongst them who sate as
ruling elders in the General Assembly of the Kirk, had been forward in
promoting the measures of patronage, of the abjuration oath, and others,
which, in the opinion of David Deans, were a breaking down of the carved
work of the sanctuary, and an intrusion upon the liberties of the kirk.
Upon the dangers of listening to the doctrines of a legalised formalist,
such as Saddletree, David gave his daughter many lectures; so much so,
that he had time to touch but slightly on the dangers of chambering,
company-keeping, and promiscuous dancing, to which, at her time of life,
most people would have thought Effie more exposed, than to the risk of
theoretical error in her religious faith.

Jeanie parted from her sister with a mixed feeling of regret, and
apprehension, and hope. She could not be so confident concerning Effie's
prudence as her father, for she had observed her more narrowly, had more
sympathy with her feelings, and could better estimate the temptations to
which she was exposed. On the other hand, Mrs. Saddletree was an
observing, shrewd, notable woman, entitled to exercise over Effie the
full authority of a mistress, and likely to do so strictly, yet with
kindness. Her removal to Saddletree's, it was most probable, would also
serve to break off some idle acquaintances, which Jeanie suspected her
sister to have formed in the neighbouring suburb. Upon the whole, then,
she viewed her departure from Saint Leonard's with pleasure, and it was
not until the very moment of their parting for the first time in their
lives, that she felt the full force of sisterly sorrow. While they
repeatedly kissed each other's cheeks, and wrung each other's hands,
Jeanie took that moment of affectionate sympathy, to press upon her
sister the necessity of the utmost caution in her conduct while residing
in Edinburgh. Effie listened, without once raising her large dark
eyelashes, from which the drops fell so fast as almost to resemble a
fountain. At the conclusion she sobbed again, kissed her sister, promised
to recollect all the good counsel she had given her, and they parted.

During the first weeks, Effie was all that her kinswoman expected, and
even more. But with time there came a relaxation of that early zeal which
she manifested in Mrs. Saddletree's service. To borrow once again from
the poet, who so correctly and beautifully describes living manners:--

               Something there was,--what, none presumed to say,--
               Clouds lightly passing on a summer's day;
               Whispers and hints, which went from ear to ear,
               And mixed reports no judge on earth could clear.

During this interval, Mrs. Saddletree was sometimes displeased by Effie's
lingering when she was sent upon errands about the shop business, and
sometimes by a little degree of impatience which she manifested at being
rebuked on such occasions. But she good-naturedly allowed, that the first
was very natural to a girl to whom everything in Edinburgh was new and
the other was only the petulance of a spoiled child, when subjected to
the yoke of domestic discipline for the first time. Attention and
submission could not be learned at once--Holyrood was not built in a
day--use would make perfect.

It seemed as if the considerate old lady had presaged truly. Ere many
months had passed, Effie became almost wedded to her duties, though she
no longer discharged them with the laughing cheek and light step, which
had at first attracted every customer. Her mistress sometimes observed
her in tears, but they were signs of secret sorrow, which she concealed
as often as she saw them attract notice. Time wore on, her cheek grew
pale, and her step heavy. The cause of these changes could not have
escaped the matronly eye of Mrs. Saddletree, but she was chiefly confined
by indisposition to her bedroom for a considerable time during the latter
part of Effie's service. This interval was marked by symptoms of anguish
almost amounting to despair. The utmost efforts of the poor girl to
command her fits of hysterical agony were, often totally unavailing, and
the mistakes which she made in the shop the while, were so numerous and
so provoking that Bartoline Saddletree, who, during his wife's illness,
was obliged to take closer charge of the business than consisted with his
study of the weightier matters of the law, lost all patience with the
girl, who, in his law Latin, and without much respect to gender, he
declared ought to be cognosced by inquest of a jury, as _fatuus,
furiosus,_ and _naturaliter idiota._ Neighbours, also, and
fellow-servants, remarked with malicious curiosity or degrading pity, the
disfigured shape, loose dress, and pale cheeks, of the once beautiful and
still interesting girl. But to no one would she grant her confidence,
answering all taunts with bitter sarcasm, and all serious expostulation
with sullen denial, or with floods of tears.

At length, when Mrs. Saddletree's recovery was likely to permit her
wonted attention to the regulation of her household, Effie Deans, as if
unwilling to face an investigation made by the authority of her mistress,
asked permission of Bartoline to go home for a week or two, assigning
indisposition, and the wish of trying the benefit of repose and the
change of air, as the motives of her request. Sharp-eyed as a lynx (or
conceiving himself to be so) in the nice sharp quillits of legal
discussion, Bartoline was as dull at drawing inferences from the
occurrences of common life as any Dutch professor of mathematics. He
suffered Effie to depart without much suspicion, and without any inquiry.

It was afterwards found that a period of a week intervened betwixt her
leaving her master's house and arriving at St. Leonard's. She made her
appearance before her sister in a state rather resembling the spectre
than the living substance of the gay and beautiful girl, who had left her
father's cottage for the first time scarce seventeen months before. The
lingering illness of her mistress had, for the last few months, given her
a plea for confining herself entirely to the dusky precincts of the shop
in the Lawnmarket, and Jeanie was so much occupied, during the same
period, with the concerns of her father's household, that she had rarely
found leisure for a walk in the city, and a brief and hurried visit to
her sister. The young women, therefore, had scarcely seen each other for
several months, nor had a single scandalous surmise reached the ears of
the secluded inhabitants of the cottage at St. Leonard's. Jeanie,
therefore, terrified to death at her sister's appearance, at first
overwhelmed her with inquiries, to which the unfortunate young woman
returned for a time incoherent and rambling answers, and finally fell
into a hysterical fit. Rendered too certain of her sister's misfortune,
Jeanie had now the dreadful alternative of communicating her ruin to her
father, or of endeavouring to conceal it from him. To all questions
concerning the name or rank of her seducer, and the fate of the being to
whom her fall had given birth, Effie remained as mute as the grave, to
which she seemed hastening; and indeed the least allusion to either
seemed to drive her to distraction. Her sister, in distress and in
despair, was about to repair to Mrs. Saddletree to consult her
experience, and at the same time to obtain what lights she could upon
this most unhappy affair, when she was saved that trouble by a new stroke
of fate, which seemed to carry misfortune to the uttermost.

David Deans had been alarmed at the state of health in which his daughter
had returned to her paternal residence; but Jeanie had contrived to
divert him from particular and specific inquiry. It was therefore like a
clap of thunder to the poor old man, when, just as the hour of noon had
brought the visit of the Laird of Dumbiedikes as usual, other and
sterner, as well as most unexpected guests, arrived at the cottage of St.
Leonard's. These were the officers of justice, with a warrant of
justiciary to search for and apprehend Euphemia, or Effie Deans, accused
of the crime of child-murder. The stunning weight of a blow so totally
unexpected bore down the old man, who had in his early youth resisted the
brow of military and civil tyranny, though backed with swords and guns,
tortures and gibbets. He fell extended and senseless upon his own hearth;
and the men, happy to escape from the scene of his awakening, raised,
with rude humanity, the object of their warrant from her bed, and placed
her in a coach, which they had brought with them. The hasty remedies
which Jeanie had applied to bring back her father's senses were scarce
begun to operate, when the noise of the wheels in motion recalled her
attention to her miserable sister. To ran shrieking after the carriage
was the first vain effort of her distraction, but she was stopped by one
or two female neighbours, assembled by the extraordinary appearance of a
coach in that sequestered place, who almost forced her back to her
father's house. The deep and sympathetic affliction of these poor people,
by whom the little family at St. Leonard's were held in high regard,
filled the house with lamentation. Even Dumbiedikes was moved from his
wonted apathy, and, groping for his purse as he spoke, ejaculated,
"Jeanie, woman!--Jeanie, woman! dinna greet--it's sad wark, but siller
will help it;" and he drew out his purse as he spoke.

The old man had now raised himself from the ground, and, looking about
him as if he missed something, seemed gradually to recover the sense of
his wretchedness. "Where," he said, with a voice that made the roof ring,
"where is the vile harlot, that has disgraced the blood of an honest
man?--Where is she, that has no place among us, but has come foul with
her sins, like the Evil One, among the children of God?--Where is she,
Jeanie?--Bring her before me, that I may kill her with a word and a

All hastened around him with their appropriate sources of
consolation--the Laird with his purse, Jeanie with burnt feathers and
strong waters, and the women with their exhortations. "O neighbour--O
Mr. Deans, it's a sair trial, doubtless--but think of the Rock of Ages,
neighbour--think of the promise!"

"And I do think of it, neighbours--and I bless God that I can think of
it, even in the wrack and ruin of a' that's nearest and dearest to
me--But to be the father of a castaway--a profligate--a bloody
Zipporah--a mere murderess!--O, how will the wicked exult in the high
places of their wickedness!--the prelatists, and the latitudinarians,
and the hand-waled murderers, whose hands are hard as horn wi' handing
the slaughter-weapons--they will push out the lip, and say that we are
even such as themselves. Sair, sair I am grieved, neighbours, for the
poor castaway--for the child of mine old age--but sairer for the
stumbling-block and scandal it will be to all tender and honest souls!"

"Davie--winna siller do't?" insinuated the laird, still proffering his
green purse, which was full of guineas.

"I tell ye, Dumbiedikes," said Deans, "that if telling down my haill
substance could hae saved her frae this black snare, I wad hae walked out
wi' naething but my bonnet and my staff to beg an awmous for God's sake,
and ca'd mysell an happy man--But if a dollar, or a plack, or the
nineteenth part of a boddle, wad save her open guilt and open shame frae
open punishment, that purchase wad David Deans never make!--Na, na; an
eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, life for life, blood for blood--it's
the law of man, and it's the law of God.--Leave me, sirs--leave me--I
maun warstle wi' this trial in privacy and on my knees."

Jeanie, now in some degree restored to the power of thought, joined in
the same request. The next day found the father and daughter still in the
depth of affliction, but the father sternly supporting his load of ill
through a proud sense of religious duty, and the daughter anxiously
suppressing her own feelings to avoid again awakening his. Thus was it
with the afflicted family until the morning after Porteous's death, a
period at which we are now arrived.


                Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
                The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent
                When we have chid the hasty-footed time
                For parting us--Oh!--and is all forgot?
                                           Midsummer Night's Dream.

We have been a long while in conducting Butler to the door of the cottage
at St. Leonard's; yet the space which we have occupied in the preceding
narrative does not exceed in length that which he actually spent on
Salisbury Crags on the morning which succeeded the execution done upon
Porteous by the rioters. For this delay he had his own motives. He wished
to collect his thoughts, strangely agitated as they were, first by the
melancholy news of Effie Deans's situation, and afterwards by the
frightful scene which he had witnessed. In the situation also in which he
stood with respect to Jeanie and her father, some ceremony, at least some
choice of fitting time and season, was necessary to wait upon them. Eight
in the morning was then the ordinary hour for breakfast, and he resolved
that it should arrive before he made his appearance in their cottage.

Never did hours pass so heavily. Butler shifted his place and enlarged
his circle to while away the time, and heard the huge bell of St. Giles's
toll each successive hour in swelling tones, which were instantly
attested by those of the other steeples in succession. He had heard seven
struck in this manner, when he began to think he might venture to
approach nearer to St. Leonard's, from which he was still a mile distant.
Accordingly he descended from his lofty station as low as the bottom of
the valley, which divides Salisbury Crags from those small rocks which
take their name from Saint Leonard. It is, as many of my readers may
know, a deep, wild, grassy valley, scattered with huge rocks and
fragments which have descended from the cliffs and steep ascent to the

This sequestered dell, as well as other places of the open pasturage of
the King's Park, was, about this time, often the resort of the gallants
of the time who had affairs of honour to discuss with the sword. Duels
were then very common in Scotland, for the gentry were at once idle,
haughty, fierce, divided by faction, and addicted to intemperance, so
that there lacked neither provocation, nor inclination to resent it when
given; and the sword, which was part of every gentleman's dress, was the
only weapon used for the decision of such differences. When, therefore,
Butler observed a young man, skulking, apparently to avoid observation,
among the scattered rocks at some distance from the footpath, he was
naturally led to suppose that he had sought this lonely spot upon that
evil errand. He was so strongly impressed with this, that,
notwithstanding his own distress of mind, he could not, according to his
sense of duty as a clergyman, pass this person without speaking to him.
There are times, thought he to himself, when the slightest interference
may avert a great calamity--when a word spoken in season may do more for
prevention than the eloquence of Tully could do for remedying evil--And
for my own griefs, be they as they may, I shall feel them the lighter, if
they divert me not from the prosecution of my duty.

Thus thinking and feeling, he quitted the ordinary path, and advanced
nearer the object he had noticed. The man at first directed his course
towards the hill, in order, as it appeared, to avoid him; but when he saw
that Butler seemed disposed to follow him, he adjusted his hat fiercely,
turned round, and came forward, as if to meet and defy scrutiny.

Butler had an opportunity of accurately studying his features as they
advanced slowly to meet each other. The stranger seemed about twenty-five
years old. His dress was of a kind which could hardly be said to indicate
his rank with certainty, for it was such as young gentlemen sometimes
wore while on active exercise in the morning, and which, therefore, was
imitated by those of the inferior ranks, as young clerks and tradesmen,
because its cheapness rendered it attainable, while it approached more
nearly to the apparel of youths of fashion than any other which the
manners of the times permitted them to wear. If his air and manner could
be trusted, however, this person seemed rather to be dressed under than
above his rank; for his carriage was bold and somewhat supercilious, his
step easy and free, his manner daring and unconstrained. His stature was
of the middle size, or rather above it, his limbs well-proportioned, yet
not so strong as to infer the reproach of clumsiness. His features were
uncommonly handsome, and all about him would have been interesting and
prepossessing but for that indescribable expression which habitual
dissipation gives to the countenance, joined with a certain audacity in
look and manner, of that kind which is often assumed as a mask for
confusion and apprehension.

Butler and the stranger met--surveyed each other--when, as the latter,
slightly touching his hat, was about to pass by him, Butler, while he
returned the salutation, observed, "A fine morning, sir--You are on the
hill early."

"I have business here," said the young man, in a tone meant to repress
farther inquiry.

"I do not doubt it, sir," said Butler. "I trust you will forgive my
hoping that it is of a lawful kind?"

"Sir," said the other, with marked surprise, "I never forgive
impertinence, nor can I conceive what title you have to hope anything
about what no way concerns you."

"I am a soldier, sir," said Butler, "and have a charge to arrest
evil-doers in the name of my Master."

"A soldier!" said the young man, stepping back, and fiercely laying his
hand on his sword--"A soldier, and arrest me! Did you reckon what your
life was worth, before you took the commission upon you?"

"You mistake me, sir," said Butler, gravely; "neither my warfare nor my
warrant are of this world. I am a preacher of the gospel, and have power,
in my Master's name, to command the peace upon earth and good-will
towards men, which was proclaimed with the gospel."

"A minister!" said the stranger, carelessly, and with an expression
approaching to scorn. "I know the gentlemen of your cloth in Scotland
claim a strange right of intermeddling with men's private affairs. But I
have been abroad, and know better than to be priest-ridden."

"Sir, if it be true that any of my cloth, or, it might be more decently
said, of my calling, interfere with men's private affairs, for the
gratification either of idle curiosity, or for worse motives, you cannot
have learned a better lesson abroad than to contemn such practices. But
in my Master's work, I am called to be busy in season and out of season;
and, conscious as I am of a pure motive, it were better for me to incur
your contempt for speaking, than the correction of my own conscience for
being silent."

"In the name of the devil!" said the young man impatiently, "say what you
have to say, then; though whom you take me for, or what earthly concern
you have with me, a stranger to you, or with my actions and motives, of
which you can know nothing, I cannot conjecture for an instant."

"You are about," said Butler, "to violate one of your country's wisest
laws--you are about, which is much more dreadful, to violate a law, which
God himself has implanted within our nature, and written as it were, in
the table of our hearts, to which every thrill of our nerves is

"And what is the law you speak of?" said the stranger, in a hollow and
somewhat disturbed accent.

"Thou shalt do no murder," said Butler, with a deep and solemn voice.

The young man visibly started, and looked considerably appalled. Butler
perceived he had made a favourable impression, and resolved to follow it
up. "Think," he said, "young man," laying his hand kindly upon the
stranger's shoulder, "what an awful alternative you voluntarily choose
for yourself, to kill or be killed. Think what it is to rush uncalled
into the presence of an offended Deity, your heart fermenting with evil
passions, your hand hot from the steel you had been urging, with your
best skill and malice, against the breast of a fellow-creature. Or,
suppose yourself the scarce less wretched survivor, with the guilt of
Cain, the first murderer, in your heart, with the stamp upon your
brow--that stamp which struck all who gazed on him with unutterable
horror, and by which the murderer is made manifest to all who look upon
him. Think"

The stranger gradually withdrew himself from under the hand of his
monitor; and, pulling his hat over his brows, thus interrupted him. "Your
meaning, sir, I dare say, is excellent, but you are throwing your advice
away. I am not in this place with violent intentions against any one. I
may be bad enough--you priests say all men are so--but I am here for the
purpose of saving life, not of taking it away. If you wish to spend your
time rather in doing a good action than in talking about you know not
what, I will give you an opportunity. Do you see yonder crag to the
right, over which appears the chimney of a lone house? Go thither,
inquire for one Jeanie Deans, the daughter of the goodman; let her know
that he she wots of remained here from daybreak till this hour, expecting
to see her, and that he can abide no longer. Tell her, she _must_ meet me
at the Hunter's Bog to-night, as the moon rises behind St. Anthony's
Hill, or that she will make a desperate man of me."

"Who or what are you," replied Butler, exceedingly and most unpleasantly
surprised, "who charge me with such an errand?"

"I am the devil!"--answered the young man hastily.

Butler stepped instinctively back, and commanded himself internally to
Heaven; for, though a wise and strong-minded man, he was neither wiser
nor more strong-minded than those of his age and education, with whom, to
disbelieve witchcraft or spectres, was held an undeniable proof of

The stranger went on without observing his emotion. "Yes! call me
Apollyon, Abaddon, whatever name you shall choose, as a clergyman
acquainted with the upper and lower circles of spiritual denomination, to
call me by, you shall not find an appellation more odious to him that
bears it, than is mine own."

This sentence was spoken with the bitterness of self-upbraiding, and a
contortion of visage absolutely demoniacal. Butler, though a man brave by
principle, if not by constitution, was overawed; for intensity of mental
distress has in it a sort of sublimity which repels and overawes all men,
but especially those of kind and sympathetic dispositions. The stranger
turned abruptly from Butler as he spoke, but instantly returned, and,
coming up to him closely and boldly, said, in a fierce, determined tone,
"I have told you who and what I am--who and what are you? What is your

"Butler," answered the person to whom this abrupt question was addressed,
surprised into answering it by the sudden and fierce manner of the
querist--"Reuben Butler, a preacher of the gospel."

At this answer, the stranger again plucked more deep over his brows the
hat which he had thrown back in his former agitation. "Butler!" he
repeated--"the assistant of the schoolmaster at Liberton?"

"The same," answered Butler composedly.

The stranger covered his face with his hand, as if on sudden reflection,
and then turned away, but stopped when he had walked a few paces; and
seeing Butler follow him with his eyes, called out in a stern yet
suppressed tone, just as if he had exactly calculated that his accents
should not be heard a yard beyond the spot on which Butler stood. "Go
your way, and do mine errand. Do not look after me. I will neither
descend through the bowels of these rocks, nor vanish in a flash of fire;
and yet the eye that seeks to trace my motions shall have reason to curse
it was ever shrouded by eyelid or eyelash. Begone, and look not behind
you. Tell Jeanie Deans, that when the moon rises I shall expect to meet
her at Nicol Muschat's Cairn, beneath Saint Anthony's Chapel."

[Illustration: St. Anthony's Chapel--159]

As he uttered these words, he turned and took the road against the hill,
with a haste that seemed as peremptory as his tone of authority.

Dreading he knew not what of additional misery to a lot which seemed
little capable of receiving augmentation, and desperate at the idea that
any living man should dare to send so extraordinary a request, couched in
terms so imperious, to the half-betrothed object of his early and only
affection, Butler strode hastily towards the cottage, in order to
ascertain how far this daring and rude gallant was actually entitled to
press on Jeanie Deans a request, which no prudent, and scarce any modest
young woman, was likely to comply with.

Butler was by nature neither jealous nor superstitious; yet the feelings
which lead to those moods of the mind were rooted in his heart, as a
portion derived from the common stock of humanity. It was maddening to
think that a profligate gallant, such as the manner and tone of the
stranger evinced him to be, should have it in his power to command forth
his future bride and plighted true love, at a place so improper, and an
hour so unseasonable. Yet the tone in which the stranger spoke had
nothing of the soft half-breathed voice proper to the seducer who
solicits an assignation; it was bold, fierce, and imperative, and had
less of love in it than of menace and intimidation.

The suggestions of superstition seemed more plausible, had Butler's mind
been very accessible to them. Was this indeed the Roaring Lion, who goeth
about seeking whom he may devour? This was a question which pressed
itself on Butler's mind with an earnestness that cannot be conceived by
those who live in the present day. The fiery eye, the abrupt demeanour,
the occasionally harsh, yet studiously subdued tone of voice,--the
features, handsome, but now clouded with pride, now disturbed by
suspicion, now inflamed with passion--those dark hazel eyes which he
sometimes shaded with his cap, as if he were averse to have them seen
while they were occupied with keenly observing the motions and bearing of
others--those eyes that were now turbid with melancholy, now gleaming
with scorn, and now sparkling with fury--was it the passions of a mere
mortal they expressed, or the emotions of a fiend, who seeks, and seeks
in vain, to conceal his fiendish designs under the borrowed mask of manly
beauty? The whole partook of the mien, language, and port of the ruined
archangel; and, imperfectly as we have been able to describe it, the
effect of the interview upon Butler's nerves, shaken as they were at the
time by the horrors of the preceding night, were greater than his
understanding warranted, or his pride cared to submit to. The very place
where he had met this singular person was desecrated, as it were, and
unhallowed, owing to many violent deaths, both in duels and by suicide,
which had in former times taken place there; and the place which he had
named as a rendezvous at so late an hour, was held in general to be
accursed, from a frightful and cruel murder which had been there
committed by the wretch from whom the place took its name, upon the
person of his own wife.*

* Note G. Muschat's Cairn.

It was in such places, according to the belief of that period (when the
laws against witchcraft were still in fresh observance, and had even
lately been acted upon), that evil spirits had power to make themselves
visible to human eyes, and to practise upon the feelings and senses of
mankind. Suspicions, founded on such circumstances, rushed on Butler's
mind, unprepared as it was by any previous course of reasoning, to deny
that which all of his time, country, and profession believed; but common
sense rejected these vain ideas as inconsistent, if not with possibility,
at least with the general rules by which the universe is governed,--a
deviation from which, as Butler well argued with himself, ought not to be
admitted as probable, upon any but the plainest and most incontrovertible
evidence. An earthly lover, however, or a young man, who, from whatever
cause, had the right of exercising such summary and unceremonious
authority over the object of his long-settled, and apparently sincerely
returned affection, was an object scarce less appalling to his mind, than
those which superstition suggested.

His limbs exhausted with fatigue, his mind harassed with anxiety, and
with painful doubts and recollections, Butler dragged himself up the
ascent from the valley to St. Leonard's Crags, and presented himself at
the door of Deans's habitation, with feelings much akin to the miserable
reflections and fears of its inhabitants.


                        Then she stretched out her lily hand,
                        And for to do her best;
                       "Hae back thy faith and troth, Willie,
                        God gie thy soul good rest!"
                                                   Old Ballad.

"Come in," answered the low and sweet-toned voice he loved best to hear,
as Butler tapped at the door of the cottage. He lifted the latch, and
found himself under the roof of affliction. Jeanie was unable to trust
herself with more than one glance towards her lover, whom she now met
under circumstances so agonising to her feelings, and at the same time so
humbling to her honest pride. It is well known, that much, both of what
is good and bad in the Scottish national character, arises out of the
intimacy of their family connections. "To be come of honest folk," that
is, of people who have borne a fair and unstained reputation, is an
advantage as highly prized among the lower Scotch, as the emphatic
counterpart, "to be of a good family," is valued among their gentry. The
worth and respectability of one member of a peasant's family is always
accounted by themselves and others, not only a matter of honest pride,
but a guarantee for the good conduct of the whole. On the contrary, such
a melancholy stain as was now flung on one of the children of Deans,
extended its disgrace to all connected with him, and Jeanie felt herself
lowered at once, in her own eyes, and in those of her lover. It was in
vain that she repressed this feeling, as far subordinate and too selfish
to be mingled with her sorrow for her sister's calamity. Nature
prevailed; and while she shed tears for her sister's distress and danger,
there mingled with them bitter drops of grief for her own degradation.

As Butler entered, the old man was seated by the fire with his well-worn
pocket Bible in his hands, the companion of the wanderings and dangers of
his youth, and bequeathed to him on the scaffold by one of those, who, in
the year 1686, sealed their enthusiastic principles with their blood. The
sun sent its rays through a small window at the old man's back, and,
"shining motty through the reek," to use the expression of a bard of that
time and country, illumined the grey hairs of the old man, and the sacred
page which he studied. His features, far from handsome, and rather harsh
and severe, had yet from their expression of habitual gravity, and
contempt for earthly things, an expression of stoical dignity amidst
their sternness. He boasted, in no small degree, the attributes which
Southey ascribes to the ancient Scandinavians, whom he terms "firm to
inflict, and stubborn to endure." The whole formed a picture, of which
the lights might have been given by Rembrandt, but the outline would have
required the force and vigour of Michael Angelo.

Deans lifted his eye as Butler entered, and instantly withdrew it, as
from an object which gave him at once surprise and sudden pain. He had
assumed such high ground with this carnal-witted scholar, as he had in
his pride termed Butler, that to meet him, of all men, under feelings of
humiliation, aggravated his misfortune, and was a consummation like that
of the dying chief in the old ballad--"Earl Percy sees my fall!"

Deans raised the Bible with his left hand, so as partly to screen his
face, and putting back his right as far as he could, held it towards
Butler in that position, at the same time turning his body from, him, as
if to prevent his seeing the working of his countenance. Butler clasped
the extended hand which had supported his orphan infancy, wept over it,
and in vain endeavoured to say more than the words--"God comfort you--God
comfort you!"

"He will--he doth, my friend," said Deans, assuming firmness as he
discovered the agitation of his guest; "he doth now, and he will yet more
in his own gude time. I have been ower proud of my sufferings in a gude
cause, Reuben, and now I am to be tried with those whilk will turn my
pride and glory into a reproach and a hissing. How muckle better I hae
thought mysell than them that lay saft, fed sweet, and drank deep, when I
was in the moss-haggs and moors, wi' precious Donald Cameron, and worthy
Mr. Blackadder, called Guess-again; and how proud I was o' being made a
spectacle to men and angels, having stood on their pillory at the
Canongate afore I was fifteen years old, for the cause of a National
Covenant! To think, Reuben, that I, wha hae been sae honoured and exalted
in my youth, nay, when I was but a hafflins callant, and that hae borne
testimony again the defections o' the times yearly, monthly, daily,
hourly, minutely, striving and testifying with uplifted hand and voice,
crying aloud, and sparing not, against all great national snares, as the
nation-wasting and church-sinking abomination of union, toleration, and
patronage, imposed by the last woman of that unhappy race of Stuarts;
also against the infringements and invasions of the just powers of
eldership, whereanent, I uttered my paper, called a 'Cry of an Howl in
the Desert,' printed at the Bow-head, and sold by all flying stationers
in town and country--and _now_"

Here he paused. It may well be supposed that Butler, though not
absolutely coinciding in all the good old man's ideas about church
government, had too much consideration and humanity to interrupt him,
while he reckoned up with conscious pride his sufferings, and the
constancy of his testimony. On the contrary, when he paused under the
influence of the bitter recollections of the moment, Butler instantly
threw in his mite of encouragement.

"You have been well known, my old and revered friend, a true and tried
follower of the Cross; one who, as Saint Jerome hath it, '_per infamiam
et bonam famam grassari ad immortalitatem,_' which may be freely
rendered, 'who rusheth on to immortal life, through bad report and good
report.' You have been one of those to whom the tender and fearful
souls cry during the midnight solitude--'Watchman, what of the
night?--Watchman, what of the night?'--And, assuredly, this heavy
dispensation, as it comes not without divine permission, so it comes
not without its special commission and use."

"I do receive it as such," said poor Deans, returning the grasp of
Butler's hand; "and if I have not been taught to read the Scripture in
any other tongue but my native Scottish" (even in his distress Butler's
Latin quotation had not escaped his notice), "I have nevertheless so
learned them, that I trust to bear even this crook in my lot with
submission. But, oh! Reuben Butler, the kirk, of whilk, though unworthy,
I have yet been thought a polished shaft, and meet to be a pillar,
holding, from my youth upward, the place of ruling elder--what will the
lightsome and profane think of the guide that cannot keep his own family
from stumbling? How will they take up their song and their reproach, when
they see that the children of professors are liable to as foul
backsliding as the offspring of Belial! But I will bear my cross with the
comfort, that whatever showed like goodness in me or mine, was but like
the light that shines frae creeping insects, on the brae-side, in a dark
night--it kythes bright to the ee, because all is dark around it; but
when the morn comes on the mountains, it is, but a puir crawling
kail-worm after a'. And sae it shows, wi' ony rag of human righteousness,
or formal law-work, that we may pit round us to cover our shame."

As he pronounced these words, the door again opened, and Mr. Bartoline
Saddletree entered, his three-pointed hat set far back on his head, with
a silk handkerchief beneath it to keep it in that cool position, his
gold-headed cane in his hand, and his whole deportment that of a wealthy
burgher, who might one day look to have a share in the magistracy, if not
actually to hold the curule chair itself.

Rochefoucault, who has torn the veil from so many foul gangrenes of the
human heart, says, we find something not altogether unpleasant to us in
the misfortunes of our best friends. Mr. Saddletree would have been very
angry had any one told him that he felt pleasure in the disaster of poor
Effie Deans, and the disgrace of her family; and yet there is great
question whether the gratification of playing the person of importance,
inquiring, investigating, and laying down the law on the whole affair,
did not offer, to say the least, full consolation for the pain which pure
sympathy gave him on account of his wife's kinswoman. He had now got a
piece of real judicial business by the end, instead of being obliged, as
was his common case, to intrude his opinion where it was neither wished
nor wanted; and felt as happy in the exchange as a boy when he gets his
first new watch, which actually goes when wound up, and has real hands
and a true dial-plate. But besides this subject for legal disquisition,
Bartoline's brains were also overloaded with the affair of Porteous, his
violent death, and all its probable consequences to the city and
community. It was what the French call _l'embarras des richesses,_ the
confusion arising from too much mental wealth. He walked in with a
consciousness of double importance, full fraught with the superiority of
one who possesses more information than the company into which he enters,
and who feels a right to discharge his learning on them without mercy.
"Good morning, Mr. Deans,--good-morrow to you, Mr. Butler,--I was not
aware that you were acquainted with Mr. Deans."

Butler made some slight answer; his reasons may be readily imagined for
not making his connection with the family, which, in his eyes, had
something of tender mystery, a frequent subject of conversation with
indifferent persons, such as Saddletree.

The worthy burgher, in the plenitude of self-importance, now sate down
upon a chair, wiped his brow, collected his breath, and made the first
experiment of the resolved pith of his lungs, in a deep and dignified
sigh, resembling a groan in sound and intonation--"Awfu' times these,
neighbour Deans, awfu' times!"

"Sinfu', shamefu', heaven-daring times!" answered Deans, in a lower and
more subdued tone.

"For my part," continued Saddletree, swelling with importance, "what
between the distress of my friends, and my poor auld country, ony wit
that ever I had may be said to have abandoned me, sae that I sometimes
think myself as ignorant as if I were _inter rusticos._ Here when I arise
in the morning, wi' my mind just arranged touching what's to be done in
puir Effie's misfortune, and hae gotten the haill statute at my
finger-ends, the mob maun get up and string Jock Porteous to a dyester's
beam, and ding a' thing out of my head again."

Deeply as he was distressed with his own domestic calamity, Deans could
not help expressing some interest in the news. Saddletree immediately
entered on details of the insurrection and its consequences, while Butler
took the occasion to seek some private conversation with Jeanie Deans.
She gave him the opportunity he sought, by leaving the room, as if in
prosecution of some part of her morning labour. Butler followed her in a
few minutes, leaving Deans so closely engaged by his busy visitor, that
there was little chance of his observing their absence.

The scene of their interview was an outer apartment, where Jeanie was
used to busy herself in arranging the productions of her dairy. When
Butler found an opportunity of stealing after her into this place, he
found her silent, dejected, and ready to burst into tears. Instead of the
active industry with which she had been accustomed, even while in the act
of speaking, to employ her hands in some useful branch of household
business, she was seated listless in a corner, sinking apparently under
the weight of her own thoughts. Yet the instant he entered, she dried her
eyes, and, with the simplicity and openness of her character, immediately
entered on conversation.

"I am glad you have come in, Mr. Butler," said she, "for--for--for I
wished to tell ye, that all maun be ended between you and me--it's best
for baith our sakes."

"Ended!" said Butler, in surprise; "and for what should it be ended?--I
grant this is a heavy dispensation, but it lies neither at your door nor
mine--it's an evil of God's sending, and it must be borne; but it cannot
break plighted troth, Jeanie, while they that plighted their word wish to
keep it."

"But, Reuben," said the young woman, looking at him affectionately, "I
ken weel that ye think mair of me than yourself; and, Reuben, I can only
in requital think mair of your weal than of my ain. Ye are a man of
spotless name, bred to God's ministry, and a' men say that ye will some
day rise high in the kirk, though poverty keep ye doun e'en now. Poverty
is a bad back-friend, Reuben, and that ye ken ower weel; but ill-fame is
a waur ane, and that is a truth ye sall never learn through my means."

"What do you mean?" said Butler, eagerly and impatiently; "or how do you
connect your sister's guilt, if guilt there be, which, I trust in God,
may yet be disproved, with our engagement?--how can that affect you or

"How can you ask me that, Mr. Butler? Will this stain, d'ye think, ever
be forgotten, as lang as our heads are abune the grund? Will it not stick
to us, and to our bairns, and to their very bairns' bairns? To hae been
the child of an honest man, might hae been saying something for me and
mine; but to be the sister of a--O my God!"--With this exclamation her
resolution failed, and she burst into a passionate fit of tears.

The lover used every effort to induce her to compose herself, and at
length succeeded; but she only resumed her composure to express herself
with the same positiveness as before. "No, Reuben, I'll bring disgrace
hame to nae man's hearth; my ain distresses I can bear, and I maun bear,
but there is nae occasion for buckling them on other folk's shouthers. I
will bear my load alone--the back is made for the burden."

A lover is by charter wayward and suspicious; and Jeanie's readiness to
renounce their engagement, under pretence of zeal for his peace of mind
and respectability of character, seemed to poor Butler to form a
portentous combination with the commission of the stranger he had met
with that morning. His voice faltered as he asked, "whether nothing but a
sense of her sister's present distress occasioned her to talk in that

"And what else can do sae?" she replied with simplicity. "Is it not ten
long years since we spoke together in this way?"

"Ten years!" said Butler. "It's a long time--sufficient perhaps for a
woman to weary"

"To weary of her auld gown," said Jeanie, "and to wish for a new ane if
she likes to be brave, but not long enough to weary of a friend--The eye
may wish change, but the heart never."

"Never!" said Reuben,--"that's a bold promise."

"But not more bauld than true," said Jeanie, with the same quiet
simplicity which attended her manner in joy and grief in ordinary
affairs, and in those which most interested her feelings.

Butler paused, and looking at her fixedly--"I am charged," he said, "with
a message to you, Jeanie."

"Indeed! From whom? Or what can ony ane have to say to me?"

"It is from a stranger," said Butler, affecting to speak with an
indifference which his voice belied--"A young man whom I met this morning
in the Park."

"Mercy!" said Jeanie, eagerly; "and what did he say?"

"That he did not see you at the hour he expected, but required you should
meet him alone at Muschat's Cairn this night, so soon as the moon rises."

"Tell him," said Jeanie, hastily, "I shall certainly come."

"May I ask," said Butler, his suspicions increasing at the ready alacrity
of the answer, "who this man is to whom you are so willing to give the
meeting at a place and hour so uncommon?"

"Folk maun do muckle they have little will to do, in this world," replied

"Granted," said her lover; "but what compels you to this?--who is this
person? What I saw of him was not very favourable--who, or what is he?"

"I do not know," replied Jeanie, composedly.

"You do not know!" said Butler, stepping impatiently through the
apartment--"You purpose to meet a young man whom you do not know, at
such a time, and in a place so lonely--you say you are compelled to do
this--and yet you say you do not know the person who exercises such an
influence over you!--Jeanie, what am I to think of this?"

"Think only, Reuben, that I speak truth, as if I were to answer at the
last day.--I do not ken this man--I do not even ken that I ever saw him;
and yet I must give him the meeting he asks--there's life and death upon

"Will you not tell your father, or take him with you?" said Butler.

"I cannot," said Jeanie; "I have no permission."

"Will you let _me_ go with you? I will wait in the Park till nightfall,
and join you when you set out."

"It is impossible," said Jeanie; "there maunna be mortal creature within
hearing of our conference."

"Have you considered well the nature of what you are going to do?--the
time--the place--an unknown and suspicious character?--Why, if he had
asked to see you in this house, your father sitting in the next room, and
within call, at such an hour, you should have refused to see him."

"My weird maun be fulfilled, Mr. Butler; my life and my safety are in
God's hands, but I'll not spare to risk either of them on the errand I am
gaun to do."

"Then, Jeanie," said Butler, much displeased, "we must indeed break short
off, and bid farewell. When there can be no confidence betwixt a man and
his plighted wife on such a momentous topic, it is a sign that she has no
longer the regard for him that makes their engagement safe and suitable."

Jeanie looked at him and sighed. "I thought," she said, "that I had
brought myself to bear this parting--but--but--I did not ken that we were
to part in unkindness. But I am a woman and you are a man--it may be
different wi' you--if your mind is made easier by thinking sae hardly of
me, I would not ask you to think otherwise."

"You are," said Butler, "what you have always been--wiser, better, and
less selfish in your native feelings, than I can be, with all the helps
philosophy can give to a Christian--But why--why will you persevere in an
undertaking so desperate? Why will you not let me be your assistant--your
protector, or at least your adviser?"

"Just because I cannot, and I dare not," answered Jeanie.--"But hark,
what's that? Surely my father is no weel?"

In fact, the voices in the next room became obstreperously loud of a
sudden, the cause of which vociferation it is necessary to explain before
we go farther.

When Jeanie and Butler retired, Mr. Saddletree entered upon the business
which chiefly interested the family. In the commencement of their
conversation he found old Deans, who in his usual state of mind, was no
granter of propositions, so much subdued by a deep sense of his
daughter's danger and disgrace, that he heard without replying to, or
perhaps without understanding, one or two learned disquisitions on the
nature of the crime imputed to her charge, and on the steps which ought
to be taken in consequence. His only answer at each pause was, "I am no
misdoubting that you wuss us weel--your wife's our far-awa cousin."

Encouraged by these symptoms of acquiescence, Saddletree, who, as an
amateur of the law, had a supreme deference for all constituted
authorities, again recurred to his other topic of interest, the murder,
namely, of Porteous, and pronounced a severe censure on the parties

"These are kittle times--kittle times, Mr. Deans, when the people take
the power of life and death out of the hands of the rightful magistrate
into their ain rough grip. I am of opinion, and so I believe will Mr.
Crossmyloof and the Privy Council, that this rising in effeir of war, to
take away the life of a reprieved man, will prove little better than

"If I hadna that on my mind whilk is ill to bear, Mr. Saddletree," said
Deans, "I wad make bold to dispute that point wi' you."

"How could you dispute what's plain law, man?" said Saddletree, somewhat
contemptuously; "there's no a callant that e'er carried a pock wi' a
process in't, but will tell you that perduellion is the warst and maist
virulent kind of treason, being an open convocating of the king's lieges
against his authority (mair especially in arms, and by touk of drum, to
baith whilk accessories my een and lugs bore witness), and muckle worse
than lese-majesty, or the concealment of a treasonable purpose--It winna
bear a dispute, neighbour."

"But it will, though," retorted Douce Davie Deans; "I tell ye it will
bear a disputer never like your cauld, legal, formal doctrines, neighbour
Saddletree. I haud unco little by the Parliament House, since the awfu'
downfall of the hopes of honest folk that followed the Revolution."

"But what wad ye hae had, Mr. Deans?" said Saddletree, impatiently;
"didna ye get baith liberty and conscience made fast, and settled by
tailzie on you and your heirs for ever?"

"Mr. Saddletree," retorted Deans, "I ken ye are one of those that are
wise after the manner of this world, and that ye hand your part, and cast
in your portion, wi' the lang heads and lang gowns, and keep with the
smart witty-pated lawyers of this our land--Weary on the dark and dolefu'
cast that they hae gien this unhappy kingdom, when their black hands of
defection were clasped in the red hands of our sworn murtherers: when
those who had numbered the towers of our Zion, and marked the bulwarks of
Reformation, saw their hope turn into a snare, and their rejoicing into

"I canna understand this, neighbour," answered Saddletree. "I am an
honest Presbyterian of the Kirk of Scotland, and stand by her and the
General Assembly, and the due administration of justice by the fifteen
Lords o' Session and the five Lords o' Justiciary."

"Out upon ye, Mr. Saddletree!" exclaimed David, who, in an opportunity of
giving his testimony on the offences and backslidings of the land, forgot
for a moment his own domestic calamity--"out upon your General Assembly,
and the back of my hand to your Court o' Session!--What is the tane but a
waefu' bunch o' cauldrife professors and ministers, that sate bien and
warm when the persecuted remnant were warstling wi' hunger, and cauld,
and fear of death, and danger of fire and sword upon wet brae-sides,
peat-haggs, and flow-mosses, and that now creep out of their holes, like
bluebottle flees in a blink of sunshine, to take the pu'pits and places
of better folk--of them that witnessed, and testified, and fought, and
endured pit, prison-house, and transportation beyond seas?--A bonny bike
there's o' them!--And for your Court o' Session"

"Ye may say what ye will o' the General Assembly," said Saddletree,
interrupting him, "and let them clear them that kens them; but as for the
Lords o' Session, forby that they are my next-door neighbours, I would
have ye ken, for your ain regulation, that to raise scandal anent them,
whilk is termed to _murmur_ again them, is a crime _sui generis,_--_sui
generis,_ Mr. Deans--ken ye what that amounts to?"

"I ken little o' the language of Antichrist," said Deans; "and I care
less than little what carnal courts may call the speeches of honest men.
And as to murmur again them, it's what a' the folk that loses their
pleas, and nine-tenths o' them that win them, will be gey sure to be
guilty in. Sae I wad hae ye ken that I hand a' your gleg-tongued
advocates, that sell their knowledge for pieces of silver--and your
worldly-wise judges, that will gie three days of hearing in presence to a
debate about the peeling of an ingan, and no ae half-hour to the gospel
testimony--as legalists and formalists, countenancing by sentences, and
quirks, and cunning terms of law, the late begun courses of national
defections--union, toleration, patronages, and Yerastian prelatic oaths.
As for the soul and body-killing Court o' Justiciary"

The habit of considering his life as dedicated to bear testimony in
behalf of what he deemed the suffering and deserted cause of true
religion, had swept honest David along with it thus far; but with the
mention of the criminal court, the recollection of the disastrous
condition of his daughter rushed at once on his mind; he stopped short in
the midst of his triumphant declamation, pressed his hands against his
forehead, and remained silent.

Saddletree was somewhat moved, but apparently not so much so as to induce
him to relinquish the privilege of prosing in his turn afforded him by
David's sudden silence. "Nae doubt, neighbour," he said, "it's a sair
thing to hae to do wi' courts of law, unless it be to improve ane's
knowledge and practique, by waiting on as a hearer; and touching this
unhappy affair of Effie--ye'll hae seen the dittay, doubtless?" He dragged
out of his pocket a bundle of papers, and began to turn them over. "This
is no it--this is the information of Mungo Marsport, of that ilk, against
Captain Lackland, for coming on his lands of Marsport with hawks, hounds,
lying-dogs, nets, guns, cross-bows, hagbuts of found, or other engines
more or less for destruction of game, sic as red-deer, fallow-deer,
cappercailzies, grey-fowl, moor-fowl, paitricks, herons, and sic like;
he, the said defender not being ane qualified person, in terms of the
statute sixteen hundred and twenty-ane; that is, not having ane
plough-gate of land. Now, the defences proponed say, that _non constat_
at this present what is a plough-gate of land, whilk uncertainty is
sufficient to elide the conclusions of the libel. But then the answers to
the defences (they are signed by Mr. Crossmyloof, but Mr. Younglad drew
them), they propone, that it signifies naething, _in hoc statu,_ what or
how muckle a plough-gate of land may be, in respect the defender has nae
lands whatsoever, less or mair. 'Sae grant a plough-gate'" (here
Saddletree read from the paper in his hand) "'to be less than the
nineteenth part of a guse's grass'--(I trow Mr. Crossmyloof put in
that--I ken his style),--'of a guse's grass, what the better
will the defender be, seeing he hasna a divot-cast of land in
Scotland?--_Advocatus_ for Lackland duplies, that _nihil interest de
possessione,_ the pursuer must put his case under the statute'--(now,
this is worth your notice, neighbour),--'and must show, _formaliter et
specialiter,_ as well as _generaliter,_ what is the qualification that
defender Lackland does _not_ possess--let him tell me what a plough-gate
of land is, and I'll tell him if I have one or no. Surely the pursuer is
bound to understand his own libel, and his own statute that he founds
upon. _Titius_ pursues _Maevius_ for recovery of ane _black_ horse lent
to Maevius--surely he shall have judgment; but if Titius pursue Maevius
for ane _scarlet_ or _crimson_ horse, doubtless he shall be bound to
show that there is sic ane animal _in rerum natura._ No man can be bound
to plead to nonsense--that is to say, to a charge which cannot be
explained or understood'--(he's wrang there--the better the pleadings
the fewer understand them),--'and so the reference unto this undefined
and unintelligible measure of land is, as if a penalty was inflicted by
statute for any man who suld hunt or hawk, or use lying-dogs, and
wearing a sky-blue pair of breeches, without having--'But I am wearying
you, Mr. Deans,--we'll pass to your ain business,--though this cue of
Marsport against Lackland has made an unco din in the Outer House. Weel,
here's the dittay against puir Effie: 'Whereas it is humbly meant and
shown to us,' etc. (they are words of mere style), 'that whereas, by the
laws of this and every other well-regulated realm, the murder of any
one, more especially of an infant child, is a crime of ane high nature,
and severely punishable: And whereas, without prejudice to the foresaid
generality, it was, by ane act made in the second session of the First
Parliament of our most High and Dread Sovereigns William and Mary,
especially enacted, that ane woman who shall have concealed her
condition, and shall not be able to show that she hath called for help
at the birth in case that the child shall be found dead or amissing,
shall be deemed and held guilty of the murder thereof; and the said
facts of concealment and pregnancy being found proven or confessed,
shall sustain the pains of law accordingly; yet, nevertheless, you,
Effie, or Euphemia Deans'"

"Read no farther!" said Deans, raising his head up; "I would rather ye
thrust a sword into my heart than read a word farther!"

"Weel, neighbour," said Saddletree, "I thought it wad hae comforted ye to
ken the best and the warst o't. But the question is, what's to be dune?"

"Nothing," answered Deans firmly, "but to abide the dispensation that the
Lord sees meet to send us. Oh, if it had been His will to take the grey
head to rest before this awful visitation on my house and name! But His
will be done. I can say that yet, though I can say little mair."

"But, neighbour," said Saddletree, "ye'll retain advocates for the puir
lassie? it's a thing maun needs be thought of."

"If there was ae man of them," answered Deans, "that held fast his
integrity--but I ken them weel, they are a' carnal, crafty, and
warld-hunting self-seekers, Yerastians, and Arminians, every ane o'

"Hout tout, neighbour, ye mauna take the warld at its word," said
Saddletree; "the very deil is no sae ill as he's ca'd; and I ken mair
than ae advocate that may be said to hae some integrity as weel as their
neighbours; that is, after a sort o' fashion' o' their ain."

"It is indeed but a fashion of integrity that ye will find amang them,"
replied David Deans, "and a fashion of wisdom, and fashion of carnal
learning--gazing, glancing-glasses they are, fit only to fling the glaiks
in folk's een, wi' their pawky policy, and earthly ingine, their flights
and refinements, and periods of eloquence, frae heathen emperors and
popish canons. They canna, in that daft trash ye were reading to me, sae
muckle as ca' men that are sae ill-starred as to be amang their hands, by
ony name o' the dispensation o' grace, but maun new baptize them by the
names of the accursed Titus, wha was made the instrument of burning the
holy Temple, and other sic like heathens!"

"It's Tishius," interrupted Saddletree, "and no Titus. Mr. Crossmyloof
cares as little about Titus or the Latin as ye do.--But it's a case
of necessity--she maun hae counsel. Now, I could speak to Mr.
Crossmyloof--he's weel ken'd for a round-spun Presbyterian, and
a ruling elder to boot."

"He's a rank Yerastian," replied Deans; "one of the public and
polititious warldly-wise men that stude up to prevent ane general owning
of the cause in the day of power!"

"What say ye to the auld Laird of Cuffabout?" said Saddletree; "he whiles
thumps the dust out of a case gey and well."

"He? the fause loon!" answered Deans--"he was in his bandaliers to hae
joined the ungracious Highlanders in 1715, an they had ever had the luck
to cross the Firth."

"Weel, Arniston? there's a clever chield for ye!" said Bartoline,

"Ay, to bring popish medals in till their very library from that
schismatic woman in the north, the Duchess of Gordon."*

* [James Dundas younger of Arniston was tried in the year 1711 upon
charge of leasing-making, in having presented, from the Duchess of
Gordon, medal of the Pretender, for the purpose, it was said, of
affronting Queen Anne.]

 "Weel, weel, but somebody ye maun hae--What think ye o' Kittlepunt?"

"He's an Arminian."


"He's, I doubt, a Cocceian."

"Auld Whilliewhaw?"

"He's ony thing ye like."

"Young Naemmo?"

"He's naething at a'."

"Ye're ill to please, neighbour," said Saddletree: "I hae run ower the
pick o' them for you, ye maun e'en choose for yoursell; but bethink ye
that in the multitude of counsellors there's safety--What say ye to try
young Mackenyie? he has a' his uncle's Practiques at the tongue's end."

"What, sir, wad ye speak to me," exclaimed the sturdy Presbyterian in
excessive wrath, "about a man that has the blood of the saints at his
fingers' ends? Did na his eme [Uncle] die and gang to his place wi' the
name of the Bluidy Mackenyie? and winna he be kend by that name sae lang
as there's a Scots tongue to speak the word? If the life of the dear
bairn that's under a suffering dispensation, and Jeanie's, and my ain,
and a' mankind's, depended on my asking sic a slave o' Satan to speak a
word for me or them, they should a' gae doun the water thegither for
Davie Deans!"

It was the exalted tone in which he spoke this last sentence that broke
up the conversation between Butler and Jeanie, and brought them both "ben
the house," to use the language of the country. Here they found the poor
old man half frantic between grief and zealous ire against Saddletree's
proposed measures, his cheek inflamed, his hand clenched, and his voice
raised, while the tear in his eye, and the occasional quiver of his
accents, showed that his utmost efforts were inadequate to shaking off
the consciousness of his misery. Butler, apprehensive of the consequences
of his agitation to an aged and feeble frame, ventured to utter to him a
recommendation to patience.

"I _am_ patient," returned the old man sternly,--"more patient than any
one who is alive to the woeful backslidings of a miserable time can be
patient; and in so much, that I need neither sectarians, nor sons nor
grandsons of sectarians, to instruct my grey hairs how to bear my cross."

"But, sir," continued Butler, taking no offence at the slur cast on his
grandfather's faith, "we must use human means. When you call in a
physician, you would not, I suppose, question him on the nature of his
religious principles!"

"Wad I _no?_" answered David--"but I wad, though; and if he didna satisfy
me that he had a right sense of the right hand and left hand defections
of the day, not a goutte of his physic should gang through my father's

It is a dangerous thing to trust to an illustration. Butler had done so
and miscarried; but, like a gallant soldier when his musket misses fire,
he stood his ground, and charged with the bayonet.--"This is too rigid an
interpretation of your duty, sir. The sun shines, and the rain descends,
on the just and unjust, and they are placed together in life in
circumstances which frequently render intercourse between them
indispensable, perhaps that the evil may have an opportunity of being
converted by the good, and perhaps, also, that the righteous might, among
other trials, be subjected to that of occasional converse with the

"Ye're a silly callant, Reuben," answered Deans, "with your bits of
argument. Can a man touch pitch and not be defiled? Or what think ye of
the brave and worthy champions of the Covenant, that wadna sae muckle as
hear a minister speak, be his gifts and graces as they would, that hadna
witnessed against the enormities of the day? Nae lawyer shall ever speak
for me and mine that hasna concurred in the testimony of the scattered,
yet lovely remnant, which abode in the clifts of the rocks."

So saying, and as if fatigued, both with the arguments and presence of
his guests, the old man arose, and seeming to bid them adieu with a
motion of his head and hand, went to shut himself up in his sleeping

"It's thrawing his daughter's life awa," said Saddletree to Butler, "to
hear him speak in that daft gate. Where will he ever get a Cameronian
advocate? Or wha ever heard of a lawyer's suffering either for ae
religion or another? The lassie's life is clean flung awa."

During the latter part of this debate, Dumbiedikes had arrived at the
door, dismounted, hung the pony's bridle on the usual hook, and sunk down
on his ordinary settle. His eyes, with more than their usual animation,
followed first one speaker then another, till he caught the melancholy
sense of the whole from Saddletree's last words. He rose from his seat,
stumped slowly across the room, and, coming close up to Saddletree's ear,
said in a tremulous anxious voice, "Will--will siller do naething for
them, Mr. Saddletree?"

"Umph!" said Saddletree, looking grave,--"siller will certainly do it in
the Parliament House, if ony thing _can_ do it; but where's the siller to
come frae? Mr. Deans, ye see, will do naething; and though Mrs.
Saddletree's their far-awa friend, and right good weel-wisher, and is
weel disposed to assist, yet she wadna like to stand to be bound _singuli
in solidum_ to such an expensive wark. An ilka friend wad bear a share o'
the burden, something might be dune--ilka ane to be liable for their ain
input--I wadna like to see the case fa' through without being pled--it
wadna be creditable, for a' that daft whig body says."

"I'll--I will--yes" (assuming fortitude), "I will be answerable," said
Dumbiedikes, "for a score of punds sterling."--And he was silent, staring
in astonishment at finding himself capable of such unwonted resolution
and excessive generosity.

"God Almighty bless ye, Laird!" said Jeanie, in a transport of gratitude.

"Ye may ca' the twenty punds thretty," said Dumbiedikes, looking
bashfully away from her, and towards Saddletree.

"That will do bravely," said Saddletree, rubbing his hands; and ye sall
hae a' my skill and knowledge to gar the siller gang far--I'll tape it
out weel--I ken how to gar the birkies tak short fees, and be glad o'
them too--it's only garring them trow ye hae twa or three cases of
importance coming on, and they'll work cheap to get custom. Let me alane
for whilly-whaing an advocate:--it's nae sin to get as muckle flue them
for our siller as we can--after a', it's but the wind o' their mouth--it
costs them naething; whereas, in my wretched occupation of a saddler,
horse milliner, and harness maker, we are out unconscionable sums just
for barkened hides and leather."

"Can I be of no use?" said Butler. "My means, alas! are only worth the
black coat I wear; but I am young--I owe much to the family--Can I do

"Ye can help to collect evidence, sir," said Saddletree; "if we could but
find ony ane to say she had gien the least hint o' her condition, she wad
be brought aft wi' a wat finger--Mr. Crossmyloof tell'd me sae. The
crown, says he, canna be craved to prove a positive--was't a positive or
a negative they couldna be ca'd to prove?--it was the tane or the tither
o' them, I am sure, and it maksna muckle matter whilk. Wherefore, says
he, the libel maun be redargued by the panel proving her defences. And it
canna be done otherwise."

"But the fact, sir," argued Butler, "the fact that this poor girl has
borne a child; surely the crown lawyers must prove that?" said Butler.

Saddletree paused a moment, while the visage of Dumbiedikes, which
traversed, as if it had been placed on a pivot, from the one spokesman to
the other, assumed a more blithe expression.

"Ye--ye--ye--es," said Saddletree, after some grave hesitation;
"unquestionably that is a thing to be proved, as the court will more
fully declare by an interlocutor of relevancy in common form; but I fancy
that job's done already, for she has confessed her guilt."

"Confessed the murder?" exclaimed Jeanie, with a scream that made them
all start.

"No, I didna say that," replied Bartoline. "But she confessed bearing the

"And what became of it, then?" said Jeanie, "for not a word could I get
from her but bitter sighs and tears."

"She says it was taken away from her by the woman in whose house it was
born, and who assisted her at the time."

"And who was that woman?" said Butler. "Surely by her means the truth
might be discovered.--Who was she? I will fly to her directly."

"I wish," said Dumbiedikes, "I were as young and as supple as you, and
had the gift of the gab as weel."

"Who is she?" again reiterated Butler impatiently.--"Who could that woman

"Ay, wha kens that but herself?" said Saddletree; "she deponed farther,
and declined to answer that interrogatory."

"Then to herself will I instantly go," said Butler; "farewell, Jeanie;"
then coming close up to her--"Take no _rash steps_ till you hear from me.
Farewell!" and he immediately left the cottage.

"I wad gang too," said the landed proprietor, in an anxious, jealous, and
repining tone, "but my powny winna for the life o' me gang ony other road
than just frae Dumbiedikes to this house-end, and sae straight back

"Yell do better for them," said Saddletree, as they left the house
together, "by sending me the thretty punds."

"Thretty punds!" hesitated Dumbiedikes, who was now out of the reach of
those eyes which had inflamed his generosity; "I only said _twenty_

"Ay; but," said Saddletree, "that was under protestation to add and eik;
and so ye craved leave to amend your libel, and made it thretty."

"Did I? I dinna mind that I did," answered Dumbiedikes. "But whatever I
said I'll stand to." Then bestriding his steed with some difficulty, he
added, "Dinna ye think poor Jeanie's een wi' the tears in them glanced
like lamour beads, Mr. Saddletree?"

"I kenna muckle about women's een, Laird," replied the insensible
Bartoline; "and I care just as little. I wuss I were as weel free o'
their tongues; though few wives," he added, recollecting the necessity of
keeping up his character for domestic rule, "are under better command
than mine, Laird. I allow neither perduellion nor lese-majesty against my
sovereign authority."

The Laird saw nothing so important in this observation as to call for a
rejoinder, and when they had exchanged a mute salutation, they parted in
peace upon their different errands.


                I'll warrant that fellow from drowning,
                were the ship no stronger than a nut-shell.

                                           The Tempest.

Butler felt neither fatigue nor want of refreshment, although, from the
mode in which he had spent the night, he might well have been overcome
with either. But in the earnestness with which he hastened to the
assistance of the sister of Jeanie Deans, he forgot both.

In his first progress he walked with so rapid a pace as almost approached
to running, when he was surprised to hear behind him a call upon his
name, contending with an asthmatic cough, and half-drowned amid the
resounding trot of a Highland pony. He looked behind, and saw the Laird
of Dumbiedikes making after him with what speed he might, for it
happened, fortunately for the Laird's purpose of conversing with Butler,
that his own road homeward was for about two hundred yards the same with
that which led by the nearest way to the city. Butler stopped when he
heard himself thus summoned, internally wishing no good to the panting
equestrian who thus retarded his journey.

"Uh! uh! uh!" ejaculated Dumbiedikes, as he checked the hobbling pace of
the pony by our friend Butler. "Uh! uh! it's a hard-set willyard beast
this o' mine." He had in fact just overtaken the object of his chase at
the very point beyond which it would have been absolutely impossible for
him to have continued the pursuit, since there Butler's road parted from
that leading to Dumbiedikes, and no means of influence or compulsion
which the rider could possibly have used towards his Bucephalus could
have induced the Celtic obstinacy of Rory Bean (such was the pony's name)
to have diverged a yard from the path that conducted him to his own

Even when he had recovered from the shortness of breath occasioned by a
trot much more rapid than Rory or he were accustomed to, the high purpose
of Dumbiedikes seemed to stick as it were in his throat, and impede his
utterance, so that Butler stood for nearly three minutes ere he could
utter a syllable; and when he did find voice, it was only to say, after
one or two efforts, "Uh! uh! uhm! I say, Mr.--Mr. Butler, it's a braw day
for the har'st."

"Fine day, indeed," said Butler. "I wish you good morning, sir."

"Stay--stay a bit," rejoined Dumbiedikes; "that was no what I had gotten
to say."

"Then, pray be quick, and let me have your commands," rejoined Butler; "I
crave your pardon, but I am in haste, and _Tempus nemini_--you know the

Dumbiedikes did not know the proverb, nor did he even take the trouble to
endeavour to look as if he did, as others in his place might have done.
He was concentrating all his intellects for one grand proposition, and
could not afford any detachment to defend outposts. "I say, Mr. Butler,"
said he, "ken ye if Mr. Saddletree's a great lawyer?"

"I have no person's word for it but his own," answered Butler, drily;
"but undoubtedly he best understands his own qualities."

"Umph!" replied the taciturn Dumbiedikes, in a tone which seemed to say,
"Mr. Butler, I take your meaning." "In that case," he pursued, "I'll
employ my ain man o' business, Nichil Novit (auld Nichil's son, and
amaist as gleg as his father), to agent Effie's plea."

And having thus displayed more sagacity than Butler expected from him, he
courteously touched his gold-laced cocked hat, and by a punch on the
ribs, conveyed to Rory Bean, it was his rider's pleasure that he should
forthwith proceed homewards; a hint which the quadruped obeyed with that
degree of alacrity with which men and animals interpret and obey
suggestions that entirely correspond with their own inclinations.

Butler resumed his pace, not without a momentary revival of that jealousy
which the honest Laird's attention to the family of Deans had at
different times excited in his bosom. But he was too generous long to
nurse any feeling which was allied to selfishness. "He is," said Butler
to himself, "rich in what I want; why should I feel vexed that he has the
heart to dedicate some of his pelf to render them services, which I can
only form the empty wish of executing? In God's name, let us each do what
we can. May she be but happy!--saved from the misery and disgrace that
seems impending--Let me but find the means of preventing the fearful
experiment of this evening, and farewell to other thoughts, though my
heart-strings break in parting with them!"

He redoubled his pace, and soon stood before the door of the Tolbooth, or
rather before the entrance where the door had formerly been placed. His
interview with the mysterious stranger, the message to Jeanie, his
agitating conversation with her on the subject of breaking off their
mutual engagements, and the interesting scene with old Deans, had so
entirely occupied his mind as to drown even recollection of the tragical
event which he had witnessed the preceding evening. His attention was not
recalled to it by the groups who stood scattered on the street in
conversation, which they hushed when strangers approached, or by the
bustling search of the agents of the city police, supported by small
parties of the military, or by the appearance of the Guard-House, before
which were treble sentinels, or, finally, by the subdued and intimidated
looks of the lower orders of society, who, conscious that they were
liable to suspicion, if they were not guilty of accession to a riot
likely to be strictly inquired into, glided about with an humble and
dismayed aspect, like men whose spirits being exhausted in the revel and
the dangers of a desperate debauch over-night, are nerve-shaken,
timorous, and unenterprising on the succeeding day.

None of these symptoms of alarm and trepidation struck Butler, whose mind
was occupied with a different, and to him still more interesting subject,
until he stood before the entrance to the prison, and saw it defended by
a double file of grenadiers, instead of bolts and bars. Their "Stand,
stand!" the blackened appearance of the doorless gateway, and the winding
staircase and apartments of the Tolbooth, now open to the public eye,
recalled the whole proceedings of the eventful night. Upon his requesting
to speak with Effie Deans, the same tall, thin, silver-haired turnkey,
whom he had seen on the preceding evening, made his appearance,

"I think," he replied to Butler's request of admission, with true
Scottish indirectness, "ye will be the same lad that was for in to see
her yestreen?"

Butler admitted he was the same person.

"And I am thinking," pursued the turnkey, "that ye speered at me when we
locked up, and if we locked up earlier on account of Porteous?"

"Very likely I might make some such observation," said Butler; "but the
question now is, can I see Effie Deans?"

"I dinna ken--gang in by, and up the turnpike stair, and turn till the
ward on the left hand."

The old man followed close behind him, with his keys in his hand, not
forgetting even that huge one which had once opened and shut the outward
gate of his dominions, though at present it was but an idle and useless
burden. No sooner had Butler entered the room to which he was directed,
than the experienced hand of the warder selected the proper key, and
locked it on the outside. At first Butler conceived this manoeuvre was
only an effect of the man's habitual and official caution and jealousy.
But when he heard the hoarse command, "Turn out the guard!" and
immediately afterwards heard the clash of a sentinel's arms, as he was
posted at the door of his apartment, he again called out to the turnkey,
"My good friend, I have business of some consequence with Effie Deans,
and I beg to see her as soon as possible." No answer was returned. "If it
be against your rules to admit me," repeated Butler, in a still louder
tone, "to see the prisoner, I beg you will tell me so, and let me go
about my business.--_Fugit irrevocabile tempus!_" muttered he to himself.

"If ye had business to do, ye suld hae dune it before ye cam here,"
replied the man of keys from the outside; "yell find it's easier wunnin
in than wunnin out here--there's sma' likelihood o' another Porteous mob
coming to rabble us again--the law will haud her ain now, neighbour, and
that yell find to your cost."

"What do you mean by that, sir?" retorted Butler. "You must mistake me
for some other person. My name is Reuben Butler, preacher of the gospel."

"I ken that weel eneugh," said the turnkey.

"Well, then, if you know me, I have a right to know from you in return,
what warrant you have for detaining me; that, I know, is the right of
every British subject."

"Warrant!" said the jailor,--"the warrant's awa to Libberton wi' twa
sheriff officers seeking ye. If ye had staid at hame, as honest men
should do, ye wad hae seen the warrant; but if ye come to be incarcerated
of your ain accord, wha can help it, my jo?"

"'So I cannot see Effie Deans, then," said Butler; "and you are
determined not to let me out?"

"Troth will I no, neighbour," answered the old man, doggedly; "as for
Effie Deans, ye'll hae eneuch ado to mind your ain business, and let her
mind hers; and for letting you out, that maun be as the magistrate will
determine. And fare ye weel for a bit, for I maun see Deacon Sawyers put
on ane or twa o' the doors that your quiet folk broke down yesternight,
Mr. Butler."

There was something in this exquisitely provoking, but there was also
something darkly alarming. To be imprisoned, even on a false accusation,
has something in it disagreeable and menacing even to men of more
constitutional courage than Butler had to boast; for although he had much
of that resolution which arises from a sense of duty and an honourable
desire to discharge it, yet, as his imagination was lively, and his frame
of body delicate, he was far from possessing that cool insensibility to
danger which is the happy portion of men of stronger health, more firm
nerves, and less acute sensibility. An indistinct idea of peril, which he
could neither understand nor ward off, seemed to float before his eyes.
He tried to think over the events of the preceding night, in hopes of
discovering some means of explaining or vindicating his conduct for
appearing among the mob, since it immediately occurred to him that his
detention must be founded on that circumstance. And it was with anxiety
that he found he could not recollect to have been under the observation
of any disinterested witness in the attempts that he made from time to
time to expostulate with the rioters, and to prevail on them to release
him. The distress of Deans's family, the dangerous rendezvous which
Jeanie had formed, and which he could not now hope to interrupt, had also
their share in his unpleasant reflections. Yet, impatient as he was to
receive an _e'claircissement_ upon the cause of his confinement, and if
possible to obtain his liberty, he was affected with a trepidation which
seemed no good omen; when, after remaining an hour in this solitary
apartment, he received a summons to attend the sitting magistrate. He was
conducted from prison strongly guarded by a party of soldiers, with a
parade of precaution, that, however ill-timed and unnecessary, is
generally displayed _after_ an event, which such precaution, if used in
time, might have prevented.

He was introduced into the Council Chamber, as the place is called where
the magistrates hold their sittings, and which was then at a little
distance from the prison. One or two of the senators of the city were
present, and seemed about to engage in the examination of an individual
who was brought forward to the foot of the long green-covered table round
which the council usually assembled. "Is that the preacher?" said one of
the magistrates, as the city officer in attendance introduced Butler. The
man answered in the affirmative. "Let him sit down there for an instant;
we will finish this man's business very briefly."

"Shall we remove Mr. Butler?" queried the assistant.

"It is not necessary--Let him remain where he is."

Butler accordingly sate down on a bench at the bottom of the apartment,
attended by one of his keepers.

It was a large room, partially and imperfectly lighted; but by chance, or
the skill of the architect, who might happen to remember the advantage
which might occasionally be derived from such an arrangement, one window
was so placed as to throw a strong light at the foot of the table at
which prisoners were usually posted for examination, while the upper end,
where the examinants sate, was thrown into shadow. Butler's eyes were
instantly fixed on the person whose examination was at present
proceeding, in the idea that he might recognise some one of the
conspirators of the former night. But though the features of this man
were sufficiently marked and striking, he could not recollect that he had
ever seen them before.

The complexion of this person was dark, and his age somewhat advanced. He
wore his own hair, combed smooth down, and cut very short. It was jet
black, slightly curled by nature, and already mottled with grey. The
man's face expressed rather knavery than vice, and a disposition to
sharpness, cunning, and roguery, more than the traces of stormy and
indulged passions. His sharp quick black eyes, acute features, ready
sardonic smile, promptitude and effrontery, gave him altogether what is
called among the vulgar a _knowing_ look, which generally implies a
tendency to knavery. At a fair or market, you could not for a moment have
doubted that he was a horse-jockey, intimate with all the tricks of his
trade; yet, had you met him on a moor, you would not have apprehended any
violence from him. His dress was also that of a horse-dealer--a
close-buttoned jockey-coat, or wrap-rascal, as it was then termed, with
huge metal buttons, coarse blue upper stockings, called boot-hose because
supplying the place of boots, and a slouched hat. He only wanted a loaded
whip under his arm and a spur upon one heel, to complete the dress of the
character he seemed to represent.

"Your name is James Ratcliffe?" said the magistrate.

"Ay--always wi' your honour's leave."

"That is to say, you could find me another name if I did not like that

"Twenty to pick and choose upon, always with your honour's leave,"
resumed the respondent.

"But James Ratcliffe is your present name?--what is your trade?"

"I canna just say, distinctly, that I have what ye wad ca' preceesely a

"But," repeated the magistrate, "what are your means of living--your

"Hout tout--your honour, wi' your leave, kens that as weel as I do,"
replied the examined.

"No matter, I want to hear you describe it," said the examinant.

"Me describe!--and to your honour!--far be it from Jemmie Ratcliffe,"
responded the prisoner.

"Come, sir, no trifling--I insist on an answer."

"Weel, sir," replied the declarant, "I maun make a clean breast, for ye
see, wi' your leave, I am looking for favour--Describe my occupation,
quo' ye?--troth it will be ill to do that, in a feasible way, in a place
like this--but what is't again that the aught command says?"

"Thou shalt not steal," answered the magistrate.

"Are you sure o' that?" replied the accused.--"Troth, then, my
occupation, and that command, are sair at odds, for I read it, thou
_shalt_ steal; and that makes an unco difference, though there's but a
wee bit word left out."

"To cut the matter short, Ratcliffe, you have been a most notorious
thief," said the examinant.

"I believe Highlands and Lowlands ken that, sir, forby England and
Holland," replied Ratcliffe, with the greatest composure and effrontery.

"And what d'ye think the end of your calling will be?" said the

"I could have gien a braw guess yesterday--but I dinna ken sae weel the
day," answered the prisoner.

"And what would you have said would have been your end, had you been
asked the question yesterday?"

"Just the gallows," replied Ratcliffe, with the same composure.

"You are a daring rascal, sir," said the magistrate; "and how dare you
hope times are mended with you to-day?"

"Dear, your honour," answered Ratcliffe, "there's muckle difference
between lying in prison under sentence of death, and staying there of
ane's ain proper accord, when it would have cost a man naething to get up
and rin awa--what was to hinder me from stepping out quietly, when the
rabble walked awa wi' Jock Porteous yestreen?--and does your honour
really think I staid on purpose to be hanged?"

"I do not know what you may have proposed to yourself; but I know," said
the magistrate, "what the law proposes for you, and that is, to hang you
next Wednesday eight days."

"Na, na, your honour," said Ratcliffe firmly, "craving your honour's
pardon, I'll ne'er believe that till I see it. I have kend the law this
mony a year, and mony a thrawart job I hae had wi' her first and last;
but the auld jaud is no sae ill as that comes to--I aye fand her bark
waur than her bite."

"And if you do not expect the gallows, to which you are condemned (for
the fourth time to my knowledge), may I beg the favour to know," said the
magistrate, "what it is you _do_ expect, in consideration of your not
having taken your flight with the rest of the jail-birds, which I will
admit was a line of conduct little to have been expected?"

"I would never have thought for a moment of staying in that auld gousty
toom house," answered Ratcliffe, "but that use and wont had just gien me
a fancy to the place, and I'm just expecting a bit post in't."

"A post!" exclaimed the magistrate; "a whipping-post, I suppose, you

"Na, na, sir, I had nae thoughts o' a whuppin-post. After having been
four times doomed to hang by the neck till I was dead, I think I am far
beyond being whuppit."

"Then, in Heaven's name, what _did_ you expect?"

"Just the post of under-turnkey, for I understand there's a vacancy,"
said the prisoner; "I wadna think of asking the lockman's* place ower his
head; it wadna suit me sae weel as ither folk, for I never could put a
beast out o' the way, much less deal wi' a man."

* Note H. Hangman, or Lockman.

"That's something in your favour," said the magistrate, making exactly
the inference to which Ratcliffe was desirous to lead him, though he
mantled his art with an affectation of oddity.

"But," continued the magistrate, "how do you think you can be trusted
with a charge in the prison, when you have broken at your own hand half
the jails in Scotland?"

"Wi' your honour's leave," said Ratcliffe, "if I kend sae weel how to wun
out mysell, it's like I wad be a' the better a hand to keep other folk
in. I think they wad ken their business weel that held me in when I
wanted to be out, or wan out when I wanted to hand them in."

The remark seemed to strike the magistrate, but he made no further
immediate observation, only desired Ratcliffe to be removed.

When this daring and yet sly freebooter was out of hearing, the
magistrate asked the city clerk, "what he thought of the fellow's

"It's no for me to say, sir," replied the clerk; "but if James Ratcliffe
be inclined to turn to good, there is not a man e'er came within the
ports of the burgh could be of sae muckle use to the Good Town in the
thief and lock-up line of business. I'll speak to Mr. Sharpitlaw about

Upon Ratcliffe's retreat, Butler was placed at the table for examination.
The magistrate conducted his inquiry civilly, but yet in a manner which
gave him to understand that he laboured under strong suspicion. With a
frankness which at once became his calling and character, Butler avowed
his involuntary presence at the murder of Porteous, and, at the request
of the magistrate, entered into a minute detail of the circumstances
which attended that unhappy affair. All the particulars, such as we have
narrated, were taken minutely down by the clerk from Butler's dictation.

When the narrative was concluded, the cross-examination commenced, which
it is a painful task even for the most candid witness to undergo, since a
story, especially if connected with agitating and alarming incidents, can
scarce be so clearly and distinctly told, but that some ambiguity and
doubt may be thrown upon it by a string of successive and minute

The magistrate commenced by observing, that Butler had said his object
was to return to the village of Libberton, but that he was interrupted by
the mob at the West Port. "Is the West Port your usual way of leaving
town when you go to Libberton?" said the magistrate, with a sneer.

"No, certainly," answered Butler, with the haste of a man anxious to
vindicate the accuracy of his evidence; "but I chanced to be nearer that
port than any other, and the hour of shutting the gates was on the point
of striking."

"That was unlucky," said the magistrate, drily. "Pray, being, as you say,
under coercion and fear of the lawless multitude, and compelled to
accompany them through scenes disagreeable to all men of humanity, and
more especially irreconcilable to the profession of a minister, did you
not attempt to struggle, resist, or escape from their violence?"

Butler replied, "that their numbers prevented him from attempting
resistance, and their vigilance from effecting his escape."

"That was unlucky," again repeated the magistrate, in the same dry
inacquiescent tone of voice and manner. He proceeded with decency and
politeness, but with a stiffness which argued his continued suspicion, to
ask many questions concerning the behaviour of the mob, the manners and
dress of the ringleaders; and when he conceived that the caution of
Butler, if he was deceiving him, must be lulled asleep, the magistrate
suddenly and artfully returned to former parts of his declaration, and
required a new recapitulation of the circumstances, to the minutest and
most trivial point, which attended each part of the melancholy scene. No
confusion or contradiction, however, occurred, that could countenance the
suspicion which he seemed to have adopted against Butler. At length the
train of his interrogatories reached Madge Wildfire, at whose name the
magistrate and town-clerk exchanged significant glances. If the fate of
the Good Town had depended on her careful magistrate's knowing the
features and dress of this personage, his inquiries could not have been
more particular. But Butler could say almost nothing of this person's
features, which were disguised apparently with red paint and soot, like
an Indian going to battle, besides the projecting shade of a curch, or
coif, which muffled the hair of the supposed female. He declared that he
thought he could not know this Madge Wildfire, if placed before him in a
different dress, but that he believed he might recognise her voice.

The magistrate requested him again to state by what gate he left the

"By the Cowgate Port," replied Butler.

"Was that the nearest road to Libberton?"

"No," answered Butler, with embarrassment; "but it was the nearest way to
extricate myself from the mob."

The clerk and magistrate again exchanged glances.

"Is the Cowgate Port a nearer way to Libberton from the Grassmarket than
Bristo Port?"

"No," replied Butler; "but I had to visit a friend."

"Indeed!" said the interrogator--"You were in a hurry to tell the sight
you had witnessed, I suppose?"

"Indeed I was not," replied Butler; "nor did I speak on the subject the
whole time I was at St. Leonard's Crags."

"Which road did you take to St. Leonard's Crags?"

"By the foot of Salisbury Crags," was the reply.

"Indeed? you seem partial to circuitous routes," again said the
magistrate. "Whom did you see after you left the city?"

One by one he obtained a description of every one of the groups who had
passed Butler, as already noticed, their number, demeanour, and
appearance; and, at length, came to the circumstance of the mysterious
stranger in the King's Park. On this subject Butler would fain have
remained silent, But the magistrate had no sooner got a slight hint
concerning the incident, than he seemed bent to possess himself of the
most minute particulars.

"Look ye, Mr. Butler," said he, "you are a young man, and bear an
excellent character; so much I will myself testify in your favour. But we
are aware there has been, at times, a sort of bastard and fiery zeal in
some of your order, and those, men irreproachable in other points, which
has led them into doing and countenancing great irregularities, by which
the peace of the country is liable to be shaken.--I will deal plainly
with you. I am not at all satisfied with this story, of your setting out
again and again to seek your dwelling by two several roads, which were
both circuitous. And, to be frank, no one whom we have examined on this
unhappy affair could trace in your appearance any thing like your acting
under compulsion. Moreover, the waiters at the Cowgate Port observed
something like the trepidation of guilt in your conduct, and declare that
you were the first to command them to open the gate, in a tone of
authority, as if still presiding over the guards and out-posts of the
rabble, who had besieged them the whole night."

"God forgive them!" said Butler; "I only asked free passage for myself;
they must have much misunderstood, if they did not wilfully misrepresent

"Well, Mr. Butler," resumed the magistrate, "I am inclined to judge the
best and hope the best, as I am sure I wish the best; but you must be
frank with me, if you wish to secure my good opinion, and lessen the risk
of inconvenience to yourself. You have allowed you saw another individual
in your passage through the King's Park to Saint Leonard's Crags--I must
know every word which passed betwixt you."

Thus closely pressed, Butler, who had no reason for concealing what
passed at that meeting, unless because Jeanie Deans was concerned in it,
thought it best to tell the whole truth from beginning to end.

"Do you suppose," said the magistrate, pausing, "that the young woman
will accept an invitation so mysterious?"

"I fear she will," replied Butler.

"Why do you use the word _fear_ it?" said the magistrate.

"Because I am apprehensive for her safety, in meeting at such a time and
place, one who had something of the manner of a desperado, and whose
message was of a character so inexplicable."

"Her safety shall be cared for," said the magistrate. "Mr. Butler, I am
concerned I cannot immediately discharge you from confinement, but I hope
you will not be long detained.--Remove Mr. Butler, and let him be
provided with decent accommodation in all respects."

He was conducted back to the prison accordingly; but, in the food offered
to him, as well as in the apartment in which he was lodged, the
recommendation of the magistrate was strictly attended to.


                     Dark and eerie was the night,
                        And lonely was the way,
                    As Janet, wi' her green mantell,
                       To Miles' Cross she did gae.
                                          Old Ballad.

Leaving Butler to all the uncomfortable thoughts attached to his new
situation, among which the most predominant was his feeling that he was,
by his confinement, deprived of all possibility of assisting the family
at St. Leonard's in their greatest need, we return to Jeanie Deans, who
had seen him depart, without an opportunity of farther explanation, in
all that agony of mind with which the female heart bids adieu to the
complicated sensations so well described by Coleridge,--

                   Hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
                     An undistinguishable throng;
                    And gentle wishes long subdued--
                      Subdued and cherished long.

It is not the firmest heart (and Jeanie, under her russet rokelay, had
one that would not have disgraced Cato's daughter) that can most easily
bid adieu to these soft and mingled emotions. She wept for a few minutes
bitterly, and without attempting to refrain from this indulgence of
passion. But a moment's recollection induced her to check herself for a
grief selfish and proper to her own affections, while her father and
sister were plunged into such deep and irretrievable affliction. She drew
from her pocket the letter which had been that morning flung into her
apartment through an open window, and the contents of which were as
singular as the expression was violent and energetic. "If she would save
a human being from the most damning guilt, and all its desperate
consequences,--if she desired the life an honour of her sister to be
saved from the bloody fangs of an unjust law,--if she desired not to
forfeit peace of mind here, and happiness hereafter," such was the
frantic style of the conjuration, "she was entreated to give a sure,
secret, and solitary meeting to the writer. She alone could rescue him,"
so ran the letter, "and he only could rescue her." He was in such
circumstances, the billet farther informed her, that an attempt to bring
any witness of their conference, or even to mention to her father, or any
other person whatsoever, the letter which requested it, would inevitably
prevent its taking place, and ensure the destruction of her sister. The
letter concluded with incoherent but violent protestations, that in
obeying this summons she had nothing to fear personally.

The message delivered to her by Butler from the stranger in the Park
tallied exactly with the contents of the letter, but assigned a later
hour and a different place of meeting. Apparently the writer of the
letter had been compelled to let Butler so far into his confidence, for
the sake of announcing this change to Jeanie. She was more than once on
the point of producing the billet, in vindication of herself from her
lover's half-hinted suspicions. But there is something in stooping to
justification which the pride of innocence does not at all times
willingly submit to; besides that the threats contained in the letter, in
case of her betraying the secret, hung heavy on her heart. It is
probable, however, that had they remained longer together, she might have
taken the resolution to submit the whole matter to Butler, and be guided
by him as to the line of conduct which she should adopt. And when, by the
sudden interruption of their conference, she lost the opportunity of
doing so, she felt as if she had been unjust to a friend, whose advice
might have been highly useful, and whose attachment deserved her full and
unreserved confidence.

To have recourse to her father upon this occasion, she considered as
highly imprudent. There was no possibility of conjecturing in what light
the matter might strike old David, whose manner of acting and thinking in
extraordinary circumstances depended upon feelings and principles
peculiar to himself, the operation of which could not be calculated upon
even by those best acquainted with him. To have requested some female
friend to have accompanied her to the place of rendezvous, would perhaps
have been the most eligible expedient; but the threats of the writer,
that betraying his secret would prevent their meeting (on which her
sister's safety was said to depend) from taking place at all, would have
deterred her from making such a confidence, even had she known a person
in whom she thought it could with safety have been reposed. But she knew
none such. Their acquaintance with the cottagers in the vicinity had been
very slight, and limited to trifling acts of good neighbourhood. Jeanie
knew little of them, and what she knew did not greatly incline her to
trust any of them. They were of the order of loquacious good-humoured
gossips usually found in their situation of life; and their conversation
had at all times few charms for a young woman, to whom nature and the
circumstance of a solitary life had given a depth of thought and force of
character superior to the frivolous part of her sex, whether in high or
low degree.

Left alone and separated from all earthly counsel, she had recourse to a
friend and adviser, whose ear is open to the cry of the poorest and most
afflicted of his people. She knelt, and prayed with fervent sincerity,
that God would please to direct her what course to follow in her arduous
and distressing situation. It was the belief of the time and sect to
which she belonged, that special answers to prayer, differing little in
their character from divine inspiration, were, as they expressed it,
"borne in upon their minds" in answer to their earnest petitions in a
crisis of difficulty. Without entering into an abstruse point of
divinity, one thing is plain;--namely, that the person who lays open his
doubts and distresses in prayer, with feeling and sincerity, must
necessarily, in the act of doing so, purify his mind from the dross of
worldly passions and interests, and bring it into that state, when the
resolutions adopted are likely to be selected rather from a sense of
duty, than from any inferior motive. Jeanie arose from her devotions,
with her heart fortified to endure affliction, and encouraged to face

"I will meet this unhappy man," she said to herself--"unhappy he must be,
since I doubt he has been the cause of poor Effie's misfortune--but I
will meet him, be it for good or ill. My mind shall never cast up to me,
that, for fear of what might be said or done to myself, I left that
undone that might even yet be the rescue of her."

With a mind greatly composed since the adoption of this resolution, she
went to attend her father. The old man, firm in the principles of his
youth, did not, in outward appearance at least, permit a thought of hit
family distress to interfere with the stoical reserve of his countenance
and manners. He even chid his daughter for having neglected, in the
distress of the morning, some trifling domestic duties which fell under
her department.

"Why, what meaneth this, Jeanie?" said the old man--"The brown
four-year-auld's milk is not seiled yet, nor the bowies put up on the
bink. If ye neglect your warldly duties in the day of affliction, what
confidence have I that ye mind the greater matters that concern
salvation? God knows, our bowies, and our pipkins, and our draps o' milk,
and our bits o' bread, are nearer and dearer to us than the bread of

Jeanie, not unpleased to hear her father's thoughts thus expand
themselves beyond the sphere of his immediate distress, obeyed him, and
proceeded to put her household matters in order; while old David moved
from place to place about his ordinary employments, scarce showing,
unless by a nervous impatience at remaining long stationary, an
occasional convulsive sigh, or twinkle of the eyelid, that he was
labouring under the yoke of such bitter affliction.

The hour of noon came on, and the father and child sat down to their
homely repast. In his petition for a blessing on the meal, the poor old
man added to his supplication, a prayer that the bread eaten in sadness
of heart, and the bitter waters of Marah, might be made as nourishing as
those which had been poured forth from a full cup and a plentiful basket
and store; and having concluded his benediction, and resumed the bonnet
which he had laid "reverently aside," he proceeded to exhort his daughter
to eat, not by example indeed, but at least by precept.

"The man after God's own heart," he said, "washed and anointed himself,
and did eat bread, in order to express his submission under a
dispensation of suffering, and it did not become a Christian man or woman
so to cling to creature-comforts of wife or bairns"--(here the words
became too great, as it were, for his utterance),--"as to forget the fist
duty,--submission to the Divine will."

To add force to his precept, he took a morsel on his plate, but nature
proved too strong even for the powerful feelings with which he
endeavoured to bridle it. Ashamed of his weakness, he started up, and ran
out of the house, with haste very unlike the deliberation of his usual
movements. In less than five minutes he returned, having successfully
struggled to recover his ordinary composure of mind and countenance, and
affected to colour over his late retreat, by muttering that he thought he
heard the "young staig loose in the byre."

He did not again trust himself with the subject of his former
conversation, and his daughter was glad to see that he seemed to avoid
farther discourse on that agitating topic. The hours glided on, as on
they must and do pass, whether winged with joy or laden with affliction.
The sun set beyond the dusky eminence of the Castle and the screen of
western hills, and the close of evening summoned David Deans and his
daughter to the family duty of the night. It came bitterly upon Jeanie's
recollection, how often, when the hour of worship approached, she used to
watch the lengthening shadows, and look out from the door of the house,
to see if she could spy her sister's return homeward. Alas! this idle and
thoughtless waste of time, to what evils had it not finally led? and was
she altogether guiltless, who, noticing Effie's turn to idle and light
society, had not called in her father's authority to restrain her?--But I
acted for the best, she again reflected, and who could have expected such
a growth of evil, from one grain of human leaven, in a disposition so
kind, and candid, and generous?

As they sate down to the "exercise," as it is called, a chair happened
accidentally to stand in the place which Effie usually occupied. David
Deans saw his daughter's eyes swim in tears as they were directed towards
this object, and pushed it aside, with a gesture of some impatience, as
if desirous to destroy every memorial of earthly interest when about to
address the Deity. The portion of Scripture was read, the psalm was sung,
the prayer was made; and it was remarkable that, in discharging these
duties, the old man avoided all passages and expressions, of which
Scripture affords so many, that might be considered as applicable to his
own domestic misfortune. In doing so it was perhaps his intention to
spare the feelings of his daughter, as well as to maintain, in outward
show at least, that stoical appearance of patient endurance of all the
evil which earth could bring, which was in his opinion essential to the
character of one who rated all earthly things at their just estimate of
nothingness. When he had finished the duty of the evening, he came up to
his daughter, wished her good-night, and, having done so, continued to
hold her by the hands for half-a-minute; then drawing her towards him,
kissed her forehead, and ejaculated, "The God of Israel bless you, even
with the blessings of the promise, my dear bairn!"

It was not either in the nature or habits of David Deans to seem a fond
father; nor was he often observed to experience, or at least to evince,
that fulness of the heart which seeks to expand itself in tender
expressions or caresses even to those who were dearest to him. On the
contrary, he used to censure this as a degree of weakness in several of
his neighbours, and particularly in poor widow Butler. It followed,
however, from the rarity of such emotions in this self-denied and
reserved man, that his children attached to occasional marks of his
affection and approbation a degree of high interest and solemnity; well
considering them as evidences of feelings which were only expressed when
they became too intense for suppression or concealment.

With deep emotion, therefore, did he bestow, and his daughter receive,
this benediction and paternal caress. "And you, my dear father,"
exclaimed Jeanie, when the door had closed upon the venerable old man,
"may you have purchased and promised blessings multiplied upon you--upon
_you,_ who walk in this world as though you were not of the world, and
hold all that it can give or take away but as the _midges_ that the
sun-blink brings out, and the evening wind sweeps away!"

She now made preparation for her night-walk. Her father slept in another
part of the dwelling, and, regular in all his habits, seldom or never
left his apartment when he had betaken himself to it for the evening. It
was therefore easy for her to leave the house unobserved, so soon as the
time approached at which she was to keep her appointment. But the step
she was about to take had difficulties and terrors in her own eyes,
though she had no reason to apprehend her father's interference. Her life
had been spent in the quiet, uniform, and regular seclusion of their
peaceful and monotonous household. The very hour which some damsels of
the present day, as well of her own as of higher degree, would consider
as the natural period of commencing an evening of pleasure, brought, in
her opinion, awe and solemnity in it; and the resolution she had taken
had a strange, daring, and adventurous character, to which she could
hardly reconcile herself when the moment approached for putting it into
execution. Her hands trembled as she snooded her fair hair beneath the
riband, then the only ornament or cover which young unmarried women wore
on their head, and as she adjusted the scarlet tartan screen or muffler
made of plaid, which the Scottish women wore, much in the fashion of the
black silk veils still a part of female dress in the Netherlands. A sense
of impropriety as well as of danger pressed upon her, as she lifted the
latch of her paternal mansion to leave it on so wild an expedition, and
at so late an hour, unprotected, and without the knowledge of her natural

When she found herself abroad and in the open fields, additional subjects
of apprehension crowded upon her. The dim cliffs and scattered rocks,
interspersed with greensward, through which she had to pass to the place
of appointment, as they glimmered before her in a clear autumn night,
recalled to her memory many a deed of violence, which, according to
tradition, had been done and suffered among them. In earlier days they
had been the haunt of robbers and assassins, the memory of whose crimes
is preserved in the various edicts which the council of the city, and
even the parliament of Scotland, had passed for dispersing their bands,
and ensuring safety to the lieges, so near the precincts of the city. The
names of these criminals, and, of their atrocities, were still remembered
in traditions of the scattered cottages and the neighbouring suburb. In
latter times, as we have already noticed, the sequestered and broken
character of the ground rendered it a fit theatre for duels and
rencontres among the fiery youth of the period. Two or three of these
incidents, all sanguinary, and one of them fatal in its termination, had
happened since Deans came to live at St. Leonard's. His daughter's
recollections, therefore, were of blood and horror as she pursued the
small scarce-tracked solitary path, every step of which conveyed het to a
greater distance from help, and deeper into the ominous seclusion of
these unhallowed precincts.

As the moon began to peer forth on the scene with a doubtful, flitting,
and solemn light, Jeanie's apprehensions took another turn, too peculiar
to her rank and country to remain unnoticed. But to trace its origin will
require another chapter.


                           The spirit I have seen
                      May be the devil. And the devil has power
                      To assume a pleasing shape.

Witchcraft and demonology, as we have already had occasion to remark, were
at this period believed in by almost all ranks, but more especially among
the stricter classes of Presbyterians, whose government, when their party
were at the head of the state, had been much sullied by their eagerness
to inquire into and persecute these imaginary crimes. Now, in this point
of view, also, Saint Leonard's Crags and the adjacent Chase were a
dreaded and ill-reputed district. Not only had witches held their
meetings there, but even of very late years the enthusiast or impostor,
mentioned in the _Pandaemonium_ of Richard Bovet, Gentleman,* had, among
the recesses of these romantic cliffs, found his way into the hidden
retreats where the fairies revel in the bowels of the earth.

* Note I. The Fairy Boy of Leith.

With all these legends Jeanie Deans was too well acquainted to escape
that strong impression which they usually make on the imagination.
Indeed, relations of this ghostly kind had been familiar to her from her
infancy, for they were the only relief which her father's conversation
afforded from controversial argument, or the gloomy history of the
strivings and testimonies, escapes, captures, tortures, and executions of
those martyrs of the Covenant, with whom it was his chiefest boast to say
he had been acquainted. In the recesses of mountains, in caverns, and in
morasses, to which these persecuted enthusiasts were so ruthlessly
pursued, they conceived they had often to contend with the visible
assaults of the Enemy of mankind, as in the cities, and in the cultivated
fields, they were exposed to those of the tyrannical government and their
soldiery. Such were the terrors which made one of their gifted seers
exclaim, when his companion returned to him, after having left him alone
in a haunted cavern in Sorn in Galloway, "It is hard living in this
world-incarnate devils above the earth, and devils under the earth! Satan
has been here since ye went away, but I have dismissed him by resistance;
we will be no more troubled with him this night." David Deans believed
this, and many other such ghostly encounters and victories, on the faith
of the Ansars, or auxiliaries of the banished prophets. This event was
beyond David's remembrance. But he used to tell with great awe, yet not
without a feeling of proud superiority to his auditors, how he himself
had been present at a field-meeting at Crochmade, when the duty of the
day was interrupted by the apparition of a tall black man, who, in the
act of crossing a ford to join the congregation, lost ground, and was
carried down apparently by the force of the stream. All were instantly at
work to assist him, but with so little success, that ten or twelve stout
men, who had hold of the rope which they had cast in to his aid, were
rather in danger to be dragged into the stream, and lose their own lives,
than likely to save that of the supposed perishing man. "But famous John
Semple of Carspharn," David Deans used to say with exultation, "saw the
whaup in the rape.--'Quit the rope,' he cried to us (for I that was but a
callant had a hand o' the rape mysell), 'it is the Great Enemy! he will
burn, but not drown; his design is to disturb the good wark, by raising
wonder and confusion in your minds; to put off from your spirits all that
ye hae heard and felt.'--Sae we let go the rape," said David, "and he
went adown the water screeching and bullering like a Bull of Bashan, as
he's ca'd in Scripture."*

* Note J. Intercourse of the Covenanters with the invisible world.

Trained in these and similar legends, it was no wonder that Jeanie began
to feel an ill-defined apprehension, not merely of the phantoms which
might beset her way, but of the quality, nature, and purpose of the being
who had thus appointed her a meeting, at a place and hour of horror, and
at a time when her mind must be necessarily full of those tempting and
ensnaring thoughts of grief and despair, which were supposed to lay
sufferers particularly open to the temptations of the Evil One. If such
an idea had crossed even Butler's well-informed mind, it was calculated
to make a much stronger impression upon hers. Yet firmly believing the
possibility of an encounter so terrible to flesh and blood, Jeanie, with
a degree of resolution of which we cannot sufficiently estimate the
merit, because the incredulity of the age has rendered us strangers to
the nature and extent of her feelings, persevered in her determination
not to omit an opportunity of doing something towards saving her sister,
although, in the attempt to avail herself of it, she might be exposed to
dangers so dreadful to her imagination. So, like Christiana in the
Pilgrim's Progress, when traversing with a timid yet resolved step the
terrors of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, she glided on by rock and
stone, "now in glimmer and now in gloom," as her path lay through
moonlight or shadow, and endeavoured to overpower the suggestions of
fear, sometimes by fixing her mind upon the distressed condition of her
sister, and the duty she lay under to afford her aid, should that be in
her power; and more frequently by recurring in mental prayer to the
protection of that Being to whom night is as noon-day.

Thus drowning at one time her fears by fixing her mind on a subject of
overpowering interest, and arguing them down at others by referring
herself to the protection of the Deity, she at length approached the
place assigned for this mysterious conference.

It was situated in the depth of the valley behind Salisbury Crags, which
has for a background the north-western shoulder of the mountain called
Arthur's Seat, on whose descent still remain the ruins of what was once a
chapel, or hermitage, dedicated to St. Anthony the Eremite. A better site
for such a building could hardly have been selected; for the chapel,
situated among the rude and pathless cliffs, lies in a desert, even in
the immediate vicinity of a rich, populous, and tumultuous capital: and
the hum of the city might mingle with the orisons of the recluses,
conveying as little of worldly interest as if it had been the roar of the
distant ocean. Beneath the steep ascent on which these ruins are still
visible, was, and perhaps is still pointed out, the place where the
wretch Nichol Muschat, who has been already mentioned in these pages, had
closed a long scene of cruelty towards his unfortunate wife, by murdering
her, with circumstances of uncommon barbarity.*

* See Note G. Muschat's Cairn.

The execration in which the man's crime was held extended itself to the
place where it was perpetrated, which was marked by a small _cairn,_ or
heap of stones, composed of those which each chance passenger had thrown
there in testimony of abhorrence, and on the principle, it would seem, of
the ancient British malediction, "May you have a cairn for your

[Illustration: Muschat's Cairn--221]

As our heroine approached this ominous and unhallowed spot, she paused
and looked to the moon, now rising broad in the north-west, and shedding
a more distinct light than it had afforded during her walk thither.
Eyeing the planet for a moment, she then slowly and fearfully turned her
head towards the cairn, from which it was at first averted. She was at
first disappointed. Nothing was visible beside the little pile of stones,
which shone grey in the moonlight. A multitude of confused suggestions
rushed on her mind. Had her correspondent deceived her, and broken his
appointment?--was he too tardy at the appointment he had made?--or had
some strange turn of fate prevented him from appearing as he
proposed?--or, if he were an unearthly being, as her secret
apprehensions suggested, was it his object merely to delude her with
false hopes, and put her to unnecessary toil and terror, according to
the nature, as she had heard, of those wandering demons?--or did he
purpose to blast her with the sudden horrors of his presence when she
had come close to the place of rendezvous? These anxious reflections did
not prevent her approaching to the cairn with a pace that, though slow,
was determined.

When she was within two yards of the heap of stones, a figure rose
suddenly up from behind it, and Jeanie scarce forbore to scream aloud at
what seemed the realisation of the most frightful of her anticipations.
She constrained herself to silence, however, and, making a dead pause,
suffered the figure to open the conversation, which he did, by asking, in
a voice which agitation rendered tremulous and hollow, "Are you the
sister of that ill-fated young woman?"

"I am--I am the sister of Effie Deans!" exclaimed Jeanie. "And as ever
you hope God will hear you at your need, tell me, if you can tell, what
can be done to save her!"

"I do _not_ hope God will hear me at my need," was the singular answer.
"I do not deserve--I do not expect he will." This desperate language he
uttered in a tone calmer than that with which he had at first spoken,
probably because the shook of first addressing her was what he felt most
difficult to overcome. Jeanie remained mute with horror to hear language
expressed so utterly foreign to all which she had ever been acquainted
with, that it sounded in her ears rather like that of a fiend than of a
human being. The stranger pursued his address to her, without seeming to
notice her surprise. "You see before you a wretch, predestined to evil
here and hereafter."

"For the sake of Heaven, that hears and sees us," said Jeanie, "dinna
speak in this desperate fashion! The gospel is sent to the chief of
sinners--to the most miserable among the miserable."

"Then should I have my own share therein," said the stranger, "if you
call it sinful to have been the destruction of the mother that bore
me--of the friend that loved me--of the woman that trusted me--of the
innocent child that was born to me. If to have done all this is to be a
sinner, and survive it is to be miserable, then am I most guilty and most
miserable indeed."

"Then you are the wicked cause of my sister's ruin?" said Jeanie, with a
natural touch of indignation expressed in her tone of voice.

"Curse me for it, if you will," said the stranger; "I have well deserved
it at your hand."

"It is fitter for me," said Jeanie, "to pray to God to forgive you."

"Do as you will, how you will, or what you will," he replied, with
vehemence; "only promise to obey my directions, and save your sister's

"I must first know," said Jeanie, "the means you would have me use in her

"No!--you must first swear--solemnly swear, that you will employ them
when I make them known to you."

"Surely, it is needless to swear that I will do all that is lawful to a
Christian to save the life of my sister?"

"I will have no reservation!" thundered the stranger; "lawful or
unlawful, Christian or heathen, you shall swear to do my hest, and act by
my counsel, or--you little know whose wrath you provoke!"

"I will think on what you have said," said Jeanie, who began to get much
alarmed at the frantic vehemence of his manner, and disputed in her own
mind, whether she spoke to a maniac, or an apostate spirit incarnate--"I
will think on what you say, and let you ken to-morrow."

"To-morrow!" exclaimed the man with a laugh of scorn--"And where will I
be to-morrow?--or, where will you be to-night, unless you swear to walk
by my counsel?--there was one accursed deed done at this spot before now;
and there shall be another to match it, unless you yield up to my
guidance body and soul."

As he spoke, he offered a pistol at the unfortunate young woman. She
neither fled nor fainted, but sunk on her knees, and asked him to spare
her life.

"Is that all you have to say?" said the unmoved ruffian.

"Do not dip your hands in the blood of a defenceless creature that has
trusted to you," said Jeanie, still on her knees.

"Is that all you can say for your life?--Have you no promise to
give?--Will you destroy your sister, and compel me to shed more blood?"

"I can promise nothing," said Jeanie, "which is unlawful for a

He cocked the weapon, and held it towards her.

"May God forgive you!" she said, pressing her hands forcibly against her

"D--n!" muttered the man; and, turning aside from her, he uncocked the
pistol, and replaced it in his pocket--"I am a villain," he said,
"steeped in guilt and wretchedness, but not wicked enough to do you any
harm! I only wished to terrify you into my measures--She hears me
not--she is gone!--Great God! what a wretch am I become!"

As he spoke, she recovered herself from an agony which partook of the
bitterness of death; and, in a minute or two, through the strong exertion
of her natural sense and courage, collected herself sufficiently to
understand he intended her no personal injury.

"No!" he repeated; "I would not add to the murder of your sister, and of
her child, that of any one belonging to her!--Mad, frantic, as I am, and
unrestrained by either fear or mercy, given up to the possession of an
evil being, and forsaken by all that is good, I would not hurt you, were
the world offered me for a bribe! But, for the sake of all that is dear
to you, swear you will follow my counsel. Take this weapon, shoot me
through the head, and with your own hand revenge your sister's wrong,
only follow the course--the only course, by which her life can be saved."

"Alas! is she innocent or guilty?"

"She is guiltless--guiltless of every thing, but of having trusted a
villain!--Yet, had it not been for those that were worse than I am--yes,
worse than I am, though I am bad indeed--this misery had not befallen."

"And my sister's child--does it live?" said Jeanie.

"No; it was murdered--the new-born infant was barbarously murdered," he
uttered in a low, yet stern and sustained voice.--"but," he added
hastily, "not by her knowledge or consent."

"Then, why cannot the guilty be brought to justice, and the innocent

"Torment me not with questions which can serve no purpose," he sternly
replied--"The deed was done by those who are far enough from pursuit, and
safe enough from discovery!--No one can save Effie but yourself."

"Woe's me! how is it in my power?" asked Jeanie, in despondency.

"Hearken to me!--You have sense--you can apprehend my meaning--I will
trust you. Your sister is innocent of the crime charged against her"

"Thank God for that!" said Jeanie.

"Be still and hearken!--The person who assisted her in her illness
murdered the child; but it was without the mother's knowledge or
consent--She is therefore guiltless, as guiltless as the unhappy
innocent, that but gasped a few minutes in this unhappy world--the
better was its hap, to be so soon at rest. She is innocent as that
infant, and yet she must die--it is impossible to clear her of the law!"

"Cannot the wretches be discovered, and given up to punishment?" said

"Do you think you will persuade those who are hardened in guilt to die to
save another?--Is that the reed you would lean to?"

"But you said there was a remedy," again gasped out the terrified young

"There is," answered the stranger, "and it is in your own hands. The blow
which the law aims cannot be broken by directly encountering it, but it
may be turned aside. You saw your sister during the period preceding the
birth of her child--what is so natural as that she should have mentioned
her condition to you? The doing so would, as their cant goes, take the
case from under the statute, for it removes the quality of concealment. I
know their jargon, and have had sad cause to know it; and the quality of
concealment is essential to this statutory offence.*

* Note K. Child Murder.

Nothing is so natural as that Effie should have mentioned her condition
to you--think--reflect--I am positive that she did."

"Woe's me!" said Jeanie, "she never spoke to me on the subject, but grat
sorely when I spoke to her about her altered looks, and the change on her

"You asked her questions on the subject?" he said eagerly. "You _must_
remember her answer was, a confession that she had been ruined by a
villain--yes, lay a strong emphasis on that--a cruel false villain call
it--any other name is unnecessary; and that she bore under her bosom the
consequences of his guilt and her folly; and that he had assured her he
would provide safely for her approaching illness.--Well he kept his
word!" These last words he spoke as if it were to himself, and with a
violent gesture of self-accusation, and then calmly proceeded, "You will
remember all this?--That is all that is necessary to be said."

"But I cannot remember," answered Jeanie, with simplicity, "that which
Effie never told me."

"Are you so dull--so very dull of apprehension?" he exclaimed, suddenly
grasping her arm, and holding it firm in his hand. "I tell you" (speaking
between his teeth, and under his breath, but with great energy), "you
_must_ remember that she told you all this, whether she ever said a
syllable of it or no. You must repeat this tale, in which there is no
falsehood, except in so far as it was not told to you, before these
Justices--Justiciary--whatever they call their bloodthirsty court, and
save your sister from being murdered, and them from becoming murderers.
Do not hesitate--I pledge life and salvation, that in saying what I have
said, you will only speak the simple truth."

"But," replied Jeanie, whose judgment was too accurate not to see the
sophistry of this argument, "I shall be man-sworn in the very thing in
which my testimony is wanted, for it is the concealment for which poor
Effie is blamed, and you would make me tell a falsehood anent it."

"I see," he said, "my first suspicions of you were right, and that you
will let your sister, innocent, fair, and guiltless, except in trusting a
villain, die the death of a murderess, rather than bestow the breath of
your mouth and the sound of your voice to save her."

"I wad ware the best blood in my body to keep her skaithless," said
Jeanie, weeping in bitter agony, "but I canna change right into wrang, or
make that true which is false."

"Foolish, hardhearted girl," said the stranger, "are you afraid of what
they may do to you? I tell you, even the retainers of the law, who course
life as greyhounds do hares, will rejoice at the escape of a creature so
young--so beautiful, that they will not suspect your tale; that, if they
did suspect it, they would consider you as deserving, not only of
forgiveness, but of praise for your natural affection."

"It is not man I fear," said Jeanie, looking upward; "the God, whose name
I must call on to witness the truth of what I say, he will know the

"And he will know the motive," said the stranger, eagerly; "he will know
that you are doing this--not for lucre of gain, but to save the life of
the innocent, and prevent the commission of a worse crime than that which
the law seeks to avenge."

"He has given us a law," said Jeanie, "for the lamp of our path; if we
stray from it we err against knowledge--I may not do evil, even that good
may come out of it. But you--you that ken all this to be true, which I
must take on your word--you that, if I understood what you said e'en now,
promised her shelter and protection in her travail, why do not _you_ step
forward, and bear leal and soothfast evidence in her behalf, as ye may
with a clear conscience?"

"To whom do you talk of a clear conscience, woman?" said he, with a
sudden fierceness which renewed her terrors,--"to _me?_--I have not known
one for many a year. Bear witness in her behalf?--a proper witness, that
even to speak these few words to a woman of so little consequence as
yourself, must choose such an hour and such a place as this. When you see
owls and bats fly abroad, like larks, in the sunshine, you may expect to
see such as I am in the assemblies of men.--Hush--listen to that."

A voice was heard to sing one of those wild and monotonous strains so
common in Scotland, and to which the natives of that country chant their
old ballads. The sound ceased--then came nearer, and was renewed; the
stranger listened attentively, still holding Jeanie by the arm (as she
stood by him in motionless terror), as if to prevent her interrupting the
strain by speaking or stirring. When the sounds were renewed, the words
were distinctly audible:

                 "When the glede's in the blue cloud,
                        The lavrock lies still;
                  When the hound's in' the green-wood,
                       The hind keeps the hill."

The person who sung kept a strained and powerful voice at its highest
pitch, so that it could be heard at a very considerable distance. As the
song ceased, they might hear a stifled sound, as of steps and whispers of
persons approaching them. The song was again raised, but the tune was

                "O sleep ye sound, Sir James, she said,
                      When ye suld rise and ride;
                There's twenty men, wi' bow and blade,
                      Are seeking where ye hide."

"I dare stay no longer," said the stranger; "return home, or remain till
they come up--you have nothing to fear--but do not tell you saw me--your
sister's fate is in your hands." So saying, he turned from her, and with
a swift, yet cautiously noiseless step, plunged into the darkness on the
side most remote from the sounds which they heard approaching, and was
soon lost to her sight. Jeanie remained by the cairn terrified beyond
expression, and uncertain whether she ought to fly homeward with all the
speed she could exert, or wait the approach of those who were advancing
towards her. This uncertainty detained her so long, that she now
distinctly saw two or three figures already so near to her, that a
precipitate flight would have been equally fruitless and impolitic.


                           She speaks things in doubt,
                 That carry but half sense: her speech is nothing,
                 Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
                 The hearers to collection; they aim at it,
                 And botch the words up to fit their own thoughts.

Like the digressive poet Ariosto, I find myself under the necessity of
connecting the branches of my story, by taking up the adventures of
another of the characters, and bringing them down to the point at which
we have left those of Jeanie Deans. It is not, perhaps, the most
artificial way of telling a story, but it has the advantage of sparing
the necessity of resuming what a knitter (if stocking-looms have left
such a person in the land) might call our "dropped stitches;" a labour in
which the author generally toils much, without getting credit for his

"I could risk a sma' wad," said the clerk to the magistrate, "that this
rascal Ratcliffe, if he were insured of his neck's safety, could do more
than ony ten of our police-people and constables to help us to get out of
this scrape of Porteous's. He is weel acquent wi' a' the smugglers,
thieves, and banditti about Edinburgh; and, indeed, he may be called the
father of a' the misdoers in Scotland, for he has passed amang them for
these twenty years by the name of Daddie Rat."

"A bonny sort of a scoundrel," replied the magistrate, "to expect a place
under the city!"

"Begging your honour's pardon," said the city's procurator-fiscal, upon
whom the duties of superintendent of police devolved, "Mr. Fairscrieve is
perfectly in the right. It is just sic as Ratcliffe that the town needs
in my department; an' if sae be that he's disposed to turn his knowledge
to the city service, yell no find a better man.--Ye'll get nae saints to
be searchers for uncustomed goods, or for thieves and sic like;--and your
decent sort of men, religious professors, and broken tradesmen, that are
put into the like o' sic trust, can do nae gude ava. They are feared for
this, and they are scrupulous about that, and they arena free to tell a
lie, though it may be for the benefit of the city; and they dinna like to
be out at irregular hours, and in a dark cauld night, and they like a
clout ower the crown far waur; and sae between the fear o' God, and the
fear o' man, and the fear o' getting a sair throat, or sair banes,
there's a dozen o' our city-folk, baith waiters, and officers, and
constables, that can find out naething but a wee bit skulduddery for the
benefit of the Kirk treasurer. Jock Porteous, that's stiff and stark,
puir fallow, was worth a dozen o' them; for he never had ony fears, or
scruples, or doubts, or conscience, about onything your honours bade

"He was a gude servant o' the town," said the Bailie, "though he was an
ower free-living man. But if you really think this rascal Ratcliffe could
do us ony service in discovering these malefactors, I would insure him
life, reward, and promotion. It's an awsome thing this mischance for the
city, Mr. Fairscrieve. It will be very ill taen wi' abune stairs. Queen
Caroline, God bless her! is a woman--at least I judge sae, and it's nae
treason to speak my mind sae far--and ye maybe ken as weel as I do, for
ye hae a housekeeper, though ye arena a married man, that women are
wilfu', and downa bide a slight. And it will sound ill in her ears, that
sic a confused mistake suld come to pass, and naebody sae muckle as to be
put into the Tolbooth about it."

"If ye thought that, sir," said the procurator-fiscal, "we could easily
clap into the prison a few blackguards upon suspicion. It will have a
gude active look, and I hae aye plenty on my list, that wadna be a hair
the waur of a week or twa's imprisonment; and if ye thought it no
strictly just, ye could be just the easier wi' them the neist time they
did onything to deserve it; they arena the sort to be lang o' gieing ye
an opportunity to clear scores wi' them on that account."

"I doubt that will hardly do in this case, Mr. Sharpitlaw," returned the
town-clerk; "they'll run their letters,* and be adrift again, before ye
ken where ye are."

* A Scottish form of procedure, answering, in some respects, to the
English Habeas Corpus.

"I will speak to the Lord Provost," said the magistrate, "about
Ratcliffe's business. Mr. Sharpitlaw, you will go with me, and receive
instructions--something may be made too out of this story of Butler's and
his unknown gentleman--I know no business any man has to swagger about in
the King's Park, and call himself the devil, to the terror of honest
folks, who dinna care to hear mair about the devil than is said from the
pulpit on the Sabbath. I cannot think the preacher himsell wad be heading
the mob, though the time has been, they hae been as forward in a bruilzie
as their neighbours."

"But these times are lang by," said Mr. Sharpitlaw. "In my father's time,
there was mair search for silenced ministers about the Bow-head and the
Covenant Close, and all the tents of Kedar, as they ca'd the dwellings o'
the godly in those days, than there's now for thieves and vagabonds in
the Laigh Calton and the back o' the Canongate. But that time's weel by,
an it bide. And if the Bailie will get me directions and authority from
the Provost, I'll speak wi' Daddie Rat mysell; for I'm thinking I'll make
mair out o' him than ye'll do."

Mr. Sharpitlaw, being necessarily a man of high trust, was accordingly
empowered, in the course of the day, to make such arrangements as might
seem in the emergency most advantageous for the Good Town. He went to the
jail accordingly, and saw Ratcliffe in private.

The relative positions of a police-officer and a professed thief bear a
different complexion, according to circumstances. The most obvious simile
of a hawk pouncing upon his prey is often least applicable. Sometimes the
guardian of justice has the air of a cat watching a mouse, and, while he
suspends his purpose of springing upon the pilferer, takes care so to
calculate his motions that he shall not get beyond his power. Sometimes,
more passive still, he uses the art of fascination ascribed to the
rattlesnake, and contents himself with glaring on the victim, through all
his devious flutterings; certain that his terror, confusion, and disorder
of ideas, will bring him into his jaws at last. The interview between
Ratcliffe and Sharpitlaw had an aspect different from all these. They sat
for five minutes silent, on opposite sides of a small table, and looked
fixedly at each other, with a sharp, knowing, and alert cast of
countenance, not unmingled with an inclination to laugh, and resembled
more than anything else, two dogs, who, preparing for a game at romps,
are seen to couch down, and remain in that posture for a little time,
watching each other's movements, and waiting which shall begin the game.

"So, Mr. Ratcliffe," said the officer, conceiving it suited his dignity
to speak first, "you give up business, I find?"

"Yes, sir," replied Ratcliffe; "I shall be on that lay nae mair--and I
think that will save your folk some trouble, Mr. Sharpitlaw?"

"Which Jock DaIgleish" (then finisher of the law* in the Scottish
metropolis) "wad save them as easily," returned the procurator-fiscal.

* [Among the flying leaves of the period, there is one called
"Sutherland's Lament for the loss of his post,--with his advice, to John
Daglees his successor." He was whipped and banished 25th July 1722. There
is another, called the Speech and dying words of John Dalgleish, lockman
_alias_ hangman of Edinburgh, containing these lines:--

                      Death, I've a Favour for to beg,
                      That ye wad only gie a Fleg,
                           And spare my Life;
                      As I did to ill-hanged Megg,
                               The Webster's Wife."]

"Ay; if I waited in the Tolbooth here to have him fit my cravat--but
that's an idle way o' speaking, Mr. Sharpitlaw."

"Why, I suppose you know you are under sentence of death, Mr. Ratcliffe?"
replied Mr. Sharpitlaw.

"Aye, so are a', as that worthy minister said in the Tolbooth Kirk the
day Robertson wan off; but naebody kens when it will be executed. Gude
faith, he had better reason to say sae than he dreamed off, before the
play was played out that morning!"

"This Robertson," said Sharpitlaw, in a lower and something like a
confidential tone, "d'ye ken, Rat--that is, can ye gie us ony inkling
where he is to be heard tell o'?"

"Troth, Mr. Sharpitlaw, I'll be frank wi' ye; Robertson is rather a cut
abune me--a wild deevil he was, and mony a daft prank he played; but
except the Collector's job that Wilson led him into, and some tuilzies
about run goods wi' the gaugers and the waiters, he never did onything
that came near our line o' business."

"Umph! that's singular, considering the company he kept."

"Fact, upon my honour and credit," said Ratcliffe, gravely. "He keepit
out o' our little bits of affairs, and that's mair than Wilson did; I hae
dune business wi' Wilson afore now. But the lad will come on in time;
there's nae fear o' him; naebody will live the life he has led, but what
he'll come to sooner or later."

"Who or what is he, Ratcliffe? you know, I suppose?" said Sharpitlaw.

"He's better born, I judge, than he cares to let on; he's been a soldier,
and he has been a play-actor, and I watna what he has been or hasna been,
for as young as he is, sae that it had daffing and nonsense about it."

"Pretty pranks he has played in his time, I suppose?"

"Ye may say that," said Ratcliffe, with a sardonic smile; "and" (touching
his nose) "a deevil amang the lasses."

"Like enough," said Sharpitlaw. "Weel, Ratcliffe, I'll no stand niffering
wi' ye; ye ken the way that favour's gotten in my office; ye maun be

"Certainly, sir, to the best of my power--naething for naething--I ken
the rule of the office," said the ex-depredator.

"Now the principal thing in hand e'en now," said the official person, "is
the job of Porteous's; an ye can gie us a lift--why, the inner turnkey's
office to begin wi', and the captainship in time--ye understand my

"Ay, troth do I, sir; a wink's as gude as a nod to a blind horse; but
Jock Porteous's job--Lord help ye!--I was under sentence the haill time.
God! but I couldna help laughing when I heard Jock skirting for mercy in
the lads' hands. Mony a het skin ye hae gien me, neighbour, thought I,
tak ye what's gaun: time about's fair play; ye'll ken now what hanging's
gude for."

"Come, come, this is all nonsense, Rat," said the procurator. "Ye canna
creep out at that hole, lad; you must speak to the point--you understand
me--if you want favour; gif-gaf makes gude friends, ye ken."

"But how can I speak to the point, as your honour ca's it," said
Ratcliffe, demurely, and with an air of great simplicity, "when ye ken I
was under sentence and in the strong room a' the while the job was going

"And how can we turn ye loose on the public again, Daddie Rat, unless ye
do or say something to deserve it?"

"Well, then, d--n it!" answered the criminal, "since it maun be sae, I
saw Geordie Robertson among the boys that brake the jail; I suppose that
will do me some gude?"

"That's speaking to the purpose, indeed," said the office-bearer; "and
now, Rat, where think ye we'll find him?"

"Deil haet o' me kens," said Ratcliffe; "he'll no likely gang back to ony
o' his auld howffs; he'll be off the country by this time. He has gude
friends some gate or other, for a' the life he's led; he's been weel

"He'll grace the gallows the better," said Mr. Sharpitlaw; "a desperate
dog, to murder an officer of the city for doing his duty! Wha kens wha's
turn it might be next?--But you saw him plainly?"

"As plainly as I see you."

"How was he dressed?" said Sharpitlaw.

"I couldna weel see; something of a woman's bit mutch on his head; but ye
never saw sic a ca'-throw. Ane couldna hae een to a' thing."

"But did he speak to no one?" said Sharpitlaw.

"They were a' speaking and gabbling through other," said Ratcliffe, who
was obviously unwilling to carry his evidence farther than he could
possibly help.

"This will not do, Ratcliffe," said the procurator; "you must speak
_out--out--out,_" tapping the table emphatically, as he repeated that
impressive monosyllable.

"It's very hard, sir," said the prisoner; "and but for the
under-turnkey's place"

"And the reversion of the captaincy--the captaincy of the Tolbooth,
man--that is, in case of gude behaviour."

"Ay, ay," said Ratcliffe, "gude behaviour!--there's the deevil. And then
it's waiting for dead folk's shoon into the bargain."

"But Robertson's head will weigh something," said Sharpitlaw; "something
gey and heavy, Rat; the town maun show cause--that's right and
reason--and then ye'll hae freedom to enjoy your gear honestly."

"I dinna ken," said Ratcliffe; "it's a queer way of beginning the trade
of honesty--but deil ma care. Weel, then, I heard and saw him speak to
the wench Effie Deans, that's up there for child-murder."

"The deil ye did? Rat, this is finding a mare's nest wi' a witness.--And
the man that spoke to Butler in the Park, and that was to meet wi' Jeanie
Deans at Muschat's Cairn--whew! lay that and that together? As sure as I
live he's been the father of the lassie's wean."

"There hae been waur guesses than that, I'm thinking," observed
Ratcliffe, turning his quid of tobacco in his cheek, and squirting out
the juice. "I heard something a while syne about his drawing up wi' a
bonny quean about the Pleasaunts, and that it was a' Wilson could do to
keep him frae marrying her."

Here a city officer entered, and told Sharpitlaw that they had the woman
in custody whom he had directed them to bring before him.

"It's little matter now," said he, "the thing is taking another turn;
however, George, ye may bring her in."

The officer retired, and introduced, upon his return, a tall, strapping
wench of eighteen or twenty, dressed, fantastically, in a sort of blue
riding-jacket, with tarnished lace, her hair clubbed like that of a man,
a Highland bonnet, and a bunch of broken feathers, a riding-skirt (or
petticoat) of scarlet camlet, embroidered with tarnished flowers. Her
features were coarse and masculine, yet at a little distance, by dint of
very bright wild-looking black eyes, an aquiline nose, and a commanding
profile, appeared rather handsome. She flourished the switch she held in
her hand, dropped a courtesy as low as a lady at a birth-night
introduction, recovered herself seemingly according to Touchstone's
directions to Audrey, and opened the conversation without waiting till
any questions were asked.

"God gie your honour gude-e'en, and mony o' them, bonny Mr.
Sharpitlaw!--Gude-e'en to ye, Daddie Ratton--they tauld me ye were
hanged, man; or did ye get out o' John Dalgleish's hands like
half-hangit Maggie Dickson?"

"Whisht, ye daft jaud," said Ratcliffe, "and hear what's said to ye."

"Wi' a' my heart, Ratton. Great preferment for poor Madge to be brought
up the street wi' a grand man, wi' a coat a' passemented wi' worset-lace,
to speak wi' provosts, and bailies, and town-clerks, and prokitors, at
this time o' day--and the haill town looking at me too--This is honour on
earth for ance!"

"Ay, Madge," said Mr. Sharpitlaw, in a coaxing tone; "and ye're dressed
out in your braws, I see; these are not your every-days' claiths ye have

"Deil be in my fingers, then!" said Madge--"Eh, sirs!" (observing Butler
come into the apartment), "there's a minister in the Tolbooth--wha will
ca' it a graceless place now?--I'se warrant he's in for the gude auld
cause--but it's be nae cause o' mine," and off she went into a song--

"Hey for cavaliers, ho for cavaliers,
Dub a dub, dub a dub,
Have at old Beelzebub,--
Oliver's squeaking for fear."

"Did you ever see that mad woman before?" said Sharpitlaw to Butler.

"Not to my knowledge, sir," replied Butler.

"I thought as much," said the procurator-fiscal, looking towards
Ratcliffe, who answered his glance with a nod of acquiescence and

"But that is Madge Wildfire, as she calls herself," said the man of law
to Butler.

"Ay, that I am," said Madge, "and that I have been ever since I was
something better--Heigh ho"--(and something like melancholy dwelt on her
features for a minute)--"But I canna mind when that was--it was lang
syne, at ony rate, and I'll ne'er fash my thumb about it.--

           I glance like the wildfire through country and town;
               I'm seen on the causeway--I'm seen on the down;
           The lightning that flashes so bright and so free,
               Is scarcely so blithe or so bonny as me."

"Hand your tongue, ye skirling limmer!" said the officer who had acted as
master of the ceremonies to this extraordinary performer, and who was
rather scandalised at the freedom of her demeanour before a person of Mr.
Sharpitlaw's importance--"haud your tongue, or I'se gie ye something to
skirl for!"

"Let her alone, George," said Sharpitlaw, "dinna put her out o' tune; I
hae some questions to ask her--But first, Mr. Butler, take another look
of her."

"Do sae, minister--do sae," cried Madge; "I am as weel worth looking at
as ony book in your aught.--And I can say the single carritch, and the
double carritch, and justification, and effectual calling, and the
assembly of divines at Westminster, that is" (she added in a low tone),
"I could say them ance--but it's lang syne--and ane forgets, ye ken." And
poor Madge heaved another deep sigh.

"Weel, sir," said Mr. Sharpitlaw to Butler, "what think ye now?"

"As I did before," said Butler; "that I never saw the poor demented
creature in my life before."

"Then she is not the person whom you said the rioters last night
described as Madge Wildfire?"

"Certainly not," said Butler. "They may be near the same height, for they
are both tall, but I see little other resemblance."

"Their dress, then, is not alike?" said Sharpitlaw.

"Not in the least," said Butler.

"Madge, my bonny woman," said Sharpitlaw, in the same coaxing manner,
"what did ye do wi' your ilka-day's claise yesterday?"

"I dinna mind," said Madge.

"Where was ye yesterday at e'en, Madge?"

"I dinna mind ony thing about yesterday," answered Madge; "ae day is
eneugh for ony body to wun ower wi' at a time, and ower muckle

"But maybe, Madge, ye wad mind something about it, if I was to gie ye
this half-crown?" said Sharpitlaw, taking out the piece of money.

"That might gar me laugh, but it couldna gar me mind."

"But, Madge," continued Sharpitlaw, "were I to send you to the workhouse
in Leith Wynd, and gar Jock Dalgleish lay the tawse on your back"

"That wad gar me greet," said Madge, sobbing, "but it couldna gar me
mind, ye ken."

"She is ower far past reasonable folks' motives, sir," said Ratcliffe,
"to mind siller, or John Dalgleish, or the cat-and-nine-tails either; but
I think I could gar her tell us something."

"Try her, then, Ratcliffe," said Sharpitlaw, "for I am tired of her crazy
pate, and be d--d to her."

"Madge," said Ratcliffe, "hae ye ony joes now?"

"An ony body ask ye, say ye dinna ken.--Set him to be speaking of my
joes, auld Daddie Ratton!"

"I dare say, ye hae deil ane?"

"See if I haena then," said Madge, with the toss of the head of affronted
beauty--"there's Rob the Ranter, and Will Fleming, and then there's
Geordie Robertson, lad--that's Gentleman Geordie--what think ye o' that?"

Ratcliffe laughed, and, winking to the procurator-fiscal, pursued the
inquiry in his own way. "But, Madge, the lads only like ye when ye hae on
your braws--they wadna touch you wi' a pair o' tangs when you are in your
auld ilka-day rags."

"Ye're a leeing auld sorrow then," replied the fair one; "for Gentle
Geordie Robertson put my ilka-day's claise on his ain bonny sell
yestreen, and gaed a' through the town wi' them; and gawsie and grand he
lookit, like ony queen in the land."

"I dinna believe a word o't," said Ratcliffe, with another wink to the
procurator. "Thae duds were a' o' the colour o' moonshine in the water,
I'm thinking, Madge--The gown wad be a sky-blue scarlet, I'se warrant

"It was nae sic thing," said Madge, whose unretentive memory let out, in
the eagerness of contradiction, all that she would have most wished to
keep concealed, had her judgment been equal to her inclination. "It was
neither scarlet nor sky-blue, but my ain auld brown threshie-coat of a
short-gown, and my mother's auld mutch, and my red rokelay--and he gied
me a croun and a kiss for the use o' them, blessing on his bonny
face--though it's been a dear ane to me."

"And where did he change his clothes again, hinnie?" said Sharpitlaw, in
his most conciliatory manner.

"The procurator's spoiled a'," observed Ratcliffe, drily. And it was even
so; for the question, put in so direct a shape, immediately awakened
Madge to the propriety of being reserved upon those very topics on which
Ratcliffe had indirectly seduced her to become communicative.

"What was't ye were speering at us, sir?" she resumed, with an appearance
of stolidity so speedily assumed, as showed there was a good deal of
knavery mixed with her folly.

"I asked you," said the procurator, "at what hour, and to what place,
Robertson brought back your clothes."

"Robertson?--Lord hand a care o' us! what Robertson?"

"Why, the fellow we were speaking of, Gentle Geordie, as you call him."

"Geordie Gentle!" answered Madge, with well-feigned amazement--"I dinna
ken naebody they ca' Geordie Gentle."

"Come, my jo," said Sharpitlaw, "this will not do; you must tell us what
you did with these clothes of yours."

Madge Wildfire made no answer, unless the question may seem connected
with the snatch of a song with which she indulged the embarrassed

      "What did ye wi' the bridal ring--bridal ring--bridal ring?
      What did ye wi' your wedding ring, ye little cutty quean, O?
             I gied it till a sodger, a sodger, a sodger,
        I gied it till a sodger, an auld true love o' mine, O."

Of all the madwomen who have sung and said, since the days of Hamlet the
Dane, if Ophelia be the most affecting, Madge Wildfire was the most

The procurator-fiscal was in despair. "I'll take some measures with this
d--d Bess of Bedlam," said he, "that shall make her find her tongue."

"Wi' your favour, sir," said Ratcliffe, "better let her mind settle a
little--Ye have aye made out something."

"True," said the official person; "a brown short-gown, mutch, red
rokelay--that agrees with your Madge Wildfire, Mr. Butler?" Butler agreed
that it did so. "Yes, there was a sufficient motive for taking this crazy
creature's dress and name, while he was about such a job."

"And I am free to say _now,_" said Ratcliffe

"When you see it has come out without you," interrupted Sharpitlaw.

"Just sae, sir," reiterated Ratcliffe. "I am free to say now, since it's
come out otherwise, that these were the clothes I saw Robertson wearing
last night in the jail, when he was at the head of the rioters."

"That's direct evidence," said Sharpitlaw; "stick to that, Rat--I will
report favourably of you to the provost, for I have business for you
to-night. It wears late; I must home and get a snack, and I'll be back in
the evening. Keep Madge with you, Ratcliffe, and try to get her into a
good tune again." So saying he left the prison.


                 And some they whistled--and some they sang,
                         And some did loudly say,
                 Whenever Lord Barnard's horn it blew,
                        "Away, Musgrave away!"
                                 Ballad of Little Musgrave.

When the man of office returned to the Heart of Mid-Lothian, he resumed
his conference with Ratcliffe, of whose experience and assistance he now
held himself secure. "You must speak with this wench, Rat--this Effie
Deans--you must sift her a wee bit; for as sure as a tether she will ken
Robertson's haunts--till her, Rat--till her without delay."

"Craving your pardon, Mr. Sharpitlaw," said the turnkey elect, "that's
what I am not free to do."

"Free to do, man? what the deil ails ye now?--I thought we had settled a'

"I dinna ken, sir," said Ratcliffe; "I hae spoken to this Effie--she's
strange to this place and to its ways, and to a' our ways, Mr.
Sharpitlaw; and she greets, the silly tawpie, and she's breaking her
heart already about this wild chield; and were she the mean's o' taking
him, she wad break it outright."

"She wunna hae time, lad," said Sharpitlaw; "the woodie will hae it's ain
o' her before that--a woman's heart takes a lang time o' breaking."

"That's according to the stuff they are made o' sir," replied
Ratcliffe--"But to make a lang tale short, I canna undertake the job.
It gangs against my conscience."

"_Your_ conscience, Rat?" said Sharpitlaw, with a sneer, which the reader
will probably think very natural upon the occasion.

"Ou ay, sir," answered Ratcliffe, calmly, "just my conscience; a'body has
a conscience, though it may be ill wunnin at it. I think mine's as weel
out o' the gate as maist folk's are; and yet it's just like the noop of
my elbow, it whiles gets a bit dirl on a corner."

"Weel, Rat," replied Sharpitlaw, "since ye are nice, I'll speak to the
hussy mysell."

Sharpitlaw, accordingly, caused himself to be introduced into the little
dark apartment tenanted by the unfortunate Effie Deans. The poor girl was
seated on her little flock-bed, plunged in a deep reverie. Some food
stood on the table, of a quality better than is usually supplied to
prisoners, but it was untouched. The person under whose care she was more
particularly placed, said, "that sometimes she tasted naething from the
tae end of the four-and-twenty hours to the t'other, except a drink of

Sharpitlaw took a chair, and, commanding the turnkey to retire, he opened
the conversation, endeavouring to throw into his tone and countenance as
much commiseration as they were capable of expressing, for the one was
sharp and harsh, the other sly, acute, and selfish.

"How's a' wi' ye, Effie?--How d'ye find yoursell, hinny?"

A deep sigh was the only answer.

"Are the folk civil to ye, Effie?--it's my duty to inquire."

"Very civil, sir," said Effie, compelling herself to answer, yet hardly
knowing what she said.

"And your victuals," continued Sharpitlaw, in the same condoling
tone,--"do you get what you like?--or is there onything you would
particularly fancy, as your health seems but silly?"

"It's a' very weel, sir, I thank ye," said the poor prisoner, in a tone
how different from the sportive vivacity of those of the Lily of St.
Leonard's!--"it's a' very gude--ower gude for me."

"He must have been a great villain, Effie, who brought you to this pass,"
said Sharpitlaw.

The remark was dictated partly by a natural feeling, of which even he
could not divest himself, though accustomed to practise on the passions
of others, and keep a most heedful guard over his own, and partly by his
wish to introduce the sort of conversation which might, best serve his
immediate purpose. Indeed, upon the present occasion, these mixed motives
of feeling and cunning harmonised together wonderfully; for, said
Sharpitlaw to himself, the greater rogue Robertson is, the more will be
the merit of bringing him to justice. "He must have been a great villain,
indeed," he again reiterated; "and I wish I had the skelping o' him."

"I may blame mysell mair than him," said Effie; "I was bred up to ken
better; but he, poor fellow,"--(she stopped).

"Was a thorough blackguard a' his life, I dare say," said Sharpitlaw.
"A stranger he was in this country, and a companion of that lawless
vagabond, Wilson, I think, Effie?"

"It wad hae been dearly telling him that he had ne'er seen Wilson's

"That's very true that you are saying, Effie," said Sharpitlaw. "Where
was't that Robertson and you were used to howff thegither? Somegate about
the Laigh Calton, I am thinking."

The simple and dispirited girl had thus far followed Mr. Sharpitlaw's
lead, because he had artfully adjusted his observations to the thoughts
he was pretty certain must be passing through her own mind, so that her
answers became a kind of thinking aloud, a mood into which those who are
either constitutionally absent in mind, or are rendered so by the
temporary pressure of misfortune, may be easily led by a skilful train of
suggestions. But the last observation of the procurator-fiscal was too
much of the nature of a direct interrogatory, and it broke the charm

"What was it that I was saying?" said Effie, starting up from her
reclining posture, seating herself upright, and hastily shading her
dishevelled hair back from her wasted but still beautiful countenance.
She fixed her eyes boldly and keenly upon Sharpitlaw--"You are too much
of a gentleman, sir,--too much of an honest man, to take any notice of
what a poor creature like me says, that can hardly ca' my senses my
ain--God help me!"

"Advantage!--I would be of some advantage to you if I could," said
Sharpitlaw, in a soothing tone; "and I ken naething sae likely to serve
ye, Effie, as gripping this rascal, Robertson."

"O dinna misca' him, sir, that never misca'd you!--Robertson?--I am sure
I had naething to say against ony man o' the name, and naething will I

"But if you do not heed your own misfortune, Effie, you should mind what
distress he has brought on your family," said the man of law.

"O, Heaven help me!" exclaimed poor Effie--"My poor father--my dear
Jeanie--O, that's sairest to bide of a'! O, sir, if you hae ony
kindness--if ye hae ony touch of compassion--for a' the folk I see here
are as hard as the wa'-stanes--If ye wad but bid them let my sister
Jeanie in the next time she ca's! for when I hear them put her awa frae
the door, and canna climb up to that high window to see sae muckle as
her gown-tail, it's like to pit me out o' my judgment." And she looked
on him with a face of entreaty, so earnest, yet so humble, that she
fairly shook the steadfast purpose of his mind.

"You shall see your sister," he began, "if you'll tell me,"--then
interrupting himself, he added, in a more hurried tone,--"no, d--n it,
you shall see your sister whether you tell me anything or no." So saying,
he rose up and left the apartment.

When he had rejoined Ratcliffe, he observed, "You are right, Ratton;
there's no making much of that lassie. But ae thing I have cleared--that
is, that Robertson has been the father of the bairn, and so I will wager
a boddle it will be he that's to meet wi' Jeanie Deans this night at
Muschat's Cairn, and there we'll nail him, Rat, or my name is not Gideon

"But," said Ratcliffe, perhaps because he was in no hurry to see anything
which was like to be connected with the discovery and apprehension of
Robertson, "an that were the case, Mr. Butler wad hae kend the man in the
King's Park to be the same person wi' him in Madge Wildfire's claise,
that headed the mob."

"That makes nae difference, man," replied Sharpitlaw--"the dress, the
light, the confusion, and maybe a touch o' a blackit cork, or a slake o'
paint-hout, Ratton, I have seen ye dress your ainsell, that the deevil ye
belang to durstna hae made oath t'ye."

"And that's true, too," said Ratcliffe.

"And besides, ye donnard carle," continued Sharpitlaw, triumphantly, "the
minister _did_ say that he thought he knew something of the features of
the birkie that spoke to him in the Park, though he could not charge his
memory where or when he had seen them."

"It's evident, then, your honour will be right," said Ratcliffe.

"Then, Rat, you and I will go with the party oursells this night, and see
him in grips or we are done wi' him."

"I seena muckle use I can be o' to your honour," said Ratcliffe,

"Use?" answered Sharpitlaw--"You can guide the party--you ken the ground.
Besides, I do not intend to quit sight o' you, my good friend, till I
have him in hand."

"Weel, sir," said Ratcliffe, but in no joyful tone of acquiescence; "Ye
maun hae it your ain way--but mind he's a desperate man."

"We shall have that with us," answered Sharpitlaw, "that will settle him,
if it is necessary."

"But, sir," answered Ratcliffe, "I am sure I couldna undertake to guide
you to Muschat's Cairn in the night-time; I ken the place as mony does,
in fair day-light, but how to find it by moonshine, amang sae mony crags
and stanes, as like to each other as the collier to the deil, is mair
than I can tell. I might as soon seek moonshine in water."

"What's the meaning o' this, Ratcliffe?" said Sharpitlaw, while he fixed
his eye on the recusant, with a fatal and ominous expression,--"Have you
forgotten that you are still under sentence of death?"

"No, sir," said Ratcliffe, "that's a thing no easily put out o' memory;
and if my presence be judged necessary, nae doubt I maun gang wi' your
honour. But I was gaun to tell your honour of ane that has mair skeel o'
the gate than me, and that's e'en Madge Wildfire."

"The devil she has!--Do you think me as mad as she, is, to trust to her
guidance on such an occasion?"

"Your honour is the best judge," answered Ratcliffe; "but I ken I can
keep her in tune, and garr her haud the straight path--she often sleeps
out, or rambles about amang thae hills the haill simmer night, the daft

"Weel, Ratcliffe," replied the procurator-fiscal, "if you think she can
guide us the right way--but take heed to what you are about--your life
depends on your behaviour."

"It's a sair judgment on a man," said Ratcliffe, "when he has ance gane
sae far wrang as I hae done, that deil a bit he can be honest, try't
whilk way he will."

Such was the reflection of Ratcliffe, when he was left for a few minutes
to himself, while the retainer of justice went to procure a proper
warrant, and give the necessary directions.

The rising moon saw the whole party free from the walls of the city, and
entering upon the open ground. Arthur's Seat, like a couchant lion of
immense size--Salisbury Crags, like a huge belt or girdle of granite,
were dimly visible. Holding their path along the southern side of the
Canongate, they gained the Abbey of Holyrood House, and from thence found
their way by step and stile into the King's Park. They were at first four
in number--an officer of justice and Sharpitlaw, who were well armed with
pistols and cutlasses; Ratcliffe, who was not trusted with weapons, lest,
he might, peradventure, have used them on the wrong side; and the female.
But at the last stile, when they entered the Chase, they were joined by
other two officers, whom Sharpitlaw, desirous to secure sufficient force
for his purpose, and at the same time to avoid observation, had directed
to wait for him at this place. Ratcliffe saw this accession of strength
with some disquietude, for he had hitherto thought it likely that
Robertson, who was a bold, stout, and active young fellow, might have
made his escape from Sharpitlaw and the single officer, by force or
agility, without his being implicated in the matter. But the present
strength of the followers of justice was overpowering, and the only mode
of saving Robertson (which the old sinner was well disposed to do,
providing always he could accomplish his purpose without compromising his
own safety), must be by contriving that he should have some signal of
their approach. It was probably with this view that Ratcliffe had
requested the addition of Madge to the party, having considerable
confidence in her propensity to exert her lungs. Indeed, she had already
given them so many specimens of her clamorous loquacity, that Sharpitlaw
half determined to send her back with one of the officers, rather than
carry forward in his company a person so extremely ill qualified to be a
guide in a secret expedition. It seemed, too, as if the open air, the
approach to the hills, and the ascent of the moon, supposed to be so
portentous over those whose brain is infirm, made her spirits rise in a
degree tenfold more loquacious than she had hitherto exhibited. To
silence her by fair means seemed impossible; authoritative commands and
coaxing entreaties she set alike at defiance, and threats only made her
sulky and altogether intractable.

"Is there no one of you," said Sharpitlaw, impatiently, "that knows the
way to this accursed place--this Nichol Muschat's Cairn--excepting this
mad clavering idiot?"

"Deil ane o' them kens it except mysell," exclaimed Madge; "how suld
they, the puir fule cowards! But I hae sat on the grave frae batfleeing
time till cook-crow, and had mony a fine crack wi' Muschat and Ailie
Muschat, that are lying sleeping below."

"The devil take your crazy brain," said Sharpitlaw; "will you not allow
the men to answer a question?"

The officers obtaining a moment's audience while Ratcliffe diverted
Madge's attention, declared that, though they had a general knowledge of
the spot, they could not undertake to guide the party to it by the
uncertain light of the moon, with such accuracy as to insure success to
their expedition.

"What shall we do, Ratcliffe?" said Sharpitlaw, "if he sees us before we
see him,--and that's what he is certain to do, if we go strolling about,
without keeping the straight road,--we may bid gude day to the job, and I
would rather lose one hundred pounds, baith for the credit of the police,
and because the provost says somebody maun be hanged for this job o'
Porteous, come o't what likes."

"I think," said Ratcliffe, "we maun just try Madge; and I'll see if I can
get her keepit in ony better order. And at ony rate, if he suld hear her
skirting her auld ends o' sangs, he's no to ken for that that there's
onybody wi' her."

"That's true," said Sharpitlaw; "and if he thinks her alone, he's as like
to come towards her as to rin frae her. So set forward--we hae lost ower
muckle time already--see to get her to keep the right road."

"And what sort o' house does Nichol Muschat and his wife keep now?" said
Ratcliffe to the mad woman, by way of humouring her vein of folly; "they
were but thrawn folk lang syne, an a' tales be true."

"Ou, ay, ay, ay--but a's forgotten now," replied Madge, in the
confidential tone of a gossip giving the history of her next-door
neighbour--"Ye see, I spoke to them mysell, and tauld them byganes suld
be byganes--her throat's sair misguggled and mashackered though; she
wears her corpse-sheet drawn weel up to hide it, but that canna hinder
the bluid seiping through, ye ken. I wussed her to wash it in St.
Anthony's Well, and that will cleanse if onything can--But they say bluid
never bleaches out o' linen claith--Deacon Sanders's new cleansing draps
winna do't--I tried them mysell on a bit rag we hae at hame that was
mailed wi' the bluid of a bit skirting wean that was hurt some gate, but
out it winna come--Weel, yell say that's queer; but I will bring it out
to St. Anthony's blessed Well some braw night just like this, and I'll
cry up Ailie Muschat, and she and I will hae a grand bouking-washing, and
bleach our claes in the beams of the bonny Lady Moon, that's far
pleasanter to me than the sun--the sun's ower het, and ken ye, cummers,
my brains are het eneugh already. But the moon, and the dew, and the
night-wind, they are just like a caller kail-blade laid on my brow; and
whiles I think the moon just shines on purpose to pleasure me, when
naebody sees her but mysell."

This raving discourse she continued with prodigious volubility, walking
on at a great pace, and dragging Ratcliffe along with her, while he
endeavoured, in appearance at least, if not in reality, to induce her to
moderate her voice.

All at once she stopped short upon the top of a little hillock, gazed
upward fixedly, and said not one word for the space of five minutes.
"What the devil is the matter with her now?" said Sharpitlaw to
Ratcliffe--"Can you not get her forward?"

"Ye maun just take a grain o' patience wi' her, sir," said Ratcliffe.
"She'll no gae a foot faster than she likes herself."

"D--n her," said Sharpitlaw, "I'll take care she has her time in Bedlam
or Bridewell, or both, for she's both mad and mischievous."

In the meanwhile, Madge, who had looked very pensive when she first
stopped, suddenly burst into a vehement fit of laughter, then paused and
sighed bitterly,--then was seized with a second fit of laughter--then,
fixing her eyes on the moon, lifted up her voice and sung,--

            "Good even, good fair moon, good even to thee;
                 I prithee, dear moon, now show to me
             The form and the features, the speech and degree,
                 Of the man that true lover of mine shall be.

But I need not ask that of the bonny Lady Moon--I ken that weel eneugh
mysell--_true_-love though he wasna--But naebody shall sae that I ever
tauld a word about the matter--But whiles I wish the bairn had
lived--Weel, God guide us, there's a heaven aboon us a',"--(here she
sighed bitterly), "and a bonny moon, and sterns in it forby" (and here
she laughed once more).

"Are we to stand, here all night!" said Sharpitlaw, very impatiently.
"Drag her forward."

"Ay, sir," said Ratcliffe, "if we kend whilk way to drag her, that would
settle it at ance.--Come, Madge, hinny," addressing her, "we'll no be in
time to see Nichol and his wife, unless ye show us the road."

"In troth and that I will, Ratton," said she, seizing him by the arm, and
resuming her route with huge strides, considering it was a female who
took them. "And I'll tell ye, Ratton, blithe will Nichol Muschat be to
see ye, for he says he kens weel there isna sic a villain out o' hell as
ye are, and he wad be ravished to hae a crack wi' you--like to like ye
ken--it's a proverb never fails--and ye are baith a pair o' the deevil's
peats I trow--hard to ken whilk deserves the hettest corner o' his

Ratcliffe was conscience-struck, and could not forbear making an
involuntary protest against this classification. "I never shed blood," he

"But ye hae sauld it, Ratton--ye hae sauld blood mony a time. Folk kill
wi' the tongue as weel as wi' the hand--wi' the word as weel as wi' the

                     It is the 'bonny butcher lad,
                     That wears the sleeves of blue,
                     He sells the flesh on Saturday,
                         On Friday that he slew."

"And what is that I ain doing now?" thought Ratcliffe. "But I'll hae nae
wyte of Robertson's young bluid, if I can help it;" then speaking apart
to Madge, he asked her, "Whether she did not remember ony o' her auld

"Mony a dainty ane," said Madge; "and blithely can I sing them, for
lightsome sangs make merry gate." And she sang,--

                 "When the glede's in the blue cloud,
                        The lavrock lies still;
                  When the hound's in the greenwood.
                       The hind keeps the hill."

"Silence her cursed noise, if you should throttle her," said Sharpitlaw;
"I see somebody yonder.--Keep close, my boys, and creep round the
shoulder of the height. George Poinder, stay you with Ratcliffe and tha
mad yelling bitch; and you other two, come with me round under the shadow
of the brae."

And he crept forward with the stealthy pace of an Indian savage, who
leads his band to surprise an unsuspecting party of some hostile tribe.
Ratcliffe saw them glide of, avoiding the moonlight, and keeping as much
in: the shade as possible.

"Robertson's done up," said he to himself; "thae young lads are aye sae
thoughtless. What deevil could he hae to say to Jeanie Deans, or to ony
woman on earth, that he suld gang awa and get his neck raxed for her? And
this mad quean, after cracking like a pen-gun, and skirling like a
pea-hen for the haill night, behoves just to hae hadden her tongue when
her clavers might have dune some gude! But it's aye the way wi' women; if
they ever hand their tongues ava', ye may swear it's for mischief. I wish
I could set her on again without this blood-sucker kenning what I am
doing. But he's as gleg as MacKeachan's elshin,* that ran through sax
plies of bendleather and half-an-inch into the king's heel."

* [_Elshin,_ a shoemaker's awl.]

He then began to hum, but in a very low and suppressed tone, the first
stanza of a favourite ballad of Wildfire's, the words of which bore some
distant analogy with the situation of Robertson, trusting that the power
of association would not fail to bring the rest to her mind:--

               "There's a bloodhound ranging Tinwald wood,
                      There's harness glancing sheen:
                There's a maiden sits on Tinwald brae,
                      And she sings loud between."

Madge had no sooner received the catch-word, than she vindicated
Ratcliffe's sagacity by setting off at score with the song:--

                "O sleep ye sound, Sir James, she said,
                      When ye suld rise and ride?
                There's twenty men, wi' bow and blade,
                      Are seeking where ye hide."

Though Ratcliffe was at a considerable distance from the spot called
Muschat's Cairn, yet his eyes, practised like those of a cat to penetrate
darkness, could mark that Robertson had caught the alarm. George Poinder,
less keen of sight, or less attentive, was not aware of his flight any
more than Sharpitlaw and his assistants, whose view, though they were
considerably nearer to the cairn, was intercepted by the broken nature of
the ground under which they were screening themselves. At length,
however, after the interval of five or six minutes, they also perceived
that Robertson had fled, and rushed hastily towards the place, while
Sharpitlaw called out aloud, in the harshest tones of a voice which
resembled a saw-mill at work, "Chase, lads--chase--haud the brae--I see
him on the edge of the hill!" Then hollowing back to the rear-guard of
his detachment, he issued his farther orders: "Ratcliffe, come here, and
detain the woman--George, run and kepp the stile at the Duke's
Walk--Ratcliffe, come here directly--but first knock out that mad
bitch's brains!"

"Ye had better rin for it, Madge," said Ratcliffe, "for it's ill dealing
wi' an angry man."

Madge Wildfire was not so absolutely void of common sense as not to
understand this innuendo; and while Ratcliffe, in seemingly anxious haste
of obedience, hastened to the spot where Sharpitlaw waited to deliver up
Jeanie Deans to his custody, she fled with all the despatch she could
exert in an opposite direction. Thus the whole party were separated, and
in rapid motion of flight or pursuit, excepting Ratcliffe and Jeanie,
whom, although making no attempt to escape, he held fast by the cloak,
and who remained standing by Muschat's Cairn.


               You have paid the heavens your function,
               and the prisoner the very debt of your calling.
                          Measure for Measure.

Jeanie Deans,--for here our story unites itself with that part of the
narrative which broke off at the end of the fourteenth chapter,--while
she waited, in terror and amazement, the hasty advance of three or four
men towards her, was yet more startled at their suddenly breaking
asunder, and giving chase in different directions to the late object of
her terror, who became at that moment, though she could not well assign a
reasonable cause, rather the cause of her interest. One of the party (it
was Sharpitlaw) came straight up to her, and saying, "Your name is Jeanie
Deans, and you are my prisoner," immediately added, "But if you will tell
me which way he ran I will let you go."

"I dinna ken, sir," was all the poor girl could utter; and, indeed, it is
the phrase which rises most readily to the lips of any person in her
rank, as the readiest reply to any embarrassing question.

"But," said Sharpitlaw, "ye _ken_ wha it was ye were speaking wi', my
leddy, on the hill side, and midnight sae near; ye surely ken _that,_ my
bonny woman?"

"I dinna ken, sir," again iterated Jeanie, who really did not comprehend
in her terror the nature of the questions which were so hastily put to
her in this moment of surprise.

"We will try to mend your memory by and by, hinny," said Sharpitlaw, and
shouted, as we have already told the reader, to Ratcliffe, to come up and
take charge of her, while he himself directed the chase after Robertson,
which he still hoped might be successful. As Ratcliffe approached,
Sharpitlaw pushed the young woman towards him with some rudeness, and
betaking himself to the more important object of his quest, began to
scale crags and scramble up steep banks, with an agility of which his
profession and his general gravity of demeanour would previously have
argued him incapable. In a few minutes there was no one within sight, and
only a distant halloo from one of the pursuers to the other, faintly
heard on the side of the hill, argued that there was any one within
hearing. Jeanie Deans was left in the clear moonlight, standing under the
guard of a person of whom she knew nothing, and, what was worse,
concerning whom, as the reader is well aware, she could have learned
nothing that would not have increased her terror.

When all in the distance was silent, Ratcliffe for the first time
addressed her, and it was in that cold sarcastic indifferent tone
familiar to habitual depravity, whose crimes are instigated by custom
rather than by passion. "This is a braw night for ye, dearie," he said,
attempting to pass his arm across her shoulder, "to be on the green hill
wi' your jo." Jeanie extricated herself from his grasp, but did not make
any reply.

"I think lads and lasses," continued the ruffian, "dinna meet at
Muschat's Cairn at midnight to crack nuts," and he again attempted to
take hold of her.

"If ye are an officer of justice, sir," said Jeanie, again eluding his
attempt to seize her, "ye deserve to have your coat stripped from your

"Very true, hinny," said he, succeeding forcibly in his attempt to get
hold of her, "but suppose I should strip your cloak off first?"

"Ye are more a man, I am sure, than to hurt me, sir," said Jeanie; "for
God's sake have pity on a half-distracted creature!"

"Come, come," said Ratcliffe, "you're a good-looking wench, and should
not be cross-grained. I was going to be an honest man--but the devil has
this very day flung first a lawyer, and then a woman, in my gate. I'll
tell you what, Jeanie, they are out on the hill-side--if you'll be guided
by me, I'll carry you to a wee bit corner in the Pleasance, that I ken o'
in an auld wife's, that a' the prokitors o' Scotland wot naething o', and
we'll send Robertson word to meet us in Yorkshire, for there is a set o'
braw lads about the midland counties, that I hae dune business wi' before
now, and sae we'll leave Mr. Sharpitlaw to whistle on his thumb."

It was fortunate for Jeanie, in an emergency like the present, that she
possessed presence of mind and courage, so soon as the first hurry of
surprise had enabled her to rally her recollection. She saw the risk she
was in from a ruffian, who not only was such by profession, but had that
evening been stupifying, by means of strong liquors, the internal
aversion which he felt at the business on which Sharpitlaw had resolved
to employ him.

"Dinna speak sae loud," said she, in a low voice; "he's up yonder."

"Who?--Robertson?" said Ratcliffe, eagerly.

"Ay," replied Jeanie; "up yonder;" and she pointed to the ruins of the
hermitage and chapel.

"By G--d, then," said Ratcliffe, "I'll make my ain of him, either one way
or other--wait for me here."

But no sooner had he set off as fast as he could run, towards the chapel,
than Jeanie started in an opposite direction, over high and low, on the
nearest path homeward. Her juvenile exercise as a herdswoman had put
"life and mettle" in her heels, and never had she followed Dustiefoot,
when the cows were in the corn, with half so much speed as she now
cleared the distance betwixt Muschat's Cairn and her father's cottage at
St. Leonard's. To lift the latch--to enter--to shut, bolt, and double
bolt the door--to draw against it a heavy article of furniture (which she
could not have moved in a moment of less energy), so as to make yet
farther provision against violence, was almost the work of a moment, yet
done with such silence as equalled the celerity.

Her next anxiety was upon her father's account, and she drew silently to
the door of his apartment, in order to satisfy herself whether he had
been disturbed by her return. He was awake,--probably had slept but
little; but the constant presence of his own sorrows, the distance of his
apartment from the outer door of the house, and the precautions which
Jeanie had taken to conceal her departure and return, had prevented him
from being sensible of either. He was engaged in his devotions, and
Jeanie could distinctly hear him use these words:--"And for the other
child thou hast given me to be a comfort and stay to my old age, may her
days be long in the land, according to the promise thou hast given to
those who shall honour father and mother; may all her purchased and
promised blessings be multiplied upon her; keep her in the watches of the
night, and in the uprising of the morning, that all in this land may know
that thou hast not utterly hid thy face from those that seek thee in
truth and in sincerity." He was silent, but probably continued his
petition in the strong fervency of mental devotion.

His daughter retired to her apartment, comforted, that while she was
exposed to danger, her head had been covered by the prayers of the just
as by an helmet, and under the strong confidence, that while she walked
worthy of the protection of Heaven, she would experience its countenance.
It was in that moment that a vague idea first darted across her mind,
that something might yet be achieved for her sister's safety, conscious
as she now was of her innocence of the unnatural murder with which she
stood charged. It came, as she described it, on her mind, like a
sun-blink on a stormy sea; and although it instantly vanished, yet she
felt a degree of composure which she had not experienced for many days,
and could not help being strongly persuaded that, by some means or other,
she would be called upon, and directed, to work out her sister's
deliverance. She went to bed, not forgetting her usual devotions, the
more fervently made on account of her late deliverance, and she slept
soundly in spite of her agitation.

We must return to Ratcliffe, who had started, like a greyhound from the
slips when the sportsman cries halloo, as soon as Jeanie had pointed to
the ruins. Whether he meant to aid Robertson's escape, or to assist his
pursuers, may be very doubtful; perhaps he did not himself know but had
resolved to be guided by circumstances. He had no opportunity, however,
of doing either; for he had no sooner surmounted the steep ascent, and
entered under the broken arches of the rains, than a pistol was presented
at his head, and a harsh voice commanded him, in the king's name, to
surrender himself prisoner. "Mr. Sharpitlaw!" said Ratcliffe, surprised,
"is this your honour?"

"Is it only you, and be d--d to you?" answered the fiscal, still more
disappointed--"what made you leave the woman?"

"She told me she saw Robertson go into the ruins, so I made what haste I
could to cleek the callant."

"It's all over now," said Sharpitlaw; "we shall see no more of him
to-night; but he shall hide himself in a bean-hool, if he remains on
Scottish ground without my finding him. Call back the people, Ratcliffe."

Ratcliffe hollowed to the dispersed officers, who willingly obeyed the
signal; for probably there was no individual among them who would have
been much desirous of a rencontre, hand to hand, and at a distance from
his comrades, with such an active and desperate fellow as Robertson.

"And where are the two women?" said Sharpitlaw.

"Both made their heels serve them, I suspect," replied Ratcliffe, and he
hummed the end of the old song--

                 "Then hey play up the rin-awa bride,
                       For she has taen the gee."

"One woman," said Sharpitlaw,--for, like all rogues, he was a great
calumniator of the fair sex,*--"one woman is enough to dark the fairest
ploy that was ever planned; and how could I be such an ass as to expect
to carry through a job that had two in it?

* Note L. Calumniator of the Fair Sex.

But we know how to come by them both, if they are wanted, that's one good

Accordingly, like a defeated general, sad and sulky, he led back his
discomfited forces to the metropolis, and dismissed them for the night.

The next morning early, he was under the necessity of making his report
to the sitting magistrate of the day. The gentleman who occupied the
chair of office on this occasion (for the bailies, _Anglice',_ aldermen,
take it by rotation) chanced to be the same by whom Butler was committed,
a person very generally respected among his fellow-citizens. Something he
was of a humorist, and rather deficient in general education; but acute,
patient, and upright, possessed of a fortune acquired by honest industry
which made him perfectly independent; and, in short, very happily
qualified to support the respectability of the office, which he held.

Mr. Middleburgh had just taken his seat, and was debating in an animated
manner, with one of his colleagues, the doubtful chances of a game at
golf which they had played the day before, when a letter was delivered to
him, addressed "For Bailie Middleburgh; These: to be forwarded with
speed." It contained these words:--

"Sir,--I know you to be a sensible and a considerate magistrate, and one
who, as such, will be content to worship God, though the devil bid you. I
therefore expect that, notwithstanding the signature of this letter
acknowledges my share in an action, which, in a proper time and place, I
would not fear either to avow or to justify, you will not on that account
reject what evidence I place before you. The clergyman, Butler, is
innocent of all but involuntary presence at an action which he wanted
spirit to approve of, and from which he endeavoured, with his best set
phrases, to dissuade us. But it was not for him that it is my hint to
speak. There is a woman in your jail, fallen under the edge of a law so
cruel, that it has hung by the wall like unsecured armour, for twenty
years, and is now brought down and whetted to spill the blood of the most
beautiful and most innocent creature whom the walls of a prison ever
girdled in. Her sister knows of her innocence, as she communicated to her
that she was betrayed by a villain.--O that high Heaven

                Would put in every honest hand a whip,
                To scourge me such a villain through the world!

"I write distractedly--But this girl--this Jeanie Deans, is a peevish
puritan, superstitious and scrupulous after the manner of her sect; and I
pray your honour, for so my phrase must go, to press upon her, that her
sister's life depends upon her testimony. But though she should remain
silent, do not dare to think that the young woman is guilty--far less to
permit her execution. Remember the death of Wilson was fearfully avenged;
and those yet live who can compel you to drink the dregs of your poisoned
chalice.--I say, remember Porteous, and say that you had good counsel
                          "One of his Slayers."

The magistrate read over this extraordinary letter twice or thrice. At
first he was tempted to throw it aside as the production of a madman, so
little did "the scraps from play-books," as he termed the poetical
quotation, resemble the correspondence of a rational being. On a
re-perusal, however, he thought that, amid its incoherence, he could
discover something like a tone of awakened passion, though expressed in a
manner quaint and unusual.

"It is a cruelly severe statute," said the magistrate to his assistant,
"and I wish the girl could be taken from under the letter of it. A child
may have been born, and it may have been conveyed away while the mother
was insensible, or it may have perished for want of that relief which the
poor creature herself--helpless, terrified, distracted, despairing, and
exhausted--may have been unable to afford to it. And yet it is certain,
if the woman is found guilty under the statute, execution will follow.
The crime has been too common, and examples are necessary."

"But if this other wench," said the city-clerk, "can speak to her sister
communicating her situation, it will take the case from under the

"Very true," replied the Bailie; "and I will walk out one of these days
to St. Leonard's, and examine the girl myself. I know something of their
father Deans--an old true-blue Cameronian, who would see house and family
go to wreck ere he would disgrace his testimony by a sinful complying
with the defections of the times; and such he will probably uphold the
taking an oath before a civil magistrate. If they are to go on and
flourish with their bull-headed obstinacy, the legislature must pass an
act to take their affirmations, as in the case of Quakers. But surely
neither a father nor a sister will scruple in a case of this kind. As I
said before, I will go speak with them myself, when the hurry of this
Porteous investigation is somewhat over; their pride and spirit of
contradiction will be far less alarmed, than if they were called into a
court of justice at once."

"And I suppose Butler is to remain incarcerated?" said the city-clerk.

"For the present, certainly," said the magistrate. "But I hope soon to
set him at liberty upon bail."

"Do you rest upon the testimony of that light-headed letter?" asked the

"Not very much," answered the Bailie; "and yet there is something
striking about it too--it seems the letter of a man beside himself,
either from great agitation, or some great sense of guilt."

"Yes," said the town-clerk, "it is very like the letter of a mad
strolling play-actor, who deserves to be hanged with all the rest of his
gang, as your honour justly observes."

"I was not quite so bloodthirsty," continued the magistrate. "But to the
point, Butler's private character is excellent; and I am given to
understand, by some inquiries I have been making this morning, that he
did actually arrive in town only the day before yesterday, so that it was
impossible he could have been concerned in any previous machinations of
these unhappy rioters, and it is not likely that he should have joined
them on a suddenty."

"There's no saying anent that--zeal catches fire at a slight spark as
fast as a brunstane match," observed the secretary. "I hae kend a
minister wad be fair gude-day and fair gude-e'en wi' ilka man in the
parochine, and hing just as quiet as a rocket on a stick, till ye
mentioned the word abjuration-oath, or patronage, or siclike, and then,
whiz, he was off, and up in the air an hundred miles beyond common
manners, common sense, and common comprehension."

"I do not understand," answered the burgher-magistrate, "that the young
man Butler's zeal is of so inflammable a character. But I will make
farther investigation. What other business is there before us?"

And they proceeded to minute investigations concerning the affair of
Porteous's death, and other affairs through which this history has no
occasion to trace them.

In the course of their business they were interrupted by an old woman of
the lower rank, extremely haggard in look, and wretched in her
appearance, who thrust herself into the council room.

"What do you want, gudewife?--Who are you?" said Bailie Middleburgh.

"What do I want!" replied she, in a sulky tone--"I want my bairn, or I
want naething frae nane o' ye, for as grand's ye are." And she went on
muttering to herself with the wayward spitefulness of age--"They maun hae
lordships and honours, nae doubt--set them up, the gutter-bloods! and
deil a gentleman amang them."--Then again addressing the sitting
magistrate, "Will _your honour_ gie me back my puir crazy bairn?--_His_
honour!--I hae kend the day when less wad ser'd him, the oe of a Campvere

"Good woman," said the magistrate to this shrewish supplicant--"tell us
what it is you want, and do not interrupt the court."

"That's as muckle as till say, Bark, Bawtie, and be dune wi't!--I tell
ye," raising her termagant voice, "I want my bairn! is na that braid

"Who _are_ you?--who is your bairn?" demanded the magistrate.

"Wha am I?--wha suld I be, but Meg Murdockson, and wha suld my bairn be
but Magdalen Murdockson?--Your guard soldiers, and your constables, and
your officers, ken us weel eneugh when they rive the bits o' duds aff our
backs, and take what penny o' siller we hae, and harle us to the
Correctionhouse in Leith Wynd, and pettle us up wi' bread and water and
siclike sunkets."

"Who is she?" said the magistrate, looking round to some of his people.

"Other than a gude ane, sir," said one of the city officers, shrugging
his shoulders and smiling.

"Will ye say sae?" said the termagant, her eye gleaming with impotent
fury; "an I had ye amang the Figgat-Whins,* wadna I set my ten talents in
your wuzzent face for that very word?" and she suited the word to the
action, by spreading out a set of claws resembling those of St. George's
dragon on a country sign-post.

* [This was a name given to a tract of sand hillocks extending along the
sea-shore from Leith to Portobello, and which at this time were covered
with _whin_-bushes or furze.]

"What does she want here?" said the impatient magistrate--"Can she not
tell her business, or go away?"

"It's my bairn!--it's Magdalen Murdockson I'm wantin'," answered the
beldam, screaming at the highest pitch of her cracked and mistuned
voice--"havena I been telling ye sae this half-hour? And if ye are deaf,
what needs ye sit cockit up there, and keep folk scraughin' t'ye this

"She wants her daughter, sir," said the same officer whose interference
had given the hag such offence before--"her daughter, who was taken up
last night--Madge Wildfire, as they ca' her."

"Madge Hellfire, as they ca' her!" echoed the beldam "and what business
has a blackguard like you to ca' an honest woman's bairn out o' her ain

"An _honest_ woman's bairn, Maggie?" answered the peace-officer, smiling
and shaking his head with an ironical emphasis on the adjective, and a
calmness calculated to provoke to madness the furious old shrew.

"If I am no honest now, I was honest ance," she replied; "and that's mair
than ye can say, ye born and bred thief, that never kend ither folks'
gear frae your ain since the day ye was cleckit. Honest, say ye?--ye
pykit your mother's pouch o' twalpennies Scots when ye were five years
auld, just as she was taking leave o' your father at the fit o' the

"She has you there, George," said the assistants, and there was a general
laugh; for the wit was fitted for the meridian of the place where it was
uttered. This general applause somewhat gratified the passions of the old
hag; the "grim feature" smiled and even laughed--but it was a laugh of
bitter scorn. She condescended, however, as if appeased by the success of
her sally, to explain her business more distinctly, when the magistrate,
commanding silence, again desired her either to speak out her errand, or
to leave the place.

"Her bairn," she said, "_was_ her bairn, and she came to fetch her out of
ill haft and waur guiding. If she wasna sae wise as ither folk, few ither
folk had suffered as muckle as she had done; forby that she could fend
the waur for hersell within the four wa's of a jail. She could prove by
fifty witnesses, and fifty to that, that her daughter had never seen Jock
Porteous, alive or dead, since he had gien her a laundering wi' his cane,
the neger that he was! for driving a dead cat at the provost's wig on the
Elector of Hanover's birthday."

Notwithstanding the wretched appearance and violent demeanour of this
woman, the magistrate felt the justice of her argument, that her child
might be as dear to her as to a more fortunate and more amiable mother.
He proceeded to investigate the circumstances which had led to Madge
Murdockson's (or Wildfire's) arrest, and as it was clearly shown that she
had not been engaged in the riot, he contented himself with directing
that an eye should be kept upon her by the police, but that for the
present she should be allowed to return home with her mother. During the
interval of fetching Madge from the jail, the magistrate endeavoured to
discover whether her mother had been privy to the change of dress betwixt
that young woman and Robertson. But on this point he could obtain no
light. She persisted in declaring, that she had never seen Robertson
since his remarkable escape during service-time; and that, if her
daughter had changed clothes with him, it must have been during her
absence at a hamlet about two miles out of town, called Duddingstone,
where she could prove that she passed that eventful night. And, in fact,
one of the town-officers, who had been searching for stolen linen at the
cottage of a washer-woman in that village, gave his evidence, that he had
seen Maggie Murdockson there, whose presence had considerably increased
his suspicion of the house in which she was a visitor, in respect that he
considered her as a person of no good reputation.

"I tauld ye sae," said the hag; "see now what it is to hae a character,
gude or bad!--Now, maybe, after a', I could tell ye something about
Porteous that you council-chamber bodies never could find out, for as
muckle stir as ye mak."

All eyes were turned towards her--all ears were alert. "Speak out!" said
the magistrate.

"It will be for your ain gude," insinuated the town-clerk.

"Dinna keep the Bailie waiting," urged the assistants.

She remained doggedly silent for two or three minutes, casting around a
malignant and sulky glance, that seemed to enjoy the anxious suspense
with which they waited her answer. And then she broke forth at once,--"A'
that I ken about him is, that he was neither soldier nor gentleman, but
just a thief and a blackguard, like maist o' yoursells, dears--What will
ye gie me for that news, now?--He wad hae served the gude town lang or
provost or bailie wad hae fund that out, my jo!"

While these matters were in discussion, Madge Wildfire entered, and her
first exclamation was, "Eh! see if there isna our auld ne'er-do-weel
deevil's-buckie o' a mither--Hegh, sirs! but we are a hopeful family, to
be twa o' us in the Guard at ance--But there were better days wi' us
ance--were there na, mither?"

Old Maggie's eyes had glistened with something like an expression of
pleasure when she saw her daughter set at liberty. But either her natural
affection, like that of the tigress, could not be displayed without a
strain of ferocity, or there was something in the ideas which Madge's
speech awakened, that again stirred her cross and savage temper. "What
signifies what we, were, ye street-raking limmer!" she exclaimed, pushing
her daughter before her to the door, with no gentle degree of violence.
"I'se tell thee what thou is now--thou's a crazed hellicat Bess o'
Bedlam, that sall taste naething but bread and water for a fortnight, to
serve ye for the plague ye hae gien me--and ower gude for ye, ye idle

Madge, however, escaped from her mother at the door, ran back to the foot
of the table, dropped a very low and fantastic courtesy to the judge, and
said, with a giggling laugh,--"Our minnie's sair mis-set, after her
ordinar, sir--She'll hae had some quarrel wi' her auld gudeman--that's
Satan, ye ken, sirs." This explanatory note she gave in a low
confidential tone, and the spectators of that credulous generation did
not hear it without an involuntary shudder. "The gudeman and her disna
aye gree weel, and then I maun pay the piper; but my back's broad eneugh
to bear't a'--an' if she hae nae havings, that's nae reason why wiser
folk shouldna hae some." Here another deep courtesy, when the ungracious
voice of her mother was heard.

"Madge, ye limmer! If I come to fetch ye!"

"Hear till her," said Madge. "But I'll wun out a gliff the night for a'
that, to dance in the moonlight, when her and the gudeman will be
whirrying through the blue lift on a broom-shank, to see Jean Jap, that
they hae putten intill the Kirkcaldy Tolbooth--ay, they will hae a merry
sail ower Inchkeith, and ower a' the bits o' bonny waves that are
poppling and plashing against the rocks in the gowden glimmer o' the
moon, ye ken.--I'm coming, mother--I'm coming," she concluded, on hearing
a scuffle at the door betwixt the beldam and the officers, who were
endeavouring to prevent her re-entrance. Madge then waved her hand wildly
towards the ceiling, and sung, at the topmost pitch of her voice,

                                   "Up in the air,
                        On my bonny grey mare,
                        And I see, and I see, and I see her yet;"

and with a hop, skip, and jump, sprung out of the room, as the witches of
Macbeth used, in less refined days, to seem to fly upwards from the

Some weeks intervened before Mr. Middleburgh, agreeably to his benevolent
resolution, found an opportunity of taking a walk towards St. Leonard's,
in order to discover whether it might be possible to obtain the evidence
hinted at in the anonymous letter respecting Effie Deans.

In fact, the anxious perquisitions made to discover the murderers of
Porteous occupied the attention of all concerned with the administration
of justice.

In the course of these inquiries, two circumstances happened material to
our story. Butler, after a close investigation of his conduct, was
declared innocent of accession to the death of Porteous; but, as having
been present during the whole transaction, was obliged to find bail not
to quit his usual residence at Liberton, that he might appear as a
witness when called upon. The other incident regarded the disappearance
of Madge Wildfire and her mother from Edinburgh. When they were sought,
with the purpose of subjecting them to some farther interrogatories, it
was discovered by Mr. Sharpitlaw that they had eluded the observation of
the police, and left the city so soon as dismissed from the
council-chamber. No efforts could trace the place of their retreat.

In the meanwhile the excessive indignation of the Council of Regency, at
the slight put upon their authority by the murder of Porteous, had
dictated measures, in which their own extreme desire of detecting the
actors in that conspiracy were consulted in preference to the temper of
the people and the character of their churchmen. An act of Parliament was
hastily passed, offering two hundred pounds reward to those who should
inform against any person concerned in the deed, and the penalty of
death, by a very unusual and severe enactment, was denounced against
those who should harbour the guilty. But what was chiefly accounted
exceptionable, was a clause, appointing the act to be read in churches by
the officiating clergyman, on the first Sunday of every month, for a
certain period, immediately before the sermon. The ministers who should
refuse to comply with this injunction were declared, for the first
offence, incapable of sitting or voting in any church judicature, and for
the second, incapable of holding any ecclesiastical preferment in

This last order united in a common cause those who might privately
rejoice in Porteous's death, though they dared not vindicate the manner
of it, with the more scrupulous Presbyterians, who held that even the
pronouncing the name of the "Lords Spiritual" in a Scottish pulpit was,
_quodammodo,_ an acknowledgment of prelacy, and that the injunction of
the legislature was an interference of the civil government with the _jus
divinum_ of Presbytery, since to the General Assembly alone, as
representing the invisible head of the kirk, belonged the sole and
exclusive right of regulating whatever pertained to public worship. Very
many also, of different political or religious sentiments, and therefore
not much moved by these considerations, thought they saw, in so violent
an act of parliament, a more vindictive spirit than became the
legislature of a great country, and something like an attempt to trample
upon the rights and independence of Scotland. The various steps adopted
for punishing the city of Edinburgh, by taking away her charter and
liberties, for what a violent and overmastering mob had done within her
walls, were resented by many, who thought a pretext was too hastily taken
for degrading the ancient metropolis of Scotland. In short, there was
much heart-burning, discontent, and disaffection, occasioned by these
ill-considered measures.*

* The magistrates were closely interrogated before the House of Peers,
concerning the particulars of the Porteous Mob, and the _patois_ in which
these functionaries made their answers, sounded strange in the ears of
the  Southern nobles. The Duke of Newcastle having demanded to know with
what kind of shot the guard which Porteous commanded had loaded their
muskets, was answered, naively, "Ow, just sic as ane shoots _dukes and
fools_ with." This reply was considered as a contempt of the House of
Lords, and the Provost would have suffered accordingly, but that the Duke
of Argyle explained, that the expression, properly rendered into English,
meant _ducks and waterfowls._

 Amidst these heats and dissensions, the trial of Effie Deans, after she
had been many weeks imprisoned, was at length about to be brought
forward, and Mr. Middleburgh found leisure to inquire into the evidence
concerning her. For this purpose, he chose a fine day for his walk
towards her father's house.

The excursion into the country was somewhat distant, in the opinion of a
burgess of those days, although many of the present inhabit suburban
villas considerably beyond the spot to which we allude. Three-quarters of
an hour's walk, however, even at a pace of magisterial gravity, conducted
our benevolent office-bearer to the Crags of St. Leonard's, and the
humble mansion of David Deans.

The old man was seated on the deas, or turf-seat, at the end of his
cottage, busied in mending his cart-harness with his own hands; for in
those days any sort of labour which required a little more skill than
usual fell to the share of the goodman himself, and that even when he was
well to pass in the world. With stern and austere gravity he persevered
in his task, after having just raised his head to notice the advance of
the stranger. It would have been impossible to have discovered, from his
countenance and manner, the internal feelings of agony with which he
contended. Mr. Middleburgh waited an instant, expecting Deans would in
some measure acknowledge his presence, and lead into conversation; but,
as he seemed determined to remain silent, he was himself obliged to speak

"My name is Middleburgh--Mr. James Middleburgh, one of the present
magistrates of the city of Edinburgh."

"It may be sae," answered Deans laconically, and without interrupting his

"You must understand," he continued, "that the duty of a magistrate is
sometimes an unpleasant one."

"It may be sae," replied David; "I hae naething to say in the contrair;"
and he was again doggedly silent.

"You must be aware," pursued the magistrate, "that persons in my
situation are often obliged to make painful and disagreeable inquiries of
individuals, merely because it is their bounden duty."

"It may be sae," again replied Deans; "I hae naething to say anent it,
either the tae way or the t'other. But I do ken there was ance in a day a
just and God-fearing magistracy in yon town o' Edinburgh, that did not
bear the sword in vain, but were a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to
such as kept the path. In the glorious days of auld worthy faithfu'
Provost Dick,* when there was a true and faithfu' General Assembly of

* Note M. Sir William Dick of Braid.

the Kirk, walking hand in hand with the real noble Scottish-hearted
barons, and with the magistrates of this and other towns, gentles,
burgesses, and commons of all ranks, seeing with one eye, hearing with
one ear, and upholding the ark with their united strength--And then folk
might see men deliver up their silver to the state's use, as if it had
been as muckle sclate stanes. My father saw them toom the sacks of
dollars out o' Provost Dick's window intill the carts that carried them
to the army at Dunse Law; and if ye winna believe his testimony, there is
the window itsell still standing in the Luckenbooths--I think it's a
claith-merchant's booth the day*--at the airn stanchells, five doors
abune Gossford's Close.

* I think so too--But if the reader be curious, he may consult Mr.
Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh.

--But now we haena sic spirit amang us; we think mair about the warst
wallydraigle in our ain byre, than about the blessing which the angel of
the covenant gave to the Patriarch even at Peniel and Mahanaim, or the
binding obligation of our national vows; and we wad rather gie a pund
Scots to buy an unguent to clear out auld rannell-trees and our beds o'
the English bugs as they ca' them, than we wad gie a plack to rid the
land of the swarm of Arminian caterpillars, Socinian pismires, and
deistical Miss Katies, that have ascended out of the bottomless pit, to
plague this perverse, insidious, and lukewarm generation."

It happened to Davie Deans on this occasion, as it has done to many other
habitual orators; when once he became embarked on his favourite subject,
the stream of his own enthusiasm carried him forward in spite of his
mental distress, while his well-exercised memory supplied him amply with
all the types and tropes of rhetoric peculiar to his sect and cause.

Mr. Middleburgh contented himself with answering--"All this may be very
true, my friend; but, as you said just now, I have nothing to say to it
at present, either one way or other.--You have two daughters, I think,
Mr. Deans?"

The old man winced, as one whose smarting sore is suddenly galled; but
instantly composed himself, resumed the work which, in the heat of his
declamation, he had laid down, and answered with sullen resolution, "Ae
daughter, sir--only _ane._"

"I understand you," said Mr. Middleburgh; "you have only one daughter
here at home with you--but this unfortunate girl who is a prisoner--she
is, I think, your youngest daughter?"

The Presbyterian sternly raised his eyes. "After the world, and according
to the flesh, she _is_ my daughter; but when she became a child of
Belial, and a company-keeper, and a trader in guilt and iniquity, she
ceased to be a bairn of mine."

"Alas, Mr. Deans," said Middleburgh, sitting down by him, and
endeavouring to take his hand, which the old man proudly withdrew, "we
are ourselves all sinners; and the errors of our offspring, as they ought
not to surprise us, being the portion which they derive of a common
portion of corruption inherited through us, so they do not entitle us to
cast them off because they have lost themselves."

"Sir," said Deans impatiently, "I ken a' that as weel as--I mean to say,"
he resumed, checking the irritation he felt at being schooled--a
discipline of the mind which those most ready to bestow it on others do
themselves most reluctantly submit to receive--"I mean to say, that what
ye o serve may be just and reasonable--But I hae nae freedom to enter
into my ain private affairs wi' strangers--And now, in this great
national emergency, When there's the Porteous' Act has come doun frae
London, that is a deeper blow to this poor sinfu' kingdom and suffering
kirk than ony that has been heard of since the foul and fatal Test--at a
time like this"

"But, goodman," interrupted Mr. Middleburgh, "you must think of your own
household first, or else you are worse even than the infidels."

"I tell ye, Bailie Middleburgh," retorted David Deans, "if ye be a
bailie, as there is little honour in being ane in these evil days--I tell
ye, I heard the gracious Saunders Peden--I wotna whan it was; but it was
in killing time, when the plowers were drawing alang their furrows on the
back of the Kirk of Scotland--I heard him tell his hearers, gude and
waled Christians they were too, that some o' them wad greet mair for a
bit drowned calf or stirk than for a' the defections and oppressions of
the day; and that they were some o' them thinking o' ae thing, some o'
anither, and there was Lady Hundleslope thinking o' greeting Jock at the
fireside! And the lady confessed in my hearing that a drow of anxiety had
come ower her for her son that she had left at hame weak of a decay*--And
what wad he hae said of me if I had ceased to think of the gude cause for
a castaway--a--It kills me to think of what she is!"

* See _Life of Peden,_ p. 14.

"But the life of your child, goodman--think of that--if her life could be
saved," said Middleburgh.

"Her life!" exclaimed David--"I wadna gie ane o' my grey hairs for her
life, if her gude name be gane--And yet," said he, relenting and
retracting as he spoke, "I wad make the niffer, Mr. Middleburgh--I wad
gie a' these grey hairs that she has brought to shame and sorrow--I wad
gie the auld head they grow on for her life, and that she might hae time
to amend and return, for what hae the wicked beyond the breath of their
nosthrils?--but I'll never see her mair--No!--that--that I am determined
in--I'll never see her mair!" His lips continued to move for a minute
after his voice ceased to be heard, as if he were repeating the same vow

"Well, sir," said Mr. Middleburgh, "I speak to you as a man of sense; if
you would save your daughter's life, you must use human means."

"I understand what you mean; but Mr. Novit, who is the procurator and
doer of an honourable person, the Laird of Dumbiedikes, is to do what
carnal wisdom can do for her in the circumstances. Mysell am not clear to
trinquet and traffic wi' courts o' justice as they are now constituted; I
have a tenderness and scruple in my mind anent them."

"That is to say," said Middleburgh, "that you are a Cameronian, and do
not acknowledge the authority of our courts of judicature, or present

"Sir, under your favour," replied David, who was too proud of his own
polemical knowledge to call himself the follower of any one, "ye take me
up before I fall down. I canna see why I suld be termed a Cameronian,
especially now that ye hae given the name of that famous and savoury
sufferer, not only until a regimental band of souldiers, [H. M. 26th
Foot] whereof I am told many can now curse, swear, and use profane
language, as fast as ever Richard Cameron could preach or pray, but also
because ye have, in as far as it is in your power, rendered that martyr's
name vain and contemptible, by pipes, drums, and fifes, playing the vain
carnal spring called the Cameronian Rant, which too many professors of
religion dance to--a practice maist unbecoming a professor to dance to
any tune whatsoever, more especially promiscuously, that is, with the
female sex.* A brutish fashion it is, whilk is the beginning of defection
with many, as I may hae as muckle cause as maist folk to testify."

* See Note F. Peter Walker.

"Well, but, Mr. Deans," replied Mr. Middleburgh, "I only meant to say
that you were a Cameronian, or MacMillanite, one of the society people,
in short, who think it inconsistent to take oaths under a government
where the Covenant is not ratified."

"Sir," replied the controversialist, who forgot even his present distress
in such discussions as these, "you cannot fickle me sae easily as you do
opine. I am _not_ a MacMillanite, or a Russelite, or a Hamiltonian, or a
Harleyite, or a Howdenite*--I will be led by the nose by none--I take my
name as a Christian from no vessel of clay. I have my own principles and
practice to answer for, and am an humble pleader for the gude auld cause
in a legal way."

* All various species of the great genus Cameronian.

"That is to say, Mr. Deans," said Middleburgh, "that you are a _Deanite,_
and have opinions peculiar to yourself."

"It may please you to say sae," said David Deans; "but I have maintained
my testimony before as great folk, and in sharper times; and though I
will neither exalt myself nor pull down others, I wish every man and
woman in this land had kept the true testimony, and the middle and
straight path, as it were, on the ridge of a hill, where wind and water
shears, avoiding right-hand snares and extremes, and left-hand
way-slidings, as weel as Johnny Dodds of Farthing's Acre, and ae man mair
that shall be nameless."

"I suppose," replied the magistrate, "that is as much as to say, that
Johnny Dodds of Farthing's Acre, and David Deans of St. Leonard's,
constitute the only members of the true, real, unsophisticated Kirk of

"God forbid that I suld make sic a vain-glorious speech, when there are
sae mony professing Christians!" answered David; "but this I maun say,
that all men act according to their gifts and their grace, 'sae that it
is nae marvel that"

"This is all very fine," interrupted Mr. Middleburgh; "but I have no time
to spend in hearing it. The matter in hand is this--I have directed a
citation to be lodged in your daughter's hands--If she appears on the day
of trial and gives evidence, there is reason to hope she may save her
sister's life--if, from any constrained scruples about the legality of
her performing the office of an affectionate sister and a good subject,
by appearing in a court held under the authority of the law and
government, you become the means of deterring her from the discharge of
this duty, I must say, though the truth may sound harsh in your ears,
that you, who gave life to this unhappy girl, will become the means of
her losing it by a premature and violent death."

So saying, Mr. Middleburgh turned to leave him.

"Bide awee--bide awee, Mr. Middleburgh," said Deans, in great perplexity
and distress of mind; but the Bailie, who was probably sensible that
protracted discussion might diminish the effect of his best and most
forcible argument, took a hasty leave, and declined entering farther into
the controversy.

Deans sunk down upon his seat, stunned with a variety of conflicting
emotions. It had been a great source of controversy among those holding
his opinions in religious matters how far the government which succeeded
the Revolution could be, without sin, acknowledged by true Presbyterians,
seeing that it did not recognise the great national testimony of the
Solemn League and Covenant? And latterly, those agreeing in this general
doctrine, and assuming the sounding title of "The anti-Popish,
anti-Prelatic, anti-Erastian, anti-Sectarian, true Presbyterian remnant,"
were divided into many petty sects among themselves, even as to the
extent of submission to the existing laws and rulers, which constituted
such an acknowledgment as amounted to sin.

At a very stormy and tumultuous meeting, held in 1682, to discuss these
important and delicate points, the testimonies of the faithful few were
found utterly inconsistent with each other.*

* This remarkable convocation took place upon 15th June 1682, and an
account of its confused and divisive proceedings may be found in Michael
Shield's _Faithful Contendings Displayed_ (first printed at Glasgow,
1780,  p. 21). It affords a singular and melancholy example how much a
metaphysical  and polemical spirit had crept in amongst these unhappy
sufferers, since amid so many real injuries which they had to sustain,
they were disposed to add disagreement and disunion concerning the
character and extent of such as were only imaginary.

The place where this conference took place was remarkably well adapted
for such an assembly. It was a wild and very sequestered dell in
Tweeddale, surrounded by high hills, and far remote from human
habitation. A small river, or rather a mountain torrent, called the
Talla, breaks down the glen with great fury, dashing successively over a
number of small cascades, which has procured the spot the name of Talla
Linns. Here the leaders among the scattered adherents to the Covenant,
men who, in their banishment from human society, and in the recollection
of the seventies to which they had been exposed, had become at once
sullen in their tempers, and fantastic in their religious opinions, met
with arms in their hands, and by the side of the torrent discussed, with
a turbulence which the noise of the stream could not drown, points of
controversy as empty and unsubstantial as its foam.

It was the fixed judgment of most of the meeting, that all payment of
cess or tribute to the existing government was utterly unlawful, and a
sacrificing to idols. About other impositions and degrees of submission
there were various opinions; and perhaps it is the best illustration of
the spirit of those military fathers of the church to say, that while all
allowed it was impious to pay the cess employed for maintaining the
standing army and militia, there was a fierce controversy on the
lawfulness of paying the duties levied at ports and bridges, for
maintaining roads and other necessary purposes; that there were some who,
repugnant to these imposts for turnpikes and pontages, were nevertheless
free in conscience to make payment of the usual freight at public
ferries, and that a person of exceeding and punctilious zeal, James
Russel, one of the slayers of the Archbishop of St. Andrews, had given
his testimony with great warmth even against this last faint shade of
subjection to constituted authority. This ardent and enlightened person
and his followers had also great scruples about the lawfulness of
bestowing the ordinary names upon the days of the week and the months of
the year, which savoured in their nostrils so strongly of paganism, that
at length they arrived at the conclusion that they who owned such names
as Monday, Tuesday, January, February, and so forth, "served themselves
heirs to the same, if not greater punishment, than had been denounced
against the idolaters of old."

David Deans had been present on this memorable occasion, although too
young to be a speaker among the polemical combatants. His brain, however,
had been thoroughly heated by the noise, clamour, and metaphysical
ingenuity of the discussion, and it was a controversy to which his mind
had often returned; and though he carefully disguised his vacillation
from others, and, perhaps from himself, he had never been able to come to
any precise line of decision on the subject. In fact, his natural sense
had acted as a counterpoise to his controversial zeal. He was by no means
pleased with the quiet and indifferent manner in which King William's
government slurred over the errors of the times, when, far from restoring
the Presbyterian kirk to its former supremacy, they passed an act of
oblivion even to those who had been its persecutors, and bestowed on many
of them titles, favours, and employments. When, in the first General
Assembly which succeeded the Revolution, an overture was made for the
revival of the League and Covenant, it was with horror that Douce David
heard the proposal eluded by the men of carnal wit and policy, as he
called them, as being inapplicable to the present times, and not falling
under the modern model of the church. The reign of Queen Anne had
increased his conviction, that the Revolution government was not one of
the true Presbyterian complexion. But then, more sensible than the bigots
of his sect, he did not confound the moderation and tolerance of these
two reigns with the active tyranny and oppression exercised in those of
Charles II. and James II. The Presbyterian form of religion, though
deprived of the weight formerly attached to its sentences of
excommunication, and compelled to tolerate the coexistence of Episcopacy,
and of sects of various descriptions, was still the National Church; and
though the glory of the second temple was far inferior to that which had
flourished from 1639 till the battle of Dunbar, still it was a structure
that, wanting the strength and the terrors, retained at least the form
and symmetry, of the original model. Then came the insurrection in 1715,
and David Deans's horror for the revival of the Popish and prelatical
faction reconciled him greatly to the government of King George, although
he grieved that that monarch might be suspected of a leaning unto
Erastianism. In short, moved by so many different considerations, he had
shifted his ground at different times concerning the degree of freedom
which he felt in adopting any act of immediate acknowledgment or
submission to the present government, which, however mild and paternal,
was still uncovenanted, and now he felt himself called upon, by the most
powerful motive conceivable, to authorise his daughter's giving testimony
in a court of justice, which all who have been since called Cameronians
accounted a step of lamentable and direct defection. The voice of nature,
however, exclaimed loud in his bosom against the dictates of fanaticism;
and his imagination, fertile in the solution of polemical difficulties,
devised an expedient for extricating himself from the fearful dilemma, in
which he saw, on the one side, a falling off from principle, and, on the
other, a scene from which a father's thoughts could not but turn in
shuddering horror.

"I have been constant and unchanged in my testimony," said David Deans;
"but then who has said it of me, that I have judged my neighbour over
closely, because he hath had more freedom in his walk than I have found
in mine? I never was a separatist, nor for quarrelling with tender souls
about mint, cummin, or other the lesser tithes. My daughter Jean may have
a light in this subject that is hid frae my auld een--it is laid on her
conscience, and not on mine--If she hath freedom to gang before this
judicatory, and hold up her hand for this poor castaway, surely I will
not say she steppeth over her bounds; and if not"--He paused in his
mental argument, while a pang of unutterable anguish convulsed his
features, yet, shaking it off, he firmly resumed the strain of his
reasoning--"And if not--God forbid that she should go into defection at
bidding of mine! I wunna fret the tender conscience of one bairn--no, not
to save the life of the other."

A Roman would have devoted his daughter to death from different feelings
and motives, but not upon a more heroic principle of duty.


                   To man, in this his trial state,
                        The privilege is given,
                   When tost by tides of human fate,
                        To anchor fast on heaven.
                                        Watts's _Hymns._

It was with a firm step that Deans sought his daughter's apartment,
determined to leave her to the light of her own conscience in the dubious
point of casuistry in which he supposed her to be placed.

The little room had been the sleeping apartment of both sisters, and
there still stood there a small occasional bed which had been made for
Effie's accommodation, when, complaining of illness, she had declined to
share, as in happier times, her sister's pillow. The eyes of Deans rested
involuntarily, on entering the room, upon this little couch, with its
dark-green coarse curtains, and the ideas connected with it rose so thick
upon his soul as almost to incapacitate him from opening his errand to
his daughter. Her occupation broke the ice. He found her gazing on a slip
of paper, which contained a citation to her to appear as a witness upon
her sister's trial in behalf of the accused. For the worthy magistrate,
determined to omit no chance of doing Effie justice, and to leave her
sister no apology for not giving the evidence which she was supposed to
possess, had caused the ordinary citation, or _subpoena,_ of the Scottish
criminal court, to be served upon her by an officer during his conference
with David.

This precaution was so far favourable to Deans, that it saved him the
pain of entering upon a formal explanation with his daughter; he only
said, with a hollow and tremulous voice, "I perceive ye are aware of the

"O father, we are cruelly sted between God's laws and man's laws--What
shall we do?--What can we do?"

Jeanie, it must be observed, had no hesitation whatever about the mere
act of appearing in a court of justice. She might have heard the point
discussed by her father more than once; but we have already noticed that
she was accustomed to listen with reverence to much which she was
incapable of understanding, and that subtle arguments of casuistry found
her a patient, but unedified hearer. Upon receiving the citation,
therefore, her thoughts did not turn upon the chimerical scruples which
alarmed her father's mind, but to the language which had been held to her
by the stranger at Muschat's Cairn. In a word, she never doubted but she
was to be dragged forward into the court of justice, in order to place
her in the cruel position of either sacrificing her sister by telling the
truth, or committing perjury in order to save her life. And so strongly
did her thoughts run in this channel, that she applied her father's
words, "Ye are aware of the matter," to his acquaintance with the advice
that had been so fearfully enforced upon her. She looked up with anxious
surprise, not unmingled with a cast of horror, which his next words, as
she interpreted and applied them, were not qualified to remove.

"Daughter," said David, "it has ever been my mind, that in things of ane
doubtful and controversial nature, ilk Christian's conscience suld be his
ain guide--Wherefore descend into yourself, try your ain mind with
sufficiency of soul exercise, and as you sall finally find yourself clear
to do in this matter--even so be it."

"But, father," said Jeanie, whose mind revolted at the construction which
she naturally put upon his language, "can this-this be a doubtful or
controversial matter?--Mind, father, the ninth command--'Thou shalt not
bear false witness against thy neighbour.'"

David Deans paused; for, still applying her speech to his preconceived
difficulties, it seemed to him as if _she,_ a woman, and a sister, was
scarce entitled to be scrupulous upon this occasion, where he, a man,
exercised in the testimonies of that testifying period, had given
indirect countenance to her following what must have been the natural
dictates of her own feelings. But he kept firm his purpose, until his
eyes involuntarily rested upon the little settle-bed, and recalled the
form of the child of his old age, as she sate upon it, pale, emaciated,
and broken-hearted. His mind, as the picture arose before him,
involuntarily conceived, and his tongue involuntarily uttered--but in a
tone how different from his usual dogmatical precision!--arguments for
the course of conduct likely to ensure his child's safety.

"Daughter," he said, "I did not say that your path was free from
stumbling--and, questionless, this act may be in the opinion of some a
transgression, since he who beareth witness unlawfully, and against his
conscience, doth in some sort bear false witness against his neighbour.
Yet in matters of compliance, the guilt lieth not in the compliance sae
muckle, as in the mind and conscience of him that doth comply; and,
therefore, although my testimony hath not been spared upon public
defections, I haena felt freedom to separate mysell from the communion of
many who have been clear to hear those ministers who have taken the fatal
indulgence because they might get good of them, though I could not."

When David had proceeded thus far, his conscience reproved him, that he
might be indirectly undermining the purity of his daughter's faith, and
smoothing the way for her falling off from strictness of principle. He,
therefore, suddenly stopped, and changed his tone:--"Jeanie, I perceive
that our vile affections,--so I call them in respect of doing the will of
our Father,--cling too heavily to me in this hour of trying sorrow, to
permit me to keep sight of my ain duty, or to airt you to yours. I will
speak nae mair anent this overtrying matter--Jeanie, if ye can, wi' God
and gude conscience, speak in favour of this puir unhappy"--(here his
voice faltered)--"She is your sister in the flesh--worthless and castaway
as she is, she is the daughter of a saint in heaven, that was a mother to
you, Jeanie, in place of your ain--but if ye arena free in conscience to
speak for her in the court of judicature, follow your conscience, Jeanie,
and let God's will be done." After this adjuration he left the apartment,
and his daughter remained in a state of great distress and perplexity.

It would have been no small addition to the sorrows of David Deans, even
in this extremity of suffering, had he known that his daughter was
applying the casuistical arguments which he had been using, not in the
sense of a permission to follow her own opinion on a dubious and disputed
point of controversy, but rather as an encouragement to transgress one of
those divine commandments which Christians of all sects and denominations
unite in holding most sacred.

"Can this be?" said Jeanie, as the door closed on her father--"Can these
be his words that I have heard, or has the Enemy taken his voice and
features to give weight unto the counsel which causeth to perish?--a
sister's life, and a father pointing out how to save it!--O God, deliver
me!--this is a fearfu' temptation."

Roaming from thought to thought, she at one time imagined her father
understood the ninth commandment literally, as prohibiting false witness
_against_ our neighbour, without extending the denunciation against
falsehood uttered _in favour_ of the criminal. But her clear and
unsophisticated power of discriminating between good and evil, instantly
rejected an interpretation so limited, and so unworthy of the Author of
the law. She remained in a state of the most agitating terror and
uncertainty--afraid to communicate her thoughts freely to her father,
lest she should draw forth an opinion with which she could not
comply,--wrung with distress on her sister's account, rendered the more
acute by reflecting that the means of saving her were in her power, but
were such as her conscience prohibited her from using,--tossed, in
short, like a vessel in an open roadstead during a storm, and, like that
vessel, resting on one only sure cable and anchor,--faith in Providence,
and a resolution to discharge her duty.

Butler's affection and strong sense of religion would have been her
principal support in these distressing circumstances, but he was still
under restraint, which did not permit him to come to St. Leonard's Crags;
and her distresses were of a nature, which, with her indifferent habits
of scholarship, she found it impossible to express in writing. She was
therefore compelled to trust for guidance to her own unassisted sense of
what was right or wrong. It was not the least of Jeanie's distresses,
that, although she hoped and believed her sister to be innocent, she had
not the means of receiving that assurance from her own mouth.

The double-dealing of Ratcliffe in the matter of Robertson had not
prevented his being rewarded, as double-dealers frequently have been,
with favour and preferment. Sharpitlaw, who found in him something of a
kindred genius, had been intercessor in his behalf with the magistrates,
and the circumstance of his having voluntarily remained in the prison,
when the doors were forced by the mob, would have made it a hard measure
to take the life which he had such easy means of saving. He received a
full pardon; and soon afterwards, James Ratcliffe, the greatest thief and
housebreaker in Scotland, was, upon the faith, perhaps, of an ancient
proverb, selected as a person to be entrusted with the custody of other

When Ratcliffe was thus placed in a confidential situation, he was
repeatedly applied to by the sapient Saddletree and others, who took some
interest in the Deans family, to procure an interview between the
sisters; but the magistrates, who were extremely anxious for the
apprehension of Robertson, had given strict orders to the contrary,
hoping that, by keeping them separate, they might, from the one or the
other, extract some information respecting that fugitive. On this subject
Jeanie had nothing to tell them. She informed Mr. Middleburgh, that she
knew nothing of Robertson, except having met him that night by
appointment to give her some advice respecting her sister's concern, the
purport of which, she said, was betwixt God and her conscience. Of his
motions, purposes, or plans, past, present, or future, she knew nothing,
and so had nothing to communicate.

Effie was equally silent, though from a different cause. It was in vain
that they offered a commutation and alleviation of her punishment, and
even a free pardon, if she would confess what she knew of her lover. She
answered only with tears; unless, when at times driven into pettish
sulkiness by the persecution of the interrogators, she made them abrupt
and disrespectful answers.

At length, after her trial had been delayed for many weeks, in hopes she
might be induced to speak out on a subject infinitely more interesting to
the magistracy than her own guilt or innocence, their patience was worn
out, and even Mr. Middleburgh finding no ear lent to farther intercession
in her behalf, the day was fixed for the trial to proceed.

It was now, and not sooner, that Sharpitlaw, recollecting his promise to
Effie Deans, or rather being dinned into compliance by the unceasing
remonstrances of Mrs. Saddletree, who was his next-door neighbour, and
who declared it was heathen cruelty to keep the twa brokenhearted
creatures separate, issued the important mandate, permitting them to see
each other.

On the evening which preceded the eventful day of trial, Jeanie was
permitted to see her sister--an awful interview, and occurring at a most
distressing crisis. This, however, formed a part of the bitter cup which
she was doomed to drink, to atone for crimes and follies to which she had
no accession; and at twelve o'clock noon, being the time appointed for
admission to the jail, she went to meet, for the first time for several
months, her guilty, erring, and most miserable sister, in that abode of
guilt, error, and utter misery.


                      Sweet sister, let me live!
                What sin you do to save a brother's life,
                Nature dispenses with the deed so far,
                           That it becomes a virtue.
                                        Measure for Measure.

Jeanie Deans was admitted into the jail by Ratcliffe. This fellow, as
void of shame as of honesty, as he opened the now trebly secured door,
asked her, with a leer which made her shudder, "whether she remembered

A half-pronounced and timid "No," was her answer.

"What! not remember moonlight, and Muschat's Cairn, and Rob and Rat?"
said he, with the same sneer;--"Your memory needs redding up, my jo."

If Jeanie's distresses had admitted of aggravation, it must have been to
find her sister under the charge of such a profligate as this man. He was
not, indeed, without something of good to balance so much that was evil
in his character and habits. In his misdemeanours he had never been
bloodthirsty or cruel; and in his present occupation, he had shown
himself, in a certain degree, accessible to touches of humanity. But
these good qualities were unknown to Jeanie, who, remembering the scene
at Muschat's Cairn, could scarce find voice to acquaint him, that she had
an order from Bailie Middleburgh, permitting her to see her sister.

"I ken that fa' weel, my bonny doo; mair by token, I have a special
charge to stay in the ward with you a' the time ye are thegither."

"Must that be sae?" asked Jeanie, with an imploring voice.

"Hout, ay, hinny," replied the turnkey; "and what the waur will you and
your tittie be of Jim Ratcliffe hearing what ye hae to say to ilk
other?--Deil a word ye'll say that will gar him ken your kittle sex
better than he kens them already; and another thing is, that if ye dinna
speak o' breaking the Tolbooth, deil a word will I tell ower, either to
do ye good or ill."

Thus saying, Ratcliffe marshalled her the way to the apartment where
Effie was confined.

Shame, fear, and grief, had contended for mastery in the poor prisoner's
bosom during the whole morning, while she had looked forward to this
meeting; but when the door opened, all gave way to a confused and strange
feeling that had a tinge of joy in it, as, throwing herself on her
sister's neck, she ejaculated, "My dear Jeanie!--my dear Jeanie! it's
lang since I hae seen ye." Jeanie returned the embrace with an
earnestness that partook almost of rapture, but it was only a flitting
emotion, like a sunbeam unexpectedly penetrating betwixt the clouds of a
tempest, and obscured almost as soon as visible. The sisters walked
together to the side of the pallet bed, and sate down side by side, took
hold of each other's hands, and looked each other in the face, but
without speaking a word. In this posture they remained for a minute,
while the gleam of joy gradually faded from their features, and gave way
to the most intense expression, first of melancholy, and then of agony,
till, throwing themselves again into each other's arms, they, to use the
language of Scripture, lifted up their voices, and wept bitterly.

Even the hardhearted turnkey, who had spent his life in scenes calculated
to stifle both conscience and feeling, could not witness this scene
without a touch of human sympathy. It was shown in a trifling action, but
which had more delicacy in it than seemed to belong to Ratcliffe's
character and station. The unglazed window of the miserable chamber was
open, and the beams of a bright sun fell right upon the bed where the
sufferers were seated. With a gentleness that had something of reverence
in it, Ratcliffe partly closed the shutter, and seemed thus to throw a
veil over a scene so sorrowful.

"Ye are ill, Effie," were the first words Jeanie could utter; "ye are
very ill."

"O, what wad I gie to be ten times waur, Jeanie!" was the reply--"what
wad I gie to be cauld dead afore the ten o'clock bell the morn! And our
father--but I am his bairn nae langer now--O, I hae nae friend left in
the warld!--O, that I were lying dead at my mother's side, in Newbattle

"Hout, lassie," said Ratcliffe, willing to show the interest which he
absolutely felt, "dinna be sae dooms doon-hearted as a' that; there's
mony a tod hunted that's no killed. Advocate Langtale has brought folk
through waur snappers than a' this, and there's no a cleverer agent than
Nichil Novit e'er drew a bill of suspension. Hanged or unhanged, they are
weel aff has sic an agent and counsel; ane's sure o' fair play. Ye are a
bonny lass, too, an ye wad busk up your cockernony a bit; and a bonny
lass will find favour wi' judge and jury, when they would strap up a
grewsome carle like me for the fifteenth part of a flea's hide and
tallow, d--n them."

To this homely strain of consolation the mourners returned no answer;
indeed, they were so much lost in their own sorrows as to have become
insensible of Ratcliffe's presence. "O Effie," said her elder sister,
"how could you conceal your situation from me? O woman, had I deserved
this at your hand?--had ye spoke but ae word--sorry we might hae been,
and shamed we might hae been, but this awfu' dispensation had never come
ower us."

"And what gude wad that hae dune?" answered the prisoner. "Na, na,
Jeanie, a' was ower when ance I forgot what I promised when I faulded
down the leaf of my Bible. See," she said, producing the sacred volume,
"the book opens aye at the place o' itsell. O see, Jeanie, what a fearfu'

Jeanie took her sister's Bible, and found that the fatal mark was made at
this impressive text in the book of Job: "He hath stripped me of my
glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every
side, and I am gone. And mine hope hath he removed like a tree."

"Isna that ower true a doctrine?" said the prisoner "Isna my crown, my
honour, removed? And what am I but a poor, wasted, wan-thriven tree, dug
up by the roots, and flung out to waste in the highway, that man and
beast may tread it under foot? I thought o' the bonny bit them that our
father rooted out o' the yard last May, when it had a' the flush o'
blossoms on it; and then it lay in the court till the beasts had trod
them a' to pieces wi' their feet. I little thought, when I was wae for
the bit silly green bush and its flowers, that I was to gang the same
gate mysell."

"O, if ye had spoken ae word," again sobbed Jeanie,--"if I were free to
swear that ye had said but ae word of how it stude wi' ye, they couldna
hae touched your life this day."

"Could they na?" said Effie, with something like awakened interest--for
life is dear even to those who feel it is a burden--"Wha tauld ye that,

"It was ane that kend what he was saying weel eneugh," replied Jeanie,
who had a natural reluctance at mentioning even the name of her sister's

"Wha was it?--I conjure you to tell me," said Effie, seating herself
upright.--"Wha could tak interest in sic a cast-by as I am now?--Was
it--was it _him?_"

"Hout," said Ratcliffe, "what signifies keeping the poor lassie in a
swither? I'se uphaud it's been Robertson that learned ye that doctrine
when ye saw him at Muschat's Cairn."

"Was it him?" said Effie, catching eagerly at his words--"was it him,
Jeanie, indeed?--O, I see it was him--poor lad, and I was thinking his
heart was as hard as the nether millstane--and him in sic danger on his
ain part--poor George!"

Somewhat indignant at this burst of tender feeling towards the author of
her misery, Jeanie could not help exclaiming--"O Effie, how can ye speak
that gate of sic a man as that?"

"We maun forgie our enemies, ye ken," said poor Effie, with a timid look
and a subdued voice; for her conscience told her what a different
character the feelings with which she regarded her seducer bore, compared
with the Christian charity under which she attempted to veil it.

"And ye hae suffered a' this for him, and ye can think of loving him
still?" said her sister, in a voice betwixt pity and blame.

"Love him!" answered Effie--"If I hadna loved as woman seldom loves, I
hadna been within these wa's this day; and trow ye, that love sic as mine
is lightly forgotten?--Na, na--ye may hew down the tree, but ye canna
change its bend--And, O Jeanie, if ye wad do good to me at this moment,
tell me every word that he said, and whether he was sorry for poor Effie
or no!"

"What needs I tell ye onything about it?" said Jeanie. "Ye may be sure he
had ower muckle to do to save himsell, to speak lang or muckle about ony
body beside."

[Illustration: Jeanie and Effie--304]

"That's no true, Jeanie, though a saunt had said it," replied Effie, with
a sparkle of her former lively and irritable temper. "But ye dinna ken,
though I do, how far he pat his life in venture to save mine." And
looking at Ratcliffe, she checked herself and was silent.

"I fancy," said Ratcliffe, with one of his familiar sneers, "the lassie
thinks that naebody has een but hersell--Didna I see when Gentle Geordie
was seeking to get other folk out of the Tolbooth forby Jock
Porteous?--but ye are of my mind, hinny--better sit and rue, than flit
and rue--ye needna look in my face sae amazed. I ken mair things than
that, maybe."

"O my God! my God!" said Effie, springing up and throwing herself down on
her knees before him--"D'ye ken where they hae putten my bairn?--O my
bairn! my bairn! the poor sackless innocent new-born wee ane--bone of my
bone, and flesh of my flesh!--O man, if ye wad e'er deserve a portion in
Heaven, or a brokenhearted creature's blessing upon earth, tell me where
they hae put my bairn--the sign of my shame, and the partner of my
suffering! tell me wha has taen't away, or what they hae dune wi't?"

"Hout tout," said the turnkey, endeavouring to extricate himself from the
firm grasp with which she held him, "that's taking me at my word wi' a
witness--Bairn, quo' she? How the deil suld I ken onything of your bairn,
huzzy? Ye maun ask that of auld Meg Murdockson, if ye dinna ken ower
muckle about it yoursell."

As his answer destroyed the wild and vague hope which had suddenly
gleamed upon her, the unhappy prisoner let go her hold of his coat, and
fell with her face on the pavement of the apartment in a strong
convulsion fit.

Jeanie Deans possessed, with her excellently clear understanding, the
concomitant advantage of promptitude of spirit, even in the extremity of

She did not suffer herself to be overcome by her own feelings of
exquisite sorrow, but instantly applied herself to her sister's relief,
with the readiest remedies which circumstances afforded; and which, to do
Ratcliffe justice, he showed himself anxious to suggest, and alert in
procuring. He had even the delicacy to withdraw to the farthest corner of
the room, so as to render his official attendance upon them as little
intrusive as possible, when Effie was composed enough again to resume her
conference with her sister.

The prisoner once more, in the most earnest and broken tones, conjured
Jeanie to tell her the particulars of the conference with Robertson, and
Jeanie felt it was impossible to refuse her this gratification.

"Do ye mind," she said, "Effie, when ye were in the fever before we left
Woodend, and how angry your mother, that's now in a better place, was wi'
me for gieing ye milk and water to drink, because ye grat for it? Ye were
a bairn then, and ye are a woman now, and should ken better than ask what
canna but hurt you--But come weal or woe, I canna refuse ye onything that
ye ask me wi' the tear in your ee."

Again Effie threw herself into her arms, and kissed her cheek and
forehead, murmuring, "O, if ye kend how lang it is since I heard his name
mentioned?--if ye but kend how muckle good it does me but to ken onything
o' him, that's like goodness or kindness, ye wadna wonder that I wish to
hear o' him!"

Jeanie sighed, and commenced her narrative of all that had passed betwixt
Robertson and her, making it as brief as possible. Effie listened in
breathless anxiety, holding her sister's hand in hers, and keeping her
eye fixed upon her face, as if devouring every word she uttered. The
interjections of "Poor fellow,"--"Poor George," which escaped in
whispers, and betwixt sighs, were the only sounds with which she
interrupted the story. When it was finished she made a long pause.

"And this was his advice?" were the first words she uttered.

"Just sic as I hae tell'd ye," replied her sister.

"And he wanted you to say something to yon folks, that wad save my young

"He wanted," answered Jeanie, "that I suld be man-sworn."

"And you tauld him," said Effie, "that ye wadna hear o' coming between me
and the death that I am to die, and me no aughten year auld yet?"

"I told him," replied Jeanie, who now trembled at the turn which her
sister's reflection seemed about to take, "that I daured na swear to an

"And what d'ye ca' an untruth?" said Effie, again showing a touch of her
former spirit--"Ye are muckle to blame, lass, if ye think a mother would,
or could, murder her ain bairn--Murder!--I wad hae laid down my life just
to see a blink o' its ee!"

"I do believe," said Jeanie, "that ye are as innocent of sic a purpose as
the new-born babe itsell."

"I am glad ye do me that justice," said Effie, haughtily; "ifs whiles the
faut of very good folk like you, Jeanie, that, they think a' the rest of
the warld are as bad as the warst temptations can make them."

"I didna deserve this frae ye, Effie," said her sister, sobbing, and
feeling at once the injustice of the reproach, and compassion for the
state of mind which dictated it.

"Maybe no, sister," said Effie. "But ye are angry because I love
Robertson--How can I help loving him, that loves me better than body and
soul baith?--Here he put his life in a niffer, to break the prison to let
me out; and sure am I, had it stude wi' him as it stands wi' you"--Here
she paused and was silent.

"O, if it stude wi' me to save ye wi' risk of my life!" said Jeanie.

"Ay, lass," said her sister, "that's lightly said, but no sae lightly
credited, frae ane that winna ware a word for me; and if it be a wrang
word, ye'll hae time eneugh to repent o't."

"But that word is a grievous sin, and it's a deeper offence when it's a
sin wilfully and presumptuously committed."

"Weel, weel, Jeanie," said Effie, "I mind a' about the sins o'
presumption in the questions--we'll speak nae mair about this matter, and
ye may save your breath to say your carritch and for me, I'll soon hae
nae breath to waste on onybody."

"I must needs say," interposed Ratcliffe, "that it's d--d hard, when
three words of your mouth would give the girl the chance to nick Moll
Blood,* that you make such scrupling about rapping** to them. D--n me, if
they would take me, if I would not rap to all what d'ye callums--Hyssop's
Fables, for her life--I am us'd to't, b--t me, for less matters. Why, I
have smacked calf-skin*** fifty times in England for a keg of brandy."

* The gallows.
** Swearing.
*** Kissed the book.

"Never speak mair o't," said the prisoner. "It's just as weel as it
is--and gude-day, sister; ye keep Mr. Ratcliffe waiting on--Ye'll come
back and see me, I reckon, before"--here she stopped and became deadly

"And are we to part in this way," said Jeanie, "and you in sic deadly
peril? O Effie, look but up, and say what ye wad hae me to do, and I
could find in my heart amaist to say that I wad do't."

"No, Jeanie," replied her sister after an effort, "I am better minded
now. At my best, I was never half sae gude as ye were, and what for suld
you begin to mak yoursell waur to save me, now that I am no worth saving?
God knows, that in my sober mind, I wadna wuss ony living creature to do
a wrang thing to save my life. I might have fled frae this Tolbooth on
that awfu' night wi' ane wad hae carried me through the warld, and
friended me, and fended for me. But I said to them, let life gang when
gude fame is gane before it. But this lang imprisonment has broken my
spirit, and I am whiles sair left to mysell, and then I wad gie the
Indian mines of gold and diamonds, just for life and breath--for I think,
Jeanie, I have such roving fits as I used to hae in the fever; but,
instead of the fiery een and wolves, and Widow Butler's bullseg, that I
used to see spieling upon my bed, I am thinking now about a high, black
gibbet, and me standing up, and such seas of faces all looking up at poor
Effie Deans, and asking if it be her that George Robertson used to call
the Lily of St. Leonard's. And then they stretch out their faces, and
make mouths, and girn at me, and whichever way I look, I see a face
laughing like Meg Murdockson, when she tauld me I had seen the last of my
wean. God preserve us, Jeanie, that carline has a fearsome face!"

She clapped her hands before her eyes as she uttered this exclamation, as
if to secure herself against seeing the fearful object she had alluded

Jeanie Deans remained with her sister for two hours, during which she
endeavoured, if possible, to extract something from her that might be
serviceable in her exculpation. But she had nothing to say beyond what
she had declared on her first examination, with the purport of which the
reader will be made acquainted in proper time and place. "They wadna
believe her," she said, "and she had naething mair to tell them."

At length, Ratcliffe, though reluctantly, informed the sisters that there
was a necessity that they should part. "Mr. Novit," he said, "was to see
the prisoner, and maybe Mr. Langtale too. Langtale likes to look at a
bonny lass, whether in prison or out o' prison."

Reluctantly, therefore, and slowly, after many a tear, and many an
embrace, Jeanie retired from the apartment, and heard its jarring bolts
turned upon the dear being from whom she was separated. Somewhat
familiarised now even with her rude conductor, she offered him a small
present in money, with a request he would do what he could for her
sister's accommodation. To her surprise, Ratcliffe declined the fee.
"I wasna bloody when I was on the pad," he said, "and I winna be
greedy--that is, beyond what's right and reasonable--now that I am in
the lock.--Keep the siller; and for civility, your sister sall hae sic
as I can bestow; but I hope you'll think better on it, and rap an oath
for her--deil a hair ill there is in it, if ye are rapping again the
crown. I kend a worthy minister, as gude a man, bating the deed they
deposed him for, as ever ye heard claver in a pu'pit, that rapped to a
hogshead of pigtail tobacco, just for as muckle as filled his

* Tobacco-pouch.

But maybe ye are keeping your ain counsel--weel, weel, there's nae harm
in that. As for your sister, I'se see that she gets her meat clean and
warm, and I'll try to gar her lie down and take a sleep after dinner, for
deil a ee she'll close the night. I hae gude experience of these matters.
The first night is aye the warst o't. I hae never heard o' ane that
sleepit the night afore trial, but of mony a ane that sleepit as sound as
a tap the night before their necks were straughted. And it's nae
wonder--the warst may be tholed when it's kend--Better a finger aff
as aye wagging."


                Yet though thou mayst be dragg'd in scorn
                      To yonder ignominious tree,
                Thou shalt not want one faithful friend
                     To share the cruel fates' decree.
                                          Jemmy Dawson.

After spending the greater part of the morning in his devotions (for his
benevolent neighbours had kindly insisted upon discharging his task of
ordinary labour), David Deans entered the apartment when the breakfast
meal was prepared. His eyes were involuntarily cast down, for he was
afraid to look at Jeanie, uncertain as he was whether she might feel
herself at liberty, with a good conscience, to attend the Court of
Justiciary that day, to give the evidence which he understood that she
possessed, in order to her sister's exculpation. At length, after a
minute of apprehensive hesitation, he looked at her dress to discover
whether it seemed to be in her contemplation to go abroad that morning.
Her apparel was neat and plain, but such as conveyed no exact intimation
of her intentions to go abroad. She had exchanged her usual garb for
morning labour, for one something inferior to that with which, as her
best, she was wont to dress herself for church, or any more rare occasion
of going into society. Her sense taught her, that it was respectful to be
decent in her apparel on such an occasion, while her feelings induced her
to lay aside the use of the very few and simple personal ornaments,
which, on other occasions, she permitted herself to wear. So that there
occurred nothing in her external appearance which could mark out to her
father, with anything like certainty, her intentions on this occasion.

The preparations for their humble meal were that morning made in vain.
The father and daughter sat, each assuming the appearance of eating, when
the other's eyes were turned to them, and desisting from the effort with
disgust, when the affectionate imposture seemed no longer necessary.

At length these moments of constraint were removed. The sound of St.
Giles's heavy toll announced the hour previous to the commencement of the
trial; Jeanie arose, and with a degree of composure for which she herself
could not account, assumed her plaid, and made her other preparations for
a distant walking. It was a strange contrast between the firmness of her
demeanour, and the vacillation and cruel uncertainty of purpose indicated
in all her father's motions; and one unacquainted with both could
scarcely have supposed that the former was, in her ordinary habits of
life, a docile, quiet, gentle, and even timid country maiden, while her
father, with a mind naturally proud and strong, and supported by
religious opinions of a stern, stoical, and unyielding character, had in
his time undergone and withstood the most severe hardships, and the most
imminent peril, without depression of spirit, or subjugation of his
constancy. The secret of this difference was, that Jeanie's mind had
already anticipated the line of conduct which she must adopt, with all
its natural and necessary consequences; while her father, ignorant of
every other circumstance, tormented himself with imagining what the one
sister might say or swear, or what effect her testimony might have upon
the awful event of the trial.

He watched his daughter, with a faltering and indecisive look, until she
looked back upon him, with a look of unutterable anguish, as she was
about to leave the apartment.

"My dear lassie," said he, "I will." His action, hastily and confusedly
searching for his worsted mittans* and staff, showed his purpose of
accompanying her, though his tongue failed distinctly to announce it.

* A kind of worsted gloves, used by the lower orders.

"Father," said Jeanie, replying rather to his action than his words, "ye
had better not."

"In the strength of my God," answered Deans, assuming firmness, "I will
go forth."

And, taking his daughter's arm under his, he began to walk from the door
with a step so hasty, that she was almost unable to keep up with him. A
trifling circumstance, but which marked the perturbed state of his mind,
checked his course.

"Your bonnet, father?" said Jeanie, who observed he had come out with his
grey hairs uncovered. He turned back with a slight blush on his cheek,
being ashamed to have been detected in an omission which indicated so
much mental confusion, assumed his large blue Scottish bonnet, and with a
step slower, but more composed, as if the circumstance, had obliged him
to summon up his resolution, and collect his scattered ideas, again
placed his daughter's arm under his, and resumed the way to Edinburgh.

The courts of justice were then, and are still, held in what is called
the Parliament Close, or, according to modern phrase, Parliament Square,
and occupied the buildings intended for the accommodation of the Scottish
Estates. This edifice, though in an imperfect and corrupted style of
architecture, had then a grave, decent, and, as it were, a judicial
aspect, which was at least entitled to respect from its antiquity. For
which venerable front, I observed, on my last occasional visit to the
metropolis, that modern taste had substituted, at great apparent expense,
a pile so utterly inconsistent with every monument of antiquity around,
and in itself so clumsy at the same time and fantastic, that it may be
likened to the decorations of Tom Errand the porter, in the _Trip to the
Jubilee,_ when he appears bedizened with the tawdry finery of Beau
Clincher. _Sed transeat cum caeteris erroribus._

The small quadrangle, or Close, if we may presume still to give it that
appropriate, though antiquated title, which at Lichfield, Salisbury, and
elsewhere, is properly applied to designate the enclosure adjacent to a
cathedral, already evinced tokens of the fatal scene which was that day
to be acted. The soldiers of the City Guard were on their posts, now
enduring, and now rudely repelling with the butts of their muskets, the
motley crew who thrust each other forward, to catch a glance at the
unfortunate object of trial, as she should pass from the adjacent prison
to the Court in which her fate was to be determined. All must have
occasionally observed, with disgust, the apathy with which the vulgar
gaze on scenes of this nature, and how seldom, unless when their
sympathies are called forth by some striking and extraordinary
circumstance, the crowd evince any interest deeper than that of callous,
unthinking bustle, and brutal curiosity. They laugh, jest, quarrel, and
push each other to and fro, with the same unfeeling indifference as if
they were assembled for some holiday sport, or to see an idle procession.
Occasionally, however, this demeanour, so natural to the degraded
populace of a large town, is exchanged for a temporary touch of human
affections; and so it chanced on the present occasion.

When Deans and his daughter presented themselves in the Close, and
endeavoured to make their way forward to the door of the Court-house,
they became involved in the mob, and subject, of course, to their
insolence. As Deans repelled with some force the rude pushes which he
received on all sides, his figure and antiquated dress caught the
attention of the rabble, who often show an intuitive sharpness in
ascribing the proper character from external appearance,--

                        "Ye're welcome, whigs,
                         Frae Bothwell briggs,"

sung one fellow (for the mob of Edinburgh were at that time jacobitically
disposed, probably because that was the line of sentiment most
diametrically opposite to existing authority).

                        "Mess David Williamson,
                           Chosen of twenty,
                       Ran up the pu'pit stair,
                           And sang Killiecrankie,"

chanted a siren, whose profession might be guessed by her appearance. A
tattered caidie, or errand-porter, whom David Deans had jostled in his
attempt to extricate himself from the vicinity of these scorners,
exclaimed in a strong north-country tone, "Ta deil ding out her
Cameronian een--what gies her titles to dunch gentlemans about?"

"Make room for the ruling elder," said yet another; "he comes to see a
precious sister glorify God in the Grassmarket!"

"Whisht; shame's in ye, sirs," said the voice of a man very loudly,
which, as quickly sinking, said in a low but distinct tone, "It's her
father and sister."

All fell back to make way for the sufferers; and all, even the very
rudest and most profligate, were struck with shame and silence. In the
space thus abandoned to them by the mob, Deans stood, holding his
daughter by the hand, and said to her, with a countenance strongly and
sternly expressive of his internal emotion, "Ye hear with your ears, and
ye see with your eyes, where and to whom the backslidings and defections
of professors are ascribed by the scoffers. Not to themselves alone, but
to the kirk of which they are members, and to its blessed and invisible
Head. Then, weel may we take wi' patience our share and portion of this
outspreading reproach."

The man who had spoken, no other than our old friend, Dumbiedikes, whose
mouth, like that of the prophet's ass, had been opened by the emergency
of the case, now joined them, and, with his usual taciturnity, escorted
them into the Court-house. No opposition was offered to their entrance
either by the guards or doorkeepers; and it is even said that one of the
latter refused a shilling of civility-money tendered him by the Laird of
Dumbiedikes, who was of opinion that "siller wad make a' easy." But this
last incident wants confirmation.

Admitted within the precincts of the Court-house, they found the usual
number of busy office-bearers, and idle loiterers, who attend on these
scenes by choice, or from duty. Burghers gaped and stared; young lawyers
sauntered, sneered, and laughed, as in the pit of the theatre; while
others apart sat on a bench retired, and reasoned highly, _inter apices
juris,_ on the doctrines of constructive crime, and the true import of
the statute. The bench was prepared for the arrival of the judges. The
jurors were in attendance. The crown-counsel, employed in looking over
their briefs and notes of evidence, looked grave, and whispered with each
other. They occupied one side of a large table placed beneath the bench;
on the other sat the advocates, whom the humanity of the Scottish law (in
this particular more liberal than that of the sister-country) not only
permits, but enjoins, to appear and assist with their advice and skill
all persons under trial. Mr. Nichil Novit was seen actively instructing
the counsel for the panel (so the prisoner is called in Scottish
law-phraseology), busy, bustling, and important. When they entered the
Court-room, Deans asked the Laird, in a tremulous whisper, "Where will
_she_ sit?"

Dumbiedikes whispered Novit, who pointed to a vacant space at the bar,
fronting the judges, and was about to conduct Deans towards it.

"No!" he said; "I cannot sit by her--I cannot own her--not as yet,
at least--I will keep out of her sight, and turn mine own eyes
elsewhere--better for us baith."

Saddletree, whose repeated interference with the counsel had procured him
one or two rebuffs, and a special request that he would concern himself
with his own matters, now saw with pleasure an opportunity of playing the
person of importance. He bustled up to the poor old man, and proceeded to
exhibit his consequence, by securing, through his interest with the
bar-keepers and macers, a seat for Deans, in a situation where he was
hidden from the general eye by the projecting corner of the bench.

"It's gude to have a friend at court," he said, continuing his heartless
harangues to the passive auditor, who neither heard nor replied to them;
"few folk but mysell could hae sorted ye out a seat like this--the Lords
will be here incontinent, and proceed _instanter_ to trial. They wunna
fence the Court as they do at the Circuit--the High Court of Justiciary
is aye fenced.--But, Lord's sake, what's this o't--Jeanie, ye are a cited
witness--Macer, this lass is a witness--she maun be enclosed--she maun on
nae account be at large.--Mr. Novit, suldna Jeanie Deans be enclosed?"

Novit answered in the affirmative, and offered to conduct Jeanie to the
apartment, where, according to the scrupulous practice of the Scottish
Court, the witnesses remain in readiness to be called into Court to give
evidence; and separated, at the same time, from all who might influence
their testimony, or give them information concerning that which was
passing upon the trial.

"Is this necessary?" said Jeanie, still reluctant to quit her father's

"A matter of absolute needcessity," said Saddletree, "wha ever heard of
witnesses no being enclosed?"

"It is really a matter of necessity," said the younger counsellor,
retained for her sister; and Jeanie reluctantly followed the macer of the
Court to the place appointed.

"This, Mr. Deans," said Saddletree, "is ca'd sequestering a witness; but
it's clean different (whilk maybe ye wadna fund out o' yoursell) frae
sequestering ane's estate or effects, as in cases of bankruptcy. I hae
aften been sequestered as a witness, for the Sheriff is in the use whiles
to cry me in to witness the declarations at precognitions, and so is Mr.
Sharpitlaw; but I was ne'er like to be sequestered o' land and gudes but
ance, and that was lang syne, afore I was married. But whisht, whisht!
here's the Court coming."

As he spoke, the five Lords of Justiciary, in their long robes of
scarlet, faced with white, and preceded by their mace-bearer, entered
with the usual formalities, and took their places upon the bench of

The audience rose to receive them; and the bustle occasioned by their
entrance was hardly composed, when a great noise and confusion of persons
struggling, and forcibly endeavouring to enter at the doors of the
Court-room, and of the galleries, announced that the prisoner was about
to be placed at the bar. This tumult takes place when the doors, at first
only opened to those either having right to be present, or to the better
and more qualified ranks, are at length laid open to all whose curiosity
induces them to be present on the occasion. With inflamed countenances
and dishevelled dresses, struggling with, and sometimes tumbling over
each other, in rushed the rude multitude, while a few soldiers, forming,
as it were, the centre of the tide, could scarce, with all their efforts,
clear a passage for the prisoner to the place which she was to occupy. By
the authority of the Court, and the exertions of its officers, the tumult
among the spectators was at length appeased, and the unhappy girl brought
forward, and placed betwixt two sentinels with drawn bayonets, as a
prisoner at the bar, where she was to abide her deliverance for good or
evil, according to the issue of her trial.


            We have strict statutes, and most biting laws--
            The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds--
            Which, for these fourteen years, we have let sleep,
                 Like to an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
                      That goes not out to prey.
                                        Measure for Measure.

"Euphemia Deans," said the presiding Judge, in an accent in which pity
was blended with dignity, "stand up and listen to the criminal indictment
now to be preferred against you."

The unhappy girl, who had been stupified by the confusion through which
the guards had forced a passage, cast a bewildered look on the multitude
of faces around her, which seemed to tapestry, as it were, the walls, in
one broad slope from the ceiling to the floor, with human countenances,
and instinctively obeyed a command, which rung in her ears like the
trumpet of the judgment-day.

"Put back your hair, Effie," said one of the macers. For her beautiful
and abundant tresses of long fair hair, which, according to the costume
of the country, unmarried women were not allowed to cover with any sort
of cap, and which, alas! Effie dared no longer confine with the snood or
riband, which implied purity of maiden-fame, now hung unbound and
dishevelled over her face, and almost concealed her features. On
receiving this hint from the attendant, the unfortunate young woman, with
a hasty, trembling, and apparently mechanical compliance, shaded back
from her face her luxuriant locks, and showed to the whole court,
excepting one individual, a countenance, which, though pale and
emaciated, was so lovely amid its agony, that it called forth a universal
murmur of compassion and sympathy. Apparently the expressive sound of
human feeling recalled the poor girl from the stupor of fear, which
predominated at first over every other sensation, and awakened her to the
no less painful sense of shame and exposure attached to her present
situation. Her eye, which had at first glanced wildly around, was turned
on the ground; her cheek, at first so deadly pale, began gradually to be
overspread with a faint blush, which increased so fast, that, when in
agony of shame she strove to conceal her face, her temples, her brow, her
neck, and all that her slender fingers and small palms could not cover,
became of the deepest crimson.

All marked and were moved by these changes, excepting one. It was old
Deans, who, motionless in his seat, and concealed, as we have said, by
the corner of the bench, from seeing or being seen, did nevertheless keep
his eyes firmly fixed on the ground, as if determined that, by no
possibility whatever, would he be an ocular witness of the shame of his

"Ichabod!" he said to himself--"Ichabod! my glory is departed!"

While these reflections were passing through his mind, the indictment,
which set forth in technical form the crime of which the panel stood
accused, was read as usual, and the prisoner was asked if she was Guilty,
or Not Guilty.

"Not guilty of my poor bairn's death," said Effie Deans, in an accent
corresponding in plaintive softness of tone to the beauty of her
features, and which was not heard by the audience without emotion.

The presiding Judge next directed the counsel to plead to the relevancy;
that is, to state on either part the arguments in point of law, and
evidence in point of fact, against and in favour of the criminal; after
which it is the form of the Court to pronounce a preliminary judgment,
sending the cause to the cognisance of the jury, or assize.

The counsel for the crown briefly stated the frequency of the crime of
infanticide, which had given rise to the special statute under which the
panel stood indicted. He mentioned the various instances, many of them
marked with circumstances of atrocity, which had at length induced the
King's Advocate, though with great reluctance, to make the experiment,
whether, by strictly enforcing the Act of Parliament which had been made
to prevent such enormities, their occurrence might be prevented. "He
expected," he said, "to be able to establish by witnesses, as well as by
the declaration of the panel herself, that she was in the state described
by the statute. According to his information, the panel had communicated
her pregnancy to no one, nor did she allege in her own declaration that
she had done so. This secrecy was the first requisite in support of the
indictment. The same declaration admitted, that she had borne a male
child, in circumstances which gave but too much reason to believe it had
died by the hands, or at least with the knowledge or consent, of the
unhappy mother. It was not, however, necessary for him to bring positive
proof that the panel was accessory to the murder, nay, nor even to prove,
that the child was murdered at all. It was sufficient to support the
indictment, that it could not be found. According to the stern, but
necessary severity of this statute, she who should conceal her pregnancy,
who should omit to call that assistance which is most necessary on such
occasions, was held already to have meditated the death of her offspring,
as an event most likely to be the consequence of her culpable and cruel
concealment. And if, under such circumstances, she could not
alternatively show by proof that the infant had died a natural death, or
produce it still in life, she must, under the construction of the law, be
held to have murdered it, and suffer death accordingly."

The counsel for the prisoner, Mr. Fairbrother, a man of considerable fame
in his profession, did not pretend directly to combat the arguments of
the King's Advocate. He began by lamenting that his senior at the bar,
Mr. Langtale, had been suddenly called to the county of which he was
sheriff, and that he had been applied to, on short warning, to give the
panel his assistance in this interesting case. He had had little time, he
said, to make up for his inferiority to his learned brother by long and
minute research; and he was afraid he might give a specimen of his
incapacity, by being compelled to admit the accuracy of the indictment
under the statute. "It was enough for their Lordships," he observed, "to
know that such was the law, and he admitted the advocate had a right to
call for the usual interlocutor of relevancy." But he stated, "that when
he came to establish his case by proof, he trusted to make out
circumstances which would satisfactorily elide the charge in the libel.
His client's story was a short, but most melancholy one. She was bred up
in the strictest tenets of religion and virtue, the daughter of a worthy
and conscientious person, who, in evil times, had established a character
for courage and religion, by becoming a sufferer for conscience' sake."

David Deans gave a convulsive start at hearing himself thus mentioned,
and then resumed the situation, in which, with his face stooped against
his hands, and both resting against the corner of the elevated bench on
which the Judges sate, he had hitherto listened to the procedure in the
trial. The Whig lawyers seemed to be interested; the Tories put up their

"Whatever may be our difference of opinion," resumed the lawyer, whose
business it was to carry his whole audience with him if possible,
"concerning the peculiar tenets of these people" (here Deans groaned
deeply), "it is impossible to deny them the praise of sound, and even
rigid morals, or the merit of training up their children in the fear of
God; and yet it was the daughter of such a person whom a jury would
shortly be called upon, in the absence of evidence, and upon mere
presumptions, to convict of a crime more properly belonging to a heathen,
or a savage, than to a Christian and civilised country. It was true," he
admitted, "that the excellent nurture and early instruction which the
poor girl had received, had not been sufficient to preserve her from
guilt and error. She had fallen a sacrifice to an inconsiderate affection
for a young man of prepossessing manners, as he had been informed, but of
a very dangerous and desperate character. She was seduced under promise
of marriage--a promise, which the fellow might have, perhaps, done her
justice by keeping, had he not at that time been called upon by the law
to atone for a crime, violent and desperate in itself, but which became
the preface to another eventful history, every step of which was marked
by blood and guilt, and the final termination of which had not even yet
arrived. He believed that no one would hear him without surprise, when he
stated that the father of this infant now amissing, and said by the
learned Advocate to have been murdered, was no other than the notorious
George Robertson, the accomplice of Wilson, the hero of the memorable
escape from the Tolbooth Church, and as no one knew better than his
learned friend the Advocate, the principal actor in the Porteous

"I am sorry to interrupt a counsel in such a case as the present," said,
the presiding Judge; "but I must remind the learned gentleman that he is
travelling out of the case before us."

The counsel bowed and resumed. "He only judged it necessary," he said,
"to mention the name and situation of Robertson, because the circumstance
in which that character was placed, went a great way in accounting for
the silence on which his Majesty's counsel had laid so much weight, as
affording proof that his client proposed to allow no fair play for its
life to the helpless being whom she was about to bring into the world.
She had not announced to her friends that she had been seduced from the
path of honour--and why had she not done so?--Because she expected daily
to be restored to character, by her seducer doing her that justice which
she knew to be in his power, and believed to be in his inclination. Was
it natural--was it reasonable--was it fair, to expect that she should in
the interim, become _felo de se_ of her own character, and proclaim her
frailty to the world, when she had every reason to expect, that, by
concealing it for a season, it might be veiled for ever? Was it not, on
the contrary, pardonable, that, in such an emergency, a young woman, in
such a situation, should be found far from disposed to make a confidant
of every prying gossip, who, with sharp eyes, and eager ears, pressed
upon her for an explanation of suspicious circumstances, which females in
the lower--he might say which females of all ranks, are so alert in
noticing, that they sometimes discover them where they do not exist? Was
it strange or was it criminal, that she should have repelled their
inquisitive impertinence with petulant denials? The sense and feeling of
all who heard him would answer directly in the negative. But although his
client had thus remained silent towards those to whom she was not called
upon to communicate her situation,--to whom," said the learned gentleman,
"I will add, it would have been unadvised and improper in her to have
done so; yet, I trust, I shall remove this case most triumphantly from
under the statute, and obtain the unfortunate young woman an honourable
dismission from your Lordships' bar, by showing that she did, in due time
and place, and to a person most fit for such confidence, mention the
calamitous circumstances in which she found herself. This occurred after
Robertson's conviction, and when he was lying in prison in expectation of
the fate which his comrade Wilson afterwards suffered, and from which he
himself so strangely escaped. It was then, when all hopes of having her
honour repaired by wedlock vanished from her eyes,--when an union with
one in Robertson's situation, if still practicable, might, perhaps, have
been regarded rather as an addition to her disgrace,--it was _then,_ that
I trust to be able to prove that the prisoner communicated and consulted
with her sister, a young woman several years older than herself, the
daughter of her father, if I mistake not, by a former marriage, upon the
perils and distress of her unhappy situation."

"If, indeed, you are able to instruct _that_ point, Mr. Fairbrother,"
said the presiding Judge.

"If I am indeed able to instruct that point, my Lord," resumed Mr.
Fairbrother, "I trust not only to serve my client, but to relieve your
Lordships from that which I know you feel the most painful duty of your
high office; and to give all who now hear me the exquisite pleasure of
beholding a creature, so young, so ingenuous, and so beautiful, as she
that is now at the bar of your Lordships' Court, dismissed from thence in
safety and in honour."

This address seemed to affect many of the audience, and was followed by a
slight murmur of applause. Deans, as he heard his daughter's beauty and
innocent appearance appealed to, was involuntarily about to turn his eyes
towards her; but, recollecting himself, he bent them again on the ground
with stubborn resolution.

"Will not my learned brother, on the other side of the bar," continued
the advocate, after a short pause, "share in this general joy, since, I
know, while he discharges his duty in bringing an accused person here, no
one rejoices more in their being freely and honourably sent hence? My
learned brother shakes his head doubtfully, and lays his hand on the
panel's declaration. I understand him perfectly--he would insinuate that
the facts now stated to your Lordships are inconsistent with the
confession of Euphemia Deans herself. I need not remind your Lordships,
that her present defence is no whit to be narrowed within the bounds of
her former confession; and that it is not by any account which she may
formerly have given of herself, but by what is now to be proved for or
against her, that she must ultimately stand or fall. I am not under the
necessity of accounting for her choosing to drop out of her declaration
the circumstances of her confession to her sister. She might not be aware
of its importance; she might be afraid of implicating her sister; she
might even have forgotten the circumstance entirely, in the terror and
distress of mind incidental to the arrest of so young a creature on a
charge so heinous. Any of these reasons are sufficient to account for her
having suppressed the truth in this instance, at whatever risk to
herself; and I incline most to her erroneous fear of criminating her
sister, because I observe she has had a similar tenderness towards her
lover (however undeserved on his part), and has never once mentioned
Robertson's name from beginning to end of her declaration.

"But, my Lords," continued Fairbrother, "I am aware the King's Advocate
will expect me to show, that the proof I offer is consistent with other
circumstances of the, case, which I do not and cannot deny. He will
demand of me how Effie Deans's confession to her sister, previous to her
delivery, is reconcilable with the mystery of the birth,--with the
disappearance, perhaps the murder (for I will not deny a possibility
which I cannot disprove) of the infant. My Lords, the explanation of this
is to be found in the placability, perchance, I may say, in the facility
and pliability, of the female sex. The _dulcis Amaryllidis irae,_ as your
Lordships well know, are easily appeased; nor is it possible to conceive
a woman so atrociously offended by the man whom she has loved, but that
she will retain a fund of forgiveness, upon which his penitence, whether
real or affected, may draw largely, with a certainty that his bills will
be answered. We can prove, by a letter produced in evidence, that this
villain Robertson, from the bottom of the dungeon whence he already
probably meditated the escape, which he afterwards accomplished by the
assistance of his comrade, contrived to exercise authority over the mind,
and to direct the motions, of this unhappy girl. It was in compliance
with his injunctions, expressed in that letter, that the panel was
prevailed upon to alter the line of conduct which her own better thoughts
had suggested; and, instead of resorting, when her time of travail
approached, to the protection of her own family, was induced to confide
herself to the charge of some vile agent of this nefarious seducer, and
by her conducted to one of those solitary and secret purlieus of villany,
which, to the shame of our police, still are suffered to exist in the
suburbs of this city, where, with the assistance, and under the charge,
of a person of her own sex, she bore a male child, under circumstances
which added treble bitterness to the woe denounced against our original
mother. What purpose Robertson had in all this, it is hard to tell, or
even to guess. He may have meant to marry the girl, for her father is a
man of substance. But, for the termination of the story, and the conduct
of the woman whom he had placed about the person of Euphemia Deans, it is
still more difficult to account. The unfortunate young woman was visited
by the fever incidental to her situation. In this fever she appears to
have been deceived by the person that waited on her, and, on recovering
her senses, she found that she was childless in that abode of misery. Her
infant had been carried off, perhaps for the worst purposes, by the
wretch that waited on her. It may have been murdered, for what I can

He was here interrupted by a piercing shriek, uttered by the unfortunate
prisoner. She was with difficulty brought to compose herself. Her counsel
availed himself of the tragical interruption, to close his pleading with

"My Lords," said he, "in that piteous cry you heard the eloquence of
maternal affection, far surpassing the force of my poor words--Rachel
weeping for her children! Nature herself bears testimony in favour of the
tenderness and acuteness of the prisoner's parental feelings. I will not
dishonour her plea by adding a word more."

"Heard ye ever the like o' that, Laird?" said Saddletree to Dumbiedikes,
when the counsel had ended his speech. "There's a chield can spin a
muckle pirn out of a wee tait of tow! Deil haet he kens mair about it
than what's in the declaration, and a surmise that Jeanie Deans suld hae
been able to say something about her sister's situation, whilk surmise,
Mr. Crossmyloof says, rests on sma' authority. And he's cleckit this
great muckle bird out o' this wee egg! He could wile the very flounders
out o' the Firth.--What garr'd my father no send me to Utrecht?--But
whisht, the Court is gaun to pronounce the interlocutor of relevancy."

And accordingly the Judges, after a few words, recorded their judgment,
which bore, that the indictment, if proved, was relevant to infer the
pains of law: And that the defence, that the panel had communicated her
situation to her sister, was a relevant defence: And, finally, appointed
the said indictment and defence to be submitted to the judgment of an


           Most righteous judge! a sentence.--Come, prepare.
                                    Merchant of Venice.

It is by no means my intention to describe minutely the forms of a
Scottish criminal trial, nor am I sure that I could draw up an account so
intelligible and accurate as to abide the criticism of the gentlemen of
the long robe. It is enough to say that the jury was impanelled, and the
case proceeded. The prisoner was again required to plead to the charge,
and she again replied, "Not Guilty," in the same heart-thrilling tone as

The crown counsel then called two or three female witnesses, by whose
testimony it was established, that Effie's situation had been remarked by
them, that they had taxed her with the fact, and that her answers had
amounted to an angry and petulant denial of what they charged her with.
But, as very frequently happens, the declaration of the panel or accused
party herself was the evidence which bore hardest upon her case.

In the event of these tales ever finding their way across the Border, it
may be proper to apprise the southern reader that it is the practice in
Scotland, on apprehending a suspected person, to subject him to a
judicial examination before a magistrate. He is not compelled to answer
any of the questions asked of him, but may remain silent if he sees it
his interest to do so. But whatever answers he chooses to give are
formally written down, and being subscribed by himself and the
magistrate, are produced against the accused in case of his being brought
to trial. It is true, that these declarations are not produced as being
in themselves evidence properly so called, but only as adminicles of
testimony, tending to corroborate what is considered as legal and proper
evidence. Notwithstanding this nice distinction, however, introduced by
lawyers to reconcile this procedure to their own general rule, that a man
cannot be required to bear witness against himself, it nevertheless
usually happens that these declarations become the means of condemning
the accused, as it were, out of their own mouths. The prisoner, upon
these previous examinations, has indeed the privilege of remaining silent
if he pleases; but every man necessarily feels that a refusal to answer
natural and pertinent interrogatories, put by judicial authority, is in
itself a strong proof of guilt, and will certainly lead to his being
committed to prison; and few can renounce the hope of obtaining liberty
by giving some specious account of themselves, and showing apparent
frankness in explaining their motives and accounting for their conduct.
It, therefore, seldom happens that the prisoner refuses to give a
judicial declaration, in which, nevertheless, either by letting out too
much of the truth, or by endeavouring to substitute a fictitious story,
he almost always exposes himself to suspicion and to contradictions,
which weigh heavily in the minds of the jury.

The declaration of Effie Deans was uttered on other principles, and the
following is a sketch of its contents, given in the judicial form, in
which they may still be found in the Books of Adjournal.

The declarant admitted a criminal intrigue with an individual whose name
she desired to conceal. "Being interrogated, what her reason was for
secrecy on this point? She declared, that she had no right to blame that
person's conduct more than she did her own, and that she was willing to
confess her own faults, but not to say anything which might criminate the
absent. Interrogated, if she confessed her situation to any one, or made
any preparation for her confinement? Declares, she did not. And being
interrogated, why she forbore to take steps which her situation so
peremptorily required? Declares, she was ashamed to tell her friends, and
she trusted the person she has mentioned would provide for her and the
infant. Interrogated if he did so? Declares, that he did not do so
personally; but that it was not his fault, for that the declarant is
convinced he would have laid down his life sooner than the bairn or she
had come to harm. Interrogated, what prevented him from keeping his
promise? Declares, that it was impossible for him to do so, he being
under trouble at the time, and declines farther answer to this question.
Interrogated, where she was from the period she left her master, Mr.
Saddletree's family, until her appearance at her father's, at St.
Leonard's, the day before she was apprehended? Declares, she does not
remember. And, on the interrogatory being repeated, declares, she does
not mind muckle about it, for she was very ill. On the question being
again repeated, she declares, she will tell the truth, if it should be
the undoing of her, so long as she is not asked to tell on other folk;
and admits, that she passed that interval of time in the lodging of a
woman, an acquaintance of that person who had wished her to that place to
be delivered, and that she was there delivered accordingly of a male
child. Interrogated, what was the name of that person? Declares and
refuses to answer this question. Interrogated, where she lives? Declares,
she has no certainty, for that she was taken to the lodging aforesaid
under cloud of night. Interrogated, if the lodging was in the city or
suburbs? Declares and refuses to answer that question. Interrogated,
whether, when she left the house of Mr. Saddletree, she went up or down
the street? Declares and refuses to answer the question. Interrogated,
whether she had ever seen the woman before she was wished to her, as she
termed it, by the person whose name she refuses to answer? Declares and
replies, not to her knowledge. Interrogated, whether this woman was
introduced to her by the said person verbally, or by word of mouth?
Declares, she has no freedom to answer this question. Interrogated, if
the child was alive when it was born? Declares, that--God help her and
it!--it certainly was alive. Interrogated, if it died a natural death
after birth? Declares, not to her knowledge. Interrogated, where it now
is? Declares, she would give her right hand to ken, but that she never
hopes to see mair than the banes of it. And being interrogated, why she
supposes it is now dead? the declarant wept bitterly and made no answer.
Interrogated, if the woman, in whose lodging she was, seemed to be a fit
person to be with her in that situation? Declares, she might be fit
enough for skill, but that she was an hard-hearted bad woman.
Interrogated, if there was any other person in the lodging excepting
themselves two? Declares, that she thinks there was another woman; but
her head was so carried with pain of body and trouble of mind, that she
minded her very little. Interrogated, when the child was taken away from
her? Declared that she fell in a fever, and was light-headed, and when
she came to her own mind, the woman told her the bairn was dead; and that
the declarant answered, if it was dead it had had foul play. That,
thereupon, the woman was very sair on her, and gave her much ill
language; and that the deponent was frightened, and crawled out of the
house when her back was turned, and went home to Saint Leonard's Crags,
as well as a woman in her condition dought.*

* i.e. Was able to do.

Interrogated, why she did not tell her story to her sister and father,
and get force to search the house for her child, dead or alive? Declares,
it was her purpose to do so, but she had not time. Interrogated, why she
now conceals the name of the woman, and the place of her abode? The
declarant remained silent for a time, and then said, that to do so could
not repair the skaith that was done, but might be the occasion of more.
Interrogated, whether she had herself, at any time, had any purpose of
putting away the child by violence? Declares, never; so might God be
merciful to her--and then again declares, never, when she was in her
perfect senses; but what bad thoughts the Enemy might put into her brain
when she was out of herself, she cannot answer. And again solemnly
interrogated, declares, that she would have been drawn with wild horses,
rather than have touched the bairn with an unmotherly hand. Interrogated,
declares, that among the ill-language the woman gave her, she did say
sure enough that the declarant had hurt the bairn when she was in the
brain fever; but that the declarant does not believe that she said this
from any other cause than to frighten her, and make her be silent.
Interrogated, what else the woman said to her? Declares, that when the
declarant cried loud for her bairn, and was like to raise the neighbours,
the woman threatened her, that they that could stop the wean's skirling
would stop hers, if she did not keep a' the founder.*

* i.e. The quieter.

And that this threat, with the manner of the woman, made the declarant
conclude, that the bairn's life was gone, and her own in danger, for that
the woman was a desperate bad woman, as the declarant judged from the
language she used. Interrogated, declares, that the fever and delirium
were brought on her by hearing bad news, suddenly told to her, but
refuses to say what the said news related to. Interrogated, why she does
not now communicate these particulars, which might, perhaps, enable the
magistrate to ascertain whether the child is living or dead; and
requested to observe, that her refusing to do so, exposes her own life,
and leaves the child in bad hands; as also that her present refusal to
answer on such points is inconsistent with her alleged intention to make
a clean breast to her sister? Declares, that she kens the bairn is now
dead, or, if living, there is one that will look after it; that for her
own living or dying, she is in God's hands, who knows her innocence of
harming her bairn with her will or knowledge; and that she has altered
her resolution of speaking out, which she entertained when she left the
woman's lodging, on account of a matter which she has since learned. And
declares, in general, that she is wearied, and will answer no more
questions at this time."

Upon a subsequent examination, Euphemia Deans adhered to the declaration
she had formerly made, with this addition, that a paper found in her
trunk being shown to her, she admitted that it contained the credentials,
in consequence of which she resigned herself to the conduct of the woman
at whose lodgings she was delivered of the child. Its tenor ran thus:--

"Dearest Effie,--I have gotten the means to send to you by a woman who is
well qualified to assist you in your approaching streight; she is not
what I could wish her, but I cannot do better for you in my present
condition. I am obliged to trust to her in this present calamity, for
myself and you too. I hope for the best, though I am now in a sore pinch;
yet thought is free--I think Handie Dandie and I may queer the stifler*
for all that is come and gone.

* Avoid the gallows.

You will be angry for me writing this to my little Cameronian Lily; but
if I can but live to be a comfort to you, and a father to your babie, you
will have plenty of time to scold.--Once more, let none knew your
counsel--my life depends on this hag, d--n her--she is both deep and
dangerous, but she has more wiles and wit than ever were in a beldam's
head, and has cause to be true to me. Farewell, my Lily--Do not droop on
my account--in a week I will be yours or no more my own."

Then followed a postscript. "If they must truss me, I will repent of
nothing so much, even at the last hard pinch, as of the injury I have
done my Lily."

Effie refused to say from whom she had received this letter, but enough
of the story was now known, to ascertain that it came from Robertson; and
from the date, it appeared to have been written about the time when
Andrew Wilson (called for a nickname Handie Dandie) and he were
meditating their first abortive attempt to escape, which miscarried in
the manner mentioned in the beginning of this history.

The evidence of the Crown being concluded, the counsel for the prisoner
began to lead a proof in her defence. The first witnesses were examined
upon the girl's character. All gave her an excellent one, but none with
more feeling than worthy Mrs. Saddletree, who, with the tears on her
cheeks, declared, that she could not have had a higher opinion of Effie
Deans, nor a more sincere regard for her, if she had been her own
daughter. All present gave the honest woman credit for her goodness of
heart, excepting her husband, who whispered to Dumbiedikes, "That Nichil
Novit of yours is but a raw hand at leading evidence, I'm thinking. What
signified his bringing a woman here to snotter and snivel, and bather
their Lordships? He should hae ceeted me, sir, and I should hae gien them
sic a screed o' testimony, they shauldna hae touched a hair o' her head."

"Hadna ye better get up and tryt yet?" said the Laird. "I'll mak a sign
to Novit."

"Na, na," said Saddletree, "thank ye for naething, neighbour--that would
be ultroneous evidence, and I ken what belangs to that; but Nichil Novit
suld hae had me ceeted _debito tempore._" And wiping his mouth with his
silk handkerchief with great importance, he resumed the port and manner
of an edified and intelligent auditor.

Mr. Fairbrother now premised, in a few words, "that he meant to bring
forward his most important witness, upon whose evidence the cause must in
a great measure depend. What his client was, they had learned from the
preceding witnesses; and so far as general character, given in the most
forcible terms, and even with tears, could interest every one in her
fate, she had already gained that advantage. It was necessary, he
admitted, that he should produce more positive testimony of her innocence
than what arose out of general character, and this he undertook to do by
the mouth of the person to whom she had communicated her situation--by
the mouth of her natural counsellor and guardian--her sister.--Macer,
call into court, Jean, or Jeanie Deans, daughter of David Deans,
cowfeeder, at Saint Leonard's Crags!"

When he uttered these words, the poor prisoner instantly started up, and
stretched herself half-way over the bar, towards the side at which her
sister was to enter. And when, slowly following the officer, the witness
advanced to the foot of the table, Effie, with the whole expression of
her countenance altered, from that of confused shame and dismay, to an
eager, imploring, and almost ecstatic earnestness of entreaty, with
outstretched hands, hair streaming back, eyes raised eagerly to her
sister's face, and glistening through tears, exclaimed in a tone which
went through the heart of all who heard her,--"O Jeanie, Jeanie, save me,
save me!"

With a different feeling, yet equally appropriated to his proud and
self-dependent character, old Deans drew himself back still farther under
the cover of the bench; so that when Jeanie, as she entered the court,
cast a timid glance towards the place at which she had left him seated,
his venerable figure was no longer visible. He sate down on the other
side of Dumbiedikes, wrung his hand hard, and whispered, "Ah, Laird, this
is warst of a'--if I can but win ower this part--I feel my head unco
dizzy; but my Master is strong in his servant's weakness." After a
moment's mental prayer, he again started up, as if impatient of
continuing in any one posture, and gradually edged himself forward
towards the place he had just quitted.

Jeanie in the meantime had advanced to the bottom of the table, when,
unable to resist the impulse of affections she suddenly extended her hand
to her sister. Effie was just within the distance that she could seize it
with both hers, press it to her mouth, cover it with kisses, and bathe it
in tears, with the fond devotion that a Catholic would pay to a guardian
saint descended for his safety; while Jeanie, hiding her own face with
her other hand, wept bitterly. The sight would have moved a heart of
stone, much more of flesh and blood. Many of the spectators shed tears,
and it was some time before the presiding Judge himself could so far
subdue his emotion as to request the witness to compose herself, and the
prisoner to forbear those marks of eager affection, which, however
natural, could not be permitted at that time, and in that presence.

The solemn oath,--"the truth to tell, and no truth to conceal, as far as
she knew or should be asked," was then administered by the Judge "in the
name of God, and as the witness should answer to God at the great day of
judgment;" an awful adjuration, which seldom fails to make impression
even on the most hardened characters, and to strike with fear even the
most upright. Jeanie, educated in deep and devout reverence for the name
and attributes of the Deity, was, by the solemnity of a direct appeal to
his person and justice, awed, but at the same time elevated above all
considerations, save those which she could, with a clear conscience, call
Him to witness. She repeated the form in a low and reverent, but distinct
tone of voice, after the Judge, to whom, and not to any inferior officer
of the Court, the task is assigned in Scotland of directing the witness
in that solemn appeal which is the sanction of his testimony.

When the Judge had finished the established form, he added in a feeling,
but yet a monitory tone, an advice, which the circumstances appeared to
him to call for.

"Young woman," these were his words, "you come before this Court in
circumstances, which it would be worse than cruel not to pity and to
sympathise with. Yet it is my duty to tell you, that the truth, whatever
its consequences may be, the truth is what you owe to your country, and
to that God whose word is truth, and whose name you have now invoked. Use
your own time in answering the questions that gentleman" (pointing to the
counsel) "shall put to you.--But remember, that what you may be tempted
to say beyond what is the actual truth, you must answer both here and

The usual questions were then put to her:--Whether any one had instructed
her what evidence she had to deliver? Whether any one had given or
promised her any good deed, hire, or reward, for her testimony? Whether
she had any malice or ill-will at his Majesty's Advocate, being the party
against whom she was cited as a witness? To which questions she
successively answered by a quiet negative. But their tenor gave great
scandal and offence to her father, who was not aware that they are put to
every witness as a matter of form.

"Na, na," he exclaimed, loud enough to be heard, "my bairn is no like the
Widow of Tekoah--nae man has putten words into her mouth."

One of the judges, better acquainted, perhaps, with the Books of
Adjournal than with the Book of Samuel, was disposed to make some instant
inquiry after this Widow of Tekoah, who, as he construed the matter, had
been tampering with the evidence. But the presiding Judge, better versed
in Scripture history, whispered to his learned brother the necessary
explanation; and the pause occasioned by this mistake had the good effect
of giving Jeanie Deans time to collect her spirits for the painful task
she had to perform.

Fairbrother, whose practice and intelligence were considerable, saw the
necessity of letting the witness compose herself. In his heart he
suspected that she came to bear false witness in her sister's cause.

"But that is her own affair," thought Fairbrother; "and it is my business
to see that she has plenty of time to regain composure, and to deliver
her evidence, be it true, or be it false--_valeat quantum._"

Accordingly, he commenced his interrogatories with uninteresting
questions, which admitted of instant reply.

"You are, I think, the sister of the prisoner?"

"Yes, sir."

"Not the full sister, however?"

"No, sir--we are by different mothers."

"True; and you are, I think, several years older than your sister?"

"Yes, sir," etc.

After the advocate had conceived that, by these preliminary and
unimportant questions, he had familiarised the witness with the situation
in which she stood, he asked, "whether she had not remarked her sister's
state of health to be altered, during the latter part of the term when
she had lived with Mrs. Saddletree?"

Jeanie answered in the affirmative.

"And she told you the cause of it, my dear, I suppose?" said Fairbrother,
in an easy, and, as one may say, an inductive sort of tone.

"I am sorry to interrupt my brother," said the Crown Counsel, rising;
"but I am in your Lordships' judgment, whether this be not a leading

"If this point is to be debated," said the presiding Judge, "the witness
must be removed."

For the Scottish lawyers regard with a sacred and scrupulous horror every
question so shaped by the counsel examining, as to convey to a witness
the least intimation of the nature of the answer which is desired from
him. These scruples, though founded on an excellent principle, are
sometimes carried to an absurd pitch of nicety, especially as it is
generally easy for a lawyer who has his wits about him to elude the
objection. Fairbrother did so in the present case.

"It is not necessary to waste the time of the Court, my Lord since the
King's Counsel thinks it worth while to object to the form of my
question, I will shape it otherwise.--Pray, young woman, did you ask your
sister any question when you observed her looking unwell?--take
courage--speak out."

"I asked her," replied Jeanie, "what ailed her."

"Very well--take your own time--and what was the answer she made?"
continued Mr. Fairbrother.

Jeanie was silent, and looked deadly pale. It was not that she at any one
instant entertained an idea of the possibility of prevarication--it was
the natural hesitation to extinguish the last spark of hope that remained
for her sister.

"Take courage, young woman," said Fairbrother.--"I asked what your sister
said ailed her when you inquired?"

"Nothing," answered Jeanie, with a faint voice, which was yet heard
distinctly in the most distant corner of the Court-room,--such an awful
and profound silence had been preserved during the anxious interval,
which had interposed betwixt the lawyer's question and the answer of the

Fairbrother's countenance fell; but with that ready presence of mind,
which is as useful in civil as in military emergencies, he immediately
rallied.--"Nothing? True; you mean nothing at _first_--but when you asked
her again, did she not tell you what ailed her?"

The question was put in a tone meant to make her comprehend the
importance of her answer, had she not been already aware of it. The
ice was broken, however, and with less pause than at first, she now
replied,--"Alack! alack! she never breathed word to me about it."

A deep groan passed through the Court. It was echoed by one deeper and
more agonised from the unfortunate father. The hope to which
unconsciously, and in spite of himself, he had still secretly clung, had
now dissolved, and the venerable old man fell forward senseless on the
floor of the Court-house, with his head at the foot of his terrified
daughter. The unfortunate prisoner, with impotent passion, strove with
the guards betwixt whom she was placed. "Let me gang to my father!--I
_will_ gang to him--I _will_ gang to him--he is dead--he is killed--I hae
killed him!"--she repeated, in frenzied tones of grief, which those who
heard them did not speedily forget.

Even in this moment of agony and general confusion, Jeanie did not lose
that superiority, which a deep and firm mind assures to its possessor
under the most trying circumstances.

"He is my father--he is our father," she mildly repeated to those who
endeavoured to separate them, as she stooped,--shaded aside his grey
hairs, and began assiduously to chafe his temples.

The Judge, after repeatedly wiping his eyes, gave directions that they
should be conducted into a neighbouring apartment, and carefully
attended. The prisoner, as her father was borne from the Court, and her
sister slowly followed, pursued them with her eyes so earnestly fixed, as
if they would have started from their sockets. But when they were no
longer visible, she seemed to find, in her despairing and deserted state,
a courage which she had not yet exhibited.

"The bitterness of it is now past," she said, and then boldly, addressed
the Court. "My Lords, if it is your pleasure to gang on wi' this matter,
the weariest day will hae its end at last."

The Judge, who, much to his honour, had shared deeply in the general
sympathy, was surprised at being recalled to his duty by the prisoner. He
collected himself, and requested to know if the panel's counsel had more
evidence to produce. Fairbrother replied, with an air of dejection, that
his proof was concluded.

The King's Counsel addressed the jury for the crown. He said in a few
words, that no one could be more concerned than he was for the
distressing scene which they had just witnessed. But it was the necessary
consequence of great crimes to bring distress and ruin upon all connected
with the perpetrators. He briefly reviewed the proof, in which he showed
that all the circumstances of the case concurred with those required by
the act under which the unfortunate prisoner was tried: That the counsel
for the panel had totally failed in proving, that Euphemia Deans had
communicated her situation to her sister: That, respecting her previous
good character, he was sorry to observe, that it was females who
possessed the world's good report, and to whom it was justly valuable,
who were most strongly tempted, by shame and fear of the world's censure,
to the crime of infanticide: That the child was murdered, he professed to
entertain no doubt. The vacillating and inconsistent declaration of the
prisoner herself, marked as it was by numerous refusals to speak the
truth on subjects, when, according to her own story, it would have been
natural, as well as advantageous, to have been candid; even this
imperfect declaration left no doubt in his mind as to the fate of the
unhappy infant. Neither could he doubt that the panel was a partner in
this guilt. Who else had an interest in a deed so inhuman? Surely neither
Robertson, nor Robertson's agent, in whose house she was delivered,
had the least temptation to commit such a crime, unless upon her account,
with her connivance, and for the sake of saying her reputation. But it
was not required of him, by the law, that he should bring precise proof
of the murder, or of the prisoner's accession to it. It was the very
purpose of the statute to substitute a certain chain of presumptive
evidence in place of a probation, which, in such cases, it was peculiarly
difficult to obtain. The jury might peruse the statute itself, and they
had also the libel and interlocutor of relevancy to direct them in point
of law. He put it to the conscience of the jury, that under both he was
entitled to a verdict of Guilty.

The charge of Fairbrother was much cramped by his having failed in the
proof which he expected to lead. But he fought his losing cause with
courage and constancy. He ventured to arraign the severity of the statute
under which the young woman was tried. "In all other cases," he said,
"the first thing required of the criminal prosecutor was to prove
unequivocally that the crime libelled had actually been committed, which
lawyers called proving the _corpus delicti._ But this statute, made
doubtless with the best intentions, and under the impulse of a just
horror for the unnatural crime of infanticide, ran the risk of itself
occasioning the worst of murders, the death of an innocent person, to
atone for a supposed crime which may never have been committed by anyone.
He was so far from acknowledging the alleged probability of the child's
violent death, that he could not even allow that there was evidence of
its having ever lived."

The King's Counsel pointed to the woman's declaration; to which the
counsel replied--"A production concocted in a moment of terror and agony,
and which approached to insanity," he said, "his learned brother well
knew was no sound evidence against the party who emitted it. It was true,
that a judicial confession, in presence of the Justices themselves, was
the strongest of all proof, insomuch that it is said in law, that '_in
confitentem nullae sunt partes judicis._' But this was true of judicial
confession only, by which law meant that which is made in presence of the
justices, and the sworn inquest. Of extrajudicial confession, all
authorities held with the illustrious Farinaceus and Matthaeus,
'_confessio extrajudicialis in se nulla est; et quod nullum est, non
potest adminiculari._' It was totally inept, and void of all strength and
effect from the beginning; incapable, therefore, of being bolstered up or
supported, or, according to the law phrase, adminiculated, by other
presumptive circumstances. In the present case, therefore, letting the
extrajudicial confession go, as it ought to go, for nothing," he
contended, "the prosecutor had not made out the second quality of the
statute, that a live child had been born; and _that,_ at least, ought to
be established before presumptions were received that it had been
murdered. If any of the assize," he said, "should be of opinion that this
was dealing rather narrowly with the statute, they ought to consider that
it was in its nature highly penal, and therefore entitled to no
favourable construction."

He concluded a learned speech, with an eloquent peroration on the scene
they had just witnessed, during which Saddletree fell fast asleep.

It was now the presiding Judge's turn to address the jury. He did so
briefly and distinctly.

"It was for the jury," he said, "to consider whether the prosecutor had
made out his plea. For himself, he sincerely grieved to say, that a
shadow of doubt remained not upon his mind concerning the verdict which
the inquest had to bring in. He would not follow the prisoner's counsel
through the impeachment which he had brought against the statute of King
William and Queen Mary. He and the jury were sworn to judge according to
the laws as they stood, not to criticise, or evade, or even to justify
them. In no civil case would a counsel have been permitted to plead his
client's case in the teeth of the law; but in the hard situation in which
counsel were often placed in the Criminal Court, as well as out of favour
to all presumptions of innocence, he had not inclined to interrupt the
learned gentleman, or narrow his plea. The present law, as it now stood,
had been instituted by the wisdom of their fathers, to check the alarming
progress of a dreadful crime; when it was found too severe for its
purpose it would doubtless be altered by the wisdom of the Legislature;
at present it was the law of the land, the rule of the Court, and,
according to the oath which they had taken, it must be that of the jury.
This unhappy girl's situation could not be doubted; that she had borne a
child, and that the child had disappeared, were certain facts. The
learned counsel had failed to show that she had communicated her
situation. All the requisites of the case required by the statute were
therefore before the jury. The learned gentleman had, indeed, desired
them to throw out of consideration the panel's own confession, which was
the plea usually urged, in penury of all others, by counsel in his
situation, who usually felt that the declarations of their clients bore
hard on them. But that the Scottish law designed that a certain weight
should be laid on these declarations, which, he admitted, were
_quodammodo_ extrajudicial, was evident from the universal practice by
which they were always produced and read, as part of the prosecutor's
probation. In the present case, no person who had heard the witnesses
describe the appearance of the young woman before she left Saddletree's
house, and contrasted it with that of her state and condition at her
return to her father's, could have any doubt that the fact of delivery
had taken place, as set forth in her own declaration, which was,
therefore, not a solitary piece of testimony, but adminiculated and
supported by the strongest circumstantial proof.

"He did not," he said, "state the impression upon his own mind with the
purpose of biassing theirs. He had felt no less than they had done from
the scene of domestic misery which had been exhibited before them; and if
they, having God and a good conscience, the sanctity of their oath, and
the regard due to the law of the country, before their eyes, could come
to a conclusion favourable to this unhappy prisoner, he should rejoice as
much as anyone in Court; for never had he found his duty more distressing
than in discharging it that day, and glad he would be to be relieved from
the still more painful task which would otherwise remain for him."

The jury, having heard the Judge's address, bowed and retired, preceded
by a macer of Court, to the apartment destined for their deliberation.


             Law, take thy victim--May she find the mercy
             In yon mild heaven, which this hard world denies her!

It was an hour ere the jurors returned, and as they traversed the crowd
with slow steps, as men about to discharge themselves of a heavy and
painful responsibility, the audience was hushed into profound, earnest,
and awful silence.

"Have you agreed on your chancellor, gentlemen?" was the first question
of the Judge.

The foreman, called in Scotland the chancellor of the jury, usually the
man of best rank and estimation among the assizers, stepped forward, and
with a low reverence, delivered to the Court a sealed paper, containing
the verdict, which, until of late years, that verbal returns are in some
instances permitted, was always couched in writing. The jury remained
standing while the Judge broke the seals, and having perused the paper,
handed it with an air of mournful gravity down to the clerk of Court, who
proceeded to engross in the record the yet unknown verdict, of which,
however, all omened the tragical contents. A form still remained,
trifling and unimportant in itself, but to which imagination adds a sort
of solemnity, from the awful occasion upon which it is used. A lighted
candle was placed on the table, the original paper containing the verdict
was enclosed in a sheet of paper, and, sealed with the Judge's own
signet, was transmitted to the Crown Office, to be preserved among other
records of the same kind. As all this is transacted in profound silence,
the producing and extinguishing the candle seems a type of the human
spark which is shortly afterwards doomed to be quenched, and excites in
the spectators something of the same effect which in England is obtained
by the Judge assuming the fatal cap of judgment. When these preliminary
forms had been gone through, the Judge required Euphemia Deans to attend
to the verdict to be read.

After the usual words of style, the verdict set forth, that the Jury
having made choice of John Kirk, Esq., to be their chancellor, and Thomas
Moore, merchant, to be their clerk, did, by a plurality of voices, find
the said Euphemia Deans Guilty of the crime libelled; but, in
consideration of her extreme youth, and the cruel circumstances of her
case, did earnestly entreat that the Judge would recommend her to the
mercy of the Crown.

"Gentlemen," said the Judge, "you have done your duty--and a painful one
it must have been to men of humanity like you. I will undoubtedly
transmit your recommendation to the throne. But it is my duty to tell all
who now hear me, but especially to inform that unhappy young woman, in
order that her mind may be settled accordingly, that I have not the least
hope of a pardon being granted in the present case. You know the crime
has been increasing in this land, and I know farther, that this has been
ascribed to the lenity in which the laws have been exercised, and that
there is therefore no hope whatever of obtaining a remission for this
offence." The jury bowed again, and, released from their painful office,
dispersed themselves among the mass of bystanders.

The Court then asked Mr. Fairbrother whether he had anything to say, why
judgment should not follow on the verdict? The counsel had spent some
time in persuing and reperusing the verdict, counting the letters in each
juror's name, and weighing every phrase, nay, every syllable, in the
nicest scales of legal criticism. But the clerk of the jury had
understood his business too well. No flaw was to be found, and
Fairbrother mournfully intimated, that he had nothing to say in arrest of

The presiding Judge then addressed the unhappy prisoner:--"Euphemia
Deans, attend to the sentence of the Court now to be pronounced against

She rose from her seat, and with a composure far greater than could have
been augured from her demeanour during some parts of the trial, abode the
conclusion of the awful scene. So nearly does the mental portion of our
feelings resemble those which are corporeal, that the first severe blows
which we receive bring with them a stunning apathy, which renders us
indifferent to those that follow them. Thus said Mandrin, when he was
undergoing the punishment of the wheel; and so have all felt, upon whom
successive inflictions have descended with continuous and reiterated

* [The notorious Mandrin was known as the Captain-General of French &
smugglers. See a Tract on his exploits, printed 1753.]

"Young woman," said the Judge, "it is my painful duty to tell you, that
your life is forfeited under a law, which, if it may seem in some degree
severe, is yet wisely so, to render those of your unhappy situation aware
what risk they run, by concealing, out of pride or false shame, their
lapse from virtue, and making no preparation to save the lives of the
unfortunate infants whom they are to bring into the world. When you
concealed your situation from your mistress, your sister, and other
worthy and compassionate persons of your own sex, in whose favour your
former conduct had given you a fair place, you seem to me to have had in
your contemplation, at least, the death of the helpless creature, for
whose life you neglected to provide. How the child was disposed
of--whether it was dealt upon by another, or by yourself--whether the
extraordinary story you have told is partly false, or altogether so, is
between God and your own conscience. I will not aggravate your distress
by pressing on that topic, but I do most solemnly adjure you to employ
the remaining space of your time in making your peace with God, for which
purpose such reverend clergymen, as you yourself may name, shall have
access to you. Notwithstanding the humane recommendation of the jury, I
cannot afford to you, in the present circumstances of the country, the
slightest hope that your life will be prolonged beyond the period
assigned for the execution of your sentence. Forsaking, therefore, the
thoughts of this world, let your mind be prepared by repentance for those
of more awful moments--for death, judgment, and eternity.--Doomster, read
the sentence."*

* Note N. Doomster, or Dempster, of Court.

When the Doomster showed himself, a tall haggard figure, arrayed in a
fantastic garment of black and grey, passmented with silver lace, all
fell back with a sort of instinctive horror, and made wide way for him to
approach the foot of the table. As this office was held by the common
executioner, men shouldered each other backward to avoid even the touch
of his garment, and some were seen to brush their own clothes, which had
accidentally become subject to such contamination. A sound went through
the Court, produced by each person drawing in their breath hard, as men
do when they expect or witness what is frightful, and at the same time
affecting. The caitiff villain yet seemed, amid his hardened brutality,
to have some sense of his being the object of public detestation, which
made him impatient of being in public, as birds of evil omen are anxious
to escape from daylight, and from pure air.

Repeating after the Clerk of Court, he gabbled over the words of the
sentence, which condemned Euphemia Deans to be conducted back to the
Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and detained there until Wednesday the day of ---;
and upon that day, betwixt the hours of two and four o'clock afternoon,
to be conveyed to the common place of execution, and there hanged by the
neck upon a gibbet. "And this," said the Doomster, aggravating his harsh
voice, "I pronounce for _doom._"

He vanished when he had spoken the last emphatic word, like a foul fiend
after the purpose of his visitation had been accomplished; but the
impression of horror excited by his presence and his errand, remained
upon the crowd of spectators.

The unfortunate criminal,--for so she must now be termed,--with more
susceptibility, and more irritable feelings than her father and sister,
was found, in this emergence, to possess a considerable share of their
courage. She had remained standing motionless at the bar while the
sentence was pronounced, and was observed to shut her eyes when the
Doomster appeared. But she was the first to break silence when that evil
form had left his place.

"God forgive ye, my Lords," she said, "and dinna be angry wi' me for
wishing it--we a' need forgiveness.--As for myself, I canna blame ye, for
ye act up to your lights; and if I havena killed my poor infant, ye may
witness a' that hae seen it this day, that I hae been the means of
killing my greyheaded father--I deserve the warst frae man, and frae God
too--But God is mair mercifu' to us than we are to each other."

With these words the trial concluded. The crowd rushed, bearing forward
and shouldering each other, out of the Court, in the same tumultuary mode
in which they had entered; and, in excitation of animal motion and animal
spirits, soon forgot whatever they had felt as impressive in the scene
which they had witnessed. The professional spectators, whom habit and
theory had rendered as callous to the distress of the scene as medical
men are to those of a surgical operation, walked homeward in groups,
discussing the general principle of the statute under which the young
woman was condemned, the nature of the evidence, and the arguments of the
counsel, without considering even that of the Judge as exempt from their

The female spectators, more compassionate, were loud in exclamation
against that part of the Judge's speech which seemed to cut off the hope
of pardon.

"Set him up, indeed," said Mrs. Howden, "to tell us that the poor lassie
behoved to die, when Mr. John Kirk, as civil a gentleman as is within the
ports of the town, took the pains to prigg for her himsell."

"Ay, but, neighbour," said Miss Damahoy, drawing up her thin maidenly
form to its full height of prim dignity--"I really think this unnatural
business of having bastard-bairns should be putten a stop to.--There isna
a hussy now on this side of thirty that you can bring within your doors,
but there will be chields--writer-lads, prentice-lads, and what
not--coming traiking after them for their destruction, and discrediting
ane's honest house into the bargain--I hae nae patience wi' them."

"Hout, neighbour," said Mrs. Howden, "we suld live and let live--we hae
been young oursells, and we are no aye to judge the warst when lads and
lasses forgather."

"Young oursells! and judge the warst!" said Miss Damahoy. "I am no sae
auld as that comes to, Mrs. Howden; and as for what ye ca' the warst, I
ken neither good nor bad about the matter, I thank my stars!"

"Ye are thankfu' for sma' mercies, then," said Mrs. Howden with a toss of
her head; "and as for you and young--I trow ye were doing for yoursell at
the last riding of the Scots Parliament, and that was in the gracious
year seven, sae ye can be nae sic chicken at ony rate."

Plumdamas, who acted as squire of the body to the two contending dames,
instantly saw the hazard of entering into such delicate points of
chronology, and being a lover of peace and good neighbourhood, lost no
time in bringing back the conversation to its original subject.

"The Judge didna tell us a' he could hae tell'd us, if he had liked,
about the application for pardon, neighbours," said he "there is aye a
wimple in a lawyer's clew; but it's a wee bit of a secret."

"And what is't--what is't, neighbour Plumdamas?" said Mrs. Howden and
Miss Damahoy at once, the acid fermentation of their dispute being at
once neutralised by the powerful alkali implied in the word secret.

"Here's Mr. Saddletree can tell ye that better than me, for it was him
that tauld me," said Plumdamas as Saddletree came up, with his wife
hanging on his arm, and looking very disconsolate.

When the question was put to Saddletree, he looked very scornful. "They
speak about stopping the frequency of child-murder," said he, in a
contemptuous tone; "do ye think our auld enemies of England, as Glendook
aye ca's them in his printed Statute-book, care a boddle whether we didna
kill ane anither, skin and birn, horse and foot, man, woman, and bairns,
all and sindry, _omnes et singulos,_ as Mr. Crossmyloof says? Na, na,
it's no _that_ hinders them frae pardoning the bit lassie. But here is
the pinch of the plea. The king and queen are sae ill pleased wi' that
mistak about Porteous, that deil a kindly Scot will they pardon again,
either by reprieve or remission, if the haill town o' Edinburgh should be
a' hanged on ae tow."

"Deil that they were back at their German kale-yard then, as my neighbour
MacCroskie ca's it," said Mrs. Howden, "an that's the way they're gaun to
guide us!"

"They say for certain," said Miss Damahoy, "that King George flang his
periwig in the fire when he heard o' the Porteous mob."

"He has done that, they say," replied Saddletree, "for less thing."

"Aweel," said Miss Damahoy, "he might keep mair wit in his anger--but
it's a' the better for his wigmaker, I'se warrant."

"The queen tore her biggonets for perfect anger,--ye'll hae heard o' that
too?" said Plumdamas. "And the king, they say, kickit Sir Robert Walpole
for no keeping down the mob of Edinburgh; but I dinna believe he wad
behave sae ungenteel."

"It's dooms truth, though," said Saddletree; "and he was for kickin' the
Duke of Argyle* too."

* Note O. John Duke of Argyle and Greenwich.

"Kickin' the Duke of Argyle!" exclaimed the hearers at once, in all the
various combined keys of utter astonishment.

"Ay, but MacCallummore's blood wadna sit down wi' that; there was risk of
Andro Ferrara coming in thirdsman."

"The duke is a real Scotsman--a true friend to the country," answered
Saddletree's hearers.

"Ay, troth is he, to king and country baith, as ye sall hear," continued
the orator, "if ye will come in bye to our house, for it's safest
speaking of sic things _inter parietes._"

When they entered his shop, he thrust his prentice boy out of it, and,
unlocking his desk, took out, with an air of grave and complacent
importance, a dirty and crumpled piece of printed paper; he observed,
"This is new corn--it's no every body could show you the like o' this.
It's the duke's speech about the Porteous mob, just promulgated by the
hawkers. Ye shall hear what Ian Roy Cean* says for himsell.

* Red John the warrior, a name personal and proper in the Highlands to
John Duke of Argyle and Greenwich, as MacCummin was that of his race or

My correspondent bought it in the Palace-yard, that's like just under the
king's nose--I think he claws up their mittans!--It came in a letter
about a foolish bill of exchange that the man wanted me to renew for him.
I wish ye wad see about it, Mrs. Saddletree."

Honest Mrs. Saddletree had hitherto been so sincerely distressed about
the situation of her unfortunate prote'ge'e, that she had suffered her
husband to proceed in his own way, without attending to what he was
saying. The words bills and renew had, however, an awakening sound in
them; and she snatched the letter which her husband held towards her, and
wiping her eyes, and putting on her spectacles, endeavoured, as fast as
the dew which collected on her glasses would permit, to get at the
meaning of the needful part of the epistle; while her husband, with
pompous elevation, read an extract from the speech.

"I am no minister, I never was a minister, and I never will be one"

"I didna ken his Grace was ever designed for the ministry," interrupted
Mrs. Howden.

"He disna mean a minister of the gospel, Mrs. Howden, but a minister of
state," said Saddletree, with condescending goodness, and then proceeded:
"The time was when I might have been a piece of a minister, but I was too
sensible of my own incapacity to engage in any state affair. And I thank
God that I had always too great a value for those few abilities which
Nature has given me, to employ them in doing any drudgery, or any job of
what kind soever. I have, ever since I set out in the world (and I
believe few have set out more early), served my prince with my tongue; I
have served him with any little interest I had, and I have served him
with my sword, and in my profession of arms. I have held employments
which I have lost, and were I to be to-morrow deprived of those which
still remain to me, and which I have endeavoured honestly to deserve, I
would still serve him to the last acre of my inheritance, and to the last
drop of my blood"

Mrs. Saddletree here broke in upon the orator:--"Mr. Saddletree, what
_is_ the meaning of a' this? Here are ye clavering about the Duke of
Argyle, and this man Martingale gaun to break on our hands, and lose us
gude sixty pounds--I wonder what duke will pay that, quotha--I wish the
Duke of Argyle would pay his ain accounts--He is in a thousand punds
Scots on thae very books when he was last at Roystoun--I'm no saying but
he's a just nobleman, and that it's gude siller--but it wad drive ane
daft to be confused wi' deukes and drakes, and thae distressed folk
up-stairs, that's Jeanie Deans and her father. And then, putting the very
callant that was sewing the curpel out o' the shop, to play wi'
blackguards in the close--Sit still, neighbours, it's no that I mean to
disturb _you;_ but what between courts o' law and courts o' state, and
upper and under parliaments, and parliament houses, here and in London,
the gudeman's gane clean gyte, I think."

The gossips understood civility, and the rule of doing as they would be
done by, too well, to tarry upon the slight invitation implied in the
conclusion of this speech, and therefore made their farewells and
departure as fast as possible, Saddletree whispering to Plundamas that he
would "meet him at MacCroskie's" (the low-browed shop in the
Luckenbooths, already mentioned), "in the hour of cause, and put
MacCallummore's speech in his pocket, for a' the gudewife's din."

When Mrs. Saddletree saw the house freed of her importunate visitors, and
the little boy reclaimed from the pastimes of the wynd to the exercise of
the awl, she went to visit her unhappy relative, David Deans, and his
elder daughter, who had found in her house the nearest place of friendly

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