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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume 17
Author: Leighton, Alexander, 1800-1874 [Contributor], Wilson, John Mackay, 1804-1835 [Compiler]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume 17" ***

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  Tales of the Borders





  _One of the Original Editors and Contributors_.






  ROGER GOLDIE'S NARRATIVE, (_John Mackay Wilson_),                  1

  HOGMANAY; OR, THE LADY OF BALOOCHGRAY, (_Alexander Leighton_),    33

  GLEANINGS OF THE COVENANT, (_Professor Thomas Gillespie_)--

      X. SERGEANT WILSON,                                           65

      XI. HELEN PALMER,                                             72

      XII. THE CAIRNY CAVE OF GAVIN MUIR,                           80

      XIII. PORTER'S HOLE,                                          92

  THE RECLUSE, (_Alexander Campbell_),                              95

  A HIGHLAND TRADITION, (_Alexander Campbell_),                    125

  THE SURGEON'S TALES, (_Alexander Leighton_)--

      THE BEREAVED,                                                129

      THE CONDEMNED,                                               145

  THE UNBIDDEN GUEST, (_John Mackay Wilson_),                      161

  THE SIMPLE MAN IS THE BEGGAR'S BROTHER, (_John M. Wilson_),      170

  TALES OF THE EAST NEUK OF FIFE, (_Matthew Forster Conolly_)--



  A LEGEND OF CALDER MOOR, (_John Howell_),                        237

  HUME AND THE GOVERNOR OF BERWICK, (_Alexander Leighton_),        269






Ye have heard of the false alarm, (said Roger Goldie,) which, for the space
of wellnigh four and twenty hours, filled the counties upon the Border with
exceeding great consternation, and at the same time called forth an example
of general and devoted heroism, and love of country, such as is nowhere
recorded in the annals of any nation upon the face of the globe. Good cause
have I to remember it; and were I to live a thousand years, it never would
be effaced from my recollection. What first gave rise to the alarm, I have
not been able clearly to ascertain unto this day. There was a house-heating
up beside Preston, with feasting and dancing; and a great light, like that
of a flambeau, proceeded from the onstead. Now, some say that the man that
kept the beacon on Hownamlaw, mistook the light for the signal on Dunselaw;
and the man at Dunselaw, in his turn, seeing Hownam flare up, lighted his
fires also, and speedily the red burning alphabet of war blazed on every
hill top--a spirit seemed to fly from mountain to mountain, touching their
summits with fire, and writing in the flame the word--_invasion!_ Others
say that it arose from the individual who kept watch at Hume Castle being
deceived by an accidental fire over in Northumberland; and a very general
supposition is, that it arose from a feint on the part of a great
sea-admiral, which he made in order to try the courage and loyalty of the
nation. To the last report, however, I attach no credit. The fable informs
us, that the shepherd laddie lost his sheep, because he cried, "The wolf!"
when there was no wolf at hand; and it would have been policy similar to
his, to have cried, "_An invasion!_" when there was no invasion. Neither
nations nor individuals like such practical jokes. It is also certain that
the alarm was not first given by the beacons on the sea-coast; and there
can be no doubt that the mistake originated either at Hownamlaw or Hume

I recollect it was in the beginning of February 1804. I occupied a house
then about half a mile out of Dunse, and lived comfortably, and I will say
contentedly, on the interest of sixteen hundred pounds which I had invested
in the funds; and it required but little discrimination to foresee, that,
if the French fairly got a footing in our country, funded property would
not be worth an old song. I could at all times have risked my life in
defence of my native land, for the love I bore it; though you will perceive
that I had a double motive to do so; and the more particularly, as, out of
the interest of my funded capital, I maintained in competence an
affectionate wife and a dutiful son--our only child. The name of my wife
was Agnes, and the name of my son--who, at the time of the alarm, was
sixteen--was Robert. Upon their account it often caused me great
uneasiness, when I read and heard of the victories and the threatenings of
the terrible Corsican. I sometimes dreamed that he had marched a mighty
army on a bridge of boats across the straits of Dover, and that he had not
only seized my sixteen hundred pounds, but drawn my son, my only son,
Robie, as a conscript, to fight against his own natural and lawful country,
and, perhaps, to shoot his father! I therefore, as in duty bound, as a true
and loyal subject, had enrolled myself in the Dunse volunteers. Some joined
the volunteers to escape being drawn for the militia, but I could give my
solemn affidavit, that I had no motive but the defence of my country--and
my property, which, as I have said, was a double inducement.

I did not make a distinguished figure in the corps, for my stature did not
exceed five feet two inches. But although my body was small, no man was
more punctual on the parade; and I will affirm, without vanity, none more
active, or had a bolder heart. It always appeared to me to be the height of
folly to refuse to admit a man into a regiment, because nature had not
formed him a giant. The little man is not so apt to shoot over the head of
an enemy, and he runs less risk of being shot himself--two things very
necessary to be considered in a battle; and were I a general, I would have
a regiment where five feet two should be the maximum height even for the
grenadier company.

But, as I was saying, it was early in the February of 1804, on the second
night, if I recollect aright--I had been an hour abed, and was lying about
three parts asleep, when I was started with a sort of bum, bumming, like
the beating of a drum. I thought also that I heard people running along the
road, past the door. I listened, and, to my horror, I distinctly heard the
alarm drum beating to arms. It was a dreadful sound to arouse a man from
his sleep in our peaceful land.

"Robie!" cried I to my son, "rise, my man, rise, and run down to the town,
and see what is the matter, that they are beating the alarm drum at this
time of night. I fear that"--

"Oh, dearsake, Roger!" cried Agnes, grasping my arm, "what do ye fear?"

"That--that there's a fire in the town," said I.

"Weel," quoth she, "it canna reach us. But on dear me! ye have made my
heart beat as if it would start from my breast--for I thought ye was gaun
to say that ye was feared the French were landed!"

"I hope not," said I. But, in truth, it was that which I did fear.

Robie was a bold, spirited laddie; and he rushed out of the house, cold as
it was, half-dressed, and without his jacket; but he had not been absent a
minute, when he hurried back again, and cried breathlessly as he
entered--"Faither! faither! the Law is a' in a lowe!--the French are

I was then standing in the middle of the floor, putting on my clothes; and,
starting as though I had seen an apparition, I exclaimed--"The French
landed!--rise, Agnes! rise, and get me my accoutrements. For this day I
will arm and do battle in defence of my native land."

"Roger! Roger!" cried my wife, "wherefore will ye act foolishly. Stop at
home, as a man ought to do, to preserve and protect his ain family and his
ain property. Wherefore would ye risk life or limb withouten cause. There
will be enough to fight the French without you--unmarried men, or men that
have naebody to leave behint them and to mourn for them."

"Agnes," said I, in a tone which manifested my authority, and at the same
time shewed the courageousness of my spirit--"get me my accoutrements. I
have always been the first upon the parade, and I will not be the last to
shew my face upon the field of battle. I am but a little man--the least
battalion man in the whole corps--but I have a heart as big as the biggest
of them. Bonaparte himself is no Goliath, and a shot from my musket might
reach his breast, when a taller man would be touching the cockade on his
cocked hat. Therefore, quick! quick!--get me my accoutrements."

"Oh, guidman!" cried she, "your poor, heart-broken wife will fall on her
knees before ye--and I implore ye, for my sake, and for the sake o' our
dear bairn, that ye winna fling away life, and rush upon destruction. What
in the name of fortune, has a peaceable man like you to do wi' war or wi'
Bonaparte either? Dinna think of leaving the house this night, and I myself
will go down to the town and procure a substitute in your stead. I have
fifteen pounds in the kist, that I have been scraping thegither for these
twelve years past, and I will gie them to ony man that will take your place
in the volunteers, and go forth to fight the French in your stead."

"Guidwife," said I, angrily, "ye forget what ye are talking about. The
French are landed, and every man, auld and young, must take up arms. Ye
would have me to become the laughing-stock of both town and country.
Therefore get me my accoutrements, and let me down to the cross."

"O Robie, my bairn!--my only bairn!" cried she, weeping, and addressing our
son, "try ye to prevail upon your faither to gie up his mad resolution. If
he leave us, he will mak you faitherless and me a widow."

"Mother," said the laddie, gallantly, "the French are landed, and my
faither maun help to drive them into the sea. I will tak my pistol and gang
wi' him, and if ony thing happens, I will be at hand to assist him."

"Haud, haud your tongue, ye silly callant!" she exclaimed, in great
tribulation, "ye are as great a fool as your faither is. He sees what he
has made o' you. But as the auld cock craws the young ane learns."

I felt a sort of glow of satisfaction warming my heart at the manifestation
of my son's spirit; but I knew that in one of his age, and especially at
such a time, and with such a prospect before us, it was not right to
encourage it, and it was impossible for a fond parent to incite his only
son to the performance of an act that would endanger his life. I therefore
spoke to him kindly, but, at the same time, with the firmness necessary to
enforce the commands of a father, and said--"Ye are too young, Robin, to
become a participator in scenes of war and horror. Your young bosom, that
is yet a stranger to sorrow, must not be exposed to the destroying bullet;
nor your bonny cheek, where the rose-bud blooms, disfigured with the sabre
or the horse's hoof. Ye must not break your mother's heart, but stay at
home to comfort and defend her, when your father is absent fighting for ye

The boy listened to me in silence, but I thought that sullenness mingled
with his obedience, and I had never seen him sullen before. Agnes went
around the house weeping, and finding that I was not to be gainsayed, she
brought me my military apparel and my weapons of war. When, therefore, I
was arrayed and ready for the field, and while the roll of the drum was
still summoning us to muster, I took her hand to bid her farewell--but, in
the fulness of my heart, I pressed my lips to hers, and my tears mingled
with her own upon her cheek.

"Farewell, Agnes," said I, "but I trust--I hope--I doubt not, but we shall
soon return safe, sound, and victorious. But if I should not--if it be so
ordered that it is to be my lot to fall gloriously in defence of our
country, our son Robert will comfort ye and protect ye; and ye will find
all the papers relating to the sixteen hundred pounds of funded property in
my private drawer; although, if the French gain a footing in the country, I
doubt it will be but of small benefit to ye. And, in that case, Robin, my
man," added I, addressing my son, "ye will have to labour with your hands
to protect your mother! Bless you, doubly bless you both."

I saw my son fall upon his mother's neck, and it afforded me a consolation.
With great difficulty I got out of the house, and I heard Agnes sobbing
when I was a hundred yards distant. I still also heard the roll of the drum
rolling and rattling through the stillness of midnight, and, on arriving at
the cross, I found a number of the volunteers and a multitude of the
townspeople assembled. No one could tell _where_ the French had landed, but
all knew that they _had_ landed.

That, I assure ye, was a never-to-be-forgotten night. Every person
naturally looked anxious, but I believe I may safely say, that there was
not one face in a hundred that was pale with fear, or that exhibited a
trace of cowardice or terror upon it. One thought was uppermost in every
bosom, and that was--to drive back the invaders, yea to drive them into,
and drown them in the German ocean, even as Pharaoh and his host were
encompassed by the Red Sea and drowned in it. Generally speaking, a spirit
of genuine, of universal heroism was manifested. The alacrity with which
the volunteers assembled under arms, was astonishing; not but that there
were a few who fell into the ranks rather slowly and with apparent
reluctance; but some of those, like me, had perhaps wives to cling round
their necks, and to beseech them not to venture forth into the war. One of
the last who appeared upon the ground, was my right-hand comrade, Jonathan
Barlowman. I had to step to the left to make room for Jonathan, and, as he
took his place by my side, I heard the teeth chattering in his head. Our
commanding officer spoke to him rather sharply, about being so slow in
turning out in an hour of such imminent peril. But I believe Jonathan was
insensible to the reprimand.

The drums began to beat and the fifes to play--the word "March!" was
given--the townspeople gave us three cheers as we began to move--and my
comrade Jonathan, in his agitation, put his wrong foot foremost, and could
not keep the step. So we marched onward, armed and full of patriotism,
towards Haddington, which in case of the invasion, was appointed our
head-quarters or place of rendezvous.

I will not pretend to say that I felt altogether comfortable during the
march; indeed, to have done so was impossible, for the night was bitterly
cold, and at all times there is but little shelter on the bleak and wild
Lammermoors; yet the cold gave me but small concern, in comparison of the
thoughts of my Agnes and my son Robin. I felt that I loved them even better
than ever I had imagined I loved them before, and it caused me much silent
agony of spirit when I thought that I had parted with them--perhaps for
ever. Yet, even in the midst of such thoughts, I was cheered by the
glorious idea of fighting in defence of one's own native country; and I
thought of Wallace and of Bruce, and of all the heroes I had read about
when a laddie, and my blood fired again. I found that I hated our invaders
with a perfect hatred--that I feared not to meet death--and I grasped my
firelock more firmly, and a thousand times fancied that I had it levelled
at the breast of the Corsican.

I indulged in this train of thoughts until we had reached Longformacus, and
during that period not a word had my right-hand neighbour, Jonathan
Barlowman, spoken, either good, bad, or indifferent; but I had frequently
heard him groan audibly, as though his spirit were troubled. At length,
when we had passed Longformacus, and were in the most desolate part of the
hills--"O Mr Goldie! Mr Goldie!" said he, "is this no dismal?"

"I always consider it," answered I, "one of the dreariest spots on the

"O sir!" said he, "it isna the dreariness o' the road that I am referring
to. I would rather be sent across the hills from Cowdingham to Lander,
blindfold, than I would be sent upon an errand like this. But is it not a
dismal and a dreadfu' thought that Christian men should be roused out of
their beds at the dead of night, to march owre moor and mountain, to be
shot, or to cut each other's throats? It is terrible, Mr Goldie!"

Now, he was a man seven inches taller than I was, and I was glad of the
opportunity of proving to him that, though I had the lesser body, I had the
taller spirit of the two--and the spirit makes the man. Therefore I said to
him--"Why, Mr Barlowman, you surprise me to hear you talk; when our country
demands our arms in its defence, we should be ready to lay down our lives,
if necessary, by night or by day, on mountain or in glen, on moor or in
meadow--and I cannot respond your sentiments."

"Weel," said he, "that may be your opinion, and it may be a good opinion,
but, for my own part, I do confess that I have no ambition for the honours
of either heroism or martyrdom. Had a person been allowed a day to make a
sort of decent arrangement of their worldly affairs, it wadna have been sae
bad; but to be summoned out of your warm bed at midnight, and to take up an
instrument of death in the dark, and go forth to be shot at!--there is, in
my opinion, but a small share of either honour or glory in the transaction.
This, certainly, is permanent duty now, and peremptory duty also, with a
witness! But it is a duty the moral obligation of which I cannot perceive;
and I think that a man's first duty is to look after himself--and family."

He mentioned the word "family" with a peculiarity of emphasis which plainly
indicated that he wished it to work an effect upon me, and to bring me over
to his way of thinking. But, instead of its producing that effect, my
spirit waxed bolder and bolder as I remained an ear-witness of his

"Comrade Jonathan--I beg your pardon, Mr Barlowman I mean to say," said
I--"the first duty of every man, when his country is in danger, is to take
up arms in its defence, and to be ready to lay down his life, if his body
will form a barrier to the approach of an enemy."

"It may be sae," said he; "but I would just as soon think of my body being
eaten by cannibals, as applied to any such purpose. It will take a long
time to convince me that there is any bravery in a man volunteering to 'be
shot at for sixpence a-day;' and it will be as long before fighting the
French prepare my land for the spring seed. If I can get a substitute when
we reach Haddington, they may fight that likes for me."

As we marched along, his body became the victim of one calamity after
another. Now his shoes pinched his feet and crippled him, and in a while he
was seized with cramp pains in his breast, which bent him together twofold.
But, as it was generally suspected by the corps that Jonathan was, at best,
hen-hearted, he met with little, indeed I may say no sympathy on account of
his complaints, but rather with contempt; for there was not a man in our
whole regiment, save himself, that did not hate cowardice with his whole
heart, and despise it with his whole soul. Whether he actually was
suffering from bodily pain, in addition to the pain of his spirit, or not,
it is not for me to judge. The doctor came to the rear to see him, and he
said that Mr Barlowman certainly was in a state of high fever, that would
render him incapable of being of much service. But I thought that he made
the declaration in an ironical sort of tone; and whether it was a fever of
fear, of spiritual torment, or of bodily torment, he did not tell. One
thing is certain, the one frequently begets the other.

The words of the doctor gave a sort of license to bold Jonathan Barlowman,
and his moaning and his groaning, his writhing and complaining, increased.
He began to fall behind, and now stood fumbling with his pinching shoes, or
bent himself double with his hands across his breast, sighing piteously,
and shedding tears in abundance. At length we lost sight and hearing of
him, and we imagined that he had turned back, or peradventure, lain down by
the way; but there was no time for us to return to seek him, nor yet to
look after one man, when, belike a hundred thousand French had landed.

Well, it was about an hour after the final disappearance of Jonathan, that
a stranger joined our ranks in his stead. He took his place close by my
side. He carried a firelock over his shoulder, and was dressed in a
greatcoat; but so far as I could judge from his appearance in the dark, I
suspected him to be a very young man. I could not get a word out of him,
save that in answer to a question--"Are ye Mr Barlowman's substitute?"

And he answered--"Yes."

Beyond that one word, I could not get him to open his mouth. However, I
afterwards ascertained that the youth overtook Jonathan, while he was
writhing in agony upon the road, and declaring aloud that he would give any
money, from ten to a hundred guineas, for a substitute, besides his arms
and accoutrements. The young man leaped at the proposal, or rather at a
part of it, for he said he would take no money, but that the other should
give him his arms, ammunition, and such like, and he would be his
substitute. Jonathan joyfully accepted the conditions; but whether or not
his pains and groanings left him, when relieved from the weight of his
knapsack, I cannot tell. Our corps voted him to be no man who could find
time to be ill, even in earnest, during an invasion.

My attention, however, was now wholly taken up with the stranger, who, it
appeared, had been dropped, as if from the clouds, in the very middle of a
waste, howling wilderness, to volunteer to serve in the place of my craven
comrade, Jonathan Barlowman. The youth excited my curiosity the more,
because, as I have already informed ye, he was as silent as a milestone,
and not half so satisfactory; for beyond the little word "Yes," which I
once got out of him, not another syllable would he breathe--but he kept his
head half turned away from me. I felt the consciousness and the assurance
growing in me more and more that he was a French spy; therefore I kept my
musket so that I could level it at him, and discharge it at half a moment's
warning; and I was rejoicing to think that it would be a glorious thing if
I got an opportunity of signalizing myself on the very first day of the
invasion. I really began to dream of titles and rewards, the thanks of
parliament, and the command of a regiment. It is a miracle that, in the
delirium of my waking dream, I did not place the muzzle of my musket to my
strange comrade's head.

But daylight began to break just as we were about Danskin, and my curiosity
to see the stranger's face--to make out who he was or what he was, or
whether he was a Frenchman, or one of our own countrymen--was becoming
altogether insupportable. But, just with the first peep of day, I got a
glimpse of his countenance. I started back for full five yards--the musket
dropped out of my hands!

"Robie! Robie, ye rascal!" I exclaimed, in a voice that was heard from the
one end of the line to the other, and that made the whole regiment
halt--"what in the wide world has brought you here? What do ye mean to be

"To fight the French, faither!" said my brave laddie; "and ye ken ye always
said, that in the event of an invasion, it wad be the duty of every one
capable of firing a musket, or lifting a knife, to take up arms. I can do
baith; and what mair me than another?"

This was torturing me on the shrine of my own loyalty, and turning my own
weapons upon myself, in a way that I never had expected.

"Robie! ye daft, disobedient, heart-breaker ye!" continued I, "did I not
command ye to remain at home with your mother, to comfort her, and, if it
were necessary, and in your power, to defend her; and how, sirrah, have ye
dared to desert her, and leave her sorrowing for you?"

"I thought, faither," answered he, "that the best way to defend her, would
be to prevent the enemy approaching near to our dwellings."

My comrades round about that heard this answer, could not refrain from
giving three cheers in admiration of the bravery of the laddie's spirit;
and the cheering attracting the attention of the officers, one of them came
forward to us, to inquire into its cause; and, on its being explained to
him, he took Robin by the hand, and congratulated me upon having such a
son. I confess that I did feel an emotion of pride and gratification
glowing in my breast at the time; nevertheless, the fears and the anxiety
of a parent predominated, and I thought what a dreadful thing it would be
for me, his father, to see him shot or pierced through the body with a
bayonet, at my very side; and what account, thought I, could I give of such
a transaction to his bereaved and sorrowing mother? For I felt a something
within my breast, which whispered, that, if evil befell him in the warfare
in which we were about to engage, I would not be able to look her in the
face again. I fancied that I heard her upbraiding me with having instilled
into his mind a love of war, and I fancied that I heard her voice requiring
his life at my hands, and crying--"Where is my son?"

At length we arrived at Haddington; and there, in the course of the day, it
was discovered, to the gratification of some and the disappointment of
many, that our march had originated in a _false alarm_. I do confess that I
was amongst those who felt gratified that the peace of the land was not to
be endangered, but that we were to return every man to his own fireside,
and to sit down beneath our vine and our fig tree, with the olive branches
twining between them. But amongst those who were disappointed, and who
shewed their chagrin by the gnashing of their teeth, was my silly laddie,
my only son Robert. When he saw the people laughing in the marketplace, and
heard that the whole Borders had been aroused by an accidental light upon a
hill, his young brow lowered as black as midnight--his whole body trembled
with a sort of smothered rage--and his eyebrows drew together until the
shape of a horse-shoe was engraven between them.

"Robie, my captain," said I, "wherefore are ye looking sae dour? Man, ye
ought to rejoice that no invader as yet has dared to set his foot upon our
coast, and that you and I will return to your mother, who, no doubt, will
be distracted upon your account beyond measure. But, oh, when she meets you
again, I think that I see her now springing up from the chair, where she is
sitting rocking and mourning, and flinging her arms round your neck,
crying--'Robie!--Robie, my son! where have ye been?--how could ye leave
your mother?' Then she will sob upon your breast, and wet your cheek with
her tears; and I will lift her arms from your neck, and say--'Look ye,
Agnes, woman, your husband is restored to ye safe and sound, as well as
your son?' And then I will tell her all about your bravery, and your
following us over the moors, and the cowardice of Jonathan Barlowman, and
of your coming up to him, where he groaned behind us on the road--of your
becoming his substitute, and of your getting his greatcoat, his knapsack,
and his gun--and of your marching an hour by your father's side without him
finding out who you were. I will tell her all about my discovering you, and
about your answers, and the cheering of the volunteers; and the officers
coming up and taking your hand, and congratulating me upon having such a
son. O Robie, man! I will tell her everything! It will be such a meeting as
there has not been in the memory of man. Therefore, as the French are
neither landed nor like to land, I will speak to the superior officer, and
you and I Will set off for Dunse immediately."

We went into a public-house, to have a bottle of ale and baps; and I think
I never in my life partook of anything more refreshing or more delicious.
Even Robie, notwithstanding the horse-shoe of angry disappointment on his
brow, made a hearty repast; but that was natural to a growing laddie, and
especially after such a tramp as we had had in the death and darkness of
night, over moor and heather.

"Eat well, Robie, lad," said I; "it's a long road over again between here
and Dunse, and there is but little to be got on it. Take another glass of
ale; ye never tasted anything from Clockmill to match that. It is as
delicious as honey, and as refreshing as fountain water."

That really was the case; though whether the peculiar excellence of the ale
arose from anything extraordinarily grateful in its flavour, or from my
long march, my thirst, and sharp appetite--added to the joy I felt in the
unexpected prospect of returning home in peace and happiness with my son,
instead of slaughtering at enemies, or being slaughtered by them--I cannot
affirm. There might be something in both. Robin, however, drank an entire
bottle to his own head--that was three parts of a choppin, and a great deal
too much for a laddie of his years. But in the temper he was in, and
knowing by myself that he must be both thirsty and hungry, I did not think
it prudent to restrain him. It was apparent that the liquor was getting
uppermost in his brain, and he began to speak and to argue in company, and
to strike his hand upon the table like an angry man; in short, he seemed
forgetful of my presence, and those were exhibitions which I had never
observed in him before.

I was exceedingly anxious to get home, upon his mother's account; for she
was a woman of a tender heart and a nervous temperament; and I knew that
she would be in a state bordering on distraction on account of his absence.
I therefore said to him--"Robin, I am going to speak to the commanding
officer; ye will sit here until I come back, but do not drink any more."

"Very weel, faither," said he.

So I went out and spoke to the officer, and told him my reasons for wishing
to return home immediately; urging the state of anxiety and distress that
Agnes would be in on account of the absence of our son.

"Very well, Mr Goldie," said he; "it is all very right and proper; I have a
regard to the feelings of a husband and a parent; and as this has proved
but a false alarm, there is no obstacle to your returning home

I thanked him very gratefully for his civility, and stepped away up to the
George Inn, where I took two outside places on the heavy coach to Dunbar,
intending to walk from there to Broxmouth, and to strike up there by the
west to Innerwick, and away over the hills, down by Preston, and home.

I am certain I was not twenty minutes or half an hour absent at the
farthest. When I entered the public-house again, I looked for my son, but
he was not there.

"What have ye made of Robie?" said I to my comrades.

"Has he no been wi' ye?" answered they; "he left the house just after ye."

Mortal man cannot describe the fear, agony, and consternation that fell
upon me. The sweat burst upon my brow as though it had been the warmest day
in summer. A thousand apprehensions laid their hands upon me in a moment.

"With me!" said I; "he's not been with me: have none of you an idea where
he can have gone?"

"Not the smallest," said they; "but he canna be far off--he will soon cast
up. He will only be out looking at the town."

"Or showing off gallant Jonathan Barlowman's gun, big-coat, and knapsack,"
said one.

"Keep yoursel at ease, Mr Goldie," said another, laughing; "there is no
danger of his passing the advanced posts, and falling into the hands of the

It was easy for those to jest who were ignorant of a father's fears and a
father's feelings. I sat down for the space of five minutes, and to me they
seemed five hours; but I drank nothing, and I said nothing, but I kept my
eyes fixed upon the door. Robin did not return. I thought the ale might
have overcome the laddie, and that he had gone out and lain down in a state
of sickness; and "That," thought I, "will be a _becoming_ state for me to
take him home in to his distressed mother. Or it will cause us to stop a
night upon the road."

My anxiety became insupportable, and I again left my comrades, and went out
to seek him. I sought him in every street, in every public-house in the
town, amongst the soldiers, and amongst the townspeople; but all were too
much occupied in discussing the cause of the alarm, to notice him who was
to me as the apple of my eye. For three hours I wandered in search of him,
east, west, north, and south, making inquiries at every one I met; but no
one had seen or heard tell of him. I saw the coach drive off for Dunbar. I
beheld also my comrades muster on the following morning, and prepare to
return home, but I wandered up and down disconsolate, seeking my son, but
finding him not.

The most probable, and the fondest conjecture that I could indulge in, was,
that he had returned home. I, therefore, shouldered my musket, and followed
my companions to Dunse, whom I overtook upon the moors. It would be
impossible for me to describe my feelings by the way--they were torture
strained to its utmost extremity, and far more gloomy and dreary than the
gloomiest and dreariest parts of the moors over which we had to pass. Every
footstep increased my anxiety, every mile the perturbation and agony of my
spirit. Never, I believe, did a poor parent endure such misery before, and
I wished that I had never been one. I kept looking for him to the right and
to the left every minute; and though it was but few travellers that we met
upon the road, every one that we did meet I described him to them, and
asked them if they had seen him. But, "No!" "No!" was their unvaried
answer, and my wretchedness increased.

At length we arrived at Dunse, and a great crowd was there to meet
us--wives to welcome their husbands, parents to greet their children, and
children their parents. The first that my eyes singled out, was a sister of
my Agnes. She ran up to me.

"Roger," she cried, "hae ye seen onything o' Robie?"

The words went through my breast as if it had received the fire of a whole
French battalion. I stood stock-still, petrified with despair. My looks
told my answer to her question.

"Oh, dear me! dear me!" I heard her cry; "what will his puir mother do
noo--for she already is like ane clean out o' her judgment about him."

I did not stop for the word "halt," or for the breaking of the lines; and I
went home, I may say by instinct, for neither bird, bush, house nor tree,
man nor bairn, was I capable of discerning by the road. Grief and
heart-bursting anxiety were as scales upon my eyes. I remember of rushing
into the house, throwing down my gun, and crying--"O Agnes! Agnes!" And as
well do I remember her impatient and piteous inquiry--"Where is my
Robie?--Oh, where is my son?--hae ye no seen him?"

It was long before I could compose myself, so as to tell her all that I
knew concerning him; and it was even longer before she was sufficiently
calm to comprehend me. Never did unhappy parents before experience greater
bitterness of soul. I strove to comfort her, but she would not listen to my
words; for oh, they were as the blind leading the blind; we both were
struggling in the slough of despair--both were in the pit of dark,
bewildering misery. We sometimes sat looking at each other, like criminals
whose last hour is come; and even when our grief wore itself into a "calm
sough," there was something in our silence as dismal and more hopeless than
the silence of the grave itself. But, every now and then, she would burst
into long, loud lamentations, mourning and crying for "her son!--her son!"
Often, too, did we sit, suppressing our very breath, listening to every
foot that approached, and as one disappointment followed another, her
despair became deeper and deeper, louder and louder, and its crushing
weight sank heavier and heavier upon my spirit.

Some of his young companions informed us, that Robin had long expressed a
determination to be a soldier; and, on the following day, I set out for
Edinburgh to seek for him there, and to buy him off at any price, if he had

There, however, I could gather no tidings concerning him; and all that I
could learn was, that a regiment had left the Castle that morning at two
o'clock, and embarked at Leith for Chatham, from whence they were to
proceed direct abroad; and that several recruits were attached to it, some
of them only sworn in an hour before they embarked; but whether my poor
Robie was among them or not, no one could tell.

I left Edinburgh no wiser, no happier, and in no way more comforted than I
entered it, and returned to his mother a sad and sorrowing-hearted man. She
wrung her hands the instant she beheld me, and, in a tone that might have
touched the heart of a stone, cried aloud--"Oh, my lost! lost bairn! Ye hae
made a living grave o' yer mother's breast."

I would have set off immediately for London, and from thence down to
Chatham, to inquire for him there; but the wind was favourable when the
vessel sailed, and it was therefore certain, that, by the time I got back
to Dunse, she was at the place of her destination; and moreover, I had no
certainty or assurance that he was on board. Therefore, we spent another
day in fruitless lamentations and tears, and in vain inquiries around our
own neighbourhood, and amongst his acquaintances.

But my own heart yearned continually, and his mother's moaning was
unceasing in my ear, as the ticking of a spider, or the beating of a
stop-watch to a person that is doomed to die. I could find no rest. I
blamed myself for not proceeding direct from Edinburgh to Chatham; and,
next day, I went down to Berwick, to take my place in the mail to London.

By the way I met several of the yeomanry, who were only returning from
Dunbar, where they had been summoned by the alarm; and I found that Berwick
also had been in arms. But taking my place on the mail, I proceeded,
without sleep or rest, to London, and from thence hastened to Chatham.
There again I found that the regiment which I sought was already half way
down the Channel; but I ascertained also that my poor thoughtless boy was
one of the recruits, and even that was some consolation, although but a
poor one.

Again I returned to his mother, and told her of the tidings. They brought
her no comfort, and, night and day, she brooded on the thought of her fair
son lying dead and mangled on the field of slaughter, or of his returning
helpless and wounded to his native land. And often it was wormwood to my
spirit, and an augmentation of my own sorrows, to find that, in secret, she
murmured against me as the author of her bereavement, and as having
instilled into my son a liking for a soldier's life. She said it was all
owing to my getting him, from the time that he was able to read, to take
the newspaper in his hand and read it aloud to my cronies, and in which
there were accounts of nothing but wars and battles, of generals and
captains, and Bonaparte, of whom enough was foretold and enough could be
read in the Revelations. These murmurings grieved me the more, inasmuch as
my mind was in no way satisfied that they were without foundation. No man
knew better than I did, how easily the twig is bent; a passing breeze, the
lighting of a bird upon it, may do it; and as it is bent, so the branch or
the tree will be inclined. I, therefore, almost resolved not to permit
another newspaper to be brought within my door. But, somehow or other, it
became more necessary than ever. Every time it came it was like a letter
from Robie; and we read it from beginning to end, expecting always to hear
something of him or of his regiment. Even Agnes grew fond of it, and was
uneasy on the Saturdays if the postman was half-an-hour behind the time in
bringing it.

Full twelvemonths passed before we received a letter from him; and never
will I forget the delightful sensations that gushed into my bosom at the
sight of that letter. I trembled from head to foot with joy. I knew his
handwriting at the first glance, and so did his mother--just as well as if
he had begun "_dear parents_" on the back of it. It was only to be a penny,
and his mother could hardly get her hand into her pocket to give the copper
to the postman, she shook so excessively with joy and with agitation, and
kept saying to me--"Read, Roger! read! Oh, let me hear what my bairn says."

I could hardly keep my hand steady to open it; and, when I did break the
seal, I burst into tears at the same moment, and my eyes became as though I
were blind; and still his mother continued saying to me--"Oh, read! read!"

Twice, thrice, did I draw my sleeve across my eyes, and at last I read as

"MY DEAR PARENTS,--I fear that my conduct has caused you many a miserable
day, and many a sleepless night. But, even for my offence, cruel as it has
been, I trust there is forgiveness in a parent's breast. I do not think
that I ever spoke of it to you, but, from the very earliest period that I
could think, the wish was formed in my mind to be a soldier. When I used to
be spelling over the History of Sir William Wallace, or the lives of the
Seven Champions of Christendom, I used to fancy myself Wallace or Saint
George; and I resolved, that when I lived to be a man, that I would be a
soldier and a hero like them; and I used to think what a grand thing it
would be for you and my mother, and all my acquaintances, to be reading
about me and my exploits! The continual talking about the war and the
French, and of their intention to invade Britain, all strengthened my early
desires. Often when I was reading the newspapers to you and your friends,
and about the gallant deeds of any particular individual, though I used to
read _his name_ aloud to you, I always read it in to myself as though it
were my own. I had resolved to enlist before the false alarm took place;
and, when you and the other volunteers marched out of Dunse to Haddington,
I could not resist the temptation which it offered of seeing and being
present at a battle. About half-an-hour after you left the town, I followed
ye, and, as ye are already aware, overtook poor Jonathan Barlowman, who had
fallen behind the corps, in great distress, apparently both of body and
mind. He seemed to be in a swither whether to return home, to follow ye, or
to lie down and die by the road. I knew him by the sound of the lamentation
he was making, and, accosting him, I inquired--'What is the matter wi' ye,
Jonathan! Has ony o' the French, concealed aboot the moors, shot ye
already?' 'Oh,' he replied, 'I am ill--I am dying!--I am dying!--I will
give any money for a substitute!' 'Gie me yer gun,' said I, 'and I will be
yer substitute without money.' 'A thousand blessings upon yer head, Robie,
lad!' said he; 'ye shall hae my gun, and ye may tak also my greatcoat and
knapsack, for they only encumber me. Ye hae rescued a dying man.' I was
nearly as tall as he; and, though his coat was loose about me, when I got
it on, and his musket over my shoulder, and felt that I was marching like
an armed knight of old against the invaders of my country, I felt as proud
as an emperor; I would not have changed situations with a king. I overtook
you, and you know the rest. At Haddington, the strong ale was too strong
for me. I was also sorely mortified to find all my prospects of becoming a
hero blasted. When, therefore, you went out to take our places in the
coach to Dunbar, I slipped out of the room, and hiding Mr Barlowman's coat
and gun in a closet, in the house, I took the road for Edinburgh; which
city I reached within less than three hours; and before I had been in it
twenty minutes I was a soldier. I was afraid to write home, lest ye would
take steps to buy me off. On the fourth day after my enlisting I was landed
at Chatham, where I was subjected to a perpetual drill; and within thirty
hours after landing, I again embarked with my regiment; and when I wished
to have written, I had not an opportunity. Since then, I have been in two
general engagements and several skirmishes, in all of which I have escaped
unwounded. I have found that to read of a battle, and to be engaged in a
battle, are two very different things. The description is grand, but the
sight dismal. I trust that my behaviour as a soldier has been
unimpeachable. It has obtained for me the notice of our colonel, who has
promoted me to the rank of corporal, with the promise of shortly making me
a sergeant; and I am not without hopes, before the war is over, (of which
there at present is no prospect), of obtaining a commission; though it
certainly is not one in a thousand that has such fortune. Hoping,
therefore, my dear parents, that, under the blessing of Providence, this
will find you well, as it leaves me, and that I will live to return to ask
your forgiveness, I remain your affectionate and dutiful son,


       *       *       *       *       *

Such was Robin's letter. "Read it again," said mother--and I read it again;
and when I had done so, she took it in her hand and pressed it to her lips
and to her breast, and wept for "her poor bairn." At last, in a tone of
despondency, she said--"But, oh, he doesna once particularly mention his
mother's name in't."

"He surely does," said I; "I think he mentions us both."

So I took the letter again into my hand, and, at the foot corner of the
third page, I saw what I had not observed before, the letters and
words--"_P.S. Turn over_."

"P.S." said his mother; "who does that mean?"

"Oh!" said I, "it means nobody. It means that we have not read all the

"Read it a', then--read it a'!" she cried.

And I turned to the last page, on the fold above the direction, and read--

"P.S.--But how am I to ask the forgiveness of my dear mother, for all the
distress and anxiety that my folly and disobedience must have occasioned
her. I start in my very sleep, and think that I hear her yearning and
upbraiding. If she knew how deep my repentance is, and how keen my misery
for the grief which I have caused her, I would not have to ask her
forgiveness twice. Dear father! dear mother!--both, both of you forgive
your thoughtless son."

These last lines of his letter drowned us both in tears, and, for the space
of several minutes, neither of us were able to speak. I was the first to
break silence, and I said--"Agnes, our dear Robin is now a soldier, and he
seems to like that way of life. But I dislike the thought of his being only
a corporal, and I would wish to see him an officer. We have nobody in the
world but him to care for. He is our only son and heir, and I trust that
all that we have will one day be his. Now, I believe that the matter of
four or five hundred pounds will buy him a commission, and make him an
officer, with a sword by his side, a sash round his waist, and a gold
epaulette on his shoulder, with genteel pay and provision for life; besides
setting him on the high road to be a general. Therefore, if ye approve of
it, I will sell out stock to the amount that will buy him commission."

"Oh," replied she, "ye needna ask me if I approve, for weel do ye ken that
I will approve o' onything that will be for my bairn's benefit."

I accordingly lifted five hundred pounds, and through the influence of a
Parliament man, succeeded in procuring him a commission as an ensign. I
thought the money well spent, as it tended to promote the respectability
and prospects of my son.

Four years afterwards, his mother and I had the satisfaction of reading in
the public papers, that he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant upon
the field, for his bravery. On the following day we received a letter from
himself, confirming the tidings, which gave us great joy. Nevertheless, our
joy was mingled with fears; for we were always apprehensive that some day
or other we would find his name among the list of killed and wounded. And
always the first thing that his mother said to me, when I took up the
papers, was--"Read the list of the killed and wounded." And I always did
so, with a slow, hesitating, and faltering voice, fearful that the next I
should mention would be that of my son, Lieutenant Goldie.

There was very severe fighting at the time; and every post was bringing
news concerning the war. One day, (I remember it was a King's fast-day,)
several neighbours and myself were leaning upon the dike, upon the footpath
opposite to my house, and waiting for the postman coming from Ayton, to
hear what was the news of the day. As he approached us, I thought he looked
very demure-like, which was not his usual; for he was as cheerful,
active-looking a little man as you could possibly see.

"Well, Hughie," said I to him, holding out my hand for the papers, "ye look
dull like to-day; I hope ye have no bad news?"

"I would hope not, Mr Goldie," said he; and, giving me the paper, walked

The moment that Agnes saw that I had got it, she came running out of the
house, across the road, to hear as usual, the list of the killed and
wounded read, and my neighbours gathered round about me. There had been, I
ought to tell ye, a severe battle, and both the French and our army claimed
the victory; from which we may infer, that there was no great triumph on
either side. But, agreeably to my wife's request, I first read over the
list of the killed, wounded, and _missing_. I got over the two first
mentioned; but, oh! at the very sight of the first name upon the missing
list, I clasped my hands together, and the paper dropped upon the ground.

"O Robie! my son! my son!" I cried aloud.

Agnes uttered a piercing scream, and cried, "O my bairn--what has happened
my bairn? Is he dead! Tell me, is my Robie dead?"

Our neighbours gathered about her, and tried to comfort her; but she was
insensible to all that they could say. The first name on the missing list
was that of my gallant son. When the first shock was over, and I had
composed myself a little, I also strove to console Agnes; but it was with
great difficulty that we could convince her that Robin was not dead, and
that the papers did not say he was wounded.

"Oh, then!" she cried, "what do they say about him. Tell me at once. Roger
Goldie! how can ye, as the faither o' my bairn, keep me in suspense."

"O, dear Agnes," said I, "endeavour, if it be possible, to moderate your
grief; I am sure ye know that I would not keep ye in suspense if I could
avoid it. The papers only say that Robin is _amissing_."

"And what mean they by that?" she cried.

"Why," said I to her, "they mean that he, perhaps, pursued the enemy too
far--or possibly that he may have fallen into their hands, and be a
prisoner--but that he had not cast up when the accounts came away."

"Yes! yes!" she exclaimed with great bitterness, "and it perhaps means that
his body is lying dead upon the field, but hasna been found."

And she burst out into louder lamentations, and all our endeavours to
comfort her were in vain; though, in fact, my sufferings were almost as
great as hers.

We waited in the deepest anxiety for several days, always hoping that we
would hear some tidings concerning him, but none came. I therefore wrote to
the War-Office, and I wrote also to his Colonel. From the War-Office I
received a letter from a clerk, saying that he was commanded to inform me,
that they could give me no information relative to Lieutenant Goldie,
beyond what was contained in the public prints. The whole letter did not
exceed three lines. You would have said that the writer had been employed
to write a certain number of letters in a day, at so much a day, and the
sooner he got through his work the better. I set it down in my mind that he
had never had a son amissing on the field of battle, or he never would have
written an anxious and sorrowing father such a cold scrawl. He did not even
say that, if they got any tidings concerning my son, they would make me
acquainted with them. He was only commanded to tell me that they did not
know what I was, beyond every thing on earth, desirous to ascertain. Though
perhaps, I ought to admit that, in a time of war, the clerks in the
War-Office had something else to do than enter particularly into the
feelings of every father that had a son in the army, and to answer all his

From the Colonel, however, I received a long, and a very kind letter. He
said many flattering things in praise of my gallant laddie, and assured me
that the whole regiment deplored his being separated from them. He,
however, had no doubt but that he had fallen into the hands of the enemy,
and that, in some exchange of prisoners, or in the event of a peace, he
would be restored to his parents and country again.

This letter gave us some consolation. It encouraged us to cherish the hope
of pressing our beloved son again to our breasts, and of looking on his
features, weeping and wondering at the alterations which time, war, and
imprisonment had wrought upon them. But more than three years passed away,
and not a syllable did we hear concerning him, that could throw the least
light upon where he was, or whether he was dead or living. Anxiety preyed
sadly upon his mother's health as well as upon her spirits, and I could not
drive away a settled melancholy.

About that time a brother of mine, who was a bachelor, died in the East
Indies, and left me four thousand pounds. This was a great addition to our
fortune, and we hardly knew what to do with it. I may say that it made us
more unhappy, for we thought that we had nobody to leave it to; and he who
ought to have inherited it, and whom it would have made independent, we
knew not whether he was in the land of the living, or a strange corpse in a
foreign grave. Yet I resolved that, for his sake, I would not spend one
farthing of it, but let it lie at interest; and I even provided in a will
which I made, that unless he cast up, and claimed it, no one should derive
any benefit from either principal or interest until fifty years after my

I have said, that the health of Agnes had broken down beneath her weight of
sadness, and as she had a relation, who was a gentleman of much
respectability, that then resided in the neighbourhood of Kelso, it was
agreed that we should spend a few weeks in the summer at his house. I
entertained the hope that society, and the beautiful scenery around Kelso,
with the white chalky braes[A] overhung with trees, and the bonny islands
in the Tweed, with mansions, palaces, and ruins, all embosomed in a
paradise as fair and fertile as ever land could boast of, would have a
tendency to cheer her spirits, and ease, if not remove, the one heavy and
continuing sorrow, which lay like an everlasting nightmare upon her heart,
weighing her to the grave.

Her relation was a well-educated man, and he had been an officer in the
army in his youth, and had seen foreign parts. He was also quite
independent in his worldly circumstances, and as hospitable as he was
independent. There were at that period a number of French officers,
prisoners, at Kelso, and several of them, who were upon their parole, were
visiters at the house of my wife's relation.

There was one amongst them, a fine, though stern-looking man of middle age,
and who was addressed by the appellation of Count Berthé. He spoke our
language almost as well as if he had been a native. He appeared to be
interested when he heard that my name was Goldie, and one day after dinner,
when the cloth was withdrawn, and my wife's relation had ordered the punch
upon the table--"Ha! Goldie! Goldie!" said the Count, repeating my name--"I
can tell one story--which concerns me much--concerning, one Monsieur
Goldie. When I was governor of the castle La----, (he called it by some
foreign name, which I cannot repeat to you), there was brought to me, (he
added), to be placed under my charge, a young British officer, whose name
was Goldie. I do not recollect the number of his regiment, for he was not
in uniform when brought to me. He was a handsome man, but represented as a
terrible one, who had made a violent attempt to escape after being taken
prisoner, and his desperate bravery in the field was also recorded. I was
requested to treat him with the respect due to a brave man, but, at the
same time, to keep a strict watch over him, and to allow him even less
liberty than I might do to an ordinary prisoner. His being a captive did
not humble him; he treated his keepers and his guards with as much contempt
as though he had been their conqueror on the field. We had confined his
body, but there was no humbling of his spirit. I heard so much of him, that
I took an interest in the haughty Briton. But he treated me with the same
sullen disdain that he showed towards my inferiors. I had a daughter, who
was as dear to me as life itself, for she had had five brothers, and they
had all fallen in the cause of the great emperor, with the tricolor on
their brow, and the wing of the eagle over them. She was
beautiful--beautiful as her sainted mother, than whom Italy boasted not a
fairer daughter, (for she was a native of Rome.) Hers was not a beauty that
you may see every day amongst a thousand in the regions of the north--hers
was the rare beauty amongst ten thousand of the daughters of the sunny
south, with a face beaming with as bright a loveliness, and I would say
divinity, as the Medici. Of all the children which that fair being bore
unto me, I had but one, a daughter, left--beautiful as I have
said--beautiful as her mother. I had a garden beneath the castle, and over
it was a terrace, in which the British prisoner, Goldie, was allowed to
walk. They saw each other. They became acquainted with each other. He had
despised all who approached; he had even treated me, who had his life in my
hand, as a dog. But he did not so treat my daughter. I afterwards learned,
when it was too late, that they had been seen exchanging looks, words, and
signs with each other. He had been eighteen months my prisoner; and one
morning when I awoke, I was told that my daughter was not to be found, and
that the English prisoner, Lieutenant Goldie, also had escaped. I cursed
both in my heart; for they had robbed me of my happiness--he had robbed me
of my child; though she only could have accomplished it. Shortly after
this, (and perhaps because of it,) I was again called into active service,
where, in my first engagement, it was my lot to be made a prisoner, and
sent here; and since then I have heard nothing of my daughter--my one, dear
child--the image of her mother; and nothing of him--the villain who seduced
her from me."

"Oh, sir," exclaimed I, "do not call him a villain, for if it be he that I
hope it was, who escaped through the intrumentality of your daughter, and
took her with him, he has not a drop of villain's blood in his whole body.
Sir! sir! I have a son--a Lieutenant Goldie; and he has (as I hope) been a
French prisoner from the time ye speak of. Therefore, tell me, I implore
ye, what was he like. Was he six inches taller than his father, with light
complexion, yellowish hair, an aqualine nose; full blue eyes, a mole upon
his right cheek, and, at the time ye saw him, apparently, perhaps, from
two-and-twenty to three-and-twenty years of age? Oh, sir--Count, or
whatever they call ye--if it be my son that your daughter has liberated and
gone away with, she has fallen upon her feet; she has married a good, a
kind, and a brave lad; and, though I should be the last to say it, the son
of an honest man, who will leave him from five to six thousand pounds,
beside his commission."

By the description which he gave me, I had no doubt but that my poor Robie,
and the laddie who had run away with his daughter, (or, I might say, the
laddie with whom his daughter had run away,) were one and the same person.

I ran into the next room, crying, "Agnes! Agnes! hear, woman! I have got
news of Robie!"

"News o' my bairn!" she cried, before she saw me. "Speak, Roger! speak!"

I could hardly tell her all that the French Count had told me, and I could
hardly get her to believe what she heard. But I took her into the room to
him, and he told her everything over again. A hundred questions were asked
backward and forward upon both sides, and there was not the smallest doubt,
on either of our parts, but that it was my Robie that his daughter had
liberated from the prison, and run off with.

"But oh, sir," said Agnes, "where are they now--baith o my bairns--as you
say I have twa? Where shall I find them?"

He said that he had but little doubt that they were safe, for his daughter
had powerful friends in France, and that as soon as a peace took place,
(which he hoped would not be long,) we should all see them again.

Well, the long-wished-for peace came at last--and in both countries the
captives were released from the places of their imprisonment. I have
already twice mentioned the infirm state of my wife's health; and we were
residing at Spittal, for the benefit of the sea air and bathing, and the
Spa Well, (though it had not then gained its present fashionable
popularity,) when a post-chaise drove to the door of our lodgings. An
elderly gentleman stepped off from the dicky beside the driver, and out of
the chaise came a young lady, a gentleman, and two bonny bairns. In a
moment I discovered the elderly gentleman to be my old friend the French
Count. But, oh! how--how shall I tell you the rest! I had hardly looked
upon the face of the younger stranger, when I saw my own features in the
countenance of my long lost Robie! The lady was his wife--the Count's bonny
daughter; and the bairns were their bairns. It is in vain for me to
describe to you the feelings of Agnes; she was at first speechless and
senseless, and then she threw her arms round Robie, and she threw them
round his wife, and she took his bairns on her knee--and, oh! but she was
proud at seeing herself a grandmother! We have all lived together in
happiness from that day to this; and the more I see of Robie's wife, the
more I think she is like an angel; and so thinks his mother. I have only to
inform you that bold Jonathan Barlowman was forced to leave the
country-side shortly after his valiant display of courage, and since then
nobody in Dunse has heard whether he be dead or living and nobody cares.
This is all I have to tell ye respecting the _false alarm_, and I hope ye
are satisfied.


[A] It is evidently from the beautiful chalk cliff near Ednam House (though
now not a very prominent object) that Kelso derives its name--as is proved
by the ancient spelling.



The last fifty years of mortal regeneration and improvement have effected
more changes in the old fasts, and feasts, and merrymakings of Scotland,
than twice and twice over that time of any other period since it became a
nation. Every year we see the good old customs dying out, or strangled by
the Protæan imp Fashion, who, in the grand march of improvement of which we
are so proud, in the perking conceit of heirs-apparent of the millennium,
seems to be the only creature that derives benefit from the eternal changes
that, by-and-by, we fear, will turn our heads, and make us look _back_ for
the true period of happiness and wisdom. But what enrageth us the more is,
that, while all our fun of Beltane, Halloween, Hogmanay, Hanselmonday, and
all our old merrymakings, are gone with our absentee lords and thanes--

    "Wha will their tenants pyke and squeize,
      And purse up all their rent;
    Syne wallop it to far courts, and bleize
      Till riggs and schaws are spent"--

and to whose contempt of our old customs we attribute a great part of their
decay--we, in the very midst of the glorious improvement that has
succeeded, are still cheated, belied, robbed, and plundered on all hands by
political adventurers, private jobbers, and saintly hypocrites, in an
artful, clean-fingered, and beautiful style of the trade, a thousand times
more provoking than the clumsy, old-fashioned, _honest_ kind of roguery
that used to be in fashion, when folk were not too large for innocent
mirth, and not too wise for enjoying what was liked by their ancestors. The
people cry improvement--so do we; but we cherish a theory that has no
charm, in these days of absolute faith in politics and parliament for the
regeneration of man, that the true good of society--that is, the
improvement of the heart and morals of a great country--lies in a sphere
far humbler than the gorgeous recesses of Westminster--the fireside; a
place that in former days, was revered, and honoured, and cherished, not
only as the cradle of morals, but the abode of soul-stirring joys, and the
scene of the celebration of many old and sacred amusements which humanized
the young heart, and moulded and prepared it for the reception of those
feelings which are interwoven with the very principle of social good. A
political wrangle is a poor substitute for the old moral tales of the
winter evenings of old Scotland. Even our legends of superstitious fear
carried in them the boon of heartfelt obligation, which, when the subject
was changed for the duties of life, still retained its strength, and
wrought for good. These things are all gone; and, dissatisfied as we are
with the bold substitutes of modern wisdom, let us use that which they
cannot take from us, our books of "auld lear," and refresh ourselves with a
peep at Leslie, in the Hogmanay of 16--. Who has not heard of "Christ's
Kirk" in the kingdom of Fife, that place so celebrated by King James, in
his incomparable "Christ's Kirk on the Green," for the frolics of wooers
and "kittys washen clean," and "damsels bright," and "maidens mild?" That
celebrated town was no other than our modern Leslie; and, though we cannot
say that that once favoured haunt of the satyrs of merrymaking has escaped
the dull blight that comes from the sleepy eye of the owl of modern wisdom,
we have good authority for asserting that long after James celebrated the
place for its unrivalled festivities, the character of the inhabitants was
kept for many an after-day; and Hogmanay was a choice outlet for the
exuberant spirits of the votaries of Momus.

The day we find chronicled as remarkable for an exhibition of the true
spirit of the Leslieans, went off as all days that precede a glorious
jubilee at night generally do. The ordinary work of the "yape" expectants
was, no doubt, apparently going on; but the looking of "twa ways" for
gloaming was, necessarily, exclusive of much interest in the work of the
day. The sober matrons, as they sat at the door on the "stane settle,"
little inclined to work, considered themselves entitled to a _feast_ of
gossip; and even the guidman did not feel himself entitled to curb the glib
tongue of his dame, or close up her ears with prudential maxims against the
bad effects of darling, heart-stirring, soul-inspiring scandal. On that day
there was no excise of the commodities of character. They might be bought
or sold at a wanworth, or handed or banded about in any way that suited the
tempers of the people. The bottle and the bicker had already, even in the
forenoon, been, to a certain extent, employed as a kind of outscouts of the
array that was to appear at night, and the gossipers were in that blessed
state, between partial possession and full expectation, that makes every
part of the body languid and lazy except the tongue. Around them the
younkers, "hasty hensures" and "wanton winklots," were busy preparing the
habiliments of the guysers--whose modes of masking and disguising were
often regulated by the characters they were to assume, or the songs they
had learned to chant for the occasion. Nor were these mimes limited to the
urchin caste; for, in these days, wisdom had not got so conceited as to be
ashamed of innocent mirth; and gaucy queens and stalwarth chiels exhibited
their superiority only in acting a higher mask, and singing a loftier
strain. The gossips did not hesitate to suspend the honeyed topic, to give
sage counsel on the subject of the masking "bulziements;" and anon they
turned a side look at the minor actors, the imps of devilry, who passed
along with their smoking horns often made of the stem or "runt" of a winter
cabbage, wherewith that night they would inevitably smoke out of "house and
hauld" every devil's lamb of every gossip that did not open her hand and
"deal her bread" to the guysers. Both parties, gossips and urchins,
understood each other--like two belligerent powers asserting mutual rights,
and contemplating each other with that look of half-concealed contention
and defiance, which only tended to make the attack more inevitable.

The evening set in, and the witching hour--the keystone of night's black
arch, twelve o'clock--was approaching. To go to bed on such an occasion,
would have been held no better than for a jolly toper to shirk his bicker,
a lover to eschew the trysting thorn, or a warrior to fly the scene of his
country's glory; neither would it have been safe, for no good guyser of the
old school would take the excuse of being in bed in lieu of the buttered
pease-bannock--the true hogmanay cake, to which he was entitled, by "the
auld use and wont" of Scotland; and far better breathe the smoke of the
"smeikin horn" on foot, and with the means of self-defence at command, than
lie choked in bed, and "deaved" by the stock and horn, the squalling
bagpipe, and the eternal--

    "Hery, Hary, Hubblischow,
    See ye not quha is come now!"

ringing in one's ears during the whole night. The young were out; the old
were in; but all were equally up and doing the honours of the occasion. At
auld Wat Wabster's door, one minstrel company were singing--"Great is my
sorrow;" and Marion, his daughter, with

    "Her glitterand hair, that was sae gowden,"

dealt out, with leal hand, the guyser's bannock. At the very next door, Meg
Johnston was in the act of being "smecked oot" by a covey of twelve devils,
who had inserted into every cranny a horn, and were blowing, with puffed
cheeks, a choking death in every blast. One kept watch, to give the
concerted signal when Meg should appear with her stick. On which occasion
they were off in an instant; but only to return when Meg had let out the
smoke, and satisfied herself that she would be no more tormented that
night, to blow her up and out again, with greater vigour and a denser smoke
than before. Farther on, Gib Dempster's dame, Kate, is at her door, with
the bottle in her hand, to give another menyie of maskers their "hogmanay,"
in the form of a dram; and Gib is at her back, eyeing her with a squint, to
count how many interlusive applications of the cordial she will make to her
own throat before she renounce her _opportunity_. In the middle of the
street, Gossip Simson is hurrying along, with the necessaries in her lap,
to treat her "cusin," Christy Lowrie, with a bit and a drop; and ever and
anon she says, "a guid e'en" to this one, and "a guid e'en" to that; and,
between the parties, her head is ever thrown back, as if she were counting
the stars; and, every time the act is repeated, the bottle undergoes a
perceptible diminution of its contents, till, by the time she reaches her
"luving cusin's" door, it is empty; and honest John Simson, at her return,
greets her with--"My feth, Jenny, ye've been at mony a hoose in Christ's
Kirk this nicht, if ane may judge by yer bottle." At the same instant,

    "Oh, leddy, help yer prisoneer
    This last nicht o' the passing year,"

is struck up at the door; the stock and horn sounds lustily in the ears of
her whose bottle is empty; and, obliged to send them away without either
cake or sup, she hears sounding in her confused ears--

    "The day will come when ye'll be dead.
    An' ye'll neither care for meal nor bread;"

and, in a short time after, "Jamie the wight," an impling, with a tail of
half-a-dozen minor and subordinate angels, begin blowing their smoking
horns in at both door and window, till honest John is fairly smoked out,
crying, as he hastens to the door--"This comes, Jenny, o' yer lavish
kindness to yer cusins, that we hae naethin left in oor bottle, either to
keep oot thae deevils' breath or wash't oot o' oor choking craigs." He is
no sooner at the door than Geordie Jamieson accosts him in the usual style,
and says he has come for his "hogmanay;" but John, knowing the state of the
bottle, begins a loud cough, in the midst of the smoke, and cries, as he
runs away from his house and visitor, (whom he pretends not to see for the
smoke.) "It's a deevil o' a hardship to be smeeked oot o' ane's ain hoose."

"Now," mutters Jenny, as she hears him run away, "I'll no see his face till
mornin; an' he'll come in as blind's a bat." And out she flies to catch
him; but, in her hurry, she overturns Geordie, just as his lips are
manufacturing the ordinary "Guid e'en to ye, Jenny!"

"The same to ye, Geordie," says she; and, with that boon, leaves him on her

The truth was, that John had the same instinctive antipathy against a house
where there was an empty bottle as rats have against deserted granaries.
But, if honest John Simson's house was deserted because Jenny had made too
free with the bottle, Wat Webster's was full, from a reason precisely the
very opposite; for the fair Marion--who had

    "Brankit fast and made her bonny"--

was, in the midst of a company, distributing the cakes and bannocks with
maidenly grace; and many a swain that night was glad, while

    "He quhissilit and he pypit baith,
      To mak her blyth that meeting--
    My hony heart, how says the sang,
      There sall be mirth at oor greeting."

And among the rest might now be seen John Simson and his helpmate, and also
Meg Johnston, who had been--either in reality, or, at least, with semblance
sufficient to form their apology for calling where there was plenty of
drink--smoked out of their own houses, amidst the cheers of the fire-imps.
About this time, twelve o'clock was chimed from a rough-voiced bell of the
Franciscan Monastery; and, some time after, in came Christy Lowrie, puffing
and blowing, as if she too had experienced the effects of the thick breath
of the fire-imps; and it might have been a fair presumption that her
throat, like that of some of her predecessors, had been dried from
pre-perceived gusts of Wat Webster's whisky rather than the smoke of the
fire-angels, had it not been made quickly apparent, from other symptoms,
that a horripilant terror had seized her heart and limbs, and inspired her
tongue with the dry rattle of fearful intelligence. Never stopping till she
got forward into the very heart of the company, seated round a blazing
ingle, she sank upon a chair, and held up her hands to heaven, as if
calling down from that quarter some supernatural agency to help in her
difficulty. Every one turned and looked at her with wonder, mixed with
sympathetic fear.

"What, in God's name, is this, Christy? Is he come?" cried Wat Webster.

"Oh! he's come again--he's come again!" she replied, in the midst of an
effort to catch a spittle to wet her parched throat. "He's been at Will
Pearson's, and Widow Lindsay's, and Rob Paterson's--he's gaun his auld
rounds--and dootless he'll be here too. O Marion! Marion! gie me a spark to
weet my throat."

The door was again opened, and in came Widow Lindsay in great haste and

"I've seen him again!" cried she fearfully, and threw herself down in a
corner of the lang settle.

"Are ye sure it's him, dame?" inquired Meg Johnston, who seemed perfectly
to understand these extraordinary proceedings.

"Sure!" ejaculated the widow. "Hae I no tasted his _red whisky_; and has it
no burned my throat till I maun ask Marion there to quench the fire wi' a
spark o' human-liquor?"

The fire in the two terror-struck women's throats was soon extinguished by
the "spark" they demanded; and a conversation, composed of twenty voices at
once, commenced, the essence of which was, that, on the occasion of the
last Hogmanay, a man dressed in a peculiar manner, with a green doublet,
and hose of the same colour, a cravat, and a blue bonnet, had, just as
twelve o'clock pealed from the monastery clock, made his appearance in the
town, and conducted himself in such a manner as to excite much wonder among
the inhabitants. Everything about him was mysterious; no person in that
quarter had ever seen him before; there was nobody along with him; he came
exactly at twelve; his face was so much shaded by a peculiar manner of
wearing his bonnet and cravat that no one could say he had ever got a
proper view of his features; he carried with him a bottle of liquor, which
the people, from ignorance of its character, denominated _red whisky_, and
which he distributed freely to all and sundry, without his stock ever
running out, or being exhausted: his manners were free, boisterous, and
hilarious; and he possessed the extraordinary power of making people love
him _ad libitum_. He came as he went, without any one knowing more of him
than that he was the very prince of good fellows; so exquisite a tosspot,
that he seemed equal to the task (perhaps no difficult one) of making the
whole town of Christ's Kirk drunk by the extraordinary spirit of his
example; and so spirit-stirring a conjurer of odd thoughts and unrivalled
humour, that melancholy itself laughed a gaunt laugh at his jokes; and
gizzened gammers and giddy hizzies were equally delighted with his devilry
and his drink. Arriving in the midst of frolic as high as ordinary mortal
spirits might be supposed able to sublime human exultation, he effected
such an increase of the corrybantic power of the laughing and singing
genius of Hogmanay, that

    "Never in Scotland had been seen
      Sic dancing nor deray;
    Nowther at Falkland on the green,
      Nor Peebles at the play."

But, coming like a fire-flaught, like a fire-flaught he and his red whisky
had departed; and it was not until he had gone, and one tosspot met another
tosspot, and gossip another gossip, and compared notes, and exchanged
shrewd guesses, eloquent winks, and pregnant vibrations of wondering
noddles, that the mysterious stranger was invested with all the attributes
to which he was, by virtue of his super-human powers, so clearly entitled.
He was immediately elevated to the place which, in those days, was reserved
in every cranium for the throne of the genius of superstition; yea he of
the red cravat and red liquor was the never-ending subject of conversation,
investigation, speculation, and consternation of the good folks of the town
of Christ's Kirk. While the terror he had inspired was still fresh on the
minds of the people, he returned at the exact hour of twelve on the
subsequent Halloween. He brought again his bottle of red liquor, was
dressed in the same style, wore the same red cravat, and was invested with
the same sublimating powers of extravagant merriment. He went his old
rounds; cracked nuts with the kittys; ducked for the apple, which never
escaped his mouth; threw the weight in the barn; spaed fortunes with the
Mauses; drank with the tosspots--

    "If you can be blest the day,
      Ne'er defer it till the morn--
    Peril still attends delay;
      As the fools will find, when they
    Have their happy hour forborne;"

and, by means of his wild humour and exhilarating drink, set all the scene
of his former exploits in an uproar of mixed terror, jollity, superstition,
and amazement. Every one, not possessed of fear, scrutinized him; those
(and they were many) who were stricken with terror, avoided him as if he
had in reality been the gentleman in black, as indeed many at that time
alleged he was; some who had heard of him, watched to catch a passing
glimpse of him; but, wonderful as it may seem, the jolly stranger again
disappeared, and no one, even those who had got royally drunk with him,
could say aught more of him than was said on the prior occasion; viz., that
he was the very prince of good fellows, if he should be the "very
big-horned Deil himsel." On his second disappearance, the point was no
longer a moot one, "Who the devil he could be?" for the very question, as
put, decided the question before it was answered. The point was just as
lucid as ever was the spring of St Anthony, and no one could be gravelled,
where there was not a grain of sand to interrupt the vision. There was not
in the limits of the guid toun a dame or damsel, greybeard, or no-beard,
that possessed within the boundaries of their cerebral dominions a single
peg on which they could hang a veritable or plausible doubt of the true
character, origin, and destination of this twelve-o'clock visiter of the
good old town of "Christ's Kirk on the Green."

Such was the state and condition of public opinion in the town of Leslie on
this most important and engrossing subject, on the breaking of the day with
which our history begins--this eventful Hogmanay. As the evening
approached, every one trembled; but the inspiration of incipient drams had
had the effect of so far throwing off the incubus as to enable some of the
inhabitants, and, in particular, those we have mentioned, to go about the
forms of the festival with decent freedom; while the guysers and "reekers,"
after the manner of buoyant youth, had been flirting with their terrors,
and singing and blowing to "keep their spirits up," in the execution of
what they conceived to be a national duty, as well as very good individual
fun. But there was little real sport in the case; and we would give it as a
stanch, and an unflinching opinion, were it put to us, that the terror of
the stranger, and not a love of the liquor she carried, was the true cause
of Jenny Simson's having emptied the bottle before she arrived at the
residence of Christy Lowrie. Nay, more, we might safely allege--and there
is no affidavit in the case--that there might have been more than smoke in
the cause of the rapid flight of John Simson and Meg Johnston from their
own houses to that of Wat Webster; and more than the roses in the cheeks of
the fair Marion, or Wat Webster's pith of anecdote, that produced the
congregation of individuals round his "blazing ingle," at the approach of
the eerie hour of twelve, when it was probable the mysterious stranger
would again appear. Be all this as it may--and we have no wish to overstate
a case in which it is scarcely possible to carry language too far--there
cannot be a doubt that the bells of the Franciscan monastery, as they
tolled, in reverberating sounds, the termination of the old year and the
beginning of the new, on that eventful night, struck a panic into the
boldest Heich Hutcheon that ever figured in "Christ's Kirk on the Green."

The statement of Christy Lowrie was perfectly true. Just as the bell
tolled, the identical personage, with the red cravat, was seen hurrying
forward with his ordinary agility--taking immense strides, and, at times,
laughing with the exuberance of his buoyant spirits, on the eve of being
gratified by his darling fun--by the east end of the town. The moon threw a
faint beam on him as he passed, and exhibited him first to a company of
guysers who were chanting at the door of Will Pearson--

    "O lusty Maye, with Flora queen."

The song was cut by a severed breath, and, uttering a loud scream, the
whole party darted off at full speed, and, as they flew, spread the
dreadful intelligence, that he of the red cravat was hurrying into the town
from the east. The news was just what was expected; hundreds were waiting
_aperto ore_ to receive it; and the moment they did receive it, they fled
to communicate the intelligence to others. Guysers, reekers, gossips, and
tosspots, laid down their songs, their horns, their scandal, and their
stoups, and acknowledged their Hogmanay occupation gone. The startling
words--"He's come, he's come!" passed from mouth to mouth. Some shut up
their houses, to prevent him from coming into them; and many who were
solitary, sought refuge in the houses of their neighbours. Some went out of
the town entirely, and sought protection from the abbot of the monastery;
and many stood about the corners of the passages and the ends of houses,
consulting what should be done in this emergency they had so long looked
for, and were so poorly provided against. In every quarter, fear reigned
with absolute sway; and if, in any instances, there was exhibited any
portion of courage, it was either derived from the protecting power of a
crucifix, or assumed in spite of the collapsing heart of real terror.

But all this did not prevent the stranger from going through his wonted
routine. His long strides, and extreme eagerness to get again into the
heart of his former extravagant jollity, brought him very soon to the
threshold of his old tosspot, Will Pearson, who, with his wife Betty, was
sitting at the fire, engaged in a low-toned conversation, on the very
subject of him of the red cravat. The door was burst open--the stranger
entered with a loud laugh and boisterous salutation.

"A good new year to thee," said he, "Will Pearson!" And he took, at the
same time, out of a side-pocket, the identical bottle, with a long neck,
and a thin waist, and containing the same red whisky he had been so lavish
of on former occasions, and set it upon the table with a loud knock that
rang throughout the small cottage.

Will Pearson and his wife Betty were riveted to the langsettle on which
they sat. Neither of them could move, otherwise they would have either gone
out at the back window, or endeavoured to get past the stranger, and
hurried out of the door. The quietness of the street told them eloquently
that there was no one near to give them assistance; and such was the
enchantment (they said) thrown over them by the extraordinary personage,
that they were fixed to their seats as firmly as if they had been tied by

"A good new year to thee!" said the stranger again; and he reached forth
his hand, and seized two flasks that lay on a side table, and which they
had been using in the convivialities of the day. These he placed upon the
table with a loud clank; and, laying hold of a three-footed creepy, he sat
down right opposite the trembling pair, and proceeded to empty out the red
liquor into the flasks, which he did in the most flourishing and noble
style of valiant topers.

"Here, my good old tosspot, Will Pearson!" said he, as he handed to him one
of the flasks. "I love thee, man, and have called on thee the first of all
the inhabitants of Christ's Kirk. Ha! by the holy rude, what a jolly cruise
I shall have!--I have looked forward for it since the last time thou and I
reduced the consistency of our corporations to the texture of souls,
through which the moon might have shone, by the power of this inimitable
liquor. Ho, man, had not we a jolly time of it last time we met? Drink,

And he emptied his flask, and flung it down upon the table, with a bold and
reckless air, as if he did not care whether its continuity might be
maintained against the force of the bang with which he disposed of it.

Will Pearson was unable to speak a single syllable; and the flask that had
been filled for him stood upon the table untouched. He sat with his eyes
fixed upon the stranger, and his skin as pale as a corpse. Betty was in the
same state of immovable terror. Every word that fell from his lips was a
death-knell--every drop of his red drink was as much liquid fire--and every
look was a flame.

"Why won't drink, Will Pearson, mine good old crony?" said he again, with
the same boisterous manner. "What grieves thee, man? and Betty too?--what
loss hast thou sustained? Cuffed by fortune? Broken on her wheel? Ha! ha! I
despise the old gammer, and will laugh out my furlough, though my lungs
should crack in throwing off the burden.

    "'This warld does ever flight and wary,
    Fortune sae fast her wheel does cary,
      Na time but turn can ever rest;
      For nae false charge suld ane be sary,
      And to be merry, I think it best.'

Pull up thy jaws, Will Pearson, and pull into them this flask, and thou
shalt be again my merry tosspot."

Will and his wife were still under the influence of their fear, and stared
at him in amazement.

"Well, and thou wilt not," he cried, rising hastily, "may the Devil take on
for't! My time is counted, and I must stuff as much fun into the compass of
an hour as may serve me for the coming year. Will Pearson, thou and I might
have had a right jolly time of it. I warrant the gallant Rob Paterson will
welcome me in a different manner. The sight of this is enough for Rob,"
(taking up the bottle;) "and as for this--ha! ha! what goodness getteth not
the fire claims."

And throwing the liquor into the ingle, which blazed up a large and fearful
flame by the strength of the spirit, he sallied out, and at the same moment
a loud scream--coming from some bolder investigators, who had ventured near
the house, and seen the sudden conflagration, followed by the exit of the
stranger--rung in echoes all around. But the stranger heeded not these
trifling indications of the effect of his visit. Resuming his long strides
and pushing-on activity of manner, he soon arrived at the house of Rob
Paterson, who was at the very moment addressing a figure of the Virgin.

"A good new year to thee, Rob Paterson!" cried the stranger, as he sat down
upon a kind of chair by the side of the table, and, taking out his
strange-fashioned bottle of red spirits, banged it down with a noise that
made Rob start and shake all over.

"Here again, thou seest, Rob Paterson," continued he. "We must have another
jolly bout. Thou knowest my time is short. Let us begin, for my body feels
the weight of its own clay. Before the Virgin, Rob? Ha! ha! man, art going
to die? Come, man--

    "When grim Death is looking for us,
      We are toping at our bowls;
    Bacchus joins us in the chorus--
      Death, begone!--here's none but souls."

Drink, Rob Paterson, and thou'lt pray the better to the Virgin."

And he held out the bottle to Rob, after having put it bodily to his mouth,
and taking a long draught as an example to the latter, who was known to
despise flasks. Rob turned up his eyes to the Virgin, and got from her some
confidence, if not courage. He looked at the tempting bottle, beautiful in
its fulness and total freedom from the contaminating society of flasks or
tankards; then he turned a fearful eye on its laughing, rioting possessor,
and anon sought again the face of the saint.

"Hast lost thine ancient spirit, Rob Paterson?" said the stranger. What
hath that spare figure, made of dry wood, to do with the mellow fuddling of
our noses? Come, man--Time flies; let us wet his wings, and keep him
fluttering a while over our heads.

    "'With an O and an I,
      Now are we furder found,
    Drink thou to me, and I to thee,
      And let the cup go round.'"

"But wha, in the Devil's name, are ye?" now said Rob Paterson, after many
an ineffectual effort to put the question.

"Ha! ha!" answered the stranger, "does Rob Paterson ask a man who is
introduced by this friend of noble red-blood, who he is? Why, man, I am Rob
Paterson's tosspot. Isn't that enough?"

"No quite," answered Rob, drawing nearer the Virgin. "Satan himself might
use the same words; and I crave the liberty to say in your presence, that I
hae nae wish to be on drinking terms wi' his Majesty."

And Rob eyed him fearfully as he thus alluded to the subject of the town's
fears, and again sought the face of the saint.

"Ah, Rob Paterson, my once cherished toper," replied the stranger, "I
sorrow for thy change. Thine ancient spirit has left thee, and thou hast
taken up with wooden idols, in place of the well-filled jolly bottle of thy
and my former love. Well, may the Devil take on for't!--I care not. Thou
mayst repent of thy folly when I am gone.

    "'Robene thou has hard soung and say,
      In gesties and stories auld--
    The man that will not quhen he may,
      Sall haif nocht quhen he wald.'"

Never mair, Rob Paterson, shalt thou have offer of spirit of wine. It shall
go there first!"

And, taking a mouthful of the red liquor, the stranger squirted it in the
fire, and raised a mighty flame that flared out into the very middle of the
street, and produced another echoing cry or scream from the terrified
inhabitants. He departed in an instant, and left Rob in a state of
agitation he had never felt before at the departure of a guest with a
well-filled bottle of good liquor.

The stranger passed out at the door with his usual bold precipitude, and
again plied his long limbs in making huge strides along the street, for the
house of another crony. He took no notice of the extraordinary demeanour of
the inhabitants, who were seen flying away from corners and angles where
they had nestled, for the purpose of seeing him come out in a flame of fire
from Rob Paterson's, as he had done from Will Pearson's. He strode on,
neither looking to the right nor to the left, till he came to Widow

"A good new year to thee, Dame Lindsay!" said he, as he entered the house
by opening the door, which the widow thought she had barred when she shoved
the bolt beyond the staple, and found her sitting by the fire counting her
rosary, and muttering prayers, with eyes upturned to heaven.

"Holy Mary, save me!" she muttered, as she heard him enter by the supposed
locked door. "He's come at last." And she retreated to a corner of the
room, and prayed fervently for deliverance.

"Thy throat has doubtless good memory of me and mine," continued the
stranger, as he placed on the table the same extraordinary bottle, the
shape and dimensions of which were as vivid in the mind of Dame Lindsay as
was the colour of the red cravat. "My male tosspots have forgot the taste
of my red liquor," he continued; "but what wet gossip's throat ever forgot
what nipped it. Come, dame, and let us have a right hearty jorum of this
inimitable drink." And, for want of better measure, he seized lustily a
bicker that lay near him, and dashed a quantity of the liquor into it. "Ha!
I forgot. Get thee for Meg Johnston thy gossip, dame, and let us be merry
together. Meg is a woman of a thousand. What a lusty hold she takes of a
brimming bicker, and how her eye lightens and brightens as she surveys the
swimming heaven under her nose! Come, dame--what ails?"

The only reply he got was a groan, and the rustle of Dame Lindsay's
quivering habiliments.

"By my own saint, this town of Christ's Kirk has a change upon it!" he
continued. "Last time I was here, it was as merry as King James when he
sang of it. The young and the old hailed me as the prince of good fellows,
and the wenches and wives--ha! ha!

    "'To dans thir damysells them dight,
      Thir lasses light of laits;
    They were sae skych when I them nicht,
      They squeild like ony gaits.'"

Dame Lindsay, I perceive what thou wantest, to melt thee into thy former
jollity. Thou'rt coquetting in the corner there for a kiss; and, by the
holy rude, thou shalt not want it for the space of the twinkling of thine

He rose for the purpose of applying the emollient he had threatened; but a
loud scream evinced that a woman, however much she may worship his Satanic
Majesty, cares not for his familiarities. The widow fainted; and what may
be supposed her feelings, when she found, on coming to herself, that that
identical and terrific red liquor had had a share in her recovery! Again
she screamed; but no kindly neighbour came to rescue her from her perilous
situation. Those who heard her cries, had many strange thoughts as to what
species of punishment she was undergoing, for her sins. The conjectures
were endless. "What could he be doing to Widow Lindsay?" was the universal
question. Some supposed that she was in the act of being carried off, and
was struggling to get out of his talons; some looked for the passing flame,
in the midst of which, the poor widow, clasped in his arms, would be seen
on her luminous journey to the lower world; and there were not few who
pretended to find, in the past life of the wretched victim, a very good
legitimate cause for the visit of the stranger, and the severity he was
clearly exercising towards her.

"Thou'lt be the better for thy faint, Widow Lindsay," said the stranger, as
she recovered, "seeing that what blood it has sent from thy heart, will be
returned with the addition of that liquor which is truly the water of life.
Dost forget, good widow, that, when I was last here, thou and Meg Johnston
would have fought for a can of it, if I had not made the can two? Come now,
and let us fuddle our noses till they be as red as the liquor itself, and
thy spectacles shew thee two noses, before they melt with the heat of their
ruby supporter.

    "'However this world do change and vary,
    Oh, let us in heart never more be sary.'"

"Avaunt ye! in the name o' the five holy wounds!" muttered the widow, as
she held up the Sathanifuge crow in his face.

"Well, and if thou wilt not, here goes!" replied he, as he threw the
contents of the bicker in the fire, which blazed up till the house seemed,
to those waiting fearfully in the distance, to be in flames.

Many an eye was now directed to the door and windows, to see Widow Lindsay
take her pyromantic flight through the flaming fields of ether; and they
continued their gaze till they saw him of the red cravat sally forth, when
fear closed up the vision, and they saw no more. Meanwhile he strode on,
singing all the way--

    "Full oft I muse, and be's in thocht;
    How this false world is aye on flocht,"

till he came to the door of Meg Johnston's cottage. He found it deserted;
and then stalked on to honest John Simson's, which was in like manner

"What can this mean?" he said to himself, as he bent his long steps to Wat
Webster's, where fearful messengers, as we have seen, had already preceded
him. "My person has lost its charm, my converse its interest, and my drink
its spirit-stirring power. But we shall see what Wat Webster and his Dame
Kitty, and the fair Marion, say to the residue of my authority. Ah, Marion,
as I think of thee--

    "'How heises and bleizes
      My heart wi' sic a fyre,
    As raises these praises
      That do to heaven aspire.'"

"Ha! ha! I will there outdevil all my devilries. My fire-chariots have as
yet flown off without a passenger; but this night I shall not go home

And he continued striding onwards in the deserted and silent passage, till
he came to Wat Webster's, where the collected inmates were all huddled
together round the fire, in that state of alarm produced by the
intelligence of Christy Lowry and Widow Lindsay, and already partly set
forth by us heretofore. Bang up went the door.

"A good new year to ye all!" said he, as he stalked into the middle of the

There was a dead silence throughout the company. Marion was the only
individual that dared to look him in the face; and there was an expression
in her eye that seemed to have the effect of increasing the boisterous glee
of his mysterious manner.

"Here we are once more, again," he continued, as he took out the eternal
imp-shaped bottle, and clanged it on the table.

Every eye was fixed upon him as if watching his motions and evolutions. Meg
Johnston was busy in a corner, defending herself, by drawing a circle round
her; Widow Lindsay was clinging close to the figure of the Virgin that was
placed against the wall by her side; Jenny Wilson sought refuge in the arms
of honest John; Wat Webster himself got his hand placed upon an old Latin
Bible, not one word of which he could read; and some followed one mode of
self-defence, and some another, against the expected efforts of the
stranger, whose proceedings at his other places of call had been all
related at Wat Webster's, with an exaggeration they perhaps stood little in
need of. The stranger cared nothing for these indications, not a cinder;
and took no notice of them.

"I'll e'en begin our potations myself," said he, filling out a flaskful of
his liquor, and drinking it off. "By him that brewed it, it tastes well
after my long walk! Wat Webster, wilt thou pledge me, man--

    "'And let us all, my friends, be merry,
    And set nocht by this world a cherry;
      Now while there is good wyne to sell,
    He that does on dry bread worry,
      I gif him to the devil of hell.'"

And he trowled the flask upon the table while he sung, as a kind of bass
chorus to his song.

"There's for thee, Wat!" continued he, filling out a flask.

Wat kept his hand upon the holy book.

"Wilt thou, honest John Wilson, pledge thy old friend in this red liquor,
which formerly claimed so strong an acquaintanceship with the secret power
of the topers' hearts of merry Christ's Kirk?"

"For the luve o' heaven," whispered Jenny, as she clung closer to him,
"touch it not!--it will scald yer liver like brimstone, and may, besides,
be the price o' yer soul's purchase."

John looked at the liquor, and would have spoken; but his heart failed him.

"Wilt thou, Meg Johnston, empty this flask to the health of thy old

"Guid faith, I, lad," muttered Meg, safe as she thought within the walls of
her necromantic circumvallation--"I ken ye owre weel. Ye needna think to
cheat me. I'm no a spunk to be dipped in brimstone, and then set lowe to.
But [aside] how can he stand the look o' the haly rude! and the haly book?
The deevil o' sic a deevil I ever heard, saw, or read o'. Avaunt ye, avaunt
ye, in the name o the seven churches! The deil a bane ye'll get here--yere
owre weel kenned. Set aff in a flash o' yer ain fire to Falkland."

"Wilt thou, Christy Lowry, pledge thine old friend?" continued the
stranger, without noticing Meg's recommendation.

"In guid troth na," replied Christy, to whom the cross afforded some
confidence. "It's a' out, man--it's owre the hail town. There's nae use in
concealin't langer. Just put a spunk to the neck o't and set aff. Wae! wae!
[aside] but it's an awfu thing to look the enemy i' the very face, and
hauld converse wi' lips that mak nae gobs at cinders! Ave Maria! help
Christy Lowry in this her trial and temptation?"

"Come from thy langsettle, jolly Kate Webster," continued he of the red
cravat, "and let us, as thou wert wont to say, have a little laughing and
drinking deray in this last night of the old year. I see, by the very
mouths thou makest, thy throat is as dry as a dander, and, by and by, may
set fire to my red liquor. Ha! I love a jolly gossip for a tosspot; for she
gives more speech, and takes more liquor, than your 'breeked' steers that
drink down the words, and drown them in the throat. Nothing drowns a
woman's speech. It strengthens and improves in ale or whisky as if it were
its natural element. Come open thy word-mill, Kate, and pour in the red
grist, lass."

"The soopleness o' his tongue has been long kent," whispered Kitty to Meg

"Ay, an' lang felt," replied Meg, in a suppressed tone. "Our sins are
naething but a coil o't. When, in God's name, will he tak flight? I canna
stand this muckle langer."

"Three times have I warded off a swarf," said Kitty. "The gouch o' his
breath comes owre me like the reek o' a snuffed-out candle. Will the men no

"Marion Webster," said the stranger, as if unconscious of the fear he was
producing, "did I not, sweet queen, dance a jolly fandango with thee, last
Halloween, to the rondeau of love--

    "'Return the hamewart airt agane,
      And byde quhair thou wast wont to be--
    Thou art ane fule to suffer paine,
      For love of her that loves not thee.'

And wilt thou not pledge thy old friend in a half flask--the maiden's

"I hae nae objections," replied the sprightly Marion, and took up the

The company looked on in amazement and terror. The flame would rise on the
application of the liquor to her lips, and doubtless little more of Marion
Webster would be seen on the face of this lower world. While Marion still
held the flask in her hand, the sound of carriage wheels was heard. The
vehicle seemed to halt at Wat Webster's door. The door opened with a bang.
Marion had not time to drink off her "spark," and, still holding the flask,
went to the door to see who had so unceremoniously opened it; he of the red
cravat, taking up his bottle, followed with a long stride. A sudden
exclamation was heard from Marion; the sound of the shutting of the door of
a carriage followed; then came Jehu's "hap-away," with three loud cracks of
a whip, and all was ended by the rolling of rapid wheels, lost in a moment
in the distance.

Wat Webster, who had hitherto been chained to his seat, now started up;
and, clasping his hands in his agony, ejaculated, that "Marion was off in a
flame o' fire." The fact scarcely required mention--alas! too evident to
all the company--that the greatest beauty of Christ's Kirk was away in the
talons of the great Enemy of all good; and the evidence within the walls of
the house was not greater than what was afforded by the watching crowd
without. The carriage, which was entirely black, and not unlike a hearse,
was seen to come in by the east end of the town, driving with a furious
career, the driver (dressed also in black) impelling, with a long whip, the
black horses, from whose hoofs sparks of fire were seen to fly; and neither
house nor man seeming to claim his attention, until he arrived at the house
of Wat Webster, where he of the red cravat was known to be. Many followed
the carriage, and many remained at a distance to see who the victim was
that was destined to be carried off in the strangers' vehicle; for, that
the coach was brought there for no other purpose than to carry off one who
could command in an instant a chariot of fire, seemed reasonably to be
entirely out of the question. Marion Webster, the beloved of the village,
was seen to enter, followed by the stranger; and, as the coach flew off, a
loud wail burst from the stricken hearts of the villagers, expressive at
once of their fear and of the intense pity they felt for the fate of one so
much beloved, and whose crimes, much less than theirs, merited so dreadful
a punishment as that she should be carried off to the regions of sorrow.
The evidence, within and without the house, met, and, by the force of
sympathetic similarity, mixed in an instant, carrying away in their course,
like floating straws, the strongest doubts that remained in the mind of the
most sceptical man in Christ's Kirk, of the hapless daughter of Wat Webster
having been carried off by the Devil. The town was in the greatest
commotion; terror and pity were painted on every face; but the feelings of
the public held small proportion, indeed, to the agony which overtook Wat
Webster and his wife, whose only child she was, as well as their pride, and
that of every one in the whole town. Wat, who saw no use in flying after
Sathan--an individual of known locomotive powers--lay extended on the floor
of his cottage, cursing his fate, and bewailing the condition of his lovely
daughter, whose entry into Pandemonium, and first scream produced by the
burning lake, were as distinct in his eye and ear as ever was his morning
porridge, when they boiled and bubbled by the heat of the fire. But Kitty
was up and out, with a mighty crowd or tail in attendance, flying up and
down in every direction, to see if any burning trace could be had of her
beloved Marion; for she declared that, if she only got "the dander o' her
body to bury in Christ's Kirk," she would be thankful to heaven for the
gift, and try to moderate her grief. But no "dander" was to be seen. It was
by much too evident that Marion Webster would never more be seen on earth;
and, what might naturally add to the grief of her friends, they had no
chance of seeing her again in the world to come, unless at the expense of a
_condemnation_--a dear passport to see an old friend. Such a night was
never seen in Christ's Kirk as that on which Marion Webster was carried off
by his Sathanic Majesty.

We have said quite enough to make it to be understood that Marion Webster
did in reality go off in a coach with the stranger who has occupied so much
of our attention; but we have (being of Scottish origin) prudently
abstained from giving any opinion of our own upon the question of the true
character of him of the red cravat. The two drove off together, apparently
with much affection, and, after they had got entirely beyond the reach of
any supposed followers, they became comparatively easy, and very soon
commenced a conversation--an amusement never awanting when there is a woman
within reach of a person's articulated breath.

"What is the meaning o' a' this, Geordie, man?" said Marion, looking
lovingly into the face of the stranger. "Could I no have met ye this night
at the Three Sisters--the trees in the wood o' Ballochgray--without your
coming to Christ's Kirk, and spreading the fear o' the deil frae town's-end
to town's-end? But whar are we journeying to? and what means the carriage?"

The stranger thus accosted by the familiar name by which he was known to
the young woman, smiled, and told her to hold her tongue, and resign
herself to the pleasure of being carried through the air at the rate of ten
miles an hour. The moon was now shining beautifully "owre tower and tree;"
and ever and anon the maiden glanced her blue eye on the "siller-smolt"
scenes through which she passed, and then turned to the face of her
companion, who seemed to enjoy silently the wonder expressed by her fair
face. After rolling on for some time, they came to a road or avenue of tall
beech trees, at the end of which appeared an old castle, on which the
moonbeams were glancing, and exhibiting in strange forms the turrets with
which it was fancifully decorated. The grey owl's scream was borne along on
the breeze that met them, and struck on Marion's ear in wild and fitful
sounds--inspiring a dread which the presence of her mute lover did little
to remove or assuage.

"Is not that Ballochgray Castle?" said Marion, at last--"that fearfu place
whar the Baron of Ballochgray haulds his court with the Evil One, on every
Halloween night, when the bleak muirs are rife with the bad spirits o' the
earth and air. Whar drives the man, Geordie? Oh, tell him to turn awa frae
thae auld turrets and skreeching owls. I canna bear the sight o' the ane,
or the eerie sound o' the ither."

A smile was again the answer of her companion, and the carriage still drove
on to the well-known residence of the young Baron of Ballochgray--a man
who, knowing the weakness of his King, James the Third of Scotland, in his
love of astrology and divination, and their sister black arts, had, with
much address, endeavoured to recommend himself to his sovereign, by a
character pre-established in his own castle, for a successful cultivation
of the occult sciences. He had long withdrawn himself from the eyes of the
world, and even of his own tenants, and shut himself up in his castle, with
a due assortment of death's heads, charts, owls, globes, bones, astrolobes,
and vellum chronicles, with a view to the perfection of his hidden
knowledge; or, as some thought, with a view to produce such a fame of his
character and pursuits as might reach the ears of James, and acquire for
him that sway at court for which he sighed more than for real knowledge.
Some alleged that he was a cunning diplomatist, who cared no more for the
nostrums of astrology than he did for the dry bones that, while they
terrified his servants, had no more virtue in them than sap, and were, with
the other furniture of his dark study, collected for the mere purpose of
forwarding his ambitious designs upon the weak prince. His true character
was supposed to be--what he possessed before he took to his new
calling--that of a wild, eccentric, devil-daring man, who loved adventures
for their own sake, and worshipped the fair face of the "theekit and
tenanted skull" of a bouncing damsel, with far greater enthusiasm and
sincerity than he ever did his mortal osteological relics that lay in so
much profusion in the recesses of his old castle. But he had, doubtless, so
far succeeded in his plans; for he possessed a most unenviable fame for all
sort of cantrips and sorceries; and the wandering beggar would rather have
solicited a bit of bread from the iron hand of misery itself, than ventured
near Ballochgray to ask his awmous.

"I winna gang near that fearfu place, Geordie!" again cried Marion. "What
hae ye, a puir hind, to do wi' the Baron o' Ballochgray? Turn, for the sake
o' heaven!--turn frae that living grave o' dry banes, an' the weary goul
that sits jabbering owre them, by their ain light!"

Her companion again smiled; and the man dashed up the avenue, and never
stopped till he came to the gate of the castle--over which there were
placed two human shank-bones of great length, that were said to have
sustained the body of the Baron of Balwearie--that prince of the black art,
and the most cunning necromancer that ever drew a circle. The carriage
stopped; and two servants, dressed in red doublets, (like garments of
fire,) slashed with black, waited at the carriage door, with flambeaux in
their hands, to shew the couple into the hall. Out sprang the male first,
and then Marion Webster was handed, with great state, and led into the
interior of the old castle. She was led direct into the hall, which was
lighted up in a very fanciful manner, by means of many skulls arranged
round the room, and through the eyes and jaws of which lurid lights
streamed all around. Marion was filled with terror as she cast her eyes on
these shining monuments of mortality; and had, in her fear, scarcely
noticed a man in black, sitting at the end of the room, poring over a
black-lettered manuscript.

"Marion Webster," now said her travelling companion, "behold in your old
lover of the Ballochgray Wood the Baron of Ballochgray!"

A scream burst from the choking throat of the terrified damsel, and rung
through the old hall.

"Come, love," he continued, "abate thy terrors. My fame is worse than my
real character. I have wooed thee for reasons known to myself, and to be
known soon to thee. Thou didst love Geordie Dempster; and thy love was weak
indeed, if it is to be scared by brainless tongues or tongueless skulls.
Wilt thou consent to be the lady of the Baron of Ballochgray?"

"Geordie! Geordie!" cried the wondering, and yet loving maiden, "if I would
willingly wed thee in the grave, wi' death himsel for oor priest, shall I
refuse to be yours in a castle o' the livin, filled though it be wi' thae
signs o' mortality?"

"Come forth, Father Anthony!" cried the Baron, "and join us by the rules
and bands of holy kirk!"

The man in black lifted up his head from the black-letter page; and, having
called his witnesses, went through the requisite ceremonies; and Marion
Webster became, within a short space, the lady of Ballochgray.

Next day the Baron took her forth to the green woods, where, as they
sauntered among elms many centuries old, and as high as castles, he told
her that he had more reasons than other men for having a wife _who could
keep a secret_. When he first met her, he was struck with her beauty, but
had no more intention than ordinary love adventurers for making her his
wife; frequent intercourse had revealed to him a jewel he had never seen in
such brightness in the _head gear_ of the nobles of the land--a stern and
unflinching regard to the sanction of her word. He quickly resolved to test
this in such a manner as would leave no doubt in his mind that a
secret-keeping wife he might find in his humble maiden of Ballochgray
woods. He had three times visited Christ's Kirk in such a manner as would
raise an intense curiosity in the inhabitants as to who he was. Marion had
the secret only of his being plain Geordie Dempster; but so firmly and
determinedly had she kept it, that, in the very midst of a general belief
that he was the Prince of Darkness, she had never even let it be known that
she had once seen his face before. So far Marion was enlightened; and it is
not improbable that, afterwards, she knew _why_ a secret-keeping wife was
so much prized by the Baron of Ballochgray, and why he could serve two
purposes--that of love, and fame of supernatural powers--in personating, as
he had done, the Prince of Darkness in his visits to Christ's Kirk on the
Green. So far, at least, it is certain that Marion never revealed the
secret of his pretended astrological acquirements.

For weeks after the marriage, inquiries were made in every quarter for the
lost damsel; but, at last, all search and inquiry was given up, and the
belief that she was in the place appointed for the wicked had settled down
on the minds of the people. One evening a number of cronies were assembled
at the house of the disconsolate parents, and among these were Meg
Johnston, Christy Lowrie, Widow Lindsay, and others of the Leslians.

"The will o' the Lord maun be done," said Meg; "but wae's me! there was
mony an auld gimmer in Leslie, whose horns are weel marked wi' the lines o'
her evil days, that Clootie might hae taen, afore he cam to the bonnie ewe
that had only tasted the first leaves o' her simmer girse. What did Marion
Webster ever do in this warld to bring upon her this warst and last o' the
evils o' mortals?"

"It's just the like o' her the auld villain likes best," rejoined Christy.
"He doesna gie a doit for a gizzened sinner, wha will fa' into his hands at
the lang run without trouble. But the young, the blooming, and the bonny
are aye sair beset by temptations; and, heard ye never, Mrs Webster, o'
Marion's meetings at the Three Sisters, sometimes, they say, at the dead
hour, wi' some lover that naebody ever kenned."

"Ay, ay, dame," said Widow Lindsay; "that's just _his_ way. He comes in the
shape o' a young lover, and beguiles the hearts o' young maidens. Ye mind
o' bonny Peggy Lorimer o' the town's end, wha never did mair guid after she
met a stranger in the woods o' Ballochgray. Ae glance o' his ee, she said,
took awa her heart; and, every day after, she pined and pined, and wandered
amang the woods till she grew like a wraith, but nae mair o' him did she
ever see. I stricked her wi' my ain hands, and sic a corpse I never
handled. There wasna a pound o' flesh on her bones; and the carriers at the
burial aye said, that there wasna a corpse ava in the coffin. But puir
Marion has dreed a waur weird."

"My puir bairn! my puir bairn!" cried the mother. "The folk o' Leslie aye
said she wad ride in her carriage, for she was the bonniest lass that ever
was seen in Christ's Kirk. But, wear-awins! little kenned they what kind o'
a carriage she wad ride awa in on her marriage night."

"Some folks say, the monks will pray her back again," rejoined Meg; "but,
my faith, they'll hae hard work o't. He'll no let her awa without a fearfu
tuilzie, Christy."

"She'll never mair be seen on earth, woman," answered Christy. "And, even
if she were to be prayed back again, she wad never be the creature she was
again. A coal black lire, and singit ee-brees, wadna set her auld lovers in
Christ's Kirk in a bleeze again."

"They should watch the smoking field o' Dysart," cried Widow Lindsay. "If
she come again ava, it will be through that deil's porch. But what noise is
that, Kitty? Didna ye hear the sound o' carriage wheels?"

The party listened attentively; and, to be sure, there was a carriage
coming rattling along the street.

"Get out the Latin Bible, Wat!" cried Kitty. "He's maybe coming to tak us
awa next."

The listening continued; and when the sounds ceased, as the carriage
stopped at the door, and the postilion's whip cracked over the restless
horses, a cry of terror rang through the room. Every one shrank into a
corner, and muttered prayers mixed with the cries of fear. The door opened.
Every eye was fixed upon it, for no one doubted that their old friend had
returned. The Baron of Ballochgray and his lady, dressed in the most
gorgeous style, entered the house of the old couple. The sight of the gay
visiters made Wat and Kitty's eyes reel; and they screamed again from the
fear that the Prince had come back, only in a new doublet, to exhibit to
them their _sold_ daughter.

"I beg to introduce thee," said the Baron, "to the lady of Ballochgray--my
wedded wife."

Marion, without waiting for an answer, fell upon the neck of her father;
and then, in the same manner, she embraced her mother; but it was a long
time before the fears of Wat and Kitty were removed. At last, they were
persuaded to accompany them on a visit to Ballochgray Castle; and, when
they rode off in the chariot, they left behind them the belief that they
too were carried off by the "Old One." We cannot pretend to describe the
feelings of Wat and his wife when they were introduced into the old castle;
but they soon came to see that the Baron of Ballochgray was just "as guid a
chiel in his ain castle as ever he was when he acted the Deevil in Christ's
Kirk on the Green."



It was early on Monday morning, in the cold month of March, Anno Domini
1683, that the farm-house of Barjarg, in the parish of Keir and county of
Dumfries, was surrounded by dragoons. They were in quest of a sergeant of
the name of Wilson--a Sergeant Wilson--who had all unexpectedly (for he was
a steady man and a good soldier) deserted his colours, and was nowhere to
be found. The reason why they had come to Barjarg, was the report which one
of Sergeant Wilson's companions in arms had made, that he knew the deserter
was in love with Catherine Chalmers, the farmer's fair and only child.
Catherine Chalmers was indeed forthcoming in all her innocence and
bloom--but William was nowhere to be found, though they searched most
minutely into every hole and corner. Being compelled, at last, to retire
without their object--though not without threatening Catherine with the
thumbikins, if she persevered in refusing to discover her lover's
retreat--the family of Barjarg was once more left to enjoy its wonted
quietude and peace. Adjoining to the farm-house of Barjarg, and occupying
the ground where the mansion-house now stands, there stood an old tower,
containing one habitable apartment; but only occupied as a sleeping room by
one of the ploughmen, and the herd boy. There were one or two
lumber-garrets besides; but these were seldom entered, as they were
understood to contain nothing of any value, besides being dark, and
swarming with vermin. Reports of odd noises and fearful apparitions had
begun to prevail about the place, and both ploughman and herd were
unwilling to continue any longer in a lodgment into which it was their firm
persuasion that something "no canny" had entered. Holding this exceedingly
cheap, Adam Chalmers, the veteran guidman of Barjarg, agreed to take a
night of the old tower, and to set the devil and all his imps at defiance;
but it was observed, that he came home next morning thoughtful and out of
spirits, agreeing, at once, that nobody should, in future, be compelled to
sleep in the old tower. He said little of what he had seen or heard, but he
shook his head, and seemed to intimate that he knew more than he was at
liberty to divulge. Things went on in this manner for some time--reports of
noises at unseasonable hours still prevailing, and every one shunning the
place after dark--till, one morning before daylight, the whole building was
observed to be on fire, surrounded at the same time, as the flames were, by
a troop of Grierson's men, with their leader at their head. The scream
which Catherine Chalmers uttered when she beheld the flames, but too
plainly intimated the state of her mind; nor was her father less composed,
but went about, wringing his hands and exclaiming--"Oh! poor Sergeant
Wilson! poor Sergeant Wilson!" At this instant, the fire had made its way
to the upper apartment, and had thrown light upon a human head and
shoulders, which leaned over the decayed battlement. Every one was
horror-struck except the inhuman soldiery, who collected around the burning
pile, and shouted up their profane and insulting jests, in the face of the
poor perishing being, who, from his footing immediately giving way, was
precipitated into the flames, and disappeared.

"There, let him go," said Grierson, "dog and traitor as he is, let him sink
to the lowest pit, there to wait the arrival of his canting and Covenanting
spouse, whom we shall now take the liberty of carrying to head-quarters,
there to await her sentence, for decoying a king's sworn servant and a
sergeant, from his duty and allegiance."

No sooner said than done, was the order of these dreadful times. Catherine
Chalmers was placed in one of her father's carts; and, notwithstanding
every remonstrance, and an assurance that poor Catherine was now a widow,
she was placed betwixt two soldiers, who rode alongside the cart on
horseback, and conveyed her to Dumfries, there to stand her trial before
the Sheriff, Clavers, and the inhuman Laird of Lag. When arrived at her
destination, she was put under lock and key, but allowed more personal
liberty than many others who were accused of crimes more heinous in the
eyes of the persecutors, than those of which she was merely suspected to be
guilty. It so happened, that the quarterly meeting of the court was held in
a few days, and the chief witness produced against Catherine Wilson, was a
servant maid of her father, who was compelled, very much against her will,
to bear evidence to her having seen Sergeant Wilson and her mistress (for
Catherine kept her father's house) several times together in the old tower,
as well as under a particular tree at the end of the old avenue, and that
her mistress had told her that Sergeant Wilson was heartily tired of the
service in which he was engaged. Her own father, too, was compelled to
confess, that he had had an interview with the sergeant, in the tower, who
had confessed to him the marriage, had asked and with difficulty obtained
his forgiveness, and that he meditated a departure along with his wife, to
some distant place, beyond the reach of his enemies. There was no direct
evidence, however, that Catherine had persuaded him to desert, or to vilify
the service which he had left; and the court were about to dismiss her
_simpliciter_ from the bar, when, to the amazement of all, Catherine rose
in her place, and addressed the court to the following purpose:--"And now
ye have done your utmost, and I am innocent, in as far as your evidence has
gone; but I am NOT INNOCENT--I am deeply guilty, if guilt ye deem it, in
this matter. 'Twas I that first awakened poor William's conscience to a
sense of his danger, in serving an emissary of Satan; 'twas I that spoke to
him of the blood that cries day and night under the Altar; 'twas I that
made him tremble--ay, as an aspen leaf, and as some here will yet shake
before the Judge of all--when I brought to his recollection the brutal
scenes which he had witnessed, and in which he had taken a part; 'twas I
that agreed to marry him privately, without my dear father's consent,
(whose pardon I have sought on my knees, and whose blessing I have already
obtained,) [hereupon her father nodded assent] provided he would desert,
and retire with me, at least for a time, beyond the reach of ye all--ye
messengers of evil, sent to scourge a guilty and backsliding race; 'twas I
that visited him night after night in that old tower, which you inhumanly
set on fire, and in which--O my God!"----Hereupon she laid hold of the desk
before her, and would have dropped to the earth, had not an officer in
attendance supported her, and borne her, under the authority of the court,
into the open air. She was now, notwithstanding her self-accusation,
declared to be at liberty: and immediately, so soon as strength was given
her, retired into the house of an acquaintance and relative, where suitable
restoratives and refreshments were administered. The house where her friend
lived was close upon what is called the Sands of Dumfries, adjoining to the
river, which up to this point is navigable, and where boats are generally
to be seen. During the night, she disappeared, and, though all search was
made at home and everywhere else, she was not heard of. Her father at first
took her disappearance sadly to heart; but time seemed to have a remedial
effect upon his spirits, and he at length rallied, even into cheerfulness.
Things went on for years and years, very much in the old way at Barjarg.
The old man's hairs gradually whitened and became more scanty, whilst this
loss was made up for by an increase of wrinkles. The only change in his
habits were not unfrequent visits which he payed to an old friend, he said,
in Whitehaven, and from which he always returned in high spirits. It might
have been stated formerly that, when the ashes of the old tower were
searched, after they had cooled, for the body of poor Wilson, no such body
was found--but the inference was made by the neighbours, that the remains
had been early removed by his wife's orders, who would naturally wish to
possess herself of so valued a deposit. In fact, the whole transaction
melted away in the stream of time, like the snow-flake on the surface of
the water; and things went on very much us usual. Six long years revolved,
and still no word of Catherine Wilson. Many conjectured that she had missed
her foot in the dark, and fallen into the river, and been carried out to
sea by the reflux of the tide. Others again hinted at suicide, from extreme
grief; and some very charitable females nodded and winked something meant
to be significant, about some people's not being easily known--and that
some people, provided that they got a _grip_ of a man, would not be very
nice about the object or the manner!

Oh, what a blessed thing it was when King William came in!--and with him
came amnesty, and peace, and restoration! It was upon a fine summer
evening, in the year 1689, just six years after the mysterious
disappearance of Catherine Wilson, that the old guidman of Barjarg was
sitting enjoying the setting sun at his own door, on the root of an old
tree, which had been converted into a _dais_, or out-of-doors seat. It was
about the latter end of July, that most exuberantly lovely of all months,
when Adam Chalmers, with Rutherford's Letters on his knee, sat gazing upon
one of the most beautiful landscapes which our own romantic country can
boast of. Before him flowed the Nith, over its blue pebbles, and through a
thousand windings; beyond it were the woods and hills of Closeburn, all
blooming and blushing in the setting beams of the sun, and rising up, tier
above tier, till they terminated in the blue sky of the east. To the left
were the Louther Hills, with their smooth-green magnificence, bearing away
into the distance, and placed, as it were, to shelter this happy valley
from the stormy north and its wintry blasts. At present, however, all idea
of storm and blast was incongruous, for they seemed to sleep in the sun's
effulgence, as if cradled into repose by the hand of God. To the south, and
hard at hand, were the woods and the fields of Collestown, with the echoing
Linn, and the rush of many waters. O land of our nativity!--how deeply art
thou impressed upon this poor brain!--go where we will--see what we
may--thou art still unique to us--thou art still superior to all other

It was eight o'clock of the evening above referred to, when a chaise
entered the old avenue, passed the ruins of the Tower and the old
mansion-house, and drew up immediately opposite old Adam Chalmers. The
steps were immediately let down, and out sprung, with a bound, the long
lost child, the blooming and matronly looking Mrs Wilson. Behind her
followed one whom the reader, I trust, has long ago considered as dead, and
perhaps buried, her manly and rejoicing husband William Wilson, handing out
a fine girl of five years of age, a boy about three, and an infant still at
the breast! It was indeed a joyous meeting; and the old man bustled about,
embracing and pressing his child, and then surveying, with silent and
intense interest, his grandchildren; taking the oldest on his knee, and
permitting him all manner of intercourse with his wrinkles and his grey

One of Lag's troop, the intimate and attached friend of the sergeant, had
conveyed to him, by means of a letter, the fact, that his haunt was
discovered; and that Lag had sworn he would search him out like a fox,--in
short, that he would burn the old tower about his ears. A thought struck
Wilson, that even though he should now escape, the pursuit would still be
continued; but that, if he could by any means persuade his enemies that he
had perished in the flames, the search of course would cease. As he was
occupied with these thoughts, it occurred to him, that, by placing a couple
of pillows, dressed in some old clothes, which were lying about, and which
belonged to the former tenant, in the topmost turret of the tower, he might
impose the belief upon Lag and his party, that he had actually perished in
the flames. Having communicated this plan to his friend in the troop by a
secret messenger, he immediately, and without waiting even to advertise his
wife of the deception, departed, and hastened on to a brother's house in
the neighbourhood of Dumfries, where he lay concealed. By the management of
his friend, the deception was accomplished; for he even swore to the
captain, that he heard Wilson scream, and jump upwards, and then sink down
into the devouring flames. The trial was not unknown to Wilson, and he had
prevailed upon his brother, with a few friends sworn to secrecy, to assist
him in possessing himself of the person of his wife, in going to or coming
from the court-house. Matters, however, succeeded beyond his utmost hopes.
His spouse was liberated, and, by means of a boat well manned, he reached
Douglas in the Isle of Man in safety, in the course of eight-and-forty
hours. There, at last, he was safe, being beyond immediate pursuit, and
indeed being supposed to be dead; and there, by a successful speculation or
two, with money which had been left him by an uncle, after whom he was
named, and who had prospered in the Virginia trade, he soon became
prosperous, and even wealthy. His wife having a natural desire to see her
father, took means to have him apprised of the secret of their retreat. His
visits, nominally to England, were in fact made to Douglas; and the
Revolution now put it in the power of Sergeant Wilson to return with his
young and interesting family to the farm of Barjarg, and to purchase the
property on which the old house stood, it being now in the market; to refit
the old burnt tower; to rebuild the old castle, and to live there along
with old Adam for several years, not only in comfort, but in splendour.
When engaged over a bottle, of which he became ultimately rather more fond
than was good for his health, he used to amuse his friends with the above
narrative, adding always at the end--"The burning o' me has been the making
o' me." The property has long passed into other hands, and is now in the
family of Hunter; but such was its destination for at least fifty years,
during the life of the sergeant, and the greater part of the life of the
son, who, being a spendthrift, spent and sold it.


Helen Palmer was originally from Cumberland; her parents were English, but
her father had removed with Helen, an only daughter, whilst yet a child, to
the neighbourhood of Closeburn Castle, to a small village which still goes
by the name of Croalchapel. There the husband and father had been employed
originally as forester on the estate of Closeburn, belonging to Sir Roger
Kirkpatrick, and had afterwards become chamberlain or factor on the same
property. Peter Palmer was a superior man. He had been well educated for
the time in which he lived, and had been employed in Cumberland in keeping
accounts for a mining establishment. The death, however, in child-birth, of
his beloved and well-born wife, (she had married below her station,) had,
for some time, disgusted him with life, and his intellects had nearly given
way. Having committed several acts of insanity, so as to make himself
spoken of in the neighbourhood, he took a moonlight flitting, with his
child and a faithful nurse, and, wandering north and north, at last fixed
his residence in the locality already mentioned, where he was soon noticed
as a superior person by the Laird of Closeburn, and advanced as has been

Helen Palmer was the apple of her father's eye; he would permit no one but
the nurse to approach her person, and he himself was her only instructor;
he taught her to read, to write, and to calculate accounts; in short, every
spare hour he had was spent with little Helen. There you might see him,
after dinner, with Helen on his knee, his forest dog sleeping before him,
and a tumbler of negus on a small table by his side, conversing with his
child, as he would have done with her mother; holding her out at arm's
length, to mark her opening features; and then again straining her to his
bosom in a paroxysm of tears.

"Just my Helen--my own dear Helen anew!" he would say; "oh, my child--my
child!--dear, dear art thou to thy poor heart-broken father! but I will
live for thee!--I will live with thee!--and when thou diest, child, thou
shalt sleep on this breast--thou shalt be buried, child, in thy father's
dust; and thy mother and we shall meet, and I will tell her of her babe; of
that babe which cost her so much, and we will rejoin in divine love for
ever and ever!"

Oh, how beautiful is paternal affection!--the love of an only surviving
parent for an only child--and she a female. It is beautiful as the smile of
Providence on benevolence--it is strong as the bond which binds the world
to a common centre--it is enduring as the affections which, being cherished
on earth, are matured above!

As Helen grew up, her eye kindled, her brow expanded, her cheeks freshened
into the most delicious bloom, and she walked on fairy footsteps of the
most delicate impression. Her feet, her hands, her arms, her bust, her
whole person, spoke her at once the lady of a thousand descents--ages had
modelled her into aristocratic symmetry. But with all this, there was a
rustic simplicity about her, an open, frank, unaffected manner, which
seemed to say, as plain as any manner could, "I am not ashamed of being my
father's daughter." When Helen Palmer had attained her sixteenth year, she
was quite a woman--not one of your thread-paper bulrushes, which shoot
upwards merely into unfleshed gentility; but a round, firm, well-spread,
and formed woman--a bonny lass, invested with all the delicacy and softness
of a complete lady. Her bodily accomplishments, however, were not her only
recommendation; her mind was unusually acute, and her memory was stored
with much and varied information. She knew, for example, that the age in
which she lived was one of cruelty and bloodshed; that the second Charles,
who, at that time, filled the throne, was a sensual tyrant; that Lag,
Clavers, Douglas, Johnstone, and others, were bloody persecutors; and that
even Sir Roger Kirkpatrick himself, the humane and amiable in many
respects, was "a friend of the castle"--of the court--and would not permit
any of the poor persecuted remnant to take refuge in the linns of Creehope,
or in any of the fastnesses on his estate of Closeburn. All this grieved
Helen's heart; but her father had taught her that it was _her_ duty, as
well as his own, to be silent on such subjects, and not to give offence to
one whose bread he was eating, and whose patronage he had enjoyed to so
great an extent.

There were frequent visiters, in those days, at Closeburn Castle. In fact,
with all the chivalric hospitality of ancient times and of an ancient
family, Sir Roger kept, in a manner, open house. During dinner, the
drawbridge was regularly elevated, and, for a couple of hours at least,
none might enter. This state ceremony had cost the family of Kirkpatrick
many broad acres; for, when the old and heirless proprietor of the fine
estate of Carlaverock called at the castle of Closeburn, with the view of
bequeathing his whole property to the then laird, the drawbridge was up--he
was refused immediate entrance, because Sir Thomas was at dinner. "Tell Sir
Thomas," said the enraged visitor, "tell your master to take his dinner,
and with zest; but tell him, at the same time, that I will put a better
dinner _by_ his table this day than ever was on it." So he went on to
Drumlanrig, and left the whole property to Douglas of Queensberry. Such,
however, was not the reception of some young gentlemen who arrived about
this time at the castle of Closeburn, on a sporting expedition, with dogs
and guns, and a suitable accompaniment of gamekeepers and other servants.
These strangers were manifestly Englishmen, but from what quarter of
England nobody knew, and, indeed, nobody inquired. They were only birds of
passage, and would, in a month or so, give place to another arrival, about
to disappear, in its turn, from a similar cause. As Helen Palmer was one
day walking, according to her wont, amongst the Barmoor-woods, in her
immediate neighbourhood, a hare crossed her path, followed closely by a
greyhound, by which it was immediately killed. Poor Helen started,
screamed, and dropped her book in an agony of pity. She had not been
accustomed to such barbarities; and the poor dying animal cried like a
child, too, as it expired! At this instant, a horseman brought up his steed
in her presence, and, immediately alighting, proceeded, in the most polite
and delicate manner imaginable, to administer such relief as was in his
power. He begged her to be composed, for the animal was now dead, and its
suffering over; and her feelings should never be lascerated again in this
manner, as they would pursue their sport somewhere else, at a greater
distance from her abode. Upon recovering herself, Helen felt ashamed at her
position, and even at her weakness in betraying her feelings, and, begging
the stranger's pardon for the interruption to his sport which she had
occasioned, with a most graceful courtesy she withdrew from his sight. The
stranger was exceedingly struck with her appearance. It was not that she
was beautiful, for with beautiful women he had long been familiar; but
there was something in the expression of her countenance which made him
tremble all over--she was the very picture of his father; nay, his own
features and hers bore a close resemblance. The same indefinite terror
which had seized this young and exceedingly handsome sportsman had
penetrated the breast of Helen. The resemblance of the stranger to herself,
was what struck her with amazement. There was the same arched eyebrow--the
same hazel eye--and the same dimple in the chin. Besides, there was an
all-over sameness in the air, manner, and even step, which she could not,
with all her efforts, drive from her recollection. She did not, however,
think proper to inform her father of this little foolish incident; but, ere
she went to bed that night, she surveyed herself in the glass with more
than wonted attention. Still, still, she was left in surprise, by comparing
what she saw with what she recollected--the image in her bosom with that in
the glass.

Next day, as might have been anticipated, the stranger called to see if she
had recovered from her fright, and spent a considerable time in very
pleasing conversation. Her father happened to be in the writing office at
the time, and did not see him. These calls were repeated from time to time,
till at last it became evident to all about the castle, that the young heir
of Middlefield, in Cumberland, was deeply in love. He had almost entirely
given up his former amusements, and even railed against the cruelty of such
sports. Mr Graham, a near connection of him of Netherby, was a young person
of an excellent heart, and of a large property, to which, from his father's
death, by an accident, he had just succeeded. He was besides, one of the
handsomest men in Cumberland; and it was reported that Sir James Graham's
oldest daughter had expressed herself very favourably respecting her
kinsman's pretensions to her hand, should he _presume so high_! However,
his heart was not in the match, and he had made this visit to his father's
intimate friend, in order to avoid all importunity on a subject which was
irksome to him. It is useless to mince the matter. Helen, in spite of her
father's remonstrances and representations, was deeply and irrecoverably in
love with the gallant Graham, and he, in his turn, was at least equally
enamoured of the face, person, manners, mind, and soul, of the lovely and
fascinating Miss Palmer.

There was only one subject on which there was any division of opinion
betwixt the lovers--Helen was every inch a Covenanter; whilst Mr William
was rather, if anything, inclined to view their opposition to government as
factious and inexcusable. He did not, indeed, approve of the atrocities
which were practising every day around him, and in the parish of Closeburn
in particular; but he ventured to hope that a few instances of severity
would put an end to the delusion of the people, and that they would again
return to their allegiance and their parish churches. Helen was mighty and
magnificent in the cause of non-conformity and humanity. She talked of
freedom, conscience, religion, on the one hand--of tyranny, treachery,
oppression, and cruelty, on the other--till Mr William, either convinced,
or appearing to be so, fairly gave in, promising most willingly, and in
perfect good faith, that he would never assist the Laird of Closeburn, or
of Lag, in any of their unhallowed proceedings.

One day when Helen and her lover (for it was now no secret) were on a walk
into the Barmoor-wood, they were naturally attracted to the spot where
their intercourse had begun; and, sitting down opposite to each other on
the trunks of some felled trees, they gradually began a somewhat
confidential conversation respecting their birth and parentage. Helen
disguised nothing; she was born in Cumberland, and brought here whilst a
child; her mother, whose name was Helen Graham, had died at her birth. At
the mention of this name, the stranger and lover started convulsively to
his feet, and running up to and embracing Helen, he exclaimed--"O God! O
God! you are my own cousin!" Helen fainted, and was with difficulty
recovered, by an application of water from the adjoining brook. It was
indeed so. Out of delicacy, Mr William had made no particular inquiries at
Helen respecting her mother; and Helen, on the other hand, knew that Graham
is an almost universal name, in Cumberland in particular. This, therefore,
excited no suspicion; but true it is, and of verity, these two similar and
affianced beings were cousins-german. Helen Graham, the sister of the Lord
of Middlefield having married beneath her rank, was abandoned by her
brother and family, and her name was never mentioned in Middlefield House.
An old servant, however, of the family had made the young heir master of
the fact of the marriage, and of the death of his old aunt; but he could
not tell what had become of the father or the child; he supposed that they
had either died or gone to the plantations abroad; and there the matter
rested till this sudden and unexpected discovery. Peter Palmer, the father
of Helen, was altogether unacquainted with William Graham, as he was a mere
child when Peter left Cumberland; and his father had used him so cruelly as
to make him avoid his residence and presence as carefully as possible.

Would to heaven we could stop here, and gratify the reader with a wedding,
and as much matrimonial happiness as poor mortality can possibly
inherit!--But it may not be. As Lockhart says beautifully of Sir Walter, we
hear "the sound of the muffled drum."

Sir Roger and all the friends of Mr William Graham were opposed to his
union with Miss Palmer, as Graham always called her. Her own father, too,
was opposed to her forming a connection with the son of one who had treated
him so cruelly, and, as he thought, unjustly--and it became manifest to
William, as he was in every sense of the word his own master, that had he
his fair betrothed in the leas of Middlefield, he might set them all at
defiance, and effect their union peaceably, according to the rules of the
church. In an evil hour, Helen consented to leave her father's house by
night, along with her William, and on horseback, to take their way across
the Border for Cumberland. They had reached the parish of Kirkconnel about
two o'clock in the morning, and were giving their horses a mouthful of
water in the little stream called Kirtle, when a shot was heard in the
immediate neighbourhood--it was heard, alas! by two only, for the third was
dying, and in the act of falling from her seat in the saddle. She was
caught by a servant, and by her lover; but she could only say--"I am
gone--I am gone!" before breathing her last. Oh, curse upon the hand that
fired the shot? It was, indeed, an accursed hand, but a fatal mistake. It
was one of the bloody persecutors of Lag's troop, who, having been
appointed to watch at this spot for some Covenanters who were expected to
be passing on horseback into England, in order to escape from the savage
cruelty of their persecutors, had immediately, and in drunken blindness,
fired upon this inoffensive group. The ball, alas! took too fatal effect in
the heart of Helen Palmer; and it was on her, and not as Allan Cunningham
represents it, "on Helen Irving, the daughter of the laird of Kirkconnel,"
that the following most pathetic verses were written--

    "I wish I were where Helen lies;
    Night and day on me she cries:
    Oh, that I were where Helen lies,
          On fair Kirkconnel lea!

    "Oh, Helen fair beyond compare,
    I'll make a garland of thy hair;
    Shall bind my heart for ever mair,
          Until the day I dee.

    "Curst be the heart that thought the thought,
    And curst the hand that fired the shot,
    When in my arms burd Helen dropped
          On fair Kirkconnel lea!"


There is a wild, uninhabited district, which separates Nithsdale from
Annandale, in Dumfriesshire. It is called Gavin Muir; and, though lonely,
and covered with spret and heather, exhibits some objects which merit the
attention of the traveller in the wilderness. There is the King's Loch, the
King's Burn, and the King's Chair, all records of King James V.'s
celebrated raid to subdue the thieves of Annandale. Tradition says, what
seems extremely likely, that he spent a night in the midst of this muir;
and hence the appellations of royalty which adhere to the objects which
witnessed his bivouac. But, although the localities referred to possess an
interest, they are exceeded, in this respect, by a number of "cairns," by
which the summits of several hills, or rising grounds, are topped. These
cairns, which amount to five or six, are all within sight of each other,
all on eminences, and all composed of an immense mass of loose, water-worn
stones. And yet the neighbourhood is free from stones, being bare, and fit
for sheep-pasturage only. Tradition says nothing of these cairns in
particular; or, indeed, very little of any similar collections, frequent as
they are in Scotland and throughout all Scandinavia. Stone coffins, no
doubt, have been discovered in them, and human bones; but, beyond this, all
is surmise and uncertainty. Often, when yet a boy, and engaged in fishing
in the King's Burn, have we mounted these pyramids, and felt that we were
standing on holy ground. "Oh," thought we, "that some courteous cairn would
blab it out what 'tis they are!" But the cairns were silent; and hence the
necessity we are under of professing our ignorance of what they refused to
divulge. But there is a large opening in the side of one of these cairns,
respecting which tradition has preserved a pretty distinct narrative, which
we shall now venture, for the first time, to put under types, for the
instruction of our readers.

The whole hill country, in Dumfriesshire and Galloway in particular, is
riddled, as it were, with caves and hiding-places. These, no doubt,
afforded refuge, during the eight-and-twenty years of inhuman persecution,
to the poor Covenanter; but they were not, in general, constructed for or
by him. They existed from time immemorial, and were the work of that son of
night and darkness--the smuggler, who, in passing from the Brow at the
mouth of the Nith, from Bombay, near Kirkcudbright, or from the estuary of
the Cree, with untaxed goods from the Isle of Man--then a separate and
independent kingdom--found it convenient to conceal both his goods and
himself from the observation of the officers of excise. So frequent are
these concealed caves in the locality to which we refer, that, in passing
through the long, rank heather, we have more than once disappeared in an
instant, and found ourselves several feet below the level of the upper
world, and in the midst of a damp, but roomy subterraneous apartment of
considerable extent. We believe that they are now, in these piping times of
peace and preventive service, generally filled up and closed by the
shepherds, as they were dangerous pitfalls in the way of their flocks. In
the time, however, to which we refer--namely, in the year 1683--they were
not only open, but kept, as it were, in a state of repair, being tenanted
by the poor, persecuted remnant (as they expressed it) of God's people.
That the reader may fully understand the incidents of this narrative, it
will be necessary that he and we travel back some hundred and fifty years,
and some miles from the farm-house of Auchincairn, that we may have ocular
demonstration of the curious contrivances to which the love of life, of
liberty, and of a good conscience, had compelled our forefathers to have
recourse. That cairn which appears so entire and complete, of which the
stones seem to have been huddled together without any reference to
arrangement whatever, is, nevertheless, hollow underneath, and on occasions
you may see--but only if you examine it narrowly--the blue smoke seeking
its way in tiny jets through a thousand apertures. There is, in fact, room
for four or five individuals. Beneath, there are a few plaids and
bed-covers, with an old chair, a stool, and seats of stone. There is
likewise a fire-place and some peats, extracted from the adjoining moss.
But there is, in fact, no entrance in this direction. You must bend your
course round by the brow of that hollow, over which the heather hangs
profusely; and there, by dividing and gently lifting up the heathy cover,
you will be able to insert your person into a small orifice, from which you
will escape into a dark but a roomy dungeon, which will, in its turn,
conduct you through a narrow passage, into the very heart or centre of this
seemingly solid accumulation of stones. When there, you will have light
such as Milton gives to Pandemonium--just as much as to make darkness
visible, through the small, and, on the outside, invisible crevices betwixt
the stones. Should you be surprised in your lighted and fire
apartment--should any accident or search bring a considerable weight above
you, so as to break through your slightly supported roofing--you can
retreat to your ante-room or dungeon, and from thence, if necessary, make
your way into the adjoining linn, along the bottom of which, you may
ultimately find skulking-shelter, or a pathway into a more inhabited
district. Now that you have surveyed this arrangement, as it existed a
hundred and fifty years ago, we may proceed to give you the narrative which
is connected with it.

In the year above referred to, the persecution of the saints was at its
height--Clavers, in particular, went about the country with his dragoons,
whom he designated (like the infamous Kirk) his _Lambs_, literally seeking
to hurt and destroy in all the hill country, in particular of Dumfriesshire
and Galloway. Auchincairn was a marked spot; it had often been a city of
refuge to the shelterless and the famishing; but it had so frequently been
searched, that every hole and corner was as well known to Clavers and his
troop as to the inhabitants themselves. There was now, therefore, no longer
any refuge to the faithful at Auchincairn; in fact, to come there was to
meet the enemy half-way--to rush as it were into the jaws of the lion. In
these circumstances, old Walter Gibson, a man upwards of seventy years of
age, who, by his prayers and his attending conventicles, had rendered
himself particularly obnoxious, was obliged to prolong a green old age by
taking up his abode in the cave and under the cairn which has already been
described. With him were associated, in his cold and comfortless retreat,
the Rev. Robert Lawson, formerly minister of the parish of Closeburn; but
who, rather than conform to the English prayer-book and formula, had taken
to the mountain, to preach, to baptize, and even to dispense the Sacrament
of the Supper, in glens, and linns, and coverts, far from the residence of
man. Their retreat was known to the shepherds of the district, and indeed
to the whole family of Auchincairn; but no one ever was suspected of
imitating the conduct of the infamous Baxter, who had proved false, and
discovered a cave in Glencairn, where four Covenanters were immediately
shot, and two left hanging upon a tree. On one occasion, a little innocent
girl, a grand-daughter of old Walter, was surprised whilst carrying some
provisions towards the hill-retreat, by a party of Clavers' dragoons, who
devoured the provisions, and used every brutal method to make the girl
disclose the secret of the retreat; but she was neither to be intimidated
nor cajoled, and told them plainly that she would rather die, as her
granduncle had done before her, than betray her trust. They threw her into
a peat-hag filled with water, and left her to sink or swim. She did _not_
swim, however, but sank never to rise again. Her spirit had been broken,
and life had been rendered a burden to her. She expressed to her murderers,
again and again, a wish that they would send her to meet her uncle (as she
termed it) William. Her body was only discovered some time after, when the
process of decomposition had deformed one of the most pleasing countenances
which ever beamed with innocence and piety.

"The old hound will not be far off, when the young whelp was so near,"
exclaimed Clavers, upon a recital of the inhuman murder. "We must watch the
muirs by night; for it is then that these creatures congregate and fatten.
We must continue to spoil their feasting, and leave them to feed on
cranberries and moss-water." In consequence of this resolution, a strict
watch was set all along Gavin Muir; and it became almost impossible to
convey any sustenance to the famishing pair; yet the thing was done, and
wonderfully managed, not in the night-time, but in the open day. One
shepherd would call to another, in the note of the curlew or the miresnipe,
and without exciting suspicion, convey from the corner of his plaid the
necessary refreshments, even down to a bottle of Nantz. The cave was never
entered on such occasions; but the provisions were dropped amidst the rank
heather; and a particular whistle immediately secured their disappearance.
Night after night, therefore, were these prowlers disappointed of their
object, till at last, despairing of success, or thinking, probably, that
the birds had escaped, they betook themselves, for the time, elsewhere, and
the cairn was relieved from siege. Clavers, in fact, had retired to
Galloway, along with Grierson and Johnstone, and the coast was clear, at
least for the present.

It was about the latter end of October, when Mr Lawson was preaching and
dispensing the Sacrament to upwards of a hundred followers, in the hollow
where stood the King's Chair. This locality was wonderfully well suited for
the purpose--it was, in fact, a kind of amphitheatre, surrounded on all
sides by rising ground, and in the centre of which three large stones
constituted a chair, and several seats of the same material were ranged in
a circular form around. The stones remain to this hour, and the truth of
this description can be verified by any one who crosses Gavin Muir. It was
a moonlight night--a harvest moon--and Mr Lawson, having handed the
Sacramental cup around, was in the act of concluding with prayer, when the
note of a bird, seemingly a plover, was heard at a great distance. It was
responded to by a similar call, somewhat nearer; and, in an instant, a
messenger rushed in upon their retreat, out of breath, and exclaiming, "You
are lost!--you are all dead men!--Clavers is within sight, and at full
gallop, with all his troop at his back."

One advantage which the poor persecuted had over their persecutors, was a
superior knowledge of localities. In an instant the hollow was tenantless;
for the inmates had fled in all directions, and to various coverts and
outlets into the vale of Annan. The minister alone remained at his post
continuing in ejaculatory prayer, and resisting all persuasion even to take
advantage of the adjoining cairny cave. In vain did Walter Gibson delay
till the last moment, and talk of his farther usefulness. Mr Lawson's only
answer was--"I am in the hands of a merciful Master, and, if he has more
service for me, he himself will provide a way for my escape. I have neither
wife nor child, nor, I may say, relation, alive. I am, as it were, a
stranger in the land of duty. If the Lord so will it that the man of blood
shall prevail over me, he will raise up others in my stead, fitter to serve
him effectually than ever I have been; but, Walter, _you_ have a bonny
family of grandchildren around you, and your ain daughter the mother of
them a', to bless you, and hear you speak the words of counselling and
wisdom; so, make you for the cave and the cairn out by yonder--I will e'en
remain where I am, and the Lord's will be done!" Seeing that all persuasion
was unavailable, and that, by delaying his flight, he would only sacrifice
his own life, without saving that of his friend, Walter appeared to take
his departure for his place of refuge. It was neither Clavers, however, nor
Lag, nor Johnstone, nor Winram, who was upon them; but only Captain
Douglas, from Drumlanrig, to which place secret information of the night's
_wark_, as it was termed, had been conveyed. Captain Douglas' hands were
red with blood; he had shot poor Daniel M'Michan in Dalveen Glen, and had
given word of command to blow out his brother's brains, as has been already
recorded in the notices of these times. One of his troop had been wounded
in the affair at Dalveen, and he was literally furious with rage and the
thirst of blood. Down, therefore, Douglas came with about half-a-dozen men,
(the rest being on duty in Galloway,) determined to kill or be killed--to
put an end to these nightly conventicles, or perish in the attempt.

Mr Lawson had taken his position in the King's Chair, which, as was
formerly described, consisted of three large stones set on end, around one
in the centre, which served as a seat; and when Douglas came in sight,
nothing appeared visible in the moonshine but these solitary stones.

"They are off, by G----d!" exclaimed Douglas; "the fox has broken cover--we
must continue the chase; and Rob," added he, to one who rode near him,
"blaw that bugle till it crack again. When you start the old fox, I should
like mightily to be at the death. But--so ho!--what have we here?--why,
here are bottles and a cup, by Jove! These friends of the Covenant are no
enemies, I perceive, to good cheer"--putting the bottle to his mouth, and
making a long pull--"by the living Jingo! most excellent wine. Here, Rob,"
emptying what remained into the silver goblet or cup, "here, line your
weasan with a drop of the red, and then for the red heart's blood of these
psalm-singing, cup-kissing gentry. So ho--so ho!--hilloa--one and all--the
fox is under cover still," (advancing towards the stone chair,) "and we
thought him afield, too. Stand forth, old Canticles, 5 and 8th, and let us
see whether you have got one or five bottles under your belt. What! you
won't, or you can't stand! Grunt again!--you are made of stone, are
you?--why, then, we will try your qualities with a little burnt powder and
lead. Gentlemen of the horse-brigade, do you alight, and be d----d to you,
and, just by way of experiment, rattle me half-a-dozen bullets in the face
of that there image of stone, which looks so mighty like the parson of
Closeburn that one might easily mistake the one for the other."

The men had alighted with their holster pistols, and had arranged
themselves, as directed, in the front of the stone chair, and with a full
view of the figure which occupied the seat, when, at this very critical
juncture, a band of upwards of fifty horses, with panniers on their backs,
came up at a smart trot.

"Stop your hellish speed!" said a voice from the front of the band; "or, by
this broadsword, and these long six-footers, you are all dead men, ere you
can say, Present, fire!" Instantly, Douglas saw and comprehended his
position--"To horse!" was his short exhortation, and, in an instant, his
five followers and himself had cleared the brow of the glen, and were out
of sight at full speed. "Shed not their blood!--shed not their blood!"
continued to exclaim a well-known voice amongst the band of smugglers--for
such the reader may have guessed they were. It was the voice of Walter
Gibson, well known to many of the smugglers; for again and again they had
supplied Auchincairn with Hollands and Nantz. "Shed not one drop of blood,
I say; but leave them to Him who has said, 'Vengeance is mine, and I will
repay it;'--He will find His own time of revenging the death of my poor
murdered bairn, whom they drowned in the King's Moss, owre by there. But,
dear me, Mr Lawson, are ye dead or living, that ye tak nae tent o' what's
going on?" In fact, Mr Lawson, having given himself up as lost, had
committed himself, with shut eyes, so intently to prayer, that he had but a
very confused notion of what had happened.

"The Lord's will be done!" he exclaimed at last; "and is this you, Walter
Gibson?--fearful! fearful!--are these the Philistines around you?--and are
you and I to travel, hand in hand, into Immanuel's land?--or, but do my
poor eyes deceive me, and are these only our good friends, the fair
traders, come to the rescue, under God and his mercy, in the time of our

"Indeed," responded a known voice--that, namely, at whose bidding the work
of death had been staid--"indeed, Mr Lawson, we are friends and not foes;
and, whilst our cattle, which are a little blawn, with the haste into which
they were hurried by old Walter here--until the beasts bite, I say, and eat
their corn, we will e'en thank God, and take a little whet of the creature.
You know, such comforts are not forbidden in the laws of Moses, or, indeed,
in any laws but those of this persecuted and oppressed land."

So saying, he disengaged from a hamper a flagon of Nantz, and was about to
make use of the Sacramental cup, which Douglas had dropped, to convey it
around, when his arm was arrested by the still strong hand of Walter.

"For the sake of God and his church--of Him who shed his blood for poor
sinners--profane not, I beseech you, the consecrated, the hallowed vessel
which I have so lately held in these vile hands as the emblem of my
purification through the blood of sprinkling--profane not, I say, that
vessel which, when all worldly goods were forfeited and relinquished as
things of no value, our worthy pastor has borne along with him--being the
gift of his parishioners--to the mountain and the glen--to the desert and
the wilderness!"

There needed no further admonition; the cup was deposited in the hands of
its owner, and the whole _posse comitatus_ spread themselves out on the
grass--for, though all around was heath, this little spot was green and
lovely--and, by applying the vessel directly to their lips, each one took a
draught so long and hearty that the captain or leader had again and again
to replenish the measure. Nor were Lawson and old Walter Gibson behind in
this work of refreshment. Many a day they had laid themselves down to rest
in the damp and cold cave, with little of food and with nothing to cheer
and support them but a mouthful, from time to time, of the _Solway
waters_--viz., _smuggled brandy_. We are all the children, to a great
amount, of circumstances; and the very men who, but a little ago, were
engaged in the most solemn act of religion, and counted themselves as at
the point of death--these very men were now so much cheered, and even
exhilarated, by the reviving cordial, that they forgot, for the time, their
dangers and their privations, and were not displeased to hear the smugglers
sing the old song, "We are merry men all," when a figure approached, out of
breath, exclaiming--

"The gaugers! the gaugers!--the excisemen from Dumfries!"

In an instant the whole troop stood to arms. They had been
well-disciplined; and the horses, along with the parson and Walter, were
stowed away, as they called it, behind. They spoke not; but there was the
click of gunlocks, and a powerful _recover_, on the ground, of heavy
muskets, with barrels fully six feet long, which had been used by their
forefathers in the times of the first Charles and the civil commotion. The
enemy came up at the gallop; but they had plainly miscalculated the forces
of their opponents--_they_ were only about fifteen strong; so, wheeling
suddenly round, they took their departure with as much dispatch as they had

"We must off instantly!" exclaimed the leader of this trading band. "We
must gain the pass of Enterkin ere day-dawn; for these good neighbours will
make common cause with the King's troops, whenever they meet them, and
there will be bloody work, I trow, ere these kegs and good steeds change

So saying, the march immediately proceeded up Gavin Muir, and the minister
and Walter took possession of their usual retreat--the Cairny Cave I have
so often referred to.

Douglas was not thus, by accident, to be foiled in his object; for having,
in the course of a few days, obtained additional forces from Galloway, he
returned to the search in Gavin Muir, where he had, again and again, been
told meetings still continued to be held, and some caves of concealment
existed. Old Lauderdale in council had one day said--"Why, run down the
devils, like the natives of Jamaica, with blood-hounds." And the hint was
not lost on bloody Clavers--he had actually a pair of hounds of this
description with him in Galloway at this time; and, at his earnest request,
Douglas was favoured with one of them. Down, therefore, this monster came
upon Gavin Muir, not to shoot blackcocks or muirfowl, in which it abounded,
but to track, and start and pistol, if necessary, poor, shivering,
half-starved human beings, who had dared to think the laws of their God
more binding than the empire and despotism of sinful men. The game was a
merry one, and it was played by "merry men all:" forward went the hound
through muirs and mosses; onward came the troop, hallooing and encouraging
the animal in pursuit of its horrid instincts. As they passed the moss-hole
in which the poor grand-daughter of Walter had been suffocated, the jest,
and the oath, and the merriment were at their utmost.

"Had we but a slice of the young pup," said one, "to flesh our hound with,
he would soon scent out the old one--they are kindred blood, you know. But
what do I see?--old Bloody, is it, on the top of the cairn yonder?--and
scooping, nosing, and giving tongue most determinedly. By the holy
poker!--and that's a sanctified oath--I will on and see what's agoing
here." Thus saying, he put spurs to his horse, and, waving his sword round
his head, "Here goes for old Watty!--and may the devil burn me if I do not
unearth the fox at last!" Onwards they all advanced at the gallop; but Jack
Johnston was greatly in front, and had dashed his horse half-way up the
steep cairn, when, in an instant, horse and man rushed down, and
immediately disappeared.

"Why," said Douglas, "what has become of Jack?--has old Sooty smelt him,
and sent for him, on a short warning, to help in roasting Covenanters?--or
have the fairies, those fair dames of the green knowe and the grey cairn,
seen and admired his proportions, and made a young 'Tam Lean' of poor Jack
Johnston? Let us on and see."

And see to be sure they did; for there was Jack, lying in the last agonies
of death, under his horse, which itself was lamed and lying with feet
uppermost. The horrid hound was lapping, with a growl, the blood which
oozed from the nose and lips of the dying man, and with a dreadful curse,
the terrible being expired, just as the party came within view. He had
tumbled headlong, owing to the pressure from the horse's feet, through the
slight rafter-work beneath, and had pitched head-foremost against a stone
seat, in consequence of which his skull was fractured, and his immediate
death ensued. Douglas looked like one bewildered, he would scarcely credit
his eyes; but his companion in arms did the needful; and Jack Johnston's
body was removed, his horse shot through the brain, and the whole band
returned, drooping and crestfallen, to Drumlanrig. Throwing his sword down
on the hall table when he arrived, he was heard to say, looking wildly and
fearfully all the while, "The hand of God is in this thing, and I knew it
not." It is a curious fact, but one of which my informant had no doubt,
that this very Douglas became, after this, quite an altered man. Mr Lawson,
who lived some years after his death, attended upon him in his last
illness. "God only knows the heart," would he say; "but, to all _outward_
appearance, William Douglas was a cleansed and a sanctified vessel: the
mercy of God is infinite--it even extended to the thief on the cross."


In the west corner of the churchyard of Dalgarno--now a section of the
parish of Closeburn--there is a small, but neat headstone, with two figures
joining hands, as if in the attitude of marrying. Beneath is written, and
still legible--"John Porter and Augnas Milligan. They were lovely in their
lives, and in their deaths they were not divided." There is neither date
nor narrative; but, as this part of the churchyard has not been used as a
burial-ground since the union of the parishes, in the reign of Charles the
Second, the date must have been some time betwixt 1660 and 1684. This
beautiful and sequestered churchyard, all silent and cheerless as it is,
lies upon the banks of the Nith, immediately upon its union with the ocean;
and near to the most famous salmon-fishing pool in the whole river, called
Porter's Hole. Whilst yet a boy, and attending Closeburn school, our
attention was, one sunny afternoon, (when the trouts were unwilling to
visit the dry land,) drawn to the little stone in the corner, of which we
have just made mention, and recollecting, at the same time, that Porter was
the name of the pool, as well as of the person buried, we began to
speculate upon the possibility of there being some connection betwixt the
two circumstances--the name of the individual, and the well-known
designation of the blackest and deepest pool in the Closeburn part of the
river. Near to this solitary restingplace of the ashes of our
forefathers--the Harknesses, the Gibsons, and the Watsons of Closeburn from
time immemorial--there stood, at that time, an old cottage, straw or rather
_grass_-thatched, (for it was covered with green chicken-weed,) where
dwelt, in single solitude, Janet M'Guffoch--whether any relation of the
celebrated individual of that name mentioned by Sir Walter Scott, we know
not--but there dwelt Janet, a discontented, old waspish body of one hundred
years of age, according to general belief; and, being accompanied by a
black cat and a broom besom, was marked by us _boys_ as a decided witch. We
never had any doubt about it, and the thing was confirmed by the Laird of
Closeburn's gamekeeper, who swore that he had often hunted hares to Janet's
door; but never could start them again. Under all these circumstances, it
required no common impulse to induce us to enter the den of this emissary
of Satan; but our curiosity was excited by the similarity of the names
"Porter's Grave" and "Porter's Hole," (as the pool was familiarly named,)
and we at length mustered faith, and strength, and courage to thrust
ourselves past a bundle of withered twigs, which served Janet as a door in
summer, and as a door-protector in the blasts of winter. Janet was as usual
at her wheel, and crooning some old Covenanting ditty, about--

    "Oh, gin Lag were dead and streekit,
    An' that his ha' wi' mools was theekit!"

when, by means of a six-inch-square skylight, our physiognomy became
visible to Janet.

"And what art thou, that's creeping into an old body's dark den, and
leaving ahint thee the guid sunshine?"

We responded by mentioning our name.

"Ay, ay," said Janet, "come away and sit thee down on the creepy there,
beside the heidstane[B]--thou art freely welcome, for thou art o' the seed
o' the faithful, the precious salt of the earth: and the blessing of the
God of the Covenant will rest upon its children, even to the third and the
fourth generation!" Thus welcomed, we took our position as requested,
eyeing all the while the large black cat with a somewhat suspicious regard.

"The beast winna stir thee," said Janet, "it has, like its auld mistress,
mair regard for the martyr's seed."

Having hereupon taken advantage of a pause in Janet's discourse, we at once
stated the subject of our inquiry.

"Ay, ay," said Janet; "and atweel there is a connection betwixt that bonny
angel stane, and the pool ca'ed Porter's Hole. Ay, is there; an an awfu'
connection it is. But what comes thou here for to torment an auld body like
me, wi' greeting and groaning at my time o' life? Gae awa, gae awa--I canna
thole the very thochts o' the story whilk thou ettles to ken."

This only increased our curiosity, and, after some flattering language
about Janet's good nature, retentive memory, and Covenanting lineage, the
old crone proceeded to the following purpose; and, as nearly as we can
mind, (for it is a tale o' fifty years,) repeated it in the following

"Thou ken's the auld ruin, bairn, the auld wa's out by there. That's the
auld farm-house o' Dalgarno, ere the new one at the path-head was biggit;
and there, within the wa's, was ance a warm hearth, and twa as leal hearts
as ever beat against pin or button. John Porter was young, handsome, and
the tenant of the best farm in the parish o' Dalgarno; but he was nae frien
to the vile curate, and a marked bird, as they ca' it, by Grierson o' Lag,
in particular, who had been heard to say, that he would decant his porter
for him some day yet, in the shape and colour of heart's bluid. Agnes
Milligan was an orphan, brought up at Dalgarno--a sister's son o' the auld
Dalgarno, and a fu' cousin, ye ken, o' the young farmer. They had baith fed
frae the same plate; sleeped under the same roof; played at the same
sports; and dabbled in the same river--the bloody, bloody Nith!--from
infancy to youth. Oh! sirs! but I canna get on ava"---- Here Janet sorted
her wheel, and apparently shed a tear, for she moved her apron corner to
her eye. "Aweel, this was the nicht o' the wedding, bairn--no _this_ nicht,
like; but I think I just see it present, for I was there mysel, a wee bit
whilking lassie. Lawson, guid godly Lawson, had tied the knot, an' we war
a' merry like; but it was a fearfu' spate, and the Nith went frae bank to
brae. 'They are comin!' was the cry. I kenna wha cried it, but a voice said
it, an' twenty voices repeated it. Lag an' his troop's coming; they're
gallopin owre the Cunning-holm at this moment. John Porter flew to his
bonnet, an', in an instant, was raised six or seven feet high on his long
stilts, with which he had often crossed the Nith when nae mortal could tak
it on horseback. Agnes Milligan was out and after; the moon shone clear
through a cloud, and she saw the brave man tak the water at the broadest.
On he went--for we a' witnessed what he did--on he went, steady, firm, an'
unwaverin; but, alas! it was hin' harvest, an' some sheaves o' corn had
been carried off the holms by the spate. Ane o' them crossed his upper
stilt, an', in a moment, his feet went frae him, an' doon he cam into the
roarin flood. He was still near the Closeburn bank, an' we a' ran down the
side to see if we could help him out. Again an' again he rose to his feet;
but the water was mighty, it was terrible, it just whumbled him owre, an'
we saw nae mair o' him. Agnes ran for Porter's Hole, (then only kent as the
salmon pool,) an' stood watching the eddy, as it whirled straw an' corn,
an' sic like rubbish, aboot. Her husband's head appeared floating in the
whirl--she screamed, leaped into the deep, deep pool, an' next day they
were found clasped in each other's arms. Oh, my bairn, my bairn!--what
brocht ye here the day?"

Janet was found, next morning, dead in her bed--the exertion and excitement
had killed her.


[B] _Vide_ Jameson.


The situations of farm-houses, or steadings, as we call them in Scotland,
are very rarely selected so much for their beauty, with reference to the
surrounding scenery, as for conveniency; and hence it is that we find but
few of them in positions which a view-hunter would term strikingly
felicitous. When they are so, we rather presume the circumstance arises
from its happening that eligibility and choice have agreed in determining
the point. Yet, seriously, though the generality of farm-steadings have
little to boast of as regards situation, there are many pleasing
exceptions. Nay, there are some to be found occupying the most choice
positions--surrounded with or overlooking all that is beautiful in nature.
One of these, most certainly, is the farm-house of West Mains, in the
parish of Longorton, Lanarkshire. It stands on the summit of a gentle,
isolated eminence that rises in the very centre of a deep and romantic
valley, formed of steep green hills, thickly wooded towards the bottom, but
rising in naked verdancy from about the centre upwards. The view from the
house is thus, indeed, limited; but this limitation is amply compensated by
its singular beauty.

About fifty years ago, this beautifully-situated farm-house was occupied by
one Robert Adair, who rented also the entire valley in which it is
situated. Adair's family, at this time, consisted of himself, his wife, a
son, and two daughters, Martha and Rosina, or Rosy, as she was familiarly
called. The former was, at the period of our story, in her twentieth year,
the latter in her eighteenth. Martha was a good-looking and good-tempered
girl; but, in both respects, and in several others, she was much surpassed
by her younger sister, Rosy, as we, too, prefer to call her. The latter,
with, personal attractions of no common order, was one of the liveliest and
most cheerful creatures imaginable. Nothing could damp her buoyant spirit;
nothing, be it what it might, could make her sad for longer than ten
minutes together. From morning to night she continued pouring out, in a
voice of the richest and most touching melody, the overflowings of a light
and innocent heart. And scarcely less melodious was the joyous and gleeful
laugh, in which she ever and anon gave way to the promptings of a lively
and playful imagination. Let it not, however, be thought that all this
apparent levity of manner was the result of an unthinking or uncalculating
mind, or that it was in her case, as it frequently is in others, associated
with qualities which exclude the finer and better feelings of female
nature. It was by no means so. With all her gaiety and sportiveness, she
had a heart filled with all the tenderest sensibilities of a woman. Her
attachments were warm and ardent. In character, simple and sincere, Rosy
could have died for those she loved; and so finely strung were the
sympathies of her nature, that they were wrought on at will by either mirth
or pathos, and with each were found equally to accord.

Rosy's father, Mr Adair, although holding a considerable extent of land,
and paying a very handsome rental, was yet by no means in affluent
circumstances. Both his name and his credit in the country were on a fair
footing, and he was not encumbered with more debt than he could very easily
pay. But this was all; there was no surplus--nothing to spare; and the
less, that he had been liberal in his expenditure on the education of his
daughters. On this he had grudged no cost; they had both passed several
winters in Glasgow, and had there possessed themselves of some of the more
elegant accomplishments in female education.

In character, Robert Adair was something of an original. In speech, blunt,
plain, and humorous; but in disposition, kind, sincere, and generous. He
was, in short, in all respects an excellent and worthy man. On the score of
education, he had not much to boast of; but this deficiency was, in part at
any rate, compensated by great natural shrewdness and vigour of mind.

Such, then, were the inmates of the farm-house of West Mains, at the period
to which our story refers, and which is somewhere about the year 1788.

It was at the close of a day of incessant rain, in the month of September
of that year, or it may, perhaps, have been of the year following, that a
young man, of somewhere about five-and-twenty years of age, respectably
dressed, with a stick in his hand, and a small leathern bundle under his
arm, presented himself at the door of Robert Adair's house, and knocked for
admittance. The door was opened by Robert himself; and when it was so, the
person whom we have described stood before him. He was drenched with wet.
It was streaming from his hat, and had soaked him all over to the skin. He
was thus, altogether, in most uncomfortable plight; for, besides being wet,
the night was intensely cold.

"Can you, my good friend," said the stranger, in a tone and manner that
bespoke a person of education at least, if it might not be ventured to call
him a gentleman--"Can you give me quarters for a night?" he said, on being
confronted by Mr Adair. "I am an entire stranger in this part of the
country, and do not know of any inn at hand, otherwise I would not have
troubled you. I will, very readily, pay for my accommodation."

"A nicht's quarters, frien," replied Adair. "Oh, surely, ye'll get that,
an' welcome. Walk in. Save us, man, but ye hae gotten a soakin! Ye're like
a half-drooned rat. But stap in, stap in. There's a guid fire there in the
kitchen and I'm sure ye're no out the need o' a blink o't."

In a minute after, the stranger was comfortably seated before a roaring
fire. But his host's hospitality did not end with this kindness; he
insisted on his guest shifting himself; and, to enable him to do so,
brought him a whole armfull of his own clothes; shirt, coat, waistcoat,
trousers, and stockings. Nor with this kindness did his benevolence yet
terminate; he invited the stranger to accept of some refreshment; an
invitation which he followed up by desiring his daughter Rosy to cover a
small table close by the fire, and to place thereon such edibles as she had
at hand. Delighting as much as her father in acts of kindness, Rosy
hastened to obey an order so agreeable to her. In a trice, she had the
table covered with various good things, conspicuous amongst which was a
jolly round of salt beef. In compliance with the request of his host, the
stranger drew into the table thus kindly prepared for him; but, to the
great disappointment of his entertainer, ate very sparingly.

"Dear help me, man!--eat, eat, canna ye!" exclaimed Adair, every now and
then, as he marked the listless manner in which the stranger pecked at the
food on his plate. "Eat, man, canna ye!" he said, getting absolutely angry
at his guest's want of appetite, which he construed into diffidence. "Lord,
man, take a richt whang on your plate at once, and dinna be nibblin at it
that way, like a mouse at a Du'lap cheese." Saying this, he seized a knife
and fork, cut a slice from the cold round, an inch in thickness, and at
least six in diameter, and threw it on the stranger's plate with much about
the same grace which he exhibited in tossing a truss of hay with a
pitchfork. "There, man, tak half-a-dizzen o' cuts like that, and then ye
may say ye hae made a bit supper o't."

Robert Adair was, in truth, but a rough table attendant, but he was a kind
one, and in all he said and did meant well, however uncouthly it might be

Of this the stranger seemed perfectly aware; and, although he could not
eat, he appeared fully to appreciate the sincerity of his host's
invitations to him to do so.

After persevering, therefore, a little longer, as if to please his
entertainer, he at length laid down his knife and fork, and declared that
he was now satisfied, and could take no more. On his making this decided

"My faith," said his hospitable landlord, "an' ye be na waur to water than
to corn, I think I could board ye, an' no be a loser, for a very sma'
matter. Rosy, bring butt the bottle."

Obedient to the command, Rosy tripped out of the kitchen, and in an instant
returned with the desiderated commodity--a dumpy, bluff, opaque bottle, of
about a gallon contents--which she placed on the table. Adair seized it by
its long neck, and, filling up a brimming bumper, tossed it off to the
health of his guest. This done, he filled up another topping glass, and
presented it to the stranger, with a strong recommendation on the score of
excellence. "Ra-a-l guid stuff, sir," he said, "tak my word for't. Juist a
cordial. Noo, dinna trifle wi' your drink as ye did wi' your meat, or I'll
no ken what to think o' ye at a'."

The stranger, with renewed acknowledgments for the kindness shewn him, took
the proffered beverage; but, instead of taking it off as his worthy host
had expected, he merely put it to his lips, and replaced it on the table.

"Weel, that cowes the gowan!" said Adair. "Ye'll neither hap nor
wyn--neither dance nor haud the candle. Try't again, man, try't again.
Steek your een hard, gie ae gulp, an' ower wi't."

The worthy man, however, pressed in vain. The stranger would not drink; but
once more acknowledged the kindness and well-meant hospitality of his

During all this time, the stranger had neither said nor done any single
thing which was capable of imparting the slightest idea of who or what he
was--where he was from, or whence he was going. Indeed, he hardly spoke at
all; and the little he did speak was almost all confined to brief
expressions of thanks for the kindness shewn him. When seen as he was now,
under more favourable circumstances than those in which he had first
presented himself, shivering with cold and drenched with wet, he exhibited
a handsome exterior. His countenance was full of expression and
intelligence, but was overspread with an apparently deep-seated and settled
melancholy. He appeared, in short, to be a person who was suffering
severely either in body or mind; but his affliction exhibited all the
symptoms of being of the latter rather than the former. Yet was not the
profound gravity of his manner of an unpleasing or repulsive character; it
partook of a gentleness and benevolence that rendered it rather graceful
than otherwise. The tones of his voice, too, corresponded with these
qualities; they were mild and impressive, and singularly agreeable.
Altogether, the stranger appeared a mysterious sort of person; and greatly
did it puzzle Mr Adair and all his household to conjecture who or what he
could possibly be; a task to which they set themselves after he had retired
to bed, which he did--pleading fatigue as an excuse--at an early hour. The
first ostensible circumstance connected with their guest of the night,
which the family divan, with the father of it at their head, took into
consideration when discussing the knotty points of the stranger's character
and calling, was his apparel. But of this they could make nothing. His
habiliments were in no ways remarkable for anything; they being neither
good, bad, nor indifferent, but of that indefinite description called
respectable. So far as these were concerned, therefore, he might be either
a peer of the realm or an English bagman.

Finding they could make nothing of the clothes, the family cabinet council
next proceeded to the looks and manners of the stranger; and, with regard
to these, all agreed that they seemed to bespeak the gentleman; and on this
conclusion from the premises, none insisted more stoutly than Rosy, who,
let us observe, although she thought nobody saw her, had taken several
stolen glances at the subject of discussion while he was seated at the
kitchen fire; and at each glance, let us farther observe, more and more
approved of his finely arched eyebrows, his well-formed mouth, dark
expressive eyes, and rich black locks that clustered around his white and
open forehead. But all this is a secret, good reader, and should not have
been told.

So far, then, had the united opinions of the family determined regarding
their guest. But what should have brought him the way of West Mains, such
an out-of-the-way place, seeing that he had neither gun, dog, nor
fishing-rod, and could not therefore have been in pursuit of sport? It was
odd, unaccountable. Where could he be from? Where could he be going to?
These were questions more easily put than answered; and by all were they
put, but by none were they replied to. At length, Mr Adair took speech in
hand himself on the subject.

"I kenna, nor, indeed, neither do I muckle care, wha the lad is; but he
seems to me to be a ceevil, discreet, young man; and I rather like him
a'thegither, although he's a dooms bad haun at baith cap and trencher. A',
however, that we hae to do wi' him, is to treat him ceevily while he's
under our roof. He's gotten a guid bed to lie in, and in the mornin we'll
gie him a guid breakfast to tak the road wi', and there'll be an end o't.
It's no likely we'll ever hear or see mair o' him." Having said this,
Robert broke up the conclave; gave the long-drawn sonorous yawn that his
family knew to be the signal of preparation for bed. In the next moment,
Adair's left hand was busily employed in undoing the knee buttons of his
small clothes. Another powerful yawn, and he proceeded to perform the same
operation on his right leg. In two minutes after, he was snugly buried
beneath the blankets; his "honest, sonsy, bawsint face," and red Kilmarnock
night-cap, being all that was left visible of him; and, in five minutes
more, a magnificent snore intimated to all whom it might concern, that
worthy Robin Adair was fairly in the land of Nod, and oblivious of all
earthly concerns.

On the following morning, Mr Adair and his guest met at breakfast, when
that liking for each other which had begun to manifest itself on the
preceding night--although neither, perhaps, could say precisely whence it
arose--gradually waxed into a somewhat stronger feeling. Adair was pleased
with the gentle and unaffected manners of his guest, while the latter was
equally pleased with the sincerity of character and generosity of heart of
his entertainer. It appeared, however, as if their acquaintance was to be
but of short duration, and as if they were now soon to part, in all
probability for ever. Circumstances seemed to point to this result; yet it
was by no means the one that followed--an odd incident at once threw out
all such calculation.

When breakfast was concluded, and the party who had sat around the
table--Adair, his family, and the stranger--had risen to their feet, the
latter, smiling through his natural gravity, asked his host if he would be
so good as give him a private interview with him. To this Mr Adair,
although not a little surprised at the request, consented, and led the way
into a small back-parlour that opened from the room in which they had

"Mr Adair," said the stranger, on their entering this apartment, and having
previously secured the door, "I am greatly indebted to you for the kindness
and hospitality you have shewn me."

"No the least, sir--no the least," replied the farmer, with a decree of
respect in his manner with which his guest's air and bearing had
unconsciously inspired him, he did not know how or wherefore--"No the
least. I am aye glad to shew civility to them that seek the shelter o' my
rufe; it's just a pleasure to me. Ye're not only heartily welcome, sir, to
a' ye hae gotten, but to a week o't, an' ye like. I dinna think that I wad
be the first to weary o't."

"Have you any objection to try?" said the stranger, with a gentle smile.

"None whatever," replied the hospitable yeoman.

"Well, Mr Adair," said the stranger, with more gravity of manner, "to
convert jest into earnest, I have a proposal to make to you. I have been
for some time looking out for such a quiet retirement as this is, and a
family as respectable and agreeable as yours seems to me to be. Now, having
found both of these things to my mind here, I will, if you have no
objection, become a boarder with you, Mr Adair, paying you a hundred
guineas a-year; and here," he said, drawing out a well-filled purse, and
emptying its contents on the table--"here are fifty guineas in advance."
And he told off from the heap that lay on the table, the sum he named, and
thrust it towards his astonished host. "And let me add," went on the
mysterious stranger, "that, if you agree to my proposal, and continue to
put up as well together as I expect we shall, I will not limit my payment
to the sum I have mentioned. What say you to this, Mr Adair?"

To _this_ Mr Adair could say nothing for some time. Not a word. He was lost
in perplexity and amazement--a state of mental difficulty and
embarrassment, which he made manifest by scratching his head, and looking,
with a bewildered sort of smile, alternately at the gold and its late
owner--first at the one, then at the other. At length--

"Well," he said, still scratching his head, "this is a queer sort o'
business, an' a turn o' matters I didna look for ava; but I hae seen waur
things come o' better beginnins. To tell ye a truth, sir," continued the
perplexed yeoman, "I'm no oot o' the need o' the siller. But, if ye'll just
stop a minute, if ye please, till I speak to the guidwife on the subject."

And, with this, Adair hurried out of the room; and, having done this, he
hurried his wife into another, and told her of what had just taken place,
concluding with a--"An', noo, guidwife, what do ye think we should do?"

"Tak the siller, to be sure," replied the latter. "He seems to me to be a
decent, canny lad; and, at ony rate, we canna be far wrang wi' ae six
months o' him, ony way, seein that he's payin the siller afore haun. That's
the grand point, Rab."

"Feth, it's that, guidwife--nae doot o't," replied her husband. "Juist the
pint o' pints. But whar'll ye put the lad?"

"Ou, tak ye nae fash about that, guidman. I'll manage that. Isna there the
wee room up the stair, wi' a bed in't that micht sair the king
himself--sheets as white as the driven snaw, and guid stripped druggit
curtains just oot o' the mangle?"

"Weel, weel, guidwife, ony way ye like as to thae matters," replied Adair;
"and I'll awa, in the meantime, and get haud o' the siller. There's gowd
yonner for the liftin. Deil o' the like o't ever I saw." Saying this, he
flung out of the apartment, and in the next minute was again in the
presence of the mysterious stranger.

On his entering--"Well, Mr Adair," said the latter, "what does your good
lady say to my becoming a boarder with her?"

"Feth, sir, she's very willin, and says ye may depend on her and her
dochter doin everything in their power to make ye comfortable."

"Of that I have no doubt," said the stranger; "and now, then, that this
matter is so far settled, take up your money, Mr Adair, and reckon on
punctual payments for the future."

"No misdoubtin that, sir, at a'," said the latter, picking up the guineas,
one after another, and chucking them into a small leathern purse which he
had brought for the purpose. "No misdoubtin' at a', sir," he said. "I tak
this to be guid earnest o' that."

The stranger, then, whoever he was, was now fairly domiciled in the house
of Mr Adair. The name he gave himself was Mowbray; and by this name he was
henceforth known.

For two years succeeding the period of which we have just been speaking,
did Mr Mowbray continue an inmate of West Mains, without any single
circumstance occurring to throw the smallest light on his history. At the
end of this period, as little was known regarding him as on the day of his
first arrival. On this subject he never communicated anything himself; and,
as he was always punctual in his payments, and most exemplary in his
general conduct, those with whom he resided did not feel themselves called
upon, nor would it have been decorous, to make any further inquiry on the
subject. Indeed although they had desired to do so, there was no way open
to them by which to obtain such information.

During the period alluded to, Mr Mowbray spent the greater part of his time
in reading; having, since his settlement at West Mains, opened a
communication with a bookseller in the neighbouring country town of ----;
and in walking about the country, visiting the more remarkable scenery, and
other interesting objects in the neighbourhood.

During all this time, too, his habits were extremely retired; shunning, as
much as he possibly could, all intercourse with those whom he accidentally
met; and, even at home, mingling but little with the family with which he
resided. Privacy and quietness, in short, seemed to be the great objects of
his desire; and the members of Mr Adair's household, becoming aware of
this, not only never needlessly intruded themselves on him, but studiously
avoided involving him in conversation, which they observed was always
annoying to him. He was thus allowed to go abroad and to return, and even
to pass, when accidentally met by any members of the family, without any
notice being taken of him, further, perhaps, than a slight nod of civility,
which he usually returned without uttering a syllable.

From all this--his retired habits, deep-seated melancholy, and immoveable
taciturnity--it was evident to Mr Adair and his family that their boarder
was labouring under some grievous depression of mind; and in this opinion
they were confirmed by various expressions of grief, not unaccompanied by
others of contrition, which they had frequently overheard, accidentally, as
they passed the door of his apartment on occasions--and these were
frequent--when Mr Mowbray seemed more than usually depressed by the sorrow
to which he was a prey.

With all this reserve and seclusion, however, there was nothing repulsive
in Mr Mowbray's manners or habits. He was grave without being morose,
taciturn without being churlish, and sought quietness and retirement
himself, without any expression of impatience with, or sign of peevishness
at, the stir and bustle around him.

As a matter of course, the history and character of Mr Mowbray excited, at
least for a time, much speculation in the neighbourhood; and these
speculations, as a matter of course, also, as we may venture to say, were
not in general of the most charitable description. One of these held forth
that he was a retired highwayman, who had sought a quiet corner in which to
enjoy the fruits of his industry, and to avoid the impertinences of the
law; another held that he was a murderer, who had fled from justice;
another that he was a bankrupt, who had swindled his creditors; a fourth,
that he was a forger, who had done business in that way to a vast extent.

As to the nature of the crime which Mr Mowbray had committed, it will be
seen that there were various opinions; but that he had committed some
enormous crimes of some sort or other, was a universal opinion--in this
general sentiment all agreed.

Amongst other mysteries, was that involved in the query--where did he get
his money? Where did it come from? He did not, indeed, seem to have the
command of very extensive resources; but always to have enough to pay
punctually and promptly everything he desired, and to settle all pecuniary
claims upon him.

His remittances, it was also ascertained, came to him, from whatever
quarter it might be, regularly twice a-year, per the English mail, which
passed within a mile and a half of West Mains. The exact amount of these
remittances, which were always in gold, and put up in a small, neat, tight
parcel, was never exactly known; but was supposed, on pretty good grounds,
to be, each, somewhere about a hundred and fifty guineas, one of which went
to Mr Adair; for Mr Mowbray had, of his own accord, added fifty guineas per
annum to the hundred which he had first promised. The other hundred and
fifty was disposed of in various ways, or left to accumulate with their
owner. Such, then, was the amount of information acquired regarding Mr
Mowbray's pecuniary resources; and more, on this point, or any other
regarding him, could not, by any means, be arrived at.

By the end of the period, however, which we have above named--namely, two
years--public opinion had, we must observe, undergone a considerable
modification in Mr Mowbray's favour. He had been gradually acquitted of his
various crimes; and the worst that was now believed of him was, that he was
a gentleman whom troubles, of some kind or other, had driven from the

This favourable change in public opinion regarding him was, in a great
measure, if not, indeed, wholly owing to the regularity of his conduct, the
gentleness of his manners, his generosity--for he was a liberal contributor
to the relief of the necessitous poor in his vicinity--and to the rigid
punctuality he observed in all his pecuniary transactions.

In the family in which he resided, where there were, of course, better
opportunities for judging of his character, and estimating his good
qualities, he came to be much beloved. Adair, as he often said himself,
would "gae through fire and water to serve him;" for a more honourable, or
"discreet" young gentleman, as he also frequently said, "didna breathe the
breath o' existence."

On every other member of the family, the impression he made was equally
favourable; and, on one of them, in particular, we might speak of it in yet
stronger language. But of this anon.

The general conviction into which the family with which Mr Mowbray resided
fell, regarding the personal history of that person, was, that he was a
gentleman who possessed a moderate annuity from some fixed sum, and that
some disgust with the world had driven him into his present retirement; and
in this conviction they had now been so long and so completely settled,
that they firmly believed in its truth, and never after dreamed of again
agitating the question, even in the most distant manner.

Thus, then, stood matters at West Mains at the end of two years from the
period at which our story opens. Hitherto, however, we have only exhibited
what was passing above board. We will now give the reader a peep of certain
little matters that were going on behind the scenes.

A short while previous to the time of which we now speak, Rosy's sister,
Martha, had gone to Edinburgh to spend the winter with a near relative of
her father; partly as a friendly visit, and partly for the purpose of
perfecting herself in certain branches of female education. This separation
was a painful one to the two sisters, for they were much attached to each
other; but they determined to compensate it by maintaining a close and
regular correspondence; and huge was the budget that each soon accumulated
of the other's epistolary performances. Out of these budgets we will select
a couple, which will give the reader a hint of some things of which, we
daresay, he little dreamed. The first is from Martha to her sister, and is
dated from Edinburgh.

       *       *       *       *       *

"MY DEAR ROSY," (runs this document,) "I received your kind letter by Mr
Meiklewham, likewise the little jar of butter for Aunt, who says it is
delicious, and that she would know it to be West Mains butter wherever she
should have met with it.

"I am delighted to hear that you are all well, and that Mr Mowbray has got
better of his slight indisposition. By the by, Rosy, I have observed that
you are particularly guarded in all your communications about Mr M. When
you speak of him you don't do so with your usual sprightliness of manner.
Ah! Rosy, Rosy, I doubt--I doubt--I have long doubted, or rather, I have
been long convinced--of _what_, say you blushing! _N'importe_--nothing at
all. Do you believe me, Rosy?--No, you don't. Does Mr M. fix his fine
expressive eyes on you as often and as intensely as he used to do? Eh,
Rosy!--Now, there's something you can't deny.

"To be serious, Rosy, my dear sister, I have long been satisfied that you
are loved by Mr Mowbray--deeply, sincerely, ardently loved. And, more, my
dear Rosy, I am equally satisfied that Mr Mowbray is loved by _you_. I am
certain of it. I have marked many symptoms of it, although I have never
mentioned it to you before; and I do it now in order to induce you to
unburden yourself of such feelings, as it may relieve you to discover to a
sister who loves you tenderly and sincerely," &c, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our next quotation is from Martha's budget; and we shall select the letter
she received in reply to the one above given. It is dated West Mains, and
proceeds thus:--

       *       *       *       *       *

"MY DEAR MARTHA,--It is not in my nature to play a double part. I freely
confess, my dear Martha, in reply to your lecture on a certain subject,
that Mr Mowbray is not indifferent to me. I have long, I avow it, admired
the many good qualities which we have all acknowledged him to possess--his
gentlemanly bearing; his accomplishments; the elegance of his manners, and
the noble generosity of his nature. These I have indeed, Martha, long
admired. But what reason have you for supposing that your sister, with
nothing to recommend her but some very homely advantage of person, can have
made any impression on the heart of such a man as Mr Mowbray? Here, Martha,
you are decidedly at fault, and have jumped to a conclusion which you have
rather wished than believed. But, enough of this foolish matter."--And here
the fair writer leaps off to another subject, which, as it has no reference
to our story, nor any particular interest of its own, we beg to leave in
the oblivion in which it reposes. And having quoted enough of the sisters'
correspondence for our purpose, we will here, again, throw our narrative
into its more direct and legitimate channel.

By the letters above given, we have shewn pretty plainly that, on the part
of the one sister, a secret attachment to the unknown lodger was in rapid
progress, if it had not indeed already attained a height fatal to the peace
of mind of her by whom it was entertained; and that, on the part of the
other, a strong suspicion existed, not only that such love had been
generated, but that this love was mutual. And was it so? It was. Mr Mowbray
had not, indeed, made any very palpable advances, nor displayed any
symptoms of the state of his feelings, which any one but such a close and
shrewd observer as Martha could have detected. To no other eyes did this
secret stand revealed. But there was now, in his general manner towards
Rosy, much that such an observer could not fail to be struck with, or to
attribute to its real and proper cause. Nor was this change confined to his
intercourse with Rosy Adair--to the slight confusion that appeared in his
countenance whenever they accidentally met each other, unseen of any one
besides, and to the evident pleasure which he took in her society--to the
circumstance of his seeking that pleasure as often as he could without
making it subject of remark. No, the change that had now come over Mr
Mowbray was not confined to what such incidents as these may be presumed to
indicate; his spirit also, the whole tenor of his thoughts, the whole
constitution of his mind, seemed equally under the influence of his
new-born passion. His manner became more cheerful; his eye became lighted
up with an unwonted fire; and he no longer indulged in the seclusion which
he had so sedulously sought when he first came to West Mains. Mr Mowbray
was now, in fact, a changed man, and changed for the better. He was now no
longer the weeping, melancholy recluse, but a character evidently much more
suitable to his natural temper and dispositions--a gay and cheerful man of
the world. It was, indeed, a marvellous change; but so it was.

This, however--referring to the attachment which had thus grown up between
Rosy Adair and Mr Mowbray--was a state of matters which could not long
remain in the position in which we have represented them; some result or
conclusion was inevitable--and it arrived. Mr Mowbray gradually became more
and more open in his communications with Miss Adair; gradually disclosed
the state of his feelings with regard to her, and finally avowed his love.
Miss Adair heard the delightful confession with an emotion she could not
conceal; and, ingenuous in everything, in all she said and did, avowed that
she loved in return.

"Then, my Rosina, my beloved Rosina," exclaimed Mr Mowbray, in a wild
transport of joy--and throwing himself, in the excitation of the moment, at
the feet of her whom he addressed--"allow me to mention this matter to your
father, and to seek his consent to your making me the happiest of living

The liberty he thus sought with such grace and earnestness, was blushingly
granted; not indeed, in express words, but with a silence equally
intelligible and more eloquent than words.

In five minutes after, Mr Mowbray was closeted, and in earnest conversation
with Mr Adair. He had already announced his attachment to his daughter, and
had sought his consent to their union. Mr Adair had yet made no reply. The
request was one of too serious a nature to be hastily or unreflectingly
acquiesced in. At length--

"Weel, Mr Mowbray," said Mr Adair, "I'll tell ye what it is: although I
certainly haena a' the knowledge o' ye--that is, regarding yoursel and your
affairs--that I maybe hae a richt to insist on haein before giein ye the
haun o' my dochter--and this for a' the time that ye hae been under my
roof--yet, as in that time--noo, I think, something owre twa year gane
by--yer conduct has aye been that o' a gentleman, in a' respects--sober,
discreet, and reglar; most exemplary, I maun say;--and, as I am satisfied
that ye hae the means o' supportin a wife, in a decent way, no to say that
there may be muckle owre either, I really think I can hae nae reasonable
objections to gie ye Rosy after a'."

During this speech of the worthy yeoman's, there was on Mr Mowbray's
countenance a smile of peculiar meaning; evidently one under which lay
something amusing, mingled with the expression of satisfaction which Mr
Adair's sanction to his marriage with Rosina had elicited.

Delighted with the success of his mission, Mr Mowbray now flew to the
apartment in which he had left Miss Adair, and, enfolding her in his arms,
in a transport of joy, informed her that he had obtained her father's
consent to their union, and concluded by asking her to name the day which
should make her his for ever. This, however, being rather too summary a
proceeding, Rosina declined; and Mr Mowbray was obliged to be content with
a promise of the matter being taken into consideration on an early day.

Leaving the lovers in discussion on these very agreeable points, and others
connected therewith, we will follow Mr Adair on the errand on which he
went, after Mr Mowbray had left him. This was to communicate to his wife
the unexpected and important proposal which had just been made to him, and
to which he had just acceded.

"Weel, guidwife, here's a queer business," said Mr Adair, on joining his
thrifty helpmate, who was busy at the moment in scouring a set of milk
dishes. "What do ye think? Mr Mowbray has just noo asked my consent to his
marrying Rosy. Now, isna that a queer affair! My feth, but they maun hae
managed matters unco cannily and cunningly; for deil a bit o' me ever could
see the least inklin o' anything past ordinar between them."

"You see onything o' that kind!" replied Mrs Adair, with an expression of
the greatest contempt for her husband's penetration in _affaires de
coeur_. "You see't, Robin! No--I dare say no. Although they were sitting
under your very nose, wi' their arms aboot ithers' necks, I dinna believe
ye wad see that there was onything in't. But, though ye didna see't, Robin,
I saw't--and plainly enough, too--although I said naething about it. I saw,
mony a day sin', that Mr Mowbray had a notion o' Rosy; and, if truth be
tell't, I saw as weel that she had a notion o' him, and hae lang expected
that it wad come to this."

"Weel, weel, guidwife, ye hae a glegger ee for thae things than I hae,"
replied Mr Adair. "But here's the end o' the matter noo."

"And hae ye gien your consent, Robin?"

"'Deed hae I; for I think he's an honest, decent lad; and, no to say he's
rich maybe, fair aneuch aff, I think, as to worldly matters."

"As to that, I daresay, there's naething far amiss," replied Mrs Adair,
"nor as regards his character either, maybe; but I'm no sure. I dinna ken,
Robert, considerin a' things, if ye haena been a wee owre rash in giein
your consent to this business. It's a serious affair. And, after a', we ken
but little about the lad; although, I canna but say he seems to be a
decent, honourable chiel, and I houp'll mak Rosy happy." Here the good
woman raised the corner of her apron to her eyes, and gave way, for a
second or two, to those maternal feelings which the occasion was so well
calculated to excite.

"Tuts, woman; what's the use o' that?" said Mr Adair, with a sort of
good-natured impatience. "The thing's a' richt aneuch, and sae'll be seen
in the end, nae doot."

"God grant it!" replied his wife, with solemn earnestness; and here the
conversation dropped for the time.

We now revert to the proceedings of Mr Mowbray at this eventful crisis of
his life; but in these we find only one circumstance occurring between the
day on which he solicited, and that on which he obtained, the hand of Rosy
Adair. This circumstance, however, was one of rather curious import. It was
a letter which Mr Mowbray addressed to a friend, and ran thus:--

       *       *       *       *       *

"DEAR NARESBY,--The appearance of this well-known hand--well known to you,
my friend--will, I daresay, startle you not a little. My letter will seem
to you as a communication from the dead; for it is now upwards of two long
years since you either heard from me or of me. On this subject I have much
to say to you, and on some others besides, but defer it until I shall have
the pleasure of seeing you at Wansted--a pleasure which I hope to have in
about three weeks hence--when we shall talk over old affairs, and, mayhap,
some new ones. Would you believe me, Naresby, if I was to say, that the sea
had ceased to ebb and flow, that the hills had become valleys, and the
valleys had risen into hills; that the moon had become constant, and that
the sun had forgotten to sink in the west when his daily course was run?
Would you believe any or all of these things, if I were to assert them to
be true? No, you wouldn't. Yet will you as readily believe them, I daresay,
as that I am to be--how can I come out with the word!--to be--to be
married, Naresby! Married! Yes, married. I am to be married--I repeat it
slowly and solemnly--and to one of the sweetest and fairest creatures that
ever the sun of heaven shone upon. 'Oh! of course,' say you. But it's true,
Naresby; and, ere another month has passed away, you will yourself confess
it; for ere that period has come and gone, you will have seen her with your
own eyes.

"So much then for resolution, for the weakness of human nature. I
thought--nay, I swore, Naresby, as you know--that I would, that I could
never love again. I thought that the treachery, the heartlessness of one,
one smiling deceiver, had seared my heart, and rendered it callous to all
the charms and blandishments of her sex. But I have been again deceived.

"I have not, however, this time, chosen the object of my affections from
the class to which--I cannot pronounce her name--that fatal name--belonged;
but from one which, however inferior in point of adventitious acquirement,
far surpasses it--of this experience has convinced me--in all the better
qualities of the heart.

"The woman to whom I am to be married--my Rosina Adair!--is the daughter of
a humble yeoman, and has thus neither birth nor fortune to boast of. But
what in a wife are birth or fortune to me? Nothing, verily nothing, when
their place is supplied--as in the case of my betrothed--by a heart that
knows no guile; by a temper cheerful and complying; and by personal charms
that would add lustre to a crown. Birth, Naresby, I do not value; and
fortune I do not want.

"Well, then, Naresby, my period of seclusion is now about over, and I
return again to the world. Who would have said this two years ago? If any
had, I would have told them they spoke untruly--that I had abjured the
world, and all its joys, for ever; and that, henceforth, William Mowbray
would not be as other men. But so it is. I state the fact, and leave others
to account for and moralize on it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Such, then, was the letter which Mr Mowbray wrote to his friend, Naresby,
during the interval to which we formerly alluded. Several other letters he
also wrote and despatched about the same time; but the purpose of these,
and to whom written, we must leave the sequel of our story to explain.

Having no further details of any interest wherewith to fill up the
intervening period between the occurrence of the circumstances just related
and the marriage of Rosina Adair and William Mowbray, we at once carry
forward our narrative to the third day after the celebration of that event.
On that day--

"Rosy, my love," said Mr Mowbray, smiling, "I have a proposal to make to

"Indeed!--what is it, William?"

"Why, I'll tell you what it is," said the latter; "I wish to go on a visit
to a particular friend, and I wish you to go with me."

"Oh, surely," replied Mrs Mowbray. "Is it far?"

"Why, a pretty long way; a two days' journey. Will you still venture on

"Surely--surely, William. Anywhere with you!"

"Thank you, my love," said Mr Mowbray, embracing his young wife.

"Now, I have another proposal to make, Rosy," continued the former; "I wish
your father and mother to accompany us."

"What! my father and mother too!" exclaimed Mrs Mowbray, in great surprise.
"Dear me, wouldn't that be odd, William. What would your friend say to such
a cavalcade of visiters?"

"Delighted to see them, I assure you, my love. It's my friend's own express
wish; and, however odd it may seem, it is a point which must be conceded

"Well, well, William, any way you please. I am content. But have you
thought of the expense? That will be rather serious."

"Oh, not in the least, my love," replied Mr Mowbray, laughing. "Not in the
least serious, I assure you. I will manage that part of the matter."

"Well, well; but my father's consent, William. There's the difficulty. To
get him to leave his farm for so long a time; I doubt you will scarcely
prevail upon him to do that. He would not live a week from home, I verily
believe, although it were to make a lord of him."

"I'll try, Rosy; I'll try this minute," said Mr Mowbray, hurrying out of
the apartment, and proceeding in quest of Mr Adair, whom he soon found.

"Leave hame for a week!" exclaimed the latter, on Mr Mowbray's making known
to him his wishes on this subject. "Impossible! my dear sir; impossible!
Wholly out o' the question. I hae a stack o' oats to thrash oot; a bit o' a
fauld dyke to build; twa acres o' the holme to ploo; the new barn to theek;
the lea-field to saw wi' wheat; the turnips to bring in; the taties to
bing; forbye a hunner ither things that can on nae account stan owre.
Impossible, my dear sir--impossible. Juist wholly oot the question. But ye
may get the guidwife wi' ye an' ye like, Mr Mowbray," said Mr Adair,
laughing jocosely; "and may keep her too, if ye like."

"Yes--yes. All very well, Mr Adair; but I must have you too, in spite of
the manifold pieces of work you have on hand. I have a particular reason
for pressing this point, and really will not be denied."

For a full half-hour did this sort of sparring continue between Mr Mowbray
and his father-in-law; both being resolute--the one to carry his point, the
other to keep his ground; but, what could hardly be expected, the former
finally prevailed. His urgency carried the day; and Mr Adair was
ultimately, although we need scarcely say it, reluctantly, prevailed on to
promise that he would be one of the intended party. Having obtained this
promise, Mr Mowbray farther secured its performance by naming the following
day as that on which they should set out.

On the following day, accordingly--Mrs Adair's consent having, in the
meantime, been obtained, and with much less difficulty than her
husband's--two chaises--unwonted sight--appeared at the door of West Mains
House; they had been ordered by Mr Mowbray from the neighbouring country
town; and, in a little after, out came the party by which they were to be

"I wad far rather hae ridden the black mare than go into ane o' thae
things," said Mr Adair, looking contemptuously at the couple of chaises
that stood at the door. "I never was fond o' ridin in cotches a' my life.
Nasty, rattlin, jinglin things. Ane micht as weel be shut up in a corn kist
as in ane o' them."

Having expressed this opinion of the conveyance he was about to enter, Mr
Adair, notwithstanding of that opinion, proceeded, with the assistance of
Mr Mowbray, to help his wife into one of them. This done, he followed
himself. Mrs and Mr Mowbray stepped into the other chaise. The doors were
shut by the coachman with a bang; and, in the next minute, both the
vehicles were in rapid motion.

On the forenoon of the second day after their departure--nothing, in the
interval, having occurred worth relating--the party arrived at a certain
noble mansion not far from the borders of England. The two chaises having
drawn up before the door of this splendid residence, three or four servants
in rich livery hastened to release the travellers by throwing open the
doors of their carriages, and unfolding the steps, which they did with very
marked deference and respect, and with smiles on their faces, (particularly
in the case of one not in livery, who seemed the principal of them,) of
very puzzling meaning.

On the party having got out of their chaises--"Is this your freen's house,
Mr Mowbray?" said Mr Adair, standing fast, and looking up with great
astonishment and admiration at the splendid building before him.

"It is, sir," replied Mr Mowbray.

"My feth! an' he maun be nae sma' drink then--that's clear. He has a rare
sittin-down here. It's a house for a lord."

"The house is very respectable, certainly," said Mr Mowbray; "and, I think,
you'll find the inside every way worthy of the out."

"I dinna doot it--I dinna doot it," replied Mr Adair. "But whar's your
freen, himsel?"

"Oh! we'll see him presently. In the meantime let us walk in." And, taking
his wife's arm within his, Mr Mowbray led the way into the house, conducted
by the principal domestic, and followed by Mr and Mrs Adair; the latter no
less overwhelmed than her husband by the grandeur with which she was

Having entered the house, the party were led up a magnificent staircase,
and ushered into a room of noble dimensions, and gorgeously furnished. All
but Mr Mowbray himself, and the servant who attended, were awe-stricken
with the splendours around them. Even Mrs Mowbray was oppressed with this
feeling; so much so as not to be able to speak a word; and on her father
and mother it had a similar effect. Not one opened a mouth, but continued
gazing around them in silent amazement and admiration.

When the party had seated themselves--"Shall I serve up some refreshment,
sir?" said the servant to Mr Mowbray, with great respect of manner, but
with that perplexing smile on his face.

"Yes, John, do," said Mr Mowbray; "and as quick's you like; for we are all,
I fancy, pretty sharp-set; and some of us--I speak for myself at any
rate--not a little thirsty."

The servant bowed and retired. When he had done so--"'Od, sir, ye seem to
be greatly at your ease here," said Mr Adair, who was not a little
surprised, with the others, as well he might, at the free and easy manner
of his son-in-law in his friend's house, "You and your freen maun surely be
unco intimate."

"Oh! we certainly are so," replied Mr Mowbray, laughing. "I can use any
freedom here--the same as if I were in my own house."

"Weel, that's pleasant and friendly like," said Mr Adair. "But isna your
freen himsel lang o' makin his appearance?"

"Rather, I confess; but he'll be here shortly, I daresay--something of a
particular nature detaining him, I have no doubt; but, in the meantime,
we'll make ourselves at home. I know it will please him if we do so." And
Mr Mowbray proceeded to the bell-pull, and rung it violently.

A servant instantly appeared, and received an order, fearlessly given, from
Mr Mowbray, to hasten the refreshment in preparation.

Mr Adair's countenance expressed increased amazement at this very
unceremonious proceeding; and he felt as if he would have said that he
thought it the most impertinent thing ever he had seen done in his life;
but he refrained. In this feeling Mrs Adair also partook; and in this
feeling Mr Mowbray's own wife shared, although not, perhaps, to the same
extent. Not the least curious part, let us observe too, of this odd scene,
was that Mr Mowbray seemed to delight in the perplexity of feeling which
his proceedings excited in his friends, and appeared studiously to do
everything he could think of to increase them.

By and by, the promised repast was served up; and an exceedingly handsome
one it was. The party took their seats, no host or hostess having yet
appeared--Mr Mowbray placing his wife at the head of the table, and himself
taking the foot--and proceeded to do justice to the good things before
them. The repast over, wine was introduced. This done, Mr Mowbray--who, to
the now utterly inexpressible amazement, and even confusion, of both Mr and
Mrs Adair, had all this while been ordering away, right and left, as if he
had been in a common inn--desired all the attendants to retire. When they
had done so, he filled up a bumper of wine, lifted it, rose to his feet
and, advancing with smiling countenance and extended hand towards his wife,
bade her welcome to _her own house_!

"What!" shouted Mr Adair, leaping from his chair.

"Eh!" exclaimed his wife, doing precisely the same thing by hers.

"William," said Mrs Mowbray, in a voice faint with agitation, and
endeavouring to rise from her chair, into which, however, she was obliged
again to sink.

"True, my friends," said Mr Mowbray; "all true. This, Mr Adair, is your
daughter's house; all that is within it and around it. Welcome again, my
love, to your own fireside!" said Mr Mowbray, embracing his wife, "and
long may you live to enjoy all the comfort and happiness which Malton
House, and ten thousand a-year, are capable of affording!"

Here, then, ends our story, good reader; and as we do not think you would
choose to be much longer detained, especially with dry details of
explanation which are all that now remains to add, we shall be brief.

Mr Mowbray was a young man of large fortune, who, having been crossed in
love, had imagined that he had been thereby weaned from the world and all
its joys; and, under this impression, had sought to retire from the busy
scenes of life, with a determination never to return to them again. How he
kept to this resolution our story tells.


On the summit of a bluff headland that projects into the Sound of Sky,
there stand the grey ruins of an ancient castle, which was once the
residence of a Highland chieftain of the name of M'Morrough--a man of
fierce nature and desperate courage, but not without some traits of a
generous disposition. When about middle age, M'Morrough married the
daughter of a neighbouring chief--a lady of much sweetness of manner and
gentleness of nature. On the part of the former, however, this connection
was one in which love had little share: its chief purpose would have been
attained by the birth of a male heir to the name and property of the feudal
chieftain; and this was an event to which he looked anxiously forward.

When the accouchement of his lady arrived, M'Morrough retired to an upper
apartment of the castle to await the result--having desired a trusty
domestic to bring him instant intelligence when the child was born, whether
it was a male or a female. The interval he employed in walking up and down
the chamber in a fever of impatience. At length the door of the apartment
opened, and Innes M'Phail entered. The chieftain turned quickly and
fiercely round, glanced at the countenance of his messenger, and there read
the disappointment of his hopes without a word being uttered.

"It is even so, then," roared out the infuriated chieftain. "It is a girl,
Innes; a girl. My curses on her!"

"Say _girls_, M'Morrough," said Innes, despondingly. "There are twins."

"And both girls--both!" exclaimed the former, stamping the floor in the
violence of his passion. "To the battlements with them, Innes!--to the
battlements with them instantly, and toss them over into the deep sea! Let
the waves of Loch Sonoran rock them to sleep, and the winds that rush
against Inch Caillach sing their lullaby. Let it be done--done instantly,
Innes, as you value your own life; and I will witness the fidelity with
which you serve me from this window. I will, with my own eyes, see the deed
done. Go--go--quick--quick!"

Innes, who had been previously aware that such would be the fate of a
female child, if such should unfortunately be born to his ruthless chief,
and who had promised to be the instrument of that fate, now left the
apartment to execute the atrocious deed. In less than ten minutes after,
Innes M'Phail appeared on the battlements, carrying a large wicker basket.
From this depository he took out a child, swaddled in its first apparel,
and raising it aloft, tossed it over to perish in the raging sea below. The
little arms of the infant extended as it fell; but the sight was momentary.
It glanced white through the air like an ocean bird, and, in an instant
after, disappeared in the dark waters of Loch Sonoran. The murderer
followed with his eye the descent of his little victim, till the sea closed
over it, when, returning to the basket, he took from it another child, and
disposed of it as he had done the first.

During the whole of this dreadful exhibition, M'Morrough was standing at a
window several yards lower down than the battlements, but so situated in an
angle of the building that he could distinctly see what passed on the
former. Satisfied that his atrocious decree had been fully executed, he
withdrew from the window; and, avoiding an interview with his wife,
whom--stern and ruthless as he was--he dreaded to meet with the murder of
her infants on his head, he left the castle on a hunting expedition, from
which he did not return for three days. On his return, M'Morrough would
have waited on his lady, whom he hoped now to find in some measure
reconciled to her bereavement, but was told that she would see no one; that
she had caused a small apartment at the top of the castle to be hung with
black; and that, immuring herself in this dismal chamber, she spent both
her nights and days in weeping and lamentation. On learning this,
M'Morrough did not press his visit, but left it to time to heal, or, at
least, to soothe the grief of his unhappy wife. In the expectation which he
had formed from the silent but powerful operation of this infallible
anodyne, M'Morrough was not mistaken. In about a month after the murder of
her babes, the lady of M'Morrough, deeply veiled, and betraying every
symptom of a profound but subdued grief, presented herself at the morning
meal which was spread for her husband. It was the first time they had met
since the occurrence of the tragical event recorded above. To that event,
however, neither made even the slightest allusion; and, whether it was that
time had weakened the impression of her late misfortune, or that she
dreaded rousing the enmity of her husband towards herself by a longer
estrangement, the lady of M'Morrough showed no violent disinclination to
accept of the courtesies which, well-pleased with her having made her
appearance of her own accord, he seemed anxious to press upon her. A
footing of companionship having thus been restored between the chieftain
and his lady, matters, from this day, went on at Castle Tulim much as they
had done before, only that the latter long continued to wear a countenance
expressive of a deeply wounded, but resigned spirit. Even this, however,
gradually gave way beneath the influence of time; and, when seventeen years
had passed away, as they now did, unmarked by the occurrence, at Castle
Tulim, of any event of the smallest importance, the lady of M'Morrough had
long been in the possession of her wonted cheerfulness.

It was about the end of this period, that the haughty chieftain, now
somewhat subdued by age, and no longer under the evil influence of those
ungovernable passions that had run riot with him in his more vigorous
years, was invited, along with his lady, to a great entertainment which was
about to be given by his father-in-law. M'Morrough and his lady proceeded
to the castle of their relative. The banquet hall was lighted up; it was
hung with banners, crowded with gay assemblage, and filled with music.
There were many fair faces in that assemblage; but the fairest of all, were
those of two sisters, who sat apart by themselves. The beauty of
countenance and elegance of form of these two girls, who seemed to be both
about the same age--seventeen--were surpassing. M'Morrough marked them; he
watched them during the dance; he could not keep his eyes off them. At
length, turning to his lady, he asked who they were.

"They are _your_ daughters, M'Morrough," replied the former.

A deadly paleness overspread the countenance of the chief. He shook in
every limb, and would have sunk on the floor had he not been supported. On
recovering a little, he covered his face with his hands, burst into a flood
of tears, and rushed out of the apartment. On gaining a retired and
unoccupied chamber, M'Morrough sent for his daughters. When they came, they
found him on his knees, fervently thanking God for this signal instance of
his mercy and beneficence. He took his daughters in his arms, blessed them
a thousand times over, buried his head between them, and wept like a child.



By looking over the memorial of my professional life; and writing out the
extended details of my experience, I am, in effect, living my life over
again. Most of the scenes I witnessed left such an impression upon my mind,
that it requires only the touch of the _caduceus_ of the witching power of
memory, to call them all up again with a vividness scarcely less than that
by which they were formerly presented to me. There is only this difference,
that my remembered experiences, now invested with a species of borrowed
light, seem like scenery which one has seen in the glance of a mid-day sun,
presented again to the dreamy "evening sense" under the soft blue
effulgence of the waning harvest-moon; the trees with the sere leaf
rustling under the fluttering wing of the night bird; and the dead silence,
which is not broken by the internal voice speaking the words that have been
spoken by those who lie under the yew tree. In an early leaf of my journal,
I find some broken details of a visit I paid to Mr B----, a rich
manufacturer in the town where I began my practice; but which I left when I
had more confidence in those humble powers of ministering to the afflicted,
which have raised me to an honourable station, and supplied me with the
means of passing my old age in affluence. This individual had lost his
wife--a very amiable woman, with whom he had lived a period of twenty-five
years--and took on grief so heavily, that he was unfit to attend the
funeral. He lay in bed, and would not be comforted. Having attended his
wife, I continued my attentions to the husband. Three days had passed since
his wife had been buried, and during all that time, he had eaten nothing;
and, what augured gloomily for his fate, he had never been heard to speak,
or sigh, or even to give vent to his sufferings in a single groan. There
seemed to have fallen over him a heavy load, which, pressing with deadly
force upon the issues of life, defied those reacting energies of nature,
which usually struggle, by sighs and groans, to throw off the incubus of
extraordinary griefs.

I have met with many wiseacre-sceptics who laugh at the idea of what is
vulgarly called a "broken heart," as a direct consequence either of
unrequited love or extraordinary grief--admitting, however, in their
liberality, that death may ensue from great griefs operating merely as an
inductive original cause, which destroying gradually the foundations of
health, bring on a train of other ailments, that may, in the end, prove
mortal. The admission cares for nothing, as a matter of every-day
experience; and the original proposition to which it is objected as a
qualification, remains as a truth which may humble the pride of man, and
speak to the sceptic through the crushed heart of a fatal experience. I
have seen many instances of the fatal effects of grief as a direct mortal
agent, killing, by its own unaided energies, as certainly, though not in so
short a time, as a blow or a wound in the vital organs of the human body.
The common nosologies contain no name for the disease, because, in truth,
it cannot properly be called a disease, any more than a stab with a sword
can deserve that name; and this, combined with the fact that it is only in
a very few instances that the _coup_ works by itself, without the aid of
some ailment generated by it, that young practitioners often homologate the
vulgar notions that prevail upon this important subject.

Among all the many causes of grief to which mankind are daily exposed, I
know not that there is one that strikes so deeply into the secret recesses
of the vital principle as the loss of a dearly-beloved wife, who has lived
with a man for a lengthened period, through early adversity and late
prosperity--borne him a family which have bound closer the tie that was
knitted by early affection, and who has left him to tread the last weary
stages of existence alone, and without that support which almost all men
derive from woman. The effects are often supposed to be proportioned to the
affection; yet I doubt if this solves the curious problem of the diversity
of consequences resulting from this great privation. There are many men of
strong powers of mind, who are so constituted that they _cannot_ but press
heavily on the support of another. They seem almost to live through the
thoughts and feelings of their helpmates; and the energies they take credit
for in the busy affairs of the world, have their source--unknown often to
themselves--in the bosom of wedded affection. It is in proportion to the
strength of the habit of this _leaning_, combined, doubtless, with the
coexistent affection, that the effects of the loss of a helpmate, in the
later period of life, work with such varied influence on the survivor. It
may also seem a curious fact, and I have no doubt of the truth of it, that
a man when advanced in years is much more apt to break suddenly down under
this visitation than a woman; while, again, the consequence would seem to
be reversed if the calamity has overtaken them in the more early stages of
the connection. These are grounds for speculation. At present I have only
to do with facts.

The individual whose case has suggested these observations, presented, when
I saw him first after the funeral of his wife, the symptom--present in all
cases of an utterly crushed spirit--of a wish to die. I was the first to
whom he had uttered a syllable since the day on which she had been carried
out of the house which she had so long filled with the spirit of
cheerfulness and comfort. His only daughter, Martha, a fine young woman,
had contributed but little to his relief--if she had not, indeed, increased
his depression by her own emotions, which she had no power to conceal; and
his only son had gone off to Edinburgh, to attend his classes in the
college, where he intended to graduate as a physician. He was thus, in a
manner, left in a great degree alone; for his daughter sought her apartment
at every opportunity, to weep over her sorrows unobserved; and she had
naturally thought that her father's grief, attended by no exacerbations of
groaning or weeping like her own, presented less appearance of intensity
than that which convulsed her own heart, and got relief by nature's
appointed modes of alleviation. When the heart is stricken with a certain
force, all forms of presenting less gloomy views of the condition of the
individual, will generally be found to be totally unavailing in affording
relief. Nay, I am satisfied that there was genuine philosophy in the custom
of the Greeks and the ancient Germans, in _forcing_ victims of great
sorrows to _weep_ out the rankling barbed shaft. These had a species of
licensed mourners, whose duty it was to soften the heart by melting strains
of mournful melody, whereby, as by the application of a bland liniment, the
rigid issues of the feelings were softened and opened, and the oppressed
organ, the heart, was relieved of the load which defies the force of
argument, and even the condolence of friendship. The curing of cold-nips by
the appliance of snow, and of burns by the application of heat, could not
have appeared more fraught with ridicule to the old women of former days,
than would the custom I have here cited to the comforters of modern times.
If I cannot say that, amongst some bold remedies, I have recommended it, I
have, at least, avoided, on all occasions, officious endeavours to
counteract the oppressing burden, by wrenching the mind from the engrossing
thought--a process generally attended with no other result than making it
adhere with increased force.

The greatest triumph that can be effected with the truly heart-stricken
victim, to whom is denied the usual bursts that indicate a bearable
misfortune, or, at least, one whose intensity is partly abated, is the
bringing about of that more natural condition of the heart, which, indeed,
is generally most feared by the ordinary paraclete. In the case of the
bereaved husband, there is no charm so powerful in its effects as the vivid
portrayment of the virtues of her who has gone down to the grave; and it
may well be said, that the heart that will not give out its feelings to the
impassioned description of the amiable properties of the departed helpmate,
is all but incurable. The sister of Mr B----, who saw the necessity of
administering relief, tried to awaken him to a sense of religious
consolation; but he was as yet unfit even for that sacred ministration; and
all her efforts having failed to rouse him, even from the deathlike stupor
in which he lay, she had recourse, by my advice, to probing the wound, to
take off the stricture by which the natural humours were pent up. She
discoursed pathetically on the qualities of the departed, which, she said,
would be the passport of her spirit to a sphere where he would again
contemplate them unclouded by the dingy vapours of earthly feelings. She
kept in the same strain for a lengthened period; but declared to me, when I
visited him again, that he exhibited no signs of being moved by her
discourse. He, once or twice, turned his eyes on her for a moment, drew
occasionally a heavy sigh, that told, by the difficulty of the operation,
the load with which he was oppressed; but his eyes were dry, no groan
escaped from him, or any other sign of the heart being aided in an effort
to restore the current of natural feeling. The _coup de peine_ had too
clearly taken the very core of the heart; the lamp of hope had been dashed
out violently, and, under the cloud of his great evil, all things that
remained to him upon earth were tinged with its dark hues. He presented all
the appearances--except the dilation of the pupil of the eye--of one whose
brain had been concussed by a deep fall, or laboured under a fracture of
the bones of the _cranium_. The few words he spoke to me came slowly, with
a heavy oppressive sound, as if spoken through a hollow tube; and what may,
to some, be remarkable, though certainly not to me, they embraced not the
slightest allusion to his bereavement--a symptom almost invariably
attendant upon those deeper strokes of grief, which, being but seldom
witnessed, are much less understood in their effects than the more ordinary
oppressions, whose intense demonstrations and allusions to the cause of the
evil, mark the victims as objects for the portrayments of poets.

Two or three days passed off in this way, without the slightest
amelioration of his condition. The efforts of Miss B---- had been repeated
often without effect. As she expressed herself to me, he would neither eat
nor speak, sleep nor weep. "He has not," she added, "even muttered her
name. His heart seems utterly broken; and time and the power of Heaven
alone will effect a change." Such is the common philosophy of sorrow: time
is held forth as all-powerful, all-saving; and while I admit its force, I
only insist for the certainty of the existence of exceptions. The eighth
day had passed without any support having been taken to sustain the system.
A course of maceration, that had been going on during his wife's illness,
was thus continued; yet, in the few words I occasionally drew from him,
there was no indication of anything like the sullen determination of the
suicide; the cause lay in the total cessation of the powers of the
stomach--a consequence of the cerebral pressure, whose action is felt not
where it operates primarily, but in the heart and other organs, where it
works merely by sympathy.

It was on the evening of the eighth day after the funeral, as I have it
noted, that I called to see if any change for the better had been effected
by the ministrations of his sister. She sat by his bedside, with the Bible
placed before her, from which she had been reading passages to him. His
face was turned to the front of the bed, but he did not seem to be in any
way moved by my entrance. All the efforts his sister had made to get him to
enter into the spirit of the passages she had been reading had been
fruitless; nor had he as yet made the slightest allusion to the cause of
his illness, or mentioned the name of his deceased partner. A few words of
no importance, and not related to the circumstances of his grief, were
wrung from him painfully by my questions; but it seemed as if the language
that represents the things of the world had lost all power of charming the
ear; the deadness that had overtaken the heart like a palsy, was felt from
the fountain of feelings, to the minute endings of the nerves; and the
external senses, which are the ministers of the soul, had renounced their
ordinary ministrations to the spirit that heeded them not. Only once his
sister had observed a slight moisture rise for a moment in his eye, as she
touched some tender traits of the character of the departed; but it passed
away rather as an evidence of the utter powerlessness of nature, in a faint
heave of the reactive energy, telling at once how little she could perform,
yet how much was necessary to overcome the weight by which she was
oppressed. I sat for some moments silent by the side of the bed, and
meditated a recourse to some more strenuous effort directed to his sense of
duty as a parent; though I was aware, that until the heart is in some
degree relieved, all such appeals are too often vain, if not rather
attended with unfavourable effects, but, in extreme cases, we are not
entitled to rest upon the generality of theories where so various and
mutable an essence as the human mind is the object to which they are to be
applied. I was on the point of making a trial, by recurring to the position
of his son and daughter, when I heard the sound of a horse's feet
approaching, with great rapidity, the door. The sister started; and I could
hear Martha open the window above, to ascertain who might be the visiter.
In another moment the outer door opened with a loud clang. Some one
approached along the passage, in breathless haste. He entered. It was
George B----, under the excitement of some strong internal emotion; his
eyes gleaming with a fearful light, and his limbs shaking violently. He
stood for a moment as if he were gathering his energies to speak; but the
words stuck in his throat, the sounds died away amidst the noise of an
indistinct jabbering. I noticed the eye of his father fixed upon him,
betraying only a very slight increase of animation; but even this
extraordinary demeanour of his son did not draw from him a question; so
utterly dead to all external impulses had his grief made him, that the
harrowing cause of so much excitement in his son, remained unquestioned by
the feelings of the parent. In another moment the youth was stretched
across the bed, locking the father in his embrace, and sobbing out
inarticulate words, none of which I could understand. The aunt was as much
at a loss to solve the mystery of the violent paroxysm as myself; for some
time neither of us could put a question; the sobbings of the youth seemed
to chain up our tongues by the charm of the eloquence of nature's
impassioned language. Meanwhile, Martha entered, ran forward to the
bedside, lifted her brother from the position which he occupied, and seated
him, by the application of some force, on the empty chair that stood by the
side of the bed.

"What is the matter, George?" she cried; the question was repeated by the
aunt, and the eyes of the parent sought languidly the face of the youth,
which was, however, now covered by his hands. The question was more than
once repeated by both the aunt and myself; the father never spoke, nor
could I perceive a single ray of curiosity in his eye. He seemed to await
the issue of the son's explanation, heedless what it might be--whether the
announcement of a great or a lesser evil--its magnitude, though
transcending the bounds of ordinary bearing, comprehending every other
misfortune that fate could have in store for him, being, whatever its
proportions, as nothing to the death-stricken heart of one whose hope was

"This is scarcely a time or an occasion, George," said I, "for the
manifestation of these emotions. If the cause lies in the grief, come back
with increased force, for the death of your mother, you should have known
that there is one lying there whose load is still greater, and who is,
unfortunately, as yet, beyond the relief which, as your agitation
indicates, nature in the young heart is working for you."

"The death!--the death!" he muttered in a choking voice; "but there is
something after the death that is worse than the death itself."

"Are you distracted, George?" said the aunt. "This Bible was the hand-book
and the rule of your mother's conduct in this world. A better woman never
offered up her prayers at the fountain of the waters of immortal life; no
one that ever lived had a better right to draw from the blessing, or better
qualified for enjoying it as she now enjoys it. She is in heaven; and will
you say that that is worse than death?"

"You speak of her spirit, aunt," replied he, as he still covered his face
with his hands. "Her spirit is there!"--and he took away one of his hands
from his face and pointed to heaven--"There, where the saints rest, does my
mother's soul rest; but, O God, where--where is the body?"

A thought struck me on the instant. I was afraid to utter it. I looked at
the father, and suspected, from the sudden light of animation that started
to his eye, that the gloom of his mind had at last been penetrated by the
thought which had suggested itself to me.

"Where is the body!" responded the aunt. "Why, George, where should it be
but in C---- churchyard, beneath the stone that has told the virtues of her
ancestors, and will, in a short time, declare her own, greater than those
of her kindred that have gone before?"

"It is on Dr M----'s table!" cried the youth, starting to his feet, and
again throwing himself violently on the chair. "I purchased it; paid the
price for it; and recognised it only when the dissecting-knife was in my
hand!" Every one started aghast; terror froze up the issues of speech; a
deep groan issued from the bed-ridden patient; he beckoned me to his ear.
"Tell the women to go out," he whispered, as he twisted his body
convulsively among the bedclothes.

I complied with his request; and the aunt, seizing Martha, who stood as if
she had been transfixed to the floor, dragged her out of the room. In the
passage, I heard a loud scream; and, in a moment, all was again silence. Mr
B----, without uttering a word, raised his feeble body from the bed, and
came forth, the spectre of what he was only a few weeks before. His limbs,
which were reduced to bony shanks, covered with shrivelled skin, seemed
totally unable to support even the decayed, emaciated frame. He staggered
as he reached the floor; but, recovering himself, stood firm, and then
proceeded to his wardrobe, from which he drew his vestments, and proceeded
to attire himself.

"An hour since," he said, in a slow, solemn voice, "I thought these clothes
would never again be on my body. My only hope was the winding-sheet, and
that grave which has been robbed."

"George may have been deceived," said I, as he was proceeding to dress
himself. "I have often thought that I saw resemblances to deceased friends
in the features of subjects in the dissecting-room."

"The grave will test it," answered he, with a deep groan, as he proceeded
slowly, but resolutely, to put one garment after another on his skeleton

He was at length dressed; and, proceeding to the kitchen, he appeared
again, in a short time, with a lighted lantern in his hand, the light of
which, as it threw its beam on his sallow face--for the candle had,
meanwhile, burned down into the socket--exhibited, in its lurid glare, the
deep-sunken eyes and protruding bones of his emaciated countenance.

"Come, we shall proceed to the grave of my Isabella," said he.

"You are unable," said I. "Your limbs will not carry you that length; and
you are, besides, unfitted by the state of your mind and feelings, for an
investigation of this kind. Stay here with your son, and I will go to the
churchyard and satisfy myself of the deception under which George,
doubtless, labours."

"I feel now more than my former strength," he replied. "I am awakened from
a death-stupor of the soul; and I feel that within me which will enable me
to go through this trial. I will look into my Isabella's grave; will meet
with those eyes again--that countenance through which I have read the
workings of love in a spirit that is now far from the precincts of the
clay. Deny me not; I will be satisfied of this, if I should come back from
her grave to complete that which is begun, and is already visible in these
shrunken members, that now obey a supernatural power."

There seemed to be no gainsaying him; his manner was inspired and resolute;
and I proceeded to accompany him to C---- churchyard. George, who, in the
meantime, had been tossing himself in the chair, rose to make one of the
party. The agitation under which he still laboured was in direct contrast
to the cold stillness of his father; yet the one was a more living
expression than the other; and, while my eye shrunk not from the ordinary
indications of suffering, I--maugre all the experience of misery I had
had--could scarcely look on the animated corpse thus preparing to visit the
grave where the object of all his hopes and affections in this world had
been buried, and might now be found to have been desecrated by the knife of
the anatomist. We went forth together. George's horse still stood at the
door, reeking and bloody. I requested Mr B---- to mount, as we had a full
mile to go to the burying-ground, and I deemed it utterly impossible that
he could accomplish the distance. He did not answer me, but proceeded
onwards with a firm step, in the face of a cold, bleak, east wind, that
moaned mournfully among a clump of trees that skirted the road. Some flakes
of snow were winging through the air--driven now by the breeze, or
lingering over our heads as if afraid to be soiled by the earth, which we
were bent to open where the dead then lay--or some time before lay--a mass
of putrefaction; yet dear to the feelings of the bereaved, and sought now
with greater avidity than when the body was arrayed in the smiles of
beauty, and filled with living, breathing love. The husband spoke nothing;
and George was silent, save for the deep sobs that burst from him as he
looked upon the woe-worn form of his father, who stalked away before us
like a creature hurrying to the grave to seek the home there from which a
troubled spirit had removed him in the dark hour of night. In this way we
wandered on. I was not in a mood to speak. The occasion and the scene
depressed me more than ever did the prospect of a deathbed, or the sight of
a patient about to submit to a painful and dangerous operation. My habits
of thought are little conversant with the poetry of nature, or of man's
condition in this stage of suffering--the duties of an arduous profession
are exclusive of those dreamy moods of the mind, which have little in
common with the doings of every-day life; yet, on this occasion, I felt all
the inspiration of the sad muse; and, were I to endeavour to account for
it, I could only seek for the cause in the aspect of the night, and the
unusual nature of the vocation, operating, at the moment, on a mind
loosened from the cares of my profession.

In a much less time than I could have anticipated, from the weak condition
of Mr B----, we arrived at the churchyard--a solitary spot, surrounded with
an old grey dyke, at the back of which rose in deep shade a wood of firs.
The snow lay on the top of the walls, and on the higher branches of the
firs, reminding one of streaks of white clouds in the sky, as the darkness
of the night, enveloping the lower portions, kept them almost from our
view. From a small house at the ridge of the fir-belt, a slight ray of
light beamed forth, and, striking upon the top of a monument placed against
the wall, exhibited the left all around in deeper gloom. Without uttering a
word, Mr B---- made up to the house, and, knocking at the door, a young
female appeared. She uttered a scream, and ran back, doubtless from the
pale and death-like appearance presented by the face of the visiter. Her
place was momentarily supplied by the sexton, who, the moment he saw Mr
B----, shrunk back in what I conceived to be conscious fear. I was standing
behind, and noticing, what I thought, the guilty expression of the man's
face, concluded unfavourably for the sad hope of my friend.

"I have reason to believe that there have been resurrectionists in your
churchyard, James," said Mr B---- mournfully.

"Impossible!" replied the sexton; "we have been guarding the ground for
some time past. It is a dream, Mr B----; many relations are troubled by the
same fears. It was only yesterday that I opened a grave to satisfy the
wishes of Mrs G----, whose husband was buried a week ago. The body was as
safe as if it had been in her own keeping. Take my advice; be satisfied
there is no cause of apprehension; you forget the sacred nature of my

"I can only be satisfied by an examination of the grave," replied Mr B----.
"I insist upon having this satisfaction. The cemetery is my property, and I
have a right to examine it."

The man hesitated, and said that his assistant was from home. But the
bereaved husband was not to be thus diverted from his purpose. He stood
resolutely with the lantern in his hand, and demanded admittance into the
churchyard. The man at length reluctantly took down the key from a nail in
the passage, and bringing another lantern with him, led us to the door,
which, in the midst of many grumblings, he opened. He then led the way over
the snowy hillocks to nearly the middle of the burying-ground, where the
grave of Mrs B----, headed by an ornamented stone, was exhibited to us. Mr
B---- bent down, and, moving the lantern backwards and forwards, examined
it slowly and carefully, casting his eye over the snow, which presented an
unbroken appearance, and examining every chink, as if he there found an
evidence of the truth of George's statement.

"That grave has not been touched," said the man. "The head of it is the
part to judge by. You will find the turf lies whole and unbroken under the

"It may be as you say," replied Mr B----, as he bent down in his
examination; "but the late snow may have removed the traces of the opening.
I cannot return home till I am satisfied. My own bones must mix with those
of my Isabella. Proceed to open the grave; I myself will assist you."

At that moment a figure was seen gliding alone amidst the tombstones. It
had all the legitimate whiteness like the ideal spirit. I stood and gazed
at it, and George's eyes were also fixed upon it; Mr B---- paid no
attention; he was too intent upon the investigation he was engaged in; and
the grave-digger, whose head was down, did not notice it. I said nothing;
but George, pointing to it as it approached, cried--

"See, see! what is that?"

The sexton looked up, and cried--"It is David. He has been out, and is
covered with snow. He comes in good time."

It was even so. The man approached, and the implements having been
procured, they set about opening the grave. Mr. B---- stood motionless, his
head hanging down, and deep sighs occasionally coming from his breast,
mixed with the quick breathing of the men, as they plied their shovels. He
still held the lantern in his hand, by the light of which the group before
me is brought out in faint relief. The silence around was signally that of
a churchyard; for the fir belt shrouded the scene from the night breeze,
and there was only occasionally heard a low, mournful gust, as it died
among the branches of the trees. On that spot only there was quick
breathing action. The men had got down pretty far into the grave; and, as
they brought their heads within the ray of the lantern, in their acts of
throwing up the earth, their flushed faces contrasted strongly with the
cadaverous countenance of the husband, who leant over them, watching every
motion, and intent upon the expected stroke of the shovel upon the coffin
lid. The recollection of the attributes of the German ghoul came over me;
nor did the difference between the beings, the motives, and the actions,
prevent me from conjuring up the similitude, so unlike a human being did he
appear in his complexion, his fixed, dead-like stare into the grave, and
the perfect stillness of his body, as he crouched down to be nearer to the
object of his search. At length, the sound was heard, the rattle on the
coffin lid. The victim's ear seemed chained to the sound, as if he could
have augured from it whether or not the chest was empty. In a short time,

    "The heavy moil that shrouds the dead"

was entirely removed. The sexton now took his own lamp down into the grave.
The screw-nails were undone, the lid was raised, and the body of Mrs B----,
arrayed in her winding-sheet and scalloped sere-clothes, was seen, by the
sickly, yellow gleam of the lantern, lying in the stillness and placidity
of death--

    "For still, still she lay,
    With a wreath on her bosom."

One of the men now came out, and Mr B---- descended into the grave. He
lifted off the face-cloth, gazed on the clay-cold face, touched it, and now
was opened the

    "Sacred source of sympathetic tears."

He burst into a loud paroxysm; and, as if nature had been to take her
revenge for her sufferings, under the freezing influence of his sorrow, he
wept as if there had been to be no end of his weeping. It was latterly
found necessary to force him out of the grave; though, as I was informed by
George, he had shrunk from the view of the dead body of his wife, while it
lay in the house, and before it was interred. The lid was again placed on
the coffin, the screws fixed, and the grave filled up. Mr B---- slipped a
guinea into the hand of the sexton, and we took our way back to the town.
George informed us, as we went, that he had been for several nights haunted
by the image of his mother; and could only thus account for the conviction
that had seized him, that the body of the female he had seen in the
dissecting-room was that of his parent. It is a remarkable fact, and the
one which chiefly induced me to give this narrative, that the scene I have
now described wrought so powerfully on the feelings of Mr B----, that the
form of his grief was entirely changed. During the whole of the subsequent
night, he wept intensely--nature was relieved--his sorrow was mollified
into one of those

    "Moods that speak their softened woes;"

and time soon wrought its accustomed amelioration. I never saw one who
seemed more certainly doomed to the fate of the heart-stricken; and,
however fanciful it may seem, I attribute to the mistake of his son the
restoration of the father.


I believe it was Fontenelle who said that, if he were to have been
permitted to pass his life over again, he would have done everything he did
in the world, and, of course, consented to suffer what he had suffered, in
consideration of what he had enjoyed. I have heard the same statement from
others. A very learned and ingenious professor in the north, whose
lucubrations have often cast the effulgence of his rare genius over the
pages of the Border Tales, has no hesitation in declaring that he would
gladly consent to receive another tack of existence in this strange world,
with all its pains and penalties, were it for nothing but to be allowed to
witness the curious scenes, the startling occurrences, the humorous
bizarrerie of cross-purposes, the conceits, the foibles, the triumphs of
the creature man. Moore the poet has somewhere said, that he would not
consent to live his life over again, except upon the condition that he were
to be gifted with less love and more judgment--probably forgetting that in
that case he would not have been the author of "Lallah Rookh;" though,
mayhap, of a still drier life of Sheridan than that which came from his
pen. I have often put the question to patients, and have found the answer
to be regulated by the state of their disease. Upon the whole, it requires
a very sharp, bitter pang, indeed, to extort the confession, that they
would not accept another lease of life. If men were not Christians, they
would choose, I think, to be Pythagoreans, were it for nothing but the
slight chance they would enjoy of passing into some state of existence not
in a remote degree different from that which they have declared themselves
sick of a thousand times before they died. Sick of it as many, however, say
they are, they would all live "a little and a little longer still," when
the dread hour comes that calls them home. These remarks have been
suggested by the following passage in my note-book:--"17th August, ----,
case of Eugene D----, in the jail of ----. Extraordinary example of the
_amor vitæ_." I find I had jotted a number of the details; but such was the
impression the scene of that tragedy of life produced in me, that even now,
though many years have passed, I recollect the minutiæ of the drama as
distinctly as if I had witnessed it yesterday. I was indeed interested in
the case more than professionally; for the subject of it was an early
companion of my own, and was, besides, calculated, from his acquirements,
and a free, open generosity of spirit, to produce a deep interest in the
fate which, in an unhappy hour, he brought upon himself. It was on the
forenoon of the day I have mentioned, that the under turnkey of the prison
of ---- came in breathless haste, and called me to a prisoner. It was
Eugene D----. I was at the moment occupied in thinking of the youth. He had
forged a bill upon his father, Mr. D----, a wealthy merchant; and it was
very clearly brought out, in evidence that he applied the money to
extricate a friend from pecuniary embarrassments. The father had paid the
bill; but the legal authorities had prosecuted the case; and he, at that
moment, lay in jail a criminal, condemned to die. The gallows was standing
ready to exact its victim within two hours; the post from London would
arrive in an hour with or without a reprieve. His father and mother, what
were they then doing, thinking, suffering? On them and him I was meditating
when the words of the turnkey fell upon my ear.

"What has occurred?" was my question to the messenger.

"Eugene D----, the condemned criminal, has taken some poisonous drug," said
he, "and the provost has sent me for you to come to his relief."

I meditated a moment. It might have been as well, I thought, for all
parties, that I had not been called, and that the drug, whatever it was,
might be allowed to anticipate the law, but I had no alternative; I was
called in my official capacity; and then a messenger might still arrive
from London. I provided myself with the necessary counteracting agents, and
followed the man. I passed the house of his father. The blinds were drawn,
and all seemed wrapped in dead silence, as if there had been a corpse in
the house. Several people were passing the door, and cast, as they went, a
melancholy look at the windows. They had, in all likelihood, seen the
gallows; at least, they knew the precise posture of affairs within the
house. I was inclined to have entered; but I could see no benefit to be
derived from my visit, and hurried forwards to the jail, from the window of
which the black apparatus projected in ghastly array. The post-office in
---- Street was in the neighbourhood, and an assembly of people was
beginning to collect, to wait for the incoming of the mail. There was
sympathy in every face; for the fate of the youth, who had been well
esteemed over the town, for a handsome, generous-minded young man, and the
situation of his parents--wealthy and respectable citizens--had called
forth an extraordinary feeling in his favour. Indeed, thousands had signed
the petition to the King, but forgery was, at that time, a crime of
frequent occurrence, and the doubts that were entertained as to the success
of the application were apparently justified by the arrival of the eleventh
hour. On passing through the jail, I saw the various preparations in
progress for the execution; the chaplain was in attendance; and, in a small
cell, at the end of the apartment from which the fatal erection projected,
there sat, guarded by an officer, from a fear that he would escape, the
executioner himself--

    "Grim as the mighty Polypheme."

My guide led me forward, and, in a few minutes, I stood beside Eugene, who,
dressed in a suit of black, lay twisting his body in a chair, making the
chains by which he was bound clank in a fearful manner. A small phial was
on the floor. I took it up, and ascertained, in an instant, that he had
betaken himself to the drug most commonly resorted to by suicides.

"Laudanum!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, yes--as much as would kill two men!" he cried wildly.

The poison had not had time to operate; or rather, its narcotic power had
been suspended by the terrors of an awakened love and hope of life, that
had followed close upon the prospect of death caused by his own act.

"You had a chance for life, Eugene," said I, hurriedly. "A courier may yet
arrive, independently of the mail, which has not yet come."

"Chance or no chance," he cried, as I proceeded with my assistant, who now
entered, to apply the remedies; "I would yet live the two hours! I had no
sooner swallowed the drug, than I thought I had intercepted the mercy of
heaven; life seemed--and, oh, it even now seems--sweeter than ever, and
death still more dreadful! Quick--quick--quick! The poison is busy with my
heart. I would give a world for even these two hours of life and
hope--small, small as that is!"

I proceeded with the application of the usual remedies. A portion, but only
a portion of the laudanum, had been taken off; and the next efficient
remedy was motion, to keep off the sleepy lethargy that drinks up the
fountain of life. Two men were got to drag him as violently as possible
along the floor, leaving him enough of his own weight to force him to use
his limbs. I noticed that he struggled with terrible energy against the
onset of the subtle agent; exhibiting the most signal instance I ever
beheld of the power of that hope which seems to be consistent with life
itself. Already an eighth part of the apparent period of his sojourn upon
earth had passed. Seven quarters more would, in all likelihood, bring him
to the scaffold, and, by resisting my energies to counteract the effects of
the poison, he might have eluded the grim arm of the law, by a death a
thousand times less dreadful. Every now and then, as the men dragged him
along, he turned his eyes to me, and asked the hour. Sometimes he repeated
the question within two minutes of my answer. As often was his ear directed
to the street, to try to catch the sounds of a coach, or the feet of a
horse; and then he redoubled his energies to keep off the onset of the
lethargy, which I told him was most to be feared. The operation was
persevered in; but the men informed me they thought he was gradually
getting heavier on their hands, and I noticed his eye, at times, get so
dull that he seemed to be on the eve of falling asleep and sinking. Another
quarter of an hour soon passed; and in a little further time, the bailies
and chaplain would find it their duty to come and prepare him for his
fate--alas! now indeed so certain, that no reasonable thought could suggest
even the shadow of a hope; a reprieve, so near the time of execution, would
not have been trusted to the mail, and a messenger would have arrived, by
quick stages, long before; unless there had, indeed, been any fault in the
government authorities, in tampering with a man's life within an hour of
his execution. If I had not been under the strict law of professional
discipline, I would certainly have allowed him to lie down and pass into
death or oblivion. I had, however, my duty to perform; and, strange as it
may appear, that duty quadrated with the wishes of the young man himself;
who, as he struggled with the demon that threatened to overpower him,
seemed to rise in hope as every minute diminished the chance of his
salvation. By the increased energies of the men, he was again roused into a
less dull perception of sounds, and I could perceive him start as the
rattle of the wheels of a carriage was heard at the jail door. He fixed his
half-dead, staring eye in my face, and muttered, with a difficult effort of
his sinking jaws--

"Is that it--is that it?--I hear a carriage wheels, and they have stopped
at the door."

As he uttered the words, it appeared as if he again exerted himself to keep
the enemy, who still threatened him, at bay. I replied nothing; for I
suspected that the carriage brought only some official, or, probably, some
mourner, to see him, previous to the fatal scene--that scene which, in all
likelihood, I was endeavouring to render more heart-rending to his friends
and spectators, by keeping alive the vital spark, that might only serve to
make him conscious of pain. It appeared to be too evident that he had
increased tenfold the misery of his situation; for the stern law would
admit of no excuse, and if he was not able to walk to the scaffold he would
be carried; yet, if I remitted my endeavours to keep in life, I might, in
the event of the looked-for reprieve still arriving, be liable to be
accused, by my own conscience, of having been as cruel as the law itself.
The door of the jail now opened, and a turnkey told me that the usual time
had arrived when the officials began their preparatory duties. I replied
that it was in vain to attempt, at present, the performance of these sacred
rites; the prisoner was wrestling with death; and, if the exertions of the
men, who kept still dragging him backwards and forwards, were remitted, he
would sink, in a few minutes, into insensibility. I noticed the eye of poor
Eugene turned imploringly upon me, as if he wished to know who it was that
had arrived in the carriage. I merely shook my head; and the sign was no
sooner made than his chin fell down on his breast; his limbs became weaker,
his knees bent, and if the supporters had not exerted themselves still
farther, he would have sunk. But the men still performed their duty, and
dragged him hurriedly along, scarcely now with any aid from his feet,
which, obeying no impulse of the loose and flaccid muscles, were thrown
about in every direction, with, a shuffling, lumbering noise, and a
clanking of the chain, that must have produced an extraordinary effect on
those who waited in the adjoining cells. The noise thus produced was indeed
all that was heard; for the effect of the poison was such as to take away
all power of groaning. I was now doubtful if all the working of the men
would be able to keep off much longer the sleepy incubus, for he seemed to
have lost almost all power of seconding their efforts; but the door of the
jail again opened, and the sound of the grating hinges made him again lift
his head. His eye seemed to indicate that he had lost all sense of the
passing of the moments, and I could not discover whether he looked for the
entry of one bearing his letter of salvation, or of the jailor with his
hammer, to knock the chain from his feet, and lead him forth to the
scaffold. He again muttered some words as the turnkey was proceeding
forward to where I was. I could not make them out, so faint had his voice
now become; but one of the men said he wished to know the hour. I told him
it was one o'clock--that was just one hour from the appointed termination
of his life. The turnkey, meanwhile, whispered in my ear that his father,
mother, and sister had arrived. It was the sound of their carriage wheels
that we had heard. I enjoined upon the men the necessity of continuing
their labours, and went out to prevent the entry of his parents to the
witnessing of a scene transcending all their powers of bearing. I found the
three standing in the recess where the executioner was sitting in gloomy
silence. I took the father and mother by the arms, and hurried them away to
the empty cell, where the chaplain and several officials were collected.
The turnkey saw his error, and excused himself, on the ground that he was
confused by the extraordinary state of affairs within the prison. I
ascertained that no notice had been made to his parents of his having taken
the drug. They had come to take farewell of him. The mail had arrived, but
had brought no intelligence--not even of the petition having been disposed
of; and, having given up all hope, their intention was that the mother and
daughter should, after the last act of parting, fly to the country, to be
as far as possible from the scene of the impending tragedy. I was the first
who communicated the tidings of the condition of their son; and the noise
in the prisoner's cell, as the men still continued their operations, was a
sad commentary on my words. The sister, who was veiled, uttered a shrill
scream, and fell back on the floor. The father stood like

    "Wo's bleak, voiceless petrifaction,"

moving neither limb nor countenance; his eye was fixed steadfastly on the
ground, and a deadly paleness was over his face. The mother, who was also
veiled, staggered to a bench--recovering herself suddenly, as some thought,
rising wildly, stung her to a broken utterance of some words. I approached
her, while Mr H----, the chaplain, was assisting in getting Miss D---- to a

"Let him die!--let him die!" she exclaimed. "Is not his doom inevitable?
You will torture my Eugene by keeping in his life till the law demands its
victim, and he may be carried--carried! O God!--to a second death, ten
times more cruel than that which he is now suffering."

"No rejection of the petition has been intimated," I replied; "and there is
hope to the last grain in life's ebbing glass. It is not yet two years
since a reprieve came to a prisoner, in this very jail, within three hours
of the appointed term of his life. You have spoken from the impulse of an
agony which has overcome the truer feelings of a mother and the better
dictates of prudence."

"Small, small, indeed, is that hope which a mother may not see through the
gloom of a despair such as mine," she replied. "But what means that
dreadful noise in Eugene's cell?"

"Only the efforts of the men to keep him awake," replied I. "My duty
requires my efforts in behalf of a fellow-creature to the last moment.
Reflect for an instant, and the proper feeling will again vindicate its
place in the heart of a parent."

"Dreadful alternative!" she replied. "But, sir, hear me. I am his mother,
and I tell you, from the divination of a mother's heart, that there will
now be no respite. I say it again; it would be a relief to me if I heard,
at this moment, that he had escaped by death that tragedy which will now be
rendered a thousand times more painful to him and dreadful to me."

The father moved his eyes, and fixed them on the face of the mother of his
boy, who, in her agony, thus called for his death in a form which bore even
a shade of relief from the horror of what awaited the victim. It was,
indeed, an extraordinary request; and told, as no words spoken by mortal
had ever told, the pregnancy of an anguish that could seek for alleviation
(if I may use so inadequate a phrase) from so fearful an alternative. All
were, for a time, now silent, and there was no sound to be heard but the
deep sobs of the daughter, as she recovered from her swoon; the struggle in
the throat of the mother; and the shuffling and tramping in the cell of the

"There is still hope," I whispered in the ear of the mother.

"None--none!" she ejaculated again. "My Eugene! my Eugene!"

She reclined back, with her hands over her face, still sobbing out the name
of her son. I pointed to the father to assist her, while I should go again
to ascertain the state of the son; but he did not seem to understand
me--retaining still his rigid position, and looking with the calmness of
despair on the scene around him. Her silence continued but a few moments;
and when she opened her eyes again, it was to fix them on me.

"What are you doing?" she exclaimed again. "What, in the name of heaven,
are you doing to my Eugene?--Saving him for second, and still more cruel
death. It might have been all over. Let me see him--let me see him!"

And she rose to proceed to the cell where her son was confined; but her
strength failed her, and she again reclined helplessly back in her seat.
The clergyman's ministrations were called for by these uttered sentiments,
which seemed so little in accordance with the precepts of Holy Writ,
however natural to the bursting heart of the mother, to whom the reported
death of her son, in his unparalleled situation might almost have been
termed a boon. Retreating from a scene so fraught with misery, I hastened
back to Eugene, who was still in the arms of the men. One of them whispered
to me that he had spoken when he heard the shrill cry of his sister; but,
immediately after, he relapsed again into stupor. The men complained of
being exhausted by their efforts to keep him moving. His weight was now
almost that of a dead body; and it was only at intervals that he made any
struggles to move himself by the aid of his paralysed limbs. Two other
individuals were got to relieve them; and the compulsory motions were
continued. The lethargy had not altogether mastered the sentient powers;
and, the operation having been stopped that I might examine his condition,
he lifted his head slowly, looked round him with a vacant stare, and, after
a few moments, muttered again the word "hour." I pulled out my watch, and
told him that it was twenty minutes past one, he understood me, as I
thought; and pronouncing indistinctly "mother," he again sank into apparent
listlessness. The men again resumed their work.

Meanwhile, a buzz from without intimated too distinctly that the mob was
collecting to witness the fate of their townsman. There was no distinct
sound, save that which a mass of people, under the depressing feelings of
sorrow, seem to send forth involuntarily--making the air, as it were,
thick, and yet with no articulation or distinct noise which can be caught
by the ear of one at a distance, or within the walls of a house. Eugene, I
am satisfied, was unable to recognise the faint indication. It was well for
him. I learned, from the turnkey, that the sound of the hammer in the
erection of the gallows had put him almost distracted, and precipitated the
execution of the purpose, which he had wished to delay till after the
arrival of the mail. I had little doubt that he might now be kept from the
grasp of the death-stupor for the remaining three quarters of an hour; but,
alas! what would be my triumph? Every minute added to the certainty that I
was only preparing for him and his relations greater pain; for, in any
view, he could not walk to the fatal spot without as much aid as might have
sufficed to carry him; and it was even more than probable that he would be
so overcome that that latter operation would require to be resorted to,
under the stern sanction of a law that behoved to be put in force within a
given time, or not at all. The case I am now describing might suggest some
consideration worthy of the attention of our legislators, who, arrogating
to themselves a license as wide as the limits of the human mind, deny all
manner of discretion to the superintendents of the last execution of the
law. We profess to be abhorrent from scenes of torture, as well as, on
grounds of policy, hostile to a species of punishment which, indeed,
defeats its own ends; and yet I could give more than one case where the
substance has been retained in all its atrocity, while the form was veiled
by flimsy excuses of a false necessity. My situation was now a very painful
one indeed. I was training and supporting the victim for the altar;
rescuing from death only to sacrifice him with more bloody rites and a
crueller spirit of immolation. The words of his mother, wrung from the
agony of a parent's love, rang in my ears; the look of the father--that of
imbecile despair--was imprinted on my mind; the hour was fast on the wing;
all hope had perished; and before me was the unfortunate youth, handsome,
elegant, and interesting, even in the writhings of the master-fiend,
suffering a death which was to be, in effect, repeated in another and a
crueller form. I had seen him under circumstances of friendship, and the
ebullitions of his generous spirit; and I was become, as I pictured to
myself, his enemy, who would not allow him to die, to escape from shame and
an increased agony of dissolving nature. Will I admit it? For a moment or
two I hesitated; and, indeed, had half-resolved to tell the men to
stop--the time might yet have sufficed for finishing what he had begun. If
he was not dead before two, he would, at least be beyond feeling; and, if
the officials chose to take the last step of getting him carried to the
gallows, they would in effect be immolating a corpse.

My better and calmer thoughts of duty, however, prevailed; and, in the
meantime, I saw the prudence of preventing any meeting between Eugene and
his parents, which could tend to nothing but an increase of pain on the
side of those who were still able to feel--for, as regarded the young man
himself, he was beyond the impulse of the feelings that might otherwise
have been called up, even by such a scene. I was not even ill pleased to
hear from the under turnkey, that the magistrates had given orders for the
departure of the friends; though, for my own satisfaction, I wished that
the father, who had still some command of himself, might visit his son for
a few minutes, and sanction my proceedings with his approbation. I was
informed also by the turnkey, that the father was resisting to the utmost
of his power the efforts of the mother to get into the cell. He probably
saw too clearly that in the excited condition in which she still remained,
the scene might prove disastrous, as affecting either life or reason; and,
if I could judge from what I myself felt in spite of the blunting effects
of a long acquaintanceship with misery in its various phases, there was
good reason for his fears. The scene presented features

    "Direr than incubus's haggard train."

I had just looked my watch--it wanted now only twenty minutes of the last
hour. The order for the friends to quit the jail was about to be obeyed.
The father sent a messenger for me. I repaired to the cell; but to avoid
the appeals of the mother and daughter, I beckoned him forth to the lobby.
He asked me whether he should see his son now that he was all but
insensible, and could not probably recognise him. He feared that he could
not stand the scene, for that the calmness he assumed was false! I replied
that it certainly required no ordinary firmness; and yet the pain might in
some degree be even lessened by the state of stupor and insensibility in
which the youth still continued. He fixed his eyes on my face with an
expression of forced and unnatural calmness, that pained me more than the
death-like inanity of the still beautiful countenance of his son, or the
hysterical excitement of the mother. He at last seized my hand and
proceeded along to the cell hurriedly, as the turnkey was crying loudly for
the friends to depart. We entered and stood for a moment. He stood and
gazed at his son, as the latter was still kept moving by the men; but
Eugene was apparently unconscious of the presence of his parents. A loud
cry from the dense crowd who had assembled to witness the execution, struck
my ear. I ran to the window, and saw a man in the act of coming off a
horse, whose sides were covered with foam and blood. The cries of the crowd
continued, and I could distinctly hear the word "_reprieve_" mixed with the
shouts. Mr. D---- was at my back, and I felt his hands press me like a
vice. The two men who were supporting Eugene, had also heard the sound,
and, paralysed by the extraordinary announcement, they actually let the
prisoner sink on the floor. The sound of his fall made me turn; the father
had vanished, doubtless to meet the messenger, and communicate the tidings
to his wife and daughter. A great bustle in the neighbouring cells
succeeded. The two men stood and looked at me in silence. Eugene still lay
on the floor, to all appearance insensible. By my orders he was immediately
again lifted up, and dragged more violently than ever, backwards and
forwards. In a few seconds, the turnkey came in, and struck off the irons,
by which his ancle had been so severely torn that the blood flowed from it
on the floor. He informed me that he was indeed reprieved, and that the
fault of the delay was attributable to the authorities in London. I shouted
in the ear of the young man the electric word; he lifted his head, looked
wildly around him for a few seconds, and uttered a strange gurgling sound
unlike any expression of the human voice I ever heard. I was indeed
uncertain whether he understood me or not. In a few minutes more, the cell
was crowded--the father, mother, and daughter, the chaplain, the messenger,
and several of the officials, all bursting in, to see the condition of the
criminal. To this I was not averse; because the more excitement that could
be produced in the mind of the youth, the greater chance remained of our
being able to keep off the deadly effects of the drug. A thousand times did
the parent and mother sound into his dull ear the vocable pregnant with so
much relief to him and his friends; but it was not until two hours
afterwards that he was so far recovered as to understand perfectly the
narrow escape he had made from death. In the evening he was conveyed home
in a carriage; and, as they were leaving the jail, he looked out at the
grim apparatus which had been erected for him, and which the workmen were
removing in the midst of a dense crowd of citizens.

Some days afterwards, Eugene D---- had almost entirely recovered from the
effects of the poison. One day when I called, I found him lying on a sofa,
with his mother sitting by his side. She took her eyes off her son, and
bent them on me till tears filled them.

"Before you entered," she said, "I was talking to Eugene about the request
I made to you in the jail on that dreadful day, to let my son die.
Repeatedly since, have I thought of my wild words; but they know little of
human nature, at least little of the feelings of a mother in my situation,
who could brand them as unnatural, or doubt the sanity that recognised
fully their effect."

"I am too well apprised, madam," I replied, "of the workings of that organ,
whose changes often startle ourselves, to be surprised at the words you
then made use of. I knew not, after all, if you did not exhibit as much
heroism as Brutus, who condemned his son to death; certainly more than
Zaleucus, who condemned his to the loss of an eye, having first submitted
to the loss of his own, to make the love of a father quadrate with the
justice of the law-giver."

"And what say you to yourself, to whom I owe the safety of my Eugene?" she

"An Acesias might have accomplished all that I accomplished, madam--for all
I did was to keep off sleep; but, if the secret must needs be told, I had
some doubts at least of the humanity of my proceedings, whatever I might
have thought of my duty."

Eugene afterwards went to the East Indies, where he made a fortune. Some
pecuniary embarrassments afterwards overtook the family, on which occasion
he sent them home the one half of the money he had made, whereby they were
again placed in a condition of affluence. A present was also sent to me. It
is not yet very many years ago since I saw Eugene. He had assumed another
name in India, where he had married a very beautiful woman, and to whom he
again returned.



    "In the mid revels, the first ominous night
    Of their espousals, when the room shone bright
    With lighted tapers--the king and the queen leading
    The curious measures, lords and ladies treading
    The self-same strains--the king looks back by chance,
    And spies a strange intruder fill the dance;
    Namely, a mere anatomy, quite bare,
    His naked limbs both without flesh and hair,
    (As we decipher Death,) who stalks about
    Keeping true measure till the dance be out."

    _Heywood's Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels._

There is no river in this country which presents in its course, scenes more
beautifully romantic than the little Jed. Though it exhibits not the dizzy
cliffs where the eagles build their nests, the mass of waters, the
magnitude and the boldness, which give the character of sublimity to a
scene; yet, as it winds its course through undulating hills where the
forest trees entwine their broad branches, or steals along by the foot of
the red, rocky precipices, where the wild flowers and the broom blossom
from every crevice of their perpendicular sides, and from whose summits the
woods bend down, beautiful as rainbows, it presenteth pictures of
surpassing loveliness, which the eye delights to dwell upon. It is a fair
sight to look down from the tree-clad hills upon the ancient burgh, with
the river half circling it, and gardens, orchards, woods, in the beauty of
summer blossoming, or the magnificence of their autumnal hues, encompassing
it, while the venerable Abbey riseth stately in the midst of all, as a
temple in paradise. Such is the character of the scenery around Jedburgh
now; and, in former ages, its beauty rendered it a favourite resort of the
Scottish Kings.

About the year 1270, an orphan boy, named Patrick Douglas, herded a few
sheep upon the hills, which were the property of the monks of Melrose. Some
of the brotherhood, discovering him to be a boy of excellent parts,
instructed him to read and to write; and perceiving the readiness with
which he acquired these arts, they sought also to initiate him into all the
learning of the age, and to bring him up for their order. To facilitate and
complete his instructions, they had him admitted amongst them, as a
_convert_ or lay-brother. But, though the talents of the shepherd boy
caused him to be regarded as a prodigy by all within the monastery, from
the Lord Abbot down to the kitchener and his assistants; yet, with Patrick,
as with many others even now, gifts were not graces. He had no desire to
wear the white cassock, narrow scapulary, and plain linen hood of the
Cistertian brethren; neither did he possess the devoutness necessary for
performing his devotions seven times a-day; and when the bell roused him at
two in the morning, to what was called the _nocturnal_ service, Patrick
arose reluctantly; for, though compelled to wedge himself into a narrow bed
at eight o'clock in the evening, it was his wont to lie awake, musing on
what he had read or learned, until past midnight; and, when the _nocturnal_
was over, he again retired to sleep, until he was aroused at six for
_matins_; but, after these came other devotions, called _tierce_, the
_sexte_, the _none_, _vespers_, and the _compline_, at nine in the morning,
at noon, at three in the afternoon, at six in the evening and before eight.
These services broke in on his favourite studies; and, possessing more
talent than devotion, while engaged in them he thought more of his studies
than of them. Patrick, therefore, refused to take the monastic vow. He

                      "had heard of war,
    And longed to follow to the field some warlike lord."

He, however, was beloved by all; and when he left the monastery, the Abbot
and the brethren gave him their benediction, and bestowed gifts upon him.
He also carried with him letters from the Lord Abbot and Prior, to men who
were mighty in power at the court of King Philip of France.

From the testimonials which he brought with him, Patrick Douglas, the
Scottish orphan, speedily obtained favour in the eyes of King Philip and
his nobles, and became as distinguished on the field for his prowess and
the feats of his arms, as he had been in the Abbey of Melrose for his
attainments in learning. But a period of peace came; and he who was but a
few years before a shepherd boy by Tweedside, now bearing honours conferred
on him by a foreign monarch, was invited as a guest to the palace of the
illustrious Count of Dreux. A hundred nobles were there, each exhibiting
all the pageantry of the age; and there, too, were a hundred ladies, vying
with each other in beauty, and in the splendour of their array. But chief
of all was Jolande, the daughter of their host, the Count of Dreux, and the
fame of whose charms had spread throughout Christendom. Troubadours sang of
her beauty, and princes bent the knee before her. Patrick Douglas beheld
her charms. He gazed on them with a mixed feeling of awe, of regret, and of
admiration. His eyes followed her, and his soul followed them. He beheld
the devoirs which the great and the noble paid to her, and his heart was
heavy; for she was the fairest and the proudest flower among the French
nobility --he an exotic weed of desert birth. And, while princes strove for
her hand, he remembered, he felt, that he was an orphan of foreign and of
obscure parentage--a scholar by accident, (but to be a scholar was no
recommendation in those days, and it is but seldom that it is one even
now.) and a soldier of fortune, to whose name royal honours were not
attached, while his purse was light, and who, because his feet covered more
ground than he could call his own, his heels were denied the insignia of
knighthood. Yet, while he ventured not to breathe his thoughts or wishes
before her, he imagined that she looked on him more kindly, and that she
smiled on him more frequently than on his lordly rivals; and his heart
deceived itself, and rejoiced in secret.

Now, it was early in the year 1283, the evening was balmy for the season,
the first spring flowers were budding forth, and the moon, as a silver
crescent, was seen among the stars. The young scholar and soldier of
unknown birth walked in the gardens of the Count of Dreux, and the lovely
Jolande leaned upon his arm. His heart throbbed as he listened to the
silver tones of her sweet voice, and felt the gentle pressure of her soft
hand in his. He forgot that she was the daughter of a prince--he the son of
a dead peasant. In the delirium of a moment, he had thrown himself on his
knee before her, he had pressed her hand on his bosom, and gazed eagerly in
her face.

She was startled by his manner, and had only said--"Sir! what
means?"--though in a tone neither of reproach nor of pride, when what she
would have said was cut short by the sudden approach of a page, who, bowing
before her, stated that four commissioners having arrived from the King of
Scotland, the presence of the Princess Jolande was required at the palace.
Patrick Douglas started to his feet as he heard the page approach, and as
he listened to his words he trembled.

The princess blushed, and turning from Patrick, proceeded in confusion
towards the palace; while he followed at a distance, repenting of what he
had said, and of what he had done, or, rather, wishing that he had said
more, or said less.

"Yet," thought he, "she did not look on me as if I had spoken
presumptuously! I will hope, though it be against hope--even though it be
but the shadow of despair."

But an hour had not passed, although he sought to hide himself with his
thoughts in his chamber, when he heard that the commissioners who had
arrived from his native land, were Thomas Charteris, the High Chancellor;
Patrick de Graham, William de St Clair, and John de Soulis; and that their
errand was to demand the beautiful Jolande as the bride and queen of their
liege sovereign, Alexander the Third, yet called good.

Now, the praise of Alexander was echoed in every land. He was as a father
to his people, and as a husband to his kingdom. He was wise, just,
resolute, merciful. Scotland loved him--all nations honoured him. But
Death, that spareth not the prince more than the peasant, and which, to
short-sighted mortals, seemeth to strike alike at the righteous and the
wicked, had made desolate the hearths of his palaces, and rendered their
chambers solitary. Tribulation had fallen heavily on the head of a virtuous
King. A granddaughter, the infant child of a foreign prince, was all that
was left of his race; and his people desired that he should leave behind
him, as inheritor of the crown, one who might inherit also his name and
virtues. He was still in the full vigour of his manhood, and the autumn of
years was invisible on his brow. No "single silverings" yet marked the
raven ringlets which waved down his temples; and, though his years were
forty and three, his appearance did not betoken him to be above thirty.

His people, therefore, wished, and his courtiers urged, that he should
marry again; and fame pointed out the lovely Jolande, the daughter of the
Count of Dreux, as his bride.

When Patrick Douglas, the learned and honoured, but fortuneless soldier,
found that his new competitor for the hand of the gentle Jolande was none
other than his sovereign, he was dumb with despair, and the last, the
miserable _hope_ which it imparts, and which maketh wretched, began to
leave him. He now accused himself for having been made the sacrifice of a
wild and presumptuous dream, and again he thought of the kindly smile and
the look of sorrow which met together on her countenance, when, in a rash,
impassioned moment, he fell on his knee before her, and made known what his
heart felt.

But, before another sun rose, Patrick Douglas, the honoured military
adventurer of King Philip, was not to be found in the palace of the Count
de Dreux. Many were the conjectures concerning his sudden departure; and,
amongst those conjectures, as regarding the cause, many were right. But
Jolande stole to her chamber, and in secret wept for the brave stranger.

More than two years passed away, and the negotiations between the Courts of
Scotland and of France, respecting the marriage of King Alexander and Fair
Jolande, were continued; but, during that period, even the name of Patrick
Douglas, the Scottish soldier, began to be forgotten--his learning became a
dead letter, and his feats of arms continued no longer the theme of
tongues. It is seldom that kings are such tardy wooers; but between the
union of the good Alexander and the beautiful Jolande many obstacles were
thrown. When, however, their nuptials were finally agreed to, it was
resolved that they should be celebrated on a scale of magnificence such as
the world had not seen. Now, the loveliest spot in broad Scotland, where
the Scottish King could celebrate the gay festivities, was the good town of
Jedworth, or, as it is now called, Jedburgh. For it was situated, like an
Eden, in the depth of an impenetrable forest; gardens circled it; wooded
hills surrounded it; precipices threw their shadows over flowery glens;
wooded hills embraced it, as the union of many arms; waters murmured amidst
it; and it was a scene on which man could not gaze without forgetting, or
regretting his fallen nature. Yea, the beholder might have said--"If the
earth be yet so lovely, how glorious must it have been ere it was cursed
because of man's transgression!"

Thither, then, did the Scottish monarch, attended by all the well-affected
nobles of his realm, repair to meet his bride. He took up his residence in
the castle of his ancestors, which was situated near the Abbey, and his
nobles occupied their own, or other houses, in other parts of the town; for
Jedburgh was then a great and populous place, and, from the loveliness of
its situation, the chosen residence of royalty. (It is a pity but that our
princes and princesses saw it now, and they would hardly be again charmed
with the cold, dead, and bare beach of Brighton.) An old writer (I forget
whom) has stated, in describing the magnitude of Jedburgh in those days,
that it was six times larger than Berwick. This, however, is a mistake, for
Berwick, at that period, was the greatest maritime town in the kingdom, and
surpassed London, which strove to rival it.

On the same day that King Alexander and his splendid retinue reached
Jedburgh, his bride, escorted by the nobles of France and their attendants,
also arrived. The dresses of the congregated thousands were gorgeous as
summer flowers, and variegated as gorgeous. The people looked with wonder
on the glittering throng. The trees had lost the hues of their fresh and
living green--for brown October threw its deep shadows o'er the
landscape--but the leaves yet trembled on the boughs from which they were
loath to part; and, as a rainbow that had died upon the trees, and left its
hues and impression there, the embrowning forest appeared.

The marriage ceremony was performed in the Abbey, before Morel, the Lord
Abbot, and glad assembled thousands. The town and the surrounding hills
became a scene of joy. The bale-fires blazed from every hill; music echoed
in the streets; and from every house, while the light of tapers gleamed,
was heard the sounds of dance and song. The Scottish maiden and the French
courtier danced by the side of the Jed together. But chief of all the
festive scene was the assembly in the hall of the royal castle. At the
farther end of the apartment, elevated on a purpled covered dais, sat King
Alexander, with the hand of his bridal queen locked in his. On each side
were ranged, promiscuously, the Scottish and the French nobility, with
their wives, daughters, and sisters. Music lent its influence to the scene,
and the strains of a hundred instruments blended in a swell of melody.

Thrice a hundred tapers burned suspended from the roof, and on each side of
the hall stood twenty men with branches of blazing pine. Now came the
morris dance, with the antique dress and strange attitudes of the
performers, which was succeeded by a dance of warriors in their coats of
mail, and with their swords drawn. After these a masque, prepared by Thomas
the Rymer, who sat on the right hand of the King, followed; and the company
laughed, wept, and wondered, as the actors performed their parts before

But now came the royal dance; the music burst into a bolder strain, and
lord and lady rose, treading the strange measure down the hall, after the
King and his fair Queen. Louder, and yet more loud the music pealed; and,
though it was midnight, the multitude without shouted at its enlivening
strains. Blithely the dance went on, and the King well nigh forgot the
measure as he looked enraptured in the fair face of his beauteous bride.

He turned to take her hand in the dance, and in its stead the bony fingers
of a skeleton were extended to him. He shrank back aghast; for royalty
shuddereth at the sight of Death as doth a beggar, and, in its presence,
feeleth his power to be as the power of him who vainly commanded the waves
of the sea to go back. Still the skeleton kept true measure before
him--still it extended to him its bony hand. He fell back, in horror,
against a pillar where a torch-bearer stood. The lovely Queen shrieked
aloud, and fell as dead upon the ground. The music ceased--silence fell on
the multitude--they stood still--they gazed on each other. Dismay caused
the cold damp of terror to burst from every brow, and timid maidens sought
refuge and hid their faces on the bosom of strangers. But still, visible to
all, the spectre stood before the king, its bare ribs rattling as it moved,
and its finger pointed towards him. The music, the dancers, became
noiseless, as if Death had whispered--"_Hush_!--_be still_!" For the figure
of death stood in the midst of them, as though it mocked them, and no sound
was heard save the rattling of the bones, the moving of its teeth, and the
motion of its fingers before the king.

The lord abbot gathered courage, he raised his crucifix from his breast, he
was about to exorcise the strange spectre, when it bent its grim head
before him, and vanished as it came--no man knew whither.

"Let the revels cease!" gasped the terror-stricken king; and they did
cease. The day had begun in joy, it was ended in terror. Fear spread over
the land, and while the strange tale of the marriage spectre was yet in the
mouths of all men, yea before six months had passed, the tidings spread
that the good King Alexander, at whom the figure of Death had pointed its
finger, was with the dead, and his young queen a widow in a strange land.

The appearance of the spectre became a tale of wonder amongst all men,
descending from generation to generation, and unto this day it remains a
mystery. But, on the day after the royal festival at Jedburgh, Patrick
Douglas, the learned soldier, took the vows, and became a monastic brother
at Melrose; and, though he spoke of Jolande in his dreams, he smiled, as if
in secret triumph, when the spectre that had appeared to King Alexander was
mentioned in his hearing.


"Many a time," said Nicholas Middlemiss, as he turned round the skirts and
the sleeve of his threadbare coat to examine them, "many a time have I
heard my mother say to my faither--'Roger, Roger (for that was my faither's
name,) _the simple man is the beggar's brother_.' But, notwithstanding my
mother's admonitions, my faither certainly was a very simple man. He
allowed people to take him in, even while they were laughing in his face at
his simplicity. I dinna think that ever there was a week but that somebody
or other owrereached him, in some transaction or other; for every knave,
kennin' him to be a simpleton, (a nosey-wax, as my mother said,) always
laid their snares to entrap Roger Middlemiss--and his family were the
sufferers. He had been a manufacturer in Langholm for many a long year, and
at his death he left four brothers, a sister and mysel', four hundred
pounds each. Be it remembered, however, that his faither before him left
him near to three thousand, and that was an uncommon fortune in those days,
a fortune I may say that my faither might have made his bairns dukes by.
Had he no been a simple man, his family might have said that they wouldna
ca' the Duke o' Buccleuch their cousin. But he was simple--simplicity's
sel'--(as my mother told him weel about it)--and he didna leave his bairns
sae meikle to divide among them, as he had inherited from their
grandfaither. Yet, if, notwithstanding his opportunities to make a fortune,
he did not even leave us even what he had got, he at least left us his
simpleness unimpaired. My brothers were honest men--owre honest, I am sorry
to say, for the every-day transactions of this world--but they always
followed the _obliging_ path, and kept their face in a direction, which, if
they had had foresight enough to see it, was sure to land them _in_, or
_on_,(just as ye like to take the expression,) their _native parish_. Now,
this is a longing after the place o' one's birth for which I have no
ambition; but on the parish it did land my brothers. My sister, too, was a
poor simple thing, that married a man who had a wife living when he married
her; and, after he had got every shilling that she had into his possession,
he decamped and left her.

"But it is not the history of my brothers and sisters that I would tell you
about, but my own. With the four hundred pounds which my faither left me, I
began business as a linen manufacturer--that is, as a maister weaver, on
what might be called a respectable scale. The year after I had commenced
business upon my own account, and before I was two and twenty, I was taking
a walk one Sunday afternoon on the Hawick road, along by Sorbie, and there
I met the bonniest lassie, I think, that I had ever seen. I was so struck
wi' her appearance, that I actually turned round and followed her. She was
dressed in a duffel coat or pelisse, which I think country folk call a
_Joseph_; but I followed her at a distance, through fields and owre stiles,
till I saw her enter a sma' farm-house. There were some bits o' bairns,
apparently hinds' bairns, sitting round a sort o' duck-dub near the

"'Wha lives there, dearies?' says I to them, pointing wi' my finger to the

"'Ned Thomson,' says they.

"'And wha was that bonny lassie,' asked I, 'that gaed in just the now?'

"'He! he! he!' the bairns laughed, and gaed me nae answer. So I put my
question to them again, and ane o' the auldest o' them, a lassie about
thirteen, said--'It was the maister's daughter, sir, the laird's bonny
Jenny--if ye like, I'll gang in and tell her that a gentleman wishes to
speak to her.'

"I certainly was very proud o' the bairn taking me to be a gentleman; but I
couldna think o' meeting Miss Thompson, even if she should come out to see
me, wi' such an introduction, for I was sure I would make a fool o' mysel';
and I said to the bit lassie--'No I thank ye, hinny; I'm obliged to ye'"
and a' her little companions 'he! he! he'd!' and laughed the louder at my
expense; which, had I not been a simple man, I never would have placed it
in their power to do.

"So I went away, thinking on her face as if I had been looking at it in a
glass a' the time; and to make a long story short, within three months,
Miss Jenny Thompson and me became particularly weel acquaint. But my
mother, who had none o' the simpleness that came by my faither's side o'
the house, was then living; and when Jenny and I were on the eve o' being
publicly cried in the kirk, she clapped her affidavit against it.

"'Nicol,' said she, 'son as ye are o' mine, ye're a poor simple goniel.
There isna a bairn that I have among ye to mend another. Ye are your
faither owre again, every one o' ye--each one more simple than another.
Will ye marry a taupie that has nae recommendation but a doll's face, and
bring shame and sorrow to your door?'

"I flew into a rampaging passion wi' my mother, for levelling Jenny to
either shame or sorrow: but she maintained that married we should not be,
if she could prevent it; and she certainly said and did everything that lay
in her power to render me jealous. She might as weel have lectured to a
whinstane rock. I believed Jenny to be as pure as the dew that falleth upon
a lily before sunrise in May. But on the very night before we were to be
married, and when I went to fit on the gloves and the ring--to my horror
and inexpressible surprise, who should I see in the farm-yard, (for it was
a fine star-light night,) but my Jenny--my thrice cried bride--wi' her hand
upon the shouther o' the auldest son o' her faither's laird, and his arm
round her waist. My first impulse was to run into the stackyard where they
were, and to knock him down; but he was a strong lad, and, thinks I,
'second thoughts are best.' I was resolved, however, that my mother should
find I wasna such a simpleton as she gied me out to be--so I turned round
upon my heel and went home saying to mysel, as the song says--

    'If this be the way of courting a wife,
      I'll never look after another;
    But I'll away hame and live single my lane,
      And I'll away hame to my mother.'

When I went hame, and informed her o' what I had seen, and o' what I had
dune, the auld woman clapped me upon the shouther, and says she--'Nicholas,
my man, I am glad that yer ain een have been made a witness in the matter
of which your mother forewarned ye. Ye was about to bring disgrace upon
your family; but I trust ye have seen enough to be a warning to ye. O
Nicholas! they that marry a wife merely for the sake o' a bonny face, or
for being a smart dancer, or onything o' that kind, never repent it but
once, and that is for ever. Marriage lad, lifts the veil from the face o'
beauty, and causes it to be looked upon as an every-day thing; and even if
ye were short-sighted before, marriage will make ye see through spectacles
that will suit your sight, whither ye will or no. Dinna think that I am
against ye taking a wife; for I ken it is the best thing that a young man
can do. Had your faither not married me when he did, he would hae died a
beggar, instead o' leaving ye what he did. And especially a simple creature
like you, Nicholas, needs one to take care o' him. But you must not expect
to meet wi' such a one in every bonny face, handsome waist, or smart ancle
that ye meet wi'. Na, na, lad; ye maun look to the heart, and the
disposition or temper, and the affection for you. They are the grand points
that ye are to study; and not the beauty o' the face, the shape o' the
waist, (which a mantua-maker has a principal hand in making,) the colour o'
the een, or the texture o' the hair. Thae are things that are forgotten
before ye hae been married a twalmonth; but the feelings o' the heart, and
the sentiments o' the soul, aye rin pure, Nicholas, and grow stronger and
stronger, just like a bit burn oozing frae a hill, and wimpling down its
side, waxing larger and larger, and gathering strength on strength as it
runs, until it meets the sea, like a great river; and even so it is wi' the
affections o' the heart between man and wife, where they really love and
understand each other; for they begin wi' the bit spring o' courtship,
following the same course, gathering strength, and flowing side by side,
until they fall into the ocean o' eternity, as a united river that cannot
be divided! Na, son, if ye will take a wife, I hope ye hae seen enough to
convince ye that she ought never to be the bonny Miss Thompson. But if I
might advise ye in the matter, there is our own servant, Nancy Bowmaker, a
young lass, a weel-faured lass, and as weel behaved as she is good-looking.
She has lived wi' us, now, for four years, and from term to term I never
have had to quarrel her. I never saw her encouraging lads about the
house--I never missed the value o' a prin since she came to it--I never
even saw her light a candle at the fire, or keep the cruisy burning when
she had naething to do but to spin, or to knit. Now, Nicholas, if ye will
be looking after a wife, I say that ye canna do better than just draw up
wi' Nancy Bowmaker.'

"So my mother ended her long-winded harangue; which I had hardly patience
to listen to. In the course o' the week, the faither and brothers o' Miss
Jenny Thompson called upon me, to see why I had not fulfilled my
engagement, by taking her before the minister, and declaring her to be my
wife. I stood before them like a man touched wi' a flash o' lightning--pale
as death and trembling like a leaf. But, when they began to talk big owre
me, and to threaten me wi' bringing the terrors o' the law upon my
head--(and be it remembered I have an exceeding horror o' the law, and
would rather lose a pound ony day, than spend six and eightpence, which is
the least ye can spend on it)--as good luck would have it, while they were
stamping their feet, and shaking their nieves in my face, my mother came
forward to where we were standing, and says she to me--'Nicholas, what is
a' this about? What does Mr Thompson and his sons want?'

"The very sound o' her voice inspired me; I regained my strength and my
courage, as the eagle renews its age. And, simple man as I was--'Sir,' said
I, 'what is it that ye mean? Gae ask your daughter wha it was that had his
arm round her waist on Thursday night last, and her hand upon his shouther!
Go to _him_ to marry her!--but dinna hae the audacity to look me in the

"'Weel said, Nicol,' whispered my mother, coming behint me, and clapping me
on the back; 'aye act in that manner, my man.'

"And both her faithers and her brothers stood looking one to another for an
answer, and slunk away without saying another word either about the law or
our marriage. I found I had gotten the whip hand o' them most completely.
So, there never was another word between me and bonny Jenny Thompson, who,
within a month, ran away wi' the son o' her faither's laird--and, poor
hizzy, I am sorry to say, her end wasna a good one.

"My mother, however, always kept teasing me about Nancy Bowmaker, and
saying what a notable wife she would make. Now, some folk are foolish
enough to say that they couldna like onybody that was in a manner forced
upon them. And, nae doubt, if either a faither or a mother, or onybody else
that has power owre ye, says--'_Like_ such a one,' it is not in your power
to comply, and actually love the person in obedience to a command. Yet this
I will say, that my mother's sermons to me about Nancy Bowmaker, and my
being always _evened_ to her upon that account, caused me to think more
about her than I did concerning ony other woman under the sun. And ye canna
think lang about ony lass in particular, without beginning to have a sort
o' regard for her, as it were. In short, I began to find that I liked Nancy
just as weel as I had done Jenny; we, therefore, were married, and a most
excellent and affectionate wife she has been to me, even to this day.

"It was now that I began the world in good earnest. But though my wife was
an active woman, I was still the same simple, easy-imposed-upon sort o'
being that I had always been. Every rogue in the country-side very soon
became acquainted wi' my disposition. I had no reason to complain of my
business; for orders poured in upon me faster than I was able to supply
them. Only, somehow or other--and I thought it very strange--money didna
come in so fast as the orders. My wife said to me--'This trade will never
do, Nicholas--ye will gang on trust, trusting, until ye trust yoursel' to
the door. Therefore, do as I advise ye, and look after the siller.'

"'O my dear,' said I, 'they are good customers, and I canna offend them for
the sake o' a few pounds. I have no doubt but they are safe enough.

"'Safe or no safe,' quoth she, 'get ye your accounts settled. Their siller
will do as meikle for ye as their custom. Take a woman's advice for once,
and remember, that, 'short accounts make long friends.' Look ye after your

"I couldna but confess that there was a great deal o' truth in what Mrs
Middlemiss (that is my wife) said to me. But I had not her turn for doing
things. I could not be so sharp wi' folk, had it been to save my life. I
never could affront onybody in my days. Yet I often wished that I could
take her advice; for I saw people getting deeper and deeper into my books,
without the prospect o' payment being made more manifest. Under such
circumstances I began to think wi' her, that their siller would be as good
as their custom--the one was not much worth without the other.

"But, just to give ye a few instances o' my simplicity:--I was walking, on
a summer evening, as my custom was, about a mile out o' the town, when I
overtook a Mr Swanston, a very respectable sort o' man, a neighbour, and an
auld acquaintance, who appeared to be in very great tribulation. I think,
indeed, that I never saw a fellow-creature in such visible distress. His
countenance was perfectly wofu', and he was wringing his hands like a body

"'Preserve us, Mr Swanston!' says I, 'what's the matter wi' ye?--has
onything happened?'

"'Oh! happened!' said he; 'I'm a ruined man!--I wish that I had never been
born!--that I had never drawn breath in this world o' villany! I believe
I'll do some ill to mysel'.'

"'Dear me, Mr Swanston!' quoth I, 'I'm sorry to hear ye talk so. It is very
unchristian-like to hear a body talking o' doing harm to theirsels. There
is a poet, (Dr Young, if I mistake not,) that says--

    'Self-murder! name it not, our island's shame!'

Now, I dinna like to hear ye talking in such a way; and though I have no
wish to be inquisitive, I would just beg to ask what it is upon your mind
that is making ye unhappy?'

"'Oh, Mr Middlemiss,' said he, 'it is o' no use telling ye o't, for I
believe that sympathy has left this world, as weel as honesty.'

"'Ye're no very sure o' that, neighbour,' says I; 'and I dinna think that
ye do mysel' and other people justice.'

"'Maybe not, sir,' said he; 'but is it not a hard case, that, after I have
carried on business for more than twenty years, honestly and in credit wi'
all the world, that I should have to stop my business to-morrow, for the
want o' three hundred pounds?'

"'It certainly is,' said I, 'a very hard case; but, dear me, Mr Swanston, I
always thought that ye would be worth twenty shillings in the pound.'

"'So I am,' said he; 'I am worth twice twenty, if my things should be put
up at their real value; but at present I canna command the ready money--and
there is where the rock lies that I am to be wrecked upon.'

"'Assuredly,' returned I, 'three hundred pounds are no bauble. It requires
a person to turn owre a number o' shillings to make them up. But I would
think that, you having been so long in business, and always having borne an
irreproachable character, it would be quite a possible thing for you to
raise the money amongst your friends.'

"'Sir,' said he, 'I wouldna require them to raise the money, nor ever to
advance or pay a farthing upon my account; all that I require is, that some
sponsible person, such as yourself, would put their name to a bill for six
months. There would be nothing but the signing o' the name required o'
them; and if you, sir, would so far oblige me, ye will save a neighbour
from ruin.'

"I thought there was something very reasonable in what he said, and that it
would be a grand thing if by the mere signing o' my name, I could save a
fellow-creature and auld acquaintance from ruin, or from raising his hand
against his own life. Indeed, I always felt a particular pleasure in doing
a good turn to onybody. I therefore said to him--

'Weel, Mr Swanston, I have no objections to sign my name, if, as you say,
that be all that is in it, and if my doing so will be of service to you.'

"He grasped hold o' my hand wi' both o' his, and he squeezed it until I
thought he would have caused the blood to start from my finger ends.

"'Mr Middlemiss,' said he, 'I shall never be able to repay you for this act
o' kindness. I will feel it in my heart the longest day I have to live.'

"I was struck with his agitation; in fact, I was very much put about. For
even a tear upon the face o' a woman distresses me beyond the power o'
words to describe; but to see the salt water on the cheeks of a man
indicates that there is something dreadfully ill at ease about the heart.
And really the tears ran down his face as if he had been a truant
school-laddie that had been chastised by his master.

"'There is no occasion for thanks, Mr Swanston,' said I--'none in the
world; for the man would be worse than a heathen, that wouldna be ready to
do ten times more.'

"Weel, he grasped my hand the harder, and he shook it more fervently,
saying--'O, sir! sir!--a friend in need is a friend indeed; and such ye
have proved to be--and I shall remember it.'

"That very night we went to a public-house, and we had two half-mutchkins
together; in the course of drinking which, he got out a stamped paper, and
after writing something on it, which I was hardly in a condition to read,
(for my head can stand very little,) he handed it to me, and pointed with
his finger where I was to put my name upon the back o't. So I took the pen
and wrote my name--after which, we had a parting gill, and were both very

"When I went home, Nancy perceiving me to be rather sprung, and my een no
as they ought to be, said to me--'Where have you been, Nicholas, until this
time o' nicht?'

"'Touts!' said, I, 'what need ye mind? It is a hard maiter that a body
canna stir out owre the door but ye maun ask--'where hae ye been?' I'm my
own maister, I suppose--at least after business hours.'

"'No doubt o' that, Nicholas,' said she; 'but while ye are your own
maister, ye are also my husband, and the faither o' my family, and it
behoves me to look after ye.'

"'Look after yoursel'!' said I, quite pettedly--'for I am always very high
and independent when I take a glass extra--ye wouldna tak me to be a simple
man then.'

"'There is no use in throwing yoursel' into a rage, added she; 'for ye ken
as weel as me, Nicholas, that ye never take a glass more than ye ought to
do, but ye invariably make a fool o' yoursel' by what ye say or do, and
somebody or ither imposes on ye. And ye are so vexed with yoursel' the next
day, that there is nae living in the house wi' ye. Ye wreak a' the shame
and ill-nature that ye feel on account o' your conduct upon us.'

"'Nancy!' cried I, striking my hand upon the table, as though I had been an
emperor, 'what in the name o' wonder do ye mean? Who imposes upon me?--who
dare?--tell me that!--I say tell me that?' And I struck my hand upon the
table again.

"'Owre mony impose upon ye, my man,' quoth she; 'and I hope naebody has
been doing it the night, for I never saw ye come hame in this key, but that
somebody had got ye to do something that ye was to repent afterwards.'

"'Confound ye, Nancy!' cried I, very importantly whipping up the tails o'
my coat in a passion, and turning my back to the fire, while I gied a sort
o' stagger, and my head knocked against the chimley piece--'confound ye,
Nancy, I say, what do ye mean? Simple man as ye ca' me, and as ye tak me to
be, do ye think that I am to come home to get naething but a dish o'
tongues from you! Bring me my supper.'

"'Oh, certainly, ye shall have your supper,' said she, 'if ye can eat
it--only I think that your bed is the fittest place for ye. O man,' added
she in a lower tone, half speaking to hersel, 'but ye'll be sorry for this
the morn.'

"'What the mischief are ye muttering at?' cried I--'get me my supper.'

"'Oh, ye shall have that,' said she very calmly, for she was, and is, a
quiet woman, and one that would put up with a great deal, rather than allow
her voice to be heard by her neighbours.

"My head was in a queer state the next day; for ye see I had as good as
five glasses, and I never could properly stand above two. I was quite
ashamed to look my wife in the face, and I was so certain that I had been
guilty o' some absurdity or other, that my cheeks burned just under the
dread o' its being mentioned to me. Neither could I drive the idea of
having put my name upon the back of the bill from my mind. I was conscious
that I had done wrong. Yet, thought I, Mr Swanston is a very decent man; he
is a very respectable man; he has always borne an excellent character; and
is considered a good man, both amongst men o' business and in
society--therefore, I have nothing to apprehend. I, according to his own
confession, did him a good turn, and I could in no way implicate myself in
his transactions by merely putting my name upon the back o' a bit o' paper,
to oblige him. So I thought within myself, and I became perfectly satisfied
that I had done a good action, without in the slightest degree injuring my

"But just exactly six months and three days afterwards, a clerk belonging
to a branch o' the Commercial Bank called upon me, and, after making his
bow, said he--'Mr Middlemiss, I have a bill to present to you.'

"'A bill!' said I, 'what sort o' a bill, sir? Is it an auctioneer's, for a
roup o' furniture or a sale o' stock?'

"He laughed quite good-natured like in my face, and pulling out the bit
stamped paper that I had been madman enough to sign my name upon the back
o'--'It is that, sir,' said he.

"'That!' cried I; 'what in the earthly globe have I to do wi' that? It is
Mr Swanston's business--not mine. I only put my name upon the back o't to
_oblige_ him. Why do ye bring it to me?'

"'You are responsible, sir,' said the clerk.

"'Responsible! the meikle mischief!' I exclaimed; 'what am I responsible
for, sir?--I only put my name doun to oblige him, I tell ye! For what am I

"'For three hundred pounds, and legal interest for six months,' said my
unwelcome visiter, wi' a face that shewed as little concern for the
calamity in which, through mere simplicity and goodness of heart, I was
involved, as if he had ordered me to take a pipe, and blow three hundred

"'Oh! lack-o'-me!' cried I, 'is that possible? Is Mr Swanston sic a
villain? I am ruined--I am clean ruined. Who in all the world will tell

"But that I found was a question that I did not need to ask; for she kenned
almost as soon as I did mysel'.

"I need not say that I had the three hundred pounds, ineerest and all,
plack and farthing, to pay; though, by my folly and simplicity, I had
brought my wife and family to the verge o' ruin, she never was the woman to
fling my silly conduct in my teeth; and all that she ever did say to me
upon the subject, was--'Weel, Nicholas, this is the first o' your bill
transactions, or o' your being caution for onybody, and I trust it has
proved such a lesson as I hope ye will never need another.'

"'O Nancy, woman!' cried I, 'dinna speak to me! for I could knock my brains
oot! I am the greatest simpleton upon the face o' the earth.'

"Now, that was one instance o' my simple conduct and its consequences, and
I will just relate to you another or two. I had bought some ninety pounds
worth o' flax from a merchant in Glasgow, for which I was to receive six
months' credit. Weel, he came round for his money at the appointed time,
and I paid him accordingly, and got a line off his hand in acknowledgment.
On that very day, and just about an hour after he had left, Nancy says to
me--'Nicholas, I dinna owre and aboon like that man that ye hae been
dealing wi' the day. He has owre muckle gab, and scraping, and bowing for
me. I wish he may be honest. Have ye got a receipt from him?'

"'Certainly,' says I; 'do ye think I would pay onybody money without one?'

"'And I hope it is on a stamp,' said she.

"'A stamp!' quoth I--'a stamp!--hoots, woman! I wonder to see ye so
suspicious. Ye dinna tak a' the world to be rogues?'

"'No,' said she, 'I do not, and I should be sorry if I did; but if ye hae
taken a receipt from him without a stamp, ye are a simple man--that is all
that I say.'

'A simple man!' cried I; 'gracious! what does the woman mean? Ye are for
ever saying that I am simple this, and simple that! I wish that ye would
explain yoursel, and say what ye wish to be after! Where, or how am I

"'It's not been one lesson that you've had, Nicholas,' said she, 'nor ten,
nor twenty either, but it is every week, I may say every day, wi' ye. There
is perpetually some person or another showing ye that the 'simple man is
the beggar's brother,' and ye canna see it, or ye winna regard it. But ye
will, perhaps, be brought to think on't, when neither your bairns nor me
have a stool to sit upon.'

"'Woman!' exclaimed I, 'flesh and blood cannot stand your tongue! Ye would
exasperate the patience o' Job! What is it that ye wish to be after?--what
would ye have me to do?'

"'Oh, it is o' nae use getting into a passion about it,' said she, 'for
that winna mend the matter. But there is only this in it, Nicholas: I would
have ye to be as sharp in your dealings in the world, as ye are wi' me when
I happen to speak a word to ye for your good.'

"There was so much truth in what she said, and she always spoke in such a
calm, good-natured manner that it was impossible to continue to be in a
passion wi' her. So I said no more about the subject; but I thought to
mysel', that, as I knew very little about the man I had dealt with, it
would hae been quite as safe to have had the receipt upon a stamp.

"A few months afterwards, I saw his name amongst the list o' bankrupts; and
to my very great astonishment, I received a letter from a writer, demanding
payment from me o' the ninety pounds for the flax which I had already paid.

"'The thing is unreasonable a'thegither,' said I; 'here is a man that hasna
paid once himself, and he would come upon me to pay twice! But I'll see him
far enough first!'

"I paid no attention to the letter, and I was summoned to appear before the
writer, and three men that were called the trustees to the bankrupt's
estate. (Dear kens where the estate lay.)

"'Sir,' said they to me, as haughtily as if I had been a criminal before
them; 'wherefore do ye refuse to pay the ninety pounds?'

"'For the best o' a' reasons, gentlemen,' said I, very civilly; 'and that
simply is, because I have paid it already.'

"'What proof can you show for that!' asked the writer.

"'Proof, sir,' said I--'here is a line off the man's own hand,
acknowledging the payment o' every farthing o' the money.'

"'Let me look at it,' says he.

"So, as honesty never needs to be feared for what it does, I handed him the
bit paper. But after looking at it for a moment, he held it up between his
finger and thumb, and wi' a kind o' sarcastic laugh, inquired--'Where is
the stamp?'

"The sweat broke ower me from head to foot. 'Sir, my wife, Nancy! Is that
document, in the handwriting o' the man himsel', not proof positive that I
have paid the money?'

"The writer shook his head; and a gentleman that was standing near me, and
who was very probably in a similar predicament to myself, said--'Unstamped
receipts, sir, may do very well, where ye find a world o' purely honest
men--but they winna do where ye arena sure but ye may be dealing wi' a

"'Gentlemen!' cried I, 'have ye really the cruelty and injustice to say
that I am to pay that money owre again?'

"'Owre again or not owre again,' said the writer, 'ye must pay it,
otherwise summary proceedings will be entered against ye. If ye have
already paid it in the way ye say, it is only making good the proverb, that
the 'simple man is the beggar's brother.'"

"'Oh, confound ye!' cried I, 'for a parcel o' unprincipled knaves--that is
exactly what my wife says; and had I followed her advice, I would ne'er hae
seen ane o' yer faces.'

"However, the ninety pounds I had to pay again, doun upon the nail; and
that was another o' the beautiful effects o' my simplicity. I didna ken
how, in the universal globe, I was to muster courage to look my wife in the
face again. Yet all that she said was--'O Nicholas! Nicholas!--would ye
only be less simple!'

"'Heigho!' said I, 'dinna talk about it, Nancy--I'm owre grieved as it
is--I can stand no more!'

"The loss o' the three hundred pounds, wi' the bill business, and the
ninety just mentioned, made me to stagger, and those that knew about the
circumstances wondered how I stood them. But I had just begun a new
concern, which was the manufacture o' table-cloths upon a new principle,
and with exceedingly splendid patterns. I got an extraordinary sale for
them, and orders came pouring in upon me. But I had to employ more men to
fulfil them, and their wages were to pay every Saturday, while the
remittances did not come in by half so regular as the orders, and I found
it was not easy to pay men without receiving money for their work. Had I
been a man o' a great capital, the case might have been different. There
was one day, however, that a gentleman that had dealt wi' me very
extensively called upon me, and he gied me a very excellent order. But,
although he had seen a great deal o' my goods, I never had seen the shadow
o' his cash. I canna say that I exactly liked his manner o' doing business;
yet I couldna, for the breath that was in my body, have the face to say an
impertinent thing to ony one, and I was just telling him that his order
should be attended to, when my wife, who was sitting in a room off the
parlour, gave a tap upon the door, and, asking the gentleman to excuse me
for a minute, I stepped ben, and I half whispered to her--'What is it,

"'Has that man spoken about paying ye?' said she.

"'No,' said I.

"'But I think it is time he was,' quoth she, 'before ye trust him ony
farther. Remember that ye have men's wages to pay, and accounts to pay, and
a wife and family to support, and those things canna be done upon nothing.'

"'Very true, dearie,' said I; 'but ye wouldna have me to speak abruptly to
the gentleman, or to affront him?'

"'It will affront no gentleman,' replied she--'at least, no honest man--to
ask him for what is your own. Therefore, ask him for your money. Remember,
Nicholas, that the simple man is the beggar's brother.'

"'O dear, woman!' says I, 'ye ken I dinna like to hear thae words. I'll ask
the gentleman to pay me--to be sure I will; and what is the use o' your
keeping tease, teasing at a body, just as if I were a simpleton.'

"So I slipped back to the customer, and, after a few words about his order,
I said to him--'Sir, ye understand I have men's wages to pay, and accounts
to pay, and a wife and family to support, and it's no little that does it;
therefore, if ye could just oblige me wi' the settlement o' your account,
it would be a favour.'

"'My dear Mr Middlemiss,' said he, 'I am extremely sorry that you did not
inform me that you were in want of cash sooner, as I have just, before I
saw you, parted with all I can spare. But, if you be very much in want of
it, I can give you a note, that is, a bill for the money, at three or six
months. You can get it cashed, you know, and it is only minus the discount,
and that is not much upon your profits, eh?'

"'Begging your pardon, sir,' says I, 'but I take I would have my name to
write on the back o't.'

"'Certainly, sir,' said he, 'you know that follows as a matter of course.'

"'Yes, sir,' continued I, 'and I have found that it sometimes follows also
as a matter o' _coercion!_ I never had to do wi' what ye call a bill in my
life but once, which was merely writing my name upon the back o't, and that
cost me three hundred pounds--exactly sixteen pounds, two shillings and
threepence, and a fraction, for every letter in the name of Nicholas
Middlemiss, as my wife has often told me. Therefore, sir, I would never
wish to see the _face_ o' a bill again; or, I should say, the _back_ o'

"'But, my good sir,' said the gentleman, 'I have told you that it is not
convenient for me to give you the cash just now; and, if you won't take my
bill, why, what do you wish me to do? Do you intend to affront me? Do you
suppose I have nothing to attend to but your account?'

"'Oh, by no means, sir,' said I; 'and it would be the last thing in my
thoughts either to offend you or ony man. If ye have not the money at
command, I suppose I must take the bill; for I know that cash down is a
sort o' curiosity, as I sometimes say, and is very difficult to be met

"While we were conversing thegither, I heard my wife gie a tap, tap, tap,
twice or thrice upon the parlour door, and I was convinced that she
owreheard us; but I didna take the least notice o' it, for I felt conscious
that it would only be to ring the auld sang in my ears, about the simple
man. So I took the gentleman's bill at six months; and immediately after he
left me, Nancy came into the parlour.

"'Weel,' said she, 'ye've gotten your money.' But she said it wi' a
scornful air, such as I had never seen her use before, and which caused me
to feel excessively uncomfortable.

"'Yes, I've got my money,' says I, 'but, dear me, Nancy, what business is
it o' yours whether I have got my money or no?'

"'If it isna my business, Nicholas,' said she, 'I would like to ken whase
business it is? I am the wife o' your bosom--the mother o' your family--am
I not? Guidman, ye may take ill what I say to ye, but it is meant for your
good. Now, ye hae ta'en the bill o' the man that has just left ye, for four
hundred and odd pounds! What do ye ken aboot him? Naething!--naething in
the blessed world! Ye are a simple man, Nicholas!'

"'Dinna say that,' said I; 'I am not simple. I told him to his face that I
didna like his bills. But ye are like a' women--ye would do wonders if ye
were men! But his bill prevents a' disputes about his account--do ye not
see that--and I can cash it if I wish.'

"'Very true,' said she, 'ye can cash it, Nicholas, but upon your own
credit, and at your own risk.'

"'Risk!' said I, 'the woman's a fool to talk in such a manner about an
every-day transaction.'

"'Weel,' answered she, 'not to say that there is the slightest risk in the
matter, have ye considered, that, if ye do cash this bill, there will be a
heavy discount to pay, and if ye pay it, what is to become o' your profits?
Did ye tell him, that if ye took his bill ye would carry the discount to
his next account?'

"'O Nancy! Nancy!' cried I, 'ye would skin the wind! Just take yoursel'
away, if ye please; for really ye're tormenting me--making a perfect gowk
o' me, for neither end nor purpose.'

"'Oh, if that be the way,' said she, 'I can leave ye--but I have seen the
day when ye thought otherwise o' my company. Yet, the more I see o' your
transactions, Nicholas, the more I am convinced in the truth o' the saying,
that the simple man is the beggar's brother.'

"'Sorrow take ye, wife!' cried I, 'will ye really come owre thae words
again. Are ye not aware that I detest and abhor them? Have I not said that
to ye again and again?--and yet ye will repeat them in my hearing? Do ye
wish to drive me mad?'

"'I would wish to see ye act,' answered she, 'so that I would ne'er need to
use them again.' And, on saying that, she went out o' the room, which to me
was a great deliverance.

"I got the bill cashed, and, to tell ye the plain truth, I also had it to
pay. This was a dreadfu' loss to me; and I found there was naething left
for me but so _sit down_,(if ye understand what that means,) as mony a guid
man has been compelled to do. Hooever, I paid every body seventeen
shillings and sixpence half-penny in the pound. Some of my creditors said
it was owre meikle--that I had been simple and wronged mysel'.

"'I would wish to the utmost o' my power to be honest,' said I; 'and if I
hae wronged mysel', I hae saved my conscience. If there be naething else
left for me noo, as Burns says--

    'Heaven be thankit! I can beg.'

"My business, hooever, had been entirely at a stand for the space o' sax
weeks. I had neither journeyman nor apprentice left. My looms, and the hale
apparatus connected wi' the concern, had been sold off, and I had naething
in the world but a few articles o' furniture, which a freend bought back
for me at the sale. I got the loan o' a loom, and in order to support my
wife and family, I had to sit down to drive the shuttle again. I had
wrought nane to speak o' for ten years before, and my hands were quite oot
o' use. I made but a puir job o' it. The first week I didna mak aboon
half-a-crown; and that was but a sma' sum for the support o' a wife and
half-a-dozen hungry bairns. Hooever, I was still as simple as ever; and
there wasna a wife in the countryside that was a bad payer, but brought her
web to Nicholas Middlemiss. I wrought late and early; but though I did my
utmost, I couldna keep my bairns' teeth gaun. Many a time it has wrung my
heart, when I hae heard them crying to their mother, clinging round her,
and pulling at her apron, saying--'Mother, gie's a piece!--Oh just a wee
bite, mother!'

"'O my darlings,' she used to say to them, 'dinna ask me for bread the noo.
I haena a morsel in the house, and hae na siller to buy meal. But yer
faither is aboot finished wi' the web, and ye shall hae plenty the nicht.'

"Then the bits o' dear creatures would hae come runnin' ben to me, and
asked--'Faither, when will the web be ready?'

"'Soon, soon, hinnies!' said I, half choked wi' grief and blind wi' tears;
'haud awa' oot and play yoursels!'

"For I couldna stand to see them yearning afore me, and to behold want,
like a gnawing worm, eating the flesh from their lovely cheeks. Then, when
I had went out wi' the web, Nancy would say to me--'Noo, Nicholas, remember
the situation we're in. There's neither food o' ae description nor anither
in the house, and ye see the last o' oor coals upon the fire. Therefore,
afore ye leave the web, see that ye get the money for the working o't.'

"Yet, scores o' times, even after such admonitions, hae I come hame without
a penny in my pocket. Ane put me aff with ae excuse, and anither wi'
anither. Some were to ca' and pay me on the Saturday, and others when they
killed their pig. But those Saturdays seldom came; and, in my belief, the
pigs are living yet. It used to put me in terror to meet my poor starving
family. The consequence generally was, that Nancy had to go to where I had
come frae and request payment hersel'; and, at last, she wadna trust me wi'
the taking hame o' the webs.

"We suffered more than I'm willing to tell aboot, at the period I mention,
and a' arose oot o' my simpleness. But I was confined to my bed for ten
weeks, wi' a dreadfu' attack o' rheumatism--it was what was ca'ed a
rheumatic fever--it reduced me to a perfect anatomy. I was as feckless as a
half-burned thread. Through fatigue, anxiety, and want o' support
thegither, Nancy also took very ill; and there did we lie to a' appearance
hastening to the grave. What we suffered, and what our family suffered upon
this occasion, no person in a Christian country could believe. But for the
kindness o' the minister, and some o' oor neebors, we must a' hae perished.
As a matter of course we fell sadly back; and when the house rent became
due, we had not wherewith to pay it. The landlord distrained us for it. A
second time the few things I had left were put under the hammer o' the
auctioneer. 'Oh!' said I, 'surely misery and I were born thegither!' For we
had twa dochters, the auldest only gaun six, baith lying ill o' the scarlet
fever in the same bed, and I had to suffer the agony o' beholding the bed
sold out from under them. It was more than human nature could endure. The
poor, dear lammies cried--'Faither! mither! dinna let them touch us!' I
took the auldest up in my arms, and begged that I micht be allowed a
blanket to row her in. Nancy took up the youngest one, and while the sale
went on, with our dying bairns in our arms, we sat down in the street
before the door, as twa beggars--but we were not begging.

"Our case excited universal commiseration. A number o' respectable people
began to take an interest in our weelfare; and business came so thick upon
me that I had to get twa other looms, and found constant employment, not
only for my auldest laddie, whom I was bringing up to the business, but
also for a journeyman.

"Just as I was beginning to prosper, hooever, and to get my head aboon the
water, there was ane o' my auld creditors to whom I had paid the
composition of seventeen and sixpence halfpenny in the pound, wha was a
hard-hearted, avaricious sort o' man, and to whom I had promised, and not
only promised, but given a written pledge, to pay him the remaining two and
fivepence halfpenny in the pound, together with interest, in the course of
six years. The time was just expiring, when he came to me, and presenting
the bit paper, which was in my own handwriting, demanded payment.

"'Really, sir,' said I, 'I acknowledge that I must pay ye, though everybody
said at the time that I was a very simple man for entering into ony such
agreement wi' ye; but it is not in my power to pay ye just now. In the
course o' a twalmonth I hope to be able to do it.'

"'Mr Middlemiss,' said he, as slowly as if he were spelling my name, 'my
money I want, and my money I will have; and have it immediately, too.'

"'Sir,' said I, 'the thing is impossible; I canna gie ye what I haena got.'

"'I dinna care for that,' said he; 'if I dinna get it, I shall _get you_.'

"He had the cruelty to throw me into jail, just as I was beginning to
gather my feet. It knocked all my prospects in the head again. I began to
say it was o' nae use for me to strive, for the stream o' fate was against

"'Dinna say so, Nicholas,' said Nancy, who came on foot twice every week,
a' the way from Langholm, to see me--'dinna say sae. Yer ain simplicity is
against ye--naething else.'

"Weel, the debt was paid, and I got my liberty. But, come weel, come woe, I
was still simple Nicol Middlemiss. Ne'er hae I been able to get the better
o' my easy disposition. It has made me acquainted wi' misery--it has kept
me constantly in the company o' poverty; and, when I'm dead, if onybody
erect a gravestane for me, they may inscribe owre it--




On the 2nd of March 1736, Andrew Wilson in Pathhead, William Hall in
Edinburgh, and George Robertson, stabler at Bristo Port there, were
indicted and accused, at the instance of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, then
Lord Advocate, before the high court of justiciary at Edinburgh, of the
crimes of stouthrief housebreaking and robbery, in so far as James Stark,
collector of excise in Kirkcaldy, being upon his circuit in collecting that
revenue, and having along with him a considerable sum of money collected by
him by virtue of his office, upon Friday the 9th day of January then last,
was at the house of Margaret Ramsay, relict of Andrew Fowler, excise-office
keeper at Pittenweem; and Andrew Wilson having formed a design to rob
Collector Stark of the money and other effects he had along with him, and
having taken William Hall and George Robertson as associates, they came
together from Edinburgh that morning, and towards evening put up their
horses in Anstruther-Easter, in the inn kept by James Wilson, brewer
there;[C] and after having had some deliberations upon their intended
robbery, leaving their horses there, they went privately on foot to
Pittenweem, and about eleven o'clock that night called at the house of
Widow Fowler, and under the pretence of drinking, remained there until
they were informed, or might reasonably presume Collector Stark was gone to
bed; and about twelve that night, or one next morning, Andrew Wilson and
William Hall, or one or other of them, did impudently and in defiance of
law forcibly and with violence break the door of the room where Collector
Stark was lying in bed, and having knocked out the under pannel, Collector
Stark suspecting an attack upon his life, for his safety jumped out at a
window in his shirt; whereupon Andrew Wilson and William Hall, or one or
other of them, entered the room, and did feloniously carry off bank-notes
in a pocket-book belonging to Collector Stark, and gold and money in his
possession to the value of L.200, less or more, and did rob and take away a
pair of pistols, a seal, a penknife, a cloak bag, a pair of silver
buckles, a bible, several suits of linens and other goods belonging to
Collector Stark and in his possession; and when they went out of that room,
did divide, disperse of, and distribute the gold, money, and other goods so
robbed and taken away at their pleasure. And while the said Andrew Wilson
and William Hall were committing the foresaid crimes, the said George
Robertson was standing, sometimes at the door and sometimes at the foot of
the stair of said house, as a sentinel and guard, with a drawn cutlass in
his hand, to prevent any person from interfering and stopping the said
violence and robbery, and did threaten to kill or otherwise intimidate the
servants of the house when going towards the door of the collector's room;
and when several of the inhabitants, alarmed by the noise, gathered
together upon the street, and coming towards the door, inquired what was
going on there; he, George Robertson, did treacherously endeavour to
persuade them not to attempt to enter the house, falsely affirming that he
had tried to go up stairs, but being in danger of being shot, he was by
fear obliged to leave the house. And in order to keep them still amused
with his false suggestion of danger by entering the house, having gone
along with them into the house of John Hyslop in Pittenweem, he detained
them there for some time, until he judged that his associates might have
made their escape with their spoil; and soon afterwards William Hall was
seized in the street of Anstruther-Easter, between twelve and one next
morning, being Saturday the 10th January, having several of the goods and a
purse of gold so robbed in his possession, which he dropped and endeavoured
to conceal. And they, Andrew Wilson, and George Robertson, having met some
short time afterwards in the house of said James Wilson in
Anstruther-Easter, where they were informed that the house was beset,
conscious of their own guilt, they, one or other of them, did deliver to
said James Wilson the seal, the penknife, the pair of buckles, some money,
and other things robbed, telling that if they were found in their
possession they would be hanged or undone, or words to that purpose,
expressing an apprehension of the utmost danger; and immediately thereafter
got into bed, as if they had lain all night asleep, where both were
apprehended, and upon the top of which bed were found the bank notes robbed
from Collector Stark, and his pocket-book above another bed in another room
of the house, &c. Wherefore, on these crimes being confessed or proven, the
parties ought to be most severely and exemplarily punished with the pains
of law, in terror of others committing the like in time coming.

The indictment to the foregoing effect was read--the case debated, and the
Lords ordered both parties to give in informations.

On the 19th March 1736, the Lords found the libel relevant--but allowed
George Robertson a proof, with respect to his behaviour at the time stated,
for taking off the circumstances tending to infer his being accessory, or
art and part of the crimes libelled.

A jury was empannelled, and the trial proceeded. To give even notes of the
depositions on both sides would exceed our limits. We shall therefore
merely select the evidence of two or three witnesses, whose statements will
serve to form a continuation of our narrative, and pass over the remainder
as unnecessary for our purpose.

The first we shall adduce is the collector, the individual robbed.

James Stark, collector of excise, Kirkcaldy, aged forty-nine years or
thereby, married, solemnly sworn, purged of malice partial, counsel
examined and interrogated, depones time and place libelled--the deponent
being then upon his collection as collector of excise. He went to bed about
ten o'clock, and about an hour and a-half thereafter, he was waked out of
sleep by a noise and some chapping at the door of the room where he
lay--which door he had secured before he went to bed by screwing down the
sneck of the door--which noise the deponent at first imagined was
occasioned by some drunken people in the house; but afterwards, upon the
strokes on the door being repeated with violence, the deponent jumped out
of his bed, and heard the under part of the door of the bed-room giving
way, upon which the deponent laid hold upon two bags of money, which, with
the deponent's breeches, in which were about L.100 in gold, and bank notes
and silver, the deponent had put below his head when he went to bed; and
the deponent did then, in the confusion in which he was, put the table and
some chairs to the back of the door to stap the gap, and thereafter opened
the window, and returning to find the bags of money and his breeches, he
could only find one of the bags of money, and being in fear of his life, he
jumped out at the window with one of the bags of money, and fell at the
foot of the stair, the said window being just above the entry to the house,
and recovering himself a little, he went towards the corn-yard, and hearing
a person call out "Hold him," the deponent apprehending the voice to be
before him, he returned a few paces, and then perceiving a man standing or
walking at the foot of the stair, the deponent returned again to the yard,
where he hid the bag of money, and thereafter coming back towards the house
to hear what was a-doing, the deponent heard a knocking in the room where
he had been lodged, and thereupon retired to the yard again--lay covered
with some straw till about four in the morning--and then returning to the
house saw the panel, William Hall, in custody of some soldiers; and the
deponent having said to him that he had given him a cold bath that night,
William Hall answered that he was not to blame, being only hired, and had
no hand in it, but that Andrew Wilson and George Robertson had come there
of a design to rob the deponent that night, and that this design had been
formed several months before by Andrew Wilson, and particularly at the
preceding collection at Elie; and further depones that soon after the
deponent got out of the window as aforesaid, he heard the clock strike
twelve; that when the deponent was first awakened out of his sleep as
aforesaid, he heard Mrs Fowler, the landlady, call to the persons who were
breaking open the deponent's bed-room, "What are ye doing?" or "Why do ye
this?" and the deponent heard them at the same time cursing and swearing
and making a great noise; and the deponent having only carried one bag of
money along with him as aforesaid, he left in said bed-room the money and
goods following, viz., the deponent's breeches, in which was a purse with
fifty-two and a-half guineas, betwixt six and seven pounds in silver, and a
pocket-book with one and forty pounds in bank notes, which purse and
pocket-book the deponent exhibits in court; that besides the bank notes,
there were several bills and other papers in the pocket-book, and that
there was likewise in the deponent's breeches, a seal, a pair of silver
shoe-buckles, and a penknife, which the deponent likewise exhibits; the
deponent likewise left in his room a cloak-bag with some linens in it,
which cloak-bag the deponent likewise exhibits in court; as also a bible, a
pair of pistols, which the deponent likewise exhibits; that upon the
deponent returning to his room as aforesaid, he found the door of the room
broken up, and saw a press in the room which had been broken up, and found
his breeches empty and all the several particulars above enumerated
amissing; and thereafter, about seven o'clock in the morning, the deponent
having gone to Anstruther-Easter, he soon thereafter saw the three panels
in custody; and the deponent did then see in the hands of the magistrates
of Anstruther, the seal, the buckles, and penknife above mentioned; depones
that upon Monday following, being the 12th of January last, William Hall,
panel, told the deponent that he had informed Alexander Clerk, supervisor
of excise, where the purse of gold was to be found, whereupon the deponent
desired the supervisor to go in quest of it, which he did, and having found
it, he restored it to the deponent with the whole gold in it; and that the
bible was returned to the deponent by one of the soldiers who apprehended
Hall; that on Saturday night the 10th of January, the deponent got back his
pocket-book and bank notes, with the other papers in the said pocket-book,
from Bailie Robert Brown in Anstruther-Easter. _Causa scientiæ patet. _And
this is truth, as he shall answer to God. (Signed) James Stark; Andrew

Alexander Clerk, supervisor of excise at Cupar-Fife, being solemnly sworn,
and depones time and place libelled, the deponent was lodged in the room
next to Collector Stark, and went to bed about ten, and was wakened about
twelve by persons rapping either at his door or that of the collector's;
and heard a cry of "Murder the dogs and burn the house!" upon which the
deponent swore that the first man that came in he would put a pair of balls
in him. The deponent then put on some of his clothes and got out at a
window at the backside of the house,[D] and walked to Anstruther, about a
mile, and awakened the serjeant who commanded a small party of soldiers
there, and with the serjeant and two of the soldiers set out for
Pittenweem, and left orders for the rest of the party to follow as soon as
possible. As they passed the entry to Sir John Anstruther's house in
Easter-Anstruther,[E] they met with some men who having challenged the
deponent, "Who comes there?" the deponent desired them to give an account
of themselves, and upon their running off, the deponent ordered the
soldiers to seize them, upon which the serjeant with his halbert hooked one
of them, the rest escaping, which afterwards proved to be William Hall, one
of the panels, and whom the deponent carried along with him to the excise
office at Pittenweem, and having brought him into the house of Mrs Fowler,
Jean Finlay, servant to Mrs Fowler, upon seeing the said Hall, said, "This
is the villain that broke my head a little while ago;" and Thomas Durkie,
another servant in the house, said, "This is one of the persons who robbed
the collector the night;" and the soldiers who brought Hall produced a bag
of linen and a bible which they said they had taken up as Hall had dropped
them by the way; and William Geddes, clerk to the collector, did then say,
"This is the collector's bible, and there are his linens," whereupon Hall
confessed that he had been guilty of robbing the collector; and the
deponent thereupon telling Hall that he was now _in for it_, and that the
best way for him was to discover the rest, which, if he would do, the
deponent would do his endeavours to get him made an evidence, and having
then asked if he promised to get him a pardon? depones that he understood
it so, but does not remember that he used the word _pardon_; upon which
Hall told deponent he would get these other persons whom he named;
remembers particularly that he named Andrew Wilson, panel, to have been one
of them. That they had come upon four horses that morning from Kinghorn,
and that he would find them all in the house of James Wilson in
Anstruther-Easter, or in a house twenty yards on this side of it, which the
deponent understood to be Bailie Andrew Johnston's.[F] By this time the
rest of the party having come up from Anstruther, the deponent made some
search for the collector, but could not find him, and thereafter the
deponent carried up Hall to the room where the collector had lodged, the
door of which he saw broken in the under part, and left Hall prisoner there
in custody of some of the soldiers and the rest of the party, and Thomas
Durkie and William Geddes. The deponent then went east to Anstruther in
search of the rest of the robbers, and having surrounded the house of James
Wilson there, he found three men in a room there, viz., Andrew Wilson and
George Robertson, panels, and one John Friar, and having shown them to the
above Thomas Durkie, he declared that they were two of the persons who had
robbed the collector; upon which the deponent having applied to Bailies
Robert Brown and Philip Millar, both in Anstruther-Easter, he got the
accused committed to prison; and further depones that as the panels were
being carried prisoners to Edinburgh, and while they were halting at
Kirkcaldy, the deponent asked George Robertson, panel, what was become of
the collector's purse of gold, George answered that Andrew Wilson, the
other panel, told him that William Hall got the purse; upon which the
deponent inquired at Hall about it, and added that unless he confessed and
discovered where the purse was, he could not expect that the promises made
would be kept to him; when after some entreaty Hall told deponent that he
had dropped it upon being seized in a wet furr near a dung-hill, and
accordingly the deponent went back to Pittenweem, and upon application to
Bailie Andrew Fowler, of Pittenweem, and in his presence the purse was
found near to a dung-hill between Anstruther-Wester and Pittenweem, in the
spot described by Hall, with fifty-two guineas and a-half in it, which
purse and gold was given to the deponent, and the purse exhibited in court
being shown to him, he thinks it is the very same purse. And all this is
truth, as he shall answer to God. (Signed) Alexander Clerk; Andrew

John Galloway, servant to Patrick Galloway, horse-hirer in Kinghorn, aged
twenty-six, depones that at the time libelled, William Hall came to the
deponent's master's house in Kinghorn, and desired him to get two horses,
one for himself and one for the deponent, telling him that they were going
to Anstruther to get some brandy; and that George Robertson and Andrew
Wilson were to be their masters and pay their expenses; and desired him to
go to the houses where they then were. The deponent having gone
accordingly, and spoken to the said persons, George Robertson desired to
get their horses ready, and Hall and the deponent to go before and they
would overtake them; that about six o'clock at night they came to
Anstruther-Easter, and set up their horses in James Wilson's house, where
he found Andrew Wilson before him; and after they put up their horses they
went to Andrew Johnston's there, where they found Robertson and Wilson
drinking punch. Depones that the three panels and the deponent went from
Anstruther to Pittenweem on foot, between ten and eleven o'clock at night.
Depones that when they came to Pittenweem, he (the deponent), Hall, and
Wilson went into a house, but does not know the name of the landlord, where
they drank a bottle of ale, and it was agreed while they were there that
Robertson and the other panel should walk on the street; that when they
came out of that house, the three panels and the deponent went to Widow
Fowler's house, where they drank some ale and brandy. Andrew Wilson having
asked the landlady if she could lodge any casks of brandy for him, she
desired him to speak low, because the collector was in the house; upon
which Wilson said, Is he here? She answered, he was. Robertson, the panel,
called for a reckoning, and all four went down stairs, at least went to the
stair-head. Robertson, Hall, and the deponent went out to the street, and
as the maid was going to shut the outer door, Andrew Wilson pushed it open
and went in, upon which the deponent and William Hall went in also; and
George Robertson drew his cutlass and stood at the outer door, saying that
no person should go out or in of that house but upon the point of that
weapon. Depones when they went in to the house they saw Andrew Wilson
standing at the door of the room where the collector was lodged, and the
lower part of the door broken; that upon seeing the door broken, he, the
deponent, asked Wilson what it meant? or what he would be at? to which
Wilson answered, that he had lost a great deal of money, and understood
that there was some of it there, and was resolved to have it back again;
upon which the deponent said to him, that he would have nothing to do in
the matter. Depones that after the door of the collector's room was broken
open as aforesaid, Andrew Wilson went into the room, and brought out a pair
of breeches, and shewing them to the deponent, said, "Here is a good deal
of money;" the deponent telling him that he would have nothing to do with
it, the said Andrew took out several handfuls of money, and put it into the
deponent's pocket; which money, except a few shillings, the deponent
delivered back to the said Andrew Wilson in the house of James Wilson in
Anstruther. Depones that Andrew Wilson went again into the room, and
brought out a cloak-bag, which he desired the deponent to carry, which he
refused to do. The said Andrew then carried the cloak-bag himself, till
they came to the end of the town, together with a pair of pistols, which he
then delivered to William Hall, who carried it half way to Anstruther, and
then Andrew Wilson desired Hall to set it down, that they might see if
there was any bank-notes in it; and Hall, having opened the cloak-bag, took
out some linens and a bible, which he stowed about himself. That at the
same time he saw Andrew Wilson take out of his pocket the pocket-book, out
of which he took several bank-notes and put in his pocket, and then threw
the pocket-book on the floor. Depones that Andrew Wilson and the deponent
went out of Wilson's house, and threw one of the pistols and some linens
which they had brought from Pittenweem in among some straw in a barn-yard;
thereafter the deponent, Bailie Thomas Brown, Anstruther-Easter, and some
soldiers, went to the place where the cloak-bag was left, and to the
barn-yard where the pistols and linen were thrown, where they were all
found. Being further examined, depones that as Wilson and Hall and the
deponent were on the road from Pittenweem to Anstruther, a little to the
west of Sir John Anstruther's house, they met Mr Clerk, the supervisor, and
some soldiers, who, having challenged him who they were, one of the
soldiers seized Hall with his halbert, upon which Andrew Wilson and the
deponent made their escape. Depones that the cutlass now produced is the
same that George Robertson had in his hand at Widow Fowler's house. _Causa
scienticæ patet._ And this is truth, as he shall answer to God, and depones
he cannot write. (Signed) James Mackenzie.

Upon the indictment against the panels being read in court, they all pled
"Not guilty," and certain defences were offered for them.

And first, in opposition to what the indictment alleged with regard to
Andrew Wilson having formed a design to rob Collector Stark, and having
taken Hall and Robertson, his associates, from Edinburgh that morning, it
was stated that they did not set out from Edinburgh in company, but met
upon the water in the passage between Leith and Kinghorn, where two of
them, Wilson and Hall, were passing in a yawl, and Robertson was crossing
in a passage boat; that instead of leaving Edinburgh and going to the East
Neuk on the criminal design libelled, they had each of them lawful business
in that part of the country, viz., for buying goods in which they
ordinarily dealt, and which it was neither criminal nor capital to buy and
sell; and particularly George Robertson, who kept an inn near Bristo Port
in Edinburgh, where the Newcastle carriers commonly put up; that having
occasion to buy liquors in the east of Fife, he agreed to take share of a
cargo with Andrew Wilson, and with that view got a letter of credit from
Francis Russell, druggist addressed to Bailie Andrew Waddell, Cellardyke,
for the value of £50 sterling; and further, he carried with him an accepted
bill of John Fullerton in Causeyside, to the like extent, as a fund of
credit for the goods he might buy; and William Hall, the third panel, was a
poor workman in Edinburgh, commonly attending the weigh-house, who was
carried along to take care of and fetch home the goods; that accordingly,
as soon as they came to Anstruther, and put up their horses at James
Wilson's, they went to a respectable man, Bailie Johnston, and bought goods
to the value of £46 10s., and whilst making the bargain they drank some
quantity of liquor; that after this, not finding at Anstruther all the
sorts of liquor they wanted to purchase, they went on foot to Pittenweem,
when they first went to the house of ---- Drummond, another respectable
merchant, and drank some time with him, desiring to buy some brandy of him,
but he told them he could not furnish them at that time; that after this
the panels went into the house of Widow Fowler, where, calling for a room,
they were shown into the kitchen, and inquired at the landlady if she could
furnish them any place for lodging the goods they had bought, and there
they drank both ale and punch, till, with what they had got before at
different places, they became all very drunk; that at this place it was
told by the landlady or servants, in conversation, that there was money to
a considerable value in the next room, and if any part of the facts
libelled were committed by the panels, Wilson and Hall, it must have been
done upon occasion of this purely accidental information, when they were
insane from strong drink: it was more like a drunken frolic than a
preconcerted robbery. As a further evidence of this fact, it appeared by
the libel itself that they acted like persons in such a condition; for
they, as well as the other panel Robertson, were all seized in an hour or
two thereafter, before the effects of the liquor had worn off, and before
they had time to come to themselves, and without any of them taking the
most rational and obvious measures to make their escape.

As to the case of George Robertson, it is not said that the inhabitants
gathered together upon the streets, came there to save or rescue what was
contained in the room; on the contrary, it was admitted on debate that the
inhabitants of small coast towns are not very ready on these occasions to
lend their assistance to the officers of justice; and if George Robertson
had truly said to the persons whom he met on the street that he was by fear
obliged to leave the house, it might very possibly have been true, and an
argument of his innocence, and therefore ought not to be turned into a
circumstance of his guilt.

Our space will not admit of further argument. Suffice it to say that the
jury unanimously found Andrew Wilson and William Hall guilty, and George
Robertson art and part on the crimes libelled; and the Lords of Justiciary
passed sentence of death on all three, which sentence they appointed to be
executed on Wednesday the 14th of April 1736.

Leaving the criminals in the condemned cells, where they are to remain five
weeks before being executed, let us, in the meanwhile, in order to the
better understanding the case, and forming a clearer opinion in reference
to the nature and origin of the Porteous mob--one of the most extraordinary
events recorded in history, and which arose out of the trial and sentence
against Andrew Wilson and the others before narrated--let us endeavour to
give a brief sketch of Mr Porteous' history, from his birth till the time
of which we write, namely, the recording of the sentence of death against
Wilson and his associates.

John Porteous, one of the captains of the Edinburgh City Guard, was son of
Stephen Porteous, a tailor in Canongate. The father held a fair character,
and was esteemed a good honest man in the whole conduct of his life, his
greatest misfortune was his having such a son as John.

The father early discovered in his son a perverseness of nature, and a
proneness to commit mischievous and more than childish tricks. The mother,
out of a blind affection for her child, took them all for growing proofs of
spirit and manliness, and as marks of an extraordinary and sprightly

Thus the family were divided upon the education of the son, and from being
often thwarted in his measures about him, the father lost his authority,
and for the peace of his family winked at the faults which the good man saw
it his duty to correct. The loss of parental authority begot want of filial
regard, so that the boy, shooting up with these vicious habits and
disregard of the father, advanced from reproaches and curses to blows,
whenever the unfortunate old man ventured to remonstrate against the folly
and madness of his son's conduct.

The mother saw, when it was too late, what her misguided affection had
produced, and how to her fond love in childhood the man made the base
return of threatening language and the utmost disregard; for he proved too
hard for both father and mother at last.

The father having a good business, wanted John to learn his trade of a
tailor, both because it was easiest and cheapest for the old man, and a
sure source of good living for the son, whether he began business for
himself or waited to succeed the father after his death; but as he grew up
his evil habits increased, and at last when checked by his father in his
mad career, he almost put the good old man to death by maltreatment.

At last, provoked beyond all endurance, the father resolved to rid himself
of him by sending him out of the country, and managed to get him engaged to
serve in the army under the command of Brigadier Newton.

While in Flanders, he saw, in passing along with one of his brother
soldiers, a hen at a little distance covering her chickens under her wings,
and out of pure wanton and malicious mischief he fired his musket and shot
the hen. The poor woman to whom it belonged, startled by the shot, went out
and saw her hen dead; and following the young soldier, asked him to pay the
price of the hen and chickens, for both were lost to her, and they formed a
great part of her means of subsistence; but the unfeeling youth would not
give her a farthing--threatening if she annoyed him he would send her after
her hen; upon which the injured old woman predicted, "that as many people
would one day gaze in wonder on his lifeless body as that hen had feathers
on hers."

Young Porteous afterwards left the army and returned to London, where he
wrought for some time as a journeyman tailor; but his evil habits brought
him to poverty, and he was found in rags by a friend of his father's, who
wrote to the old man to remit £10 to clothe him and defray his travelling
charges to Edinburgh, which, moved by the compassion of a father, he did,
and when John appeared, the kind-hearted old man received him with tears of
joy, and embraced him with all the warmth of paternal affection. Vainly
hoping that his son was a reformed man, he gave up his business to him, and
agreed that he should only have a room in the house and his maintenance and

Young Porteous, thus possessed of the house and trade of his father, and of
all his other goods and effects, began by degrees to neglect and maltreat
the old man, first, by refusing him a fire in his room in the middle of
winter, and even grudging him the benefit of the fire in the kitchen. In
addition to this, he disallowed him a sufficiency of victuals, so that he
was in danger of being starved to death with cold and hunger. In this
unhappy condition he applied for admission into the Trinity Hospital.

John Porteous having been for some time in the army, and being known to be
possessed of no small courage and daring, was selected by John Campbell,
lord provost of Edinburgh, in the memorable year 1715, to be drill-sergeant
of the city-guard, as it became necessary to have the guard well
disciplined and made as effective as possible in that eventful period, for
the support of the government and the protection of Edinburgh. In this
office he discharged his duty remarkably well, and was often sent for by
the lord provost to report what progress his men made in military
discipline. This gave him an opportunity of meeting sometimes with a
gentlewoman who had the charge of the lord provost's house and family, with
whom he fell deeply in love; after paying his addresses for some time, and
proposing to her, he was accepted, and they were married. From a grateful
sense of her services, as well as from a conviction of Porteous's ability
for the office, the lord provost proposed that John Porteous should be
elected one of the captains of the city-guard, and it was agreed to.

This was a situation of trust and respectability, and would have enabled
the young couple to live in comfort and ease if the husband had conducted
himself properly. The gentlewoman was a person of virtue and merit, but was
unlucky in her choice of a husband--Porteous was no better a husband than
he had been a son. They were not long married when he began to ill-use her.
He dragged her out of bed by the hair of the head, and beat her to the
effusion of blood. The whole neighbourhood were alarmed sometimes at
midnight by her shrieks and cries; so much so, indeed, that a lady living
above them was obliged, between terms, to take a lodging elsewhere for her
own quiet. Mrs Porteous was obliged to separate from her husband, and this
was her requital for having been the occasion of his advancement.

His command of the city-guard gave him great opportunities of displaying
his evil temper, and manifesting his ungovernable passions. Seldom a day
passed but some of his men experienced his severity. The mob on all public
occasions excited his naturally bad temper; and on all days of rejoicing,
when there was a multitude from the country as well as from the town, the
people were sure to experience offensive and tyrannical treatment from him.
The hatred and terror of him increased every year, and his character as an
immoral man was known to everybody, so that he was universally hated and
feared by the lower orders both in town and country.

This was the position in which Captain Porteous stood with the people when
he was called upon to take charge of the execution of the law in reference
to Andrew Wilson, whose case it has been thought proper to detail before
proceeding to narrate the extraordinary events that followed, and which,
indeed, partly serves to explain the cause of these events.

We have stated that Andrew Wilson, George Robertson, and William Hall, were
condemned by the High Court of Justiciary to die on Wednesday the 14th of
April 1736. Hall was reprieved, but Wilson and Robertson were left to
suffer the extreme penalty of the law. A plan was concocted to enable them
to escape out of the Tolbooth, by sawing the iron bars of the window; but
Wilson, who is described as a "round, squat man," stuck fast, and before he
could be disentangled the guard were alarmed. It is said that Robertson
wished to attempt first the escape, and there is little doubt he would have
succeeded, but he was prevented by Wilson, who obstinately resolved that he
himself should hazard the experiment. This circumstance seems to have
operated powerfully on the mind of the criminal, who now accused himself as
the more immediate cause of his companion's fate. The Tolbooth stood near
to St Giles' Church; it was customary at that time for criminals to be
conducted on the last Sunday they had to live to church to hear their last
sermon preached, and, in accordance with this practice, Wilson and
Robertson were, upon Sunday the 11th of April, carried from prison to the
place of worship. They were not well settled there, when Wilson boldly
attempted to break out, by wrenching himself out of the hands of the four
armed soldiers. Finding himself disappointed in this, his next care was to
employ the soldiers till Robertson should escape; this he effected by
securing two of them in his arms, and after calling out, "_Run, Geordie,
run for your life_!" snatched hold of a third with his teeth. Thereupon
Robertson, after tripping up the heels of the fourth soldier, jumped out of
the pew, and ran over the tops of the seats with incredible agility, the
audience opening a way for him sufficient to receive them both; in hurrying
out at the south gate of the church, he stumbled over the collection money.
Thence he reeled and staggered through the Parliament Close, and got down
the back stairs, which have now disappeared, often stumbling by the way,
and thus got into the Cowgate, some of the town-guard being close after
him. He crossed the Cowgate, ran up the Horse Wynd, and proceeded along the
Potterrow, the crowd all the way covering his retreat, and by this time
become so numerous, that it was dangerous for the guard to look after him.
In the Horse Wynd there was a horse saddled, which he would have mounted,
but was prevented by the owner. Passing the Crosscauseway, he got into the
King's Park, and took the Duddingstone road, but seeing two soldiers
walking that way, he jumped the dyke and made for Clear Burn. On coming
there, hearing a noise about the house, he stopt short, and, repassing the
dyke, he retook the route for Duddingstone, under the rocks. When he
crossed the dyke at Duddingstone, he fainted away; but, after receiving
some refreshment, the first he had tasted for three days, he passed out of
town, and, soon after getting a horse, he rode off, and was not afterwards
heard of, notwithstanding a diligent search.

Upon Robertson's getting out of the church door, Wilson was immediately
carried out without hearing sermon, and put in close confinement to prevent
his escape, which the audience seemed much inclined to favour.

Notwithstanding his surprising escape, Robertson came back about a
fortnight afterwards, and called at a certain house in the neighbourhood of
Edinburgh. Being talked to by the landlord touching the risk he ran by his
imprudence, and told that, if caught, he would suffer unpitied as a madman,
he answered, that as he thought himself indispensably bound to pay the last
duties to his beloved friend, Andrew Wilson, he had been hitherto detained
in the country, but that he was determined to steer another course soon. He
was resolved, however, not to be hanged, pointing to some weapons he had
about him.

It was strongly surmised that plots were laid for favouring Wilson's
escape. It was well known that no blood had been shed at the robbery; that
all the money and effects had been recovered, except a mere trifle; that
Wilson had suffered severely in the seizure of his goods on several
occasions by the revenue officers; and that, however erroneous the idea, he
thought himself justified in making reprisals. Besides, Wilson's conduct
had excited a very great sympathy in his favour; and the crime for which he
was condemned was considered very venial at that time by the populace, who
hated the malt-tax, and saw no more harm in smuggling, or in robbing a
collector of excise, than in any matter of trifling importance. The
magistrates of Edinburgh, in order to defeat all attempts at a rescue,
lodged the executioner the day previous in the Tolbooth, to prevent his
being carried off; the sentinels were doubled outside the prison; the
officers of the trained bands were ordered to attend the execution,
likewise the city constables with their batons; the whole city-guard,
having ammunition distributed to them, were marched to the place of
execution with screwed bayonets, and, to make all sure, at desire of the
lord provost, a battalion of the Welch Fusiliers, commanded by commissioned
officers, marched up the streets of the city, and took up a position on
each side of the Lawnmarket; whilst another body of that corps was placed
under arms at the Canongate guard. A little before two o'clock, Porteous
came to receive Wilson, the prisoner, from the captain of the city prison.
He was in a terrible rage, first against Wilson, who had affronted his
soldiers, and next against the mob, who were charmed with Wilson's generous
action in the church, and had favoured Robertson's escape. They are always
on the side of humanity and mercy, unless they are engaged themselves.
Porteous was also infuriated because the Welch Fusiliers had been brought
to the Canongate, as if he and his guard had not been sufficient to keep
down any riot within the city. The manacles were too little for Wilson's
wrists, who was a strong, powerful man; when the hangman could not make
them meet, Porteous flew furiously to them, and squeezed the poor man, who
cried piteously during the operation, till he got them to meet, to the
exquisite torture of the miserable prisoner, who told him he could not
entertain one serious thought, so necessary to one in his condition, under
such intolerable pain. "No matter," said Porteous, "your torment will soon
be at an end." "Well," said Wilson, "you know not how soon you may be
placed in my condition; God Almighty forgive you as I do."

This cruel conduct of Porteous' still more embittered the minds of the
populace, who were sufficiently exasperated against him before, and the
report of it was soon spread over town and country.

Porteous conducted Wilson to the gallows, where he died very penitent, but
expressing more sorrow on account of the common frailties of life, than the
crime for which he suffered. His body was given to his friends, who carried
it over to Pathhead in Fife, where it was interred; George Robertson
having, as we have seen, rashly attended the funeral before going abroad.

During the melancholy procession of the criminal and his guard, accompanied
by the magistrates, ministers, and others from the Old Tolbooth, which
stood in the Lawnmarket, to the scaffold, which was placed in the
Grassmarket, there was not the slightest appearance of a riot, nor after
Wilson had been suspended, until life was extinct, did the least
manifestation of disturbance occur on the part of a vast crowd of people
collected from town and country to witness the execution. The magistrates
of Edinburgh had retired from the scaffold to a house close by--concluding,
with reason, that as all was over with poor Wilson, no disturbance could
then happen, and the executioner was actually on the top of the ladder,
cutting Wilson down, when a few idle men and boys began to throw pebbles,
stones, or garbage at him (a common practice at that time,) thinking he was
treating the affair rather ludicrously; whereupon Captain Porteous, who was
in very bad humour, became highly incensed, and instantly resented, by
commanding the city-guard, without the slightest authority from the
magistrates, and without reading the riot act or proclamation according to
law, to fire their muskets, loaded with ball, and by firing his own fuzee
among the crowd, by which four persons were killed on the spot, and eleven
wounded, many of them dangerously, who afterwards died. The magistrates,
ministers, and constables, who had retired to the first storey of a house
fronting the street, were themselves in danger of being killed, a ball, as
was discovered afterwards, having grazed the side of the window where they
stood. The lord provost and magistrates immediately convened, and ordered
Captain Porteous to be apprehended and brought before them for examination;
after taking a precognition, his lordship committed Porteous to close
imprisonment for trial for the crime of murder; and, next day, fifteen
sentinels of the guard were also committed to prison, it clearly appearing,
after a careful examination of the firelocks of the party, that they were
the persons who had discharged their pieces among the crowd.

On the 25th of March 1736, Captain Porteous was put on trial, at the
instance of the lord-advocate of Scotland, before the High Court of
Justiciary, for the murder of Charles Husband, and twelve other persons, on
the 14th of April preceding, being the day of the execution of Andrew
Wilson; and after sundry steps of procedure, having been found, by the
unanimous voice of the jury, guilty, he was, on the 20th of July following,
sentenced to suffer death in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, on Wednesday the
8th of September in the same year--that was, about five months after
Wilson's execution.

On the 26th of August, the Duke of Newcastle, one of the secretaries of
state, wrote a letter to the right honourable the lord justice-general,
justice-clerk, and other lords of justiciary, of which the following is a
copy:--"My lords, application having been made to her Majesty[G] in the
behalf of John Porteous, late captain-lieutenant of the city-guard of
Edinburgh, a prisoner under sentence of death in the gaol of that city, I
am commanded to signify to your lordships her Majesty's pleasure, that the
execution of the sentence pronounced against the said John Porteous be
respited for six weeks from the time appointed for his execution. I am, my
lords, your lordships' most obedient, humble servant, (Signed) Holles,

On receipt of this letter, the lords of justiciary granted warrant to the
magistrates of Edinburgh for stopping the execution of Porteous till the
20th day of October following.

The effect of this respite on the minds of the people of Scotland was to
induce the belief that the government did not intend to carry out the
sentence of death against Porteous at all--that it was merely a
preliminary step to his pardon and liberation--and that, so far from
condemning him, the government had rather taken up a prejudice against the
town of Edinburgh, on account of the proceedings, and in some measure
against all Scotland. A number of persons, therefore, who were never
discovered, resolved to take the matter into their own hands, and on the
7th of September 1736, a body of strangers, supposed to be from the
counties of Fife, Stirling, Perth, and Dumfries, many of them landed
gentlemen, entered the West Port of Edinburgh between nine and ten o'clock
at night, and having seized the Portsburgh drummer by the way, brought
along his drum with them, and his son. Some of them advancing up into the
Grassmarket, commanded the drummer's son to beat to arms. They then called
out, "Here! all those who dare to avenge innocent blood!" This probably
was a signal for their associates to fall in. It was followed by instantly
shutting up the gates of the city, posting guards at each, and flying
sentinels at all places where a surprise might be expected, while a
separate detachment threw themselves upon and disarmed the city-guard; and
seizing the drum, beat about the High Street to notify their success so
far at least. At that instant, a body of them proceeded to the Tolbooth,
called for the keeper, and finding he was gone, fell a-breaking the door
with fore-hammers; but making no great progress in that way, they got
together a parcel of dried broom, whins, with other combustibles, and
heaps of timber, and a barrel of pitch, all previously provided for the
purpose, and taking the flambeaux or torches from the city officers, they
set fire to the pile. When the magistrates appeared, they repulsed them
with showers of stones, and threatened, if they continued in the streets
and offered resistance, they would discharge platoons of fire-arms among
them; and it is even reported they placed sentinels on the magistrates to
watch their motions.

Upon the prison door taking fire, two gentlemen made up to the rioters, and
remonstrated with them on the imminent danger of setting the whole
neighbourhood on fire, insinuating that this outrage was likely to be
deeply resented, and might bring them to trouble; to which it was answered
that they should take care no damage should be done to the city, and that
as to the rest, they knew their business, and that they (the gentlemen)
might go about theirs.

Before the prison door was burnt down, several persons rushed through the
flames, ran up stairs, demanded the keys from the keepers; and though they
could scarcely see one another for the smoke, got into Captain Porteous'
apartment, calling, "Where is the murdering villain?" He is said to have
answered, "Gentlemen, I am here; but what are you going to do with me?"
When they answered, "We are to carry you to the place where you shed so
much innocent blood, and hang you." He begged for mercy, but they instantly
seized and pulled him to the door in his bed-gown and cap; and as he
struggled, they caught him by the legs and dragged him to the foot of the
stair, while others set all the rest of the prisoners in the Tolbooth at
liberty. As soon as Porteous was brought to the street, he was set on his
feet, and some seized him by the breast, while others pushed behind. He was
thus conducted to the Bow-head, where they stopped a moment, at the
pressing solicitation of some of the citizens, on the pretence that he
might die peaceably, but really that time might be gained, as they expected
the Welch Fusiliers every moment from the Canongate, or that the garrison
of the Castle would come to Porteous' relief. By this time some who
appeared to be the leaders in the enterprise ordered him to march, and he
was hurried down the Bow and to the gallows stone, where he was to
kneel,--to confess his manifold sins and wickedness, particularly the
destruction of human life he had committed in that place, and to offer up
his petitions to Almighty God for mercy on his soul. After which, in a very
few minutes, he was led to the fatal tree. A halter being wanting, they
broke open a shop in the Grassmarket, and took out a coil of ropes, for
which they left a guinea on the counter,[H] and threw the one end over a
dyer's cross-trees close by the place of execution. On seeing the rope,
Porteous made remonstrances, and caught hold of the tree, but being
disengaged they set him down, and as the noose was about to be put over his
head, he appeared to gather fresh spirit, struggling and wrenching his head
and body. Here again some citizens appeared for him, telling that the
troops being now in full march, they must all expect to be sacrificed, and
that the artillery of the Castle would doubtless be discharged among them.
They answered, "No man will die till his time come."

About a quarter of an hour before twelve they put the rope about his neck,
and ordered him to be pulled up; which being done, observing his hands
loose, he was let down again; after tying his hands he was hauled up a
second time, but after a short space, having wrought one of his arms loose,
he was let down once more, in order to tie it up and cover his face.
Stripping him of one of the shirts he had on, they wrapped it about his
head, and got him up a third time with loud huzzas and a ruff of the drum.
After he had hung a long time, they nailed the rope to the tree; then
formally saluting one another, grounding their arms, and another ruff of
the drum, they separated, retired out of town, and numbers of them were
seen riding off in bodies well mounted to different quarters, leaving the
body hanging till near five next morning.

Neither the two gentlemen who conversed with the rioters at the Tolbooth,
nor those who were sent out by the magistrates to see if they knew any of
them, could say they had ever seen any one of them before, though the
flames of the fire at the Tolbooth door rendered it as light as noonday;
so that it was generally believed no citizen acted any principal part in
the tragedy; though, indeed, it is certain that many of the burgesses and
inhabitants of Edinburgh, led by curiosity, went to the streets to behold
the surprising boldness and incredible extravagance of the scene.

Upon the whole, it would seem that the rioters were a body of gentlemen and
others in disguise, some having masons' aprons, others joiners', fleshers',
shoemakers', dyers', and those of other trades, who had concerted their
plot with judgment, conducted it with secresy, executed it with resolution
and manly daring, and completed the whole in the short space of two hours
with unparalleled success.


[C] The inn or house here referred to is now demolished. It was a back
house which stood behind Mr Thomas Foggo's shop, through which there was a
passage or entry to it; and from its concealed and backlying situation, it
would seem to have been a very likely place for smugglers to resort to with
their contraband goods. And here it may be remarked, that less than 100
years ago, smuggling was very prevalent in the east of Fife; almost every
merchant and trader in the east coast burghs, and farmers from St Andrews
all along the southeast coast, were less or more concerned in the
importation of brandy, gin, teas, silks, and tobacco, &c. The penalties at
one time were only the forfeiture of the goods seized, and if one vessel's
cargo escaped out of two or three, it was a profitable trade. The measures
of Government were then thought to be so stringent and despotic, that men
of principle, of probity, and integrity in all other respects, manifested
great obliquity of vision in viewing the traffic in smuggled goods, and
felt no compunctious visitings in embarking in that trade. In the better
class of houses in the district, hiding holes and places of concealment
were always to be found, and some of these places are only now being
discovered. It is not many years since, that an honest man in Pittenweem,
while employed in his cellar, fell down into a large concealment capable of
holding a great many ankers of spirits and boxes of tea, of which he
previously knew nothing.

[D] The window referred to is still pointed out. It is that at the back of
the house on the second storey, and is near the north-east corner of the

[E] Anstruther House, which stood a little west, on the opposite side of
the road, to Mr Russell's printing office, was demolished in 1811.
According to Miss Strickland, Queen Mary passed a night in it; and it is a
well established fact that King Charles II. lodged a night there in 1651.

[F] Bailie Johnston's house was that now occupied by Mr William Russell,
with the brewery behind the same. It was formerly a house of one storey,
and was rebuilt and heightened on the walls by the late Mr James Rodger, or
Mr David Rodger his son.

[G] This was Queen Caroline, who was regent of the kingdom during the
absence of her husband, George the First, at Hanover.

[H] The person who did this was a man of the name of Bruce, belonging to
Anstruther, who returned some time after to the town, and was well known to
the late Mrs Black, the mother of the late Admiral Black.


On the 21st of March, 1743, Captain Richard Dundas, commander of the
frigate _Arethusa_, carrying forty-four guns and 250 men, sailed from
Deptford with that vessel in perfect order and condition, and bound for
Leith. The ship was one of the finest in the service, and the commander a
man of great energy and intelligence. Mr Charles Gordon, superintendent of
his Majesty's dockyard at Deptford, a young officer of distinguished
ability and exemplary character, was one of the passengers. No incident
worthy of notice occurred until they reached St Abb's Head, when they were
overtaken with a strong adverse gale of wind and heavy snow storm, which
unfortunately drove them from their course, and prevented sight of land for
a considerable time. The wind continued to increase in violence, but the
snow ceased falling for a little, when it was discovered that they had been
driven past the mouth of the Firth of Forth and were now in St Andrews Bay.

They then close-reefed their sails, and made all snug; and Captain Dundas,
declaring that they should have to encounter a strong south-easter, all
their efforts were directed to double the headland of Fifeness and the
dreaded Carr Rock, and get into the Forth; but their utmost endeavours were
unavailing, so that the best part of a day was spent in tacking and veering
to, close in with the land, to no purpose.

The sun set angrily, and the wind veering more adversely, to their utter
dismay, brought them on a lee shore. The storm increased with the night.
The snow began again to fall, and neither the stars nor the lights of Tay
or of the Firth could be seen. The sea was lashed into tremendous fury.
There was a fearful sullen sound of rushing waves and broken surges--"Deep
called unto deep." At times the black volume of clouds overhead seemed rent
asunder by flashes of lightning that quivered along the foaming billows,
and made the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. The thunders bellowed
over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and prolonged by the
mountain-like waves. As the ship was seen staggering and plunging among
these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that she regained her balance,
or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards dipped into the water--her bow was
buried almost beneath the waves. Sometimes an impending surge appeared
ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a dexterous movement of the helm
preserved her from the shock.

"The impervious horrors of a leeward shore" they were doomed to experience
during a moonless and starless night. They reduced their sails to a few
yards of canvass, and lowered their yards on deck. The waves, that rolled
the vessel with irresistible force, threatened to swallow them up; a
tremendous sea carried away the boat which was hoisted up at the stern, and
broke in all the bulkheads of the quarters. For safety of lives and
property, all hands, after being revived with a glass of rum, began to
throw overboard the guns. The long-boat was then released from her
lashings; and, as they wished, the waves soon swept her from the deck. The
two large anchors were cut from the bows, and the vessel, thus eased of a
heavy top-load, danced more lightly over the tremendous billows, and
inspired them with fresh hopes. The crew were all ordered to the after part
of the deck, and again refreshed with another glass of rum and water.

A little before daylight, the captain, who had been anxiously looking out,
acquainted the officers, so as not to be heard by the crew, that he saw
breakers nearly ahead, and had no thought of being able to weather them. Mr
Gordon coincided in this opinion, to which some one said, "Well, we are all
born to die; I shall go with regret, but certainly not with fear."

The breakers were soon visible to all the crew, being not more than a
quarter of a mile distant on the lee bow, when Captain Dundas remarked,
"Our only chance is to put away a point before the wind, or we are sure to
go broadside into the surf and perish at once."

A heavy sea now struck the vessel, swept the deck fore and aft, and carried
overboard five of the crew, who instantly sank to rise no more.

The captain seeing a mighty billow approaching, and viewing nothing but
death before them, exclaimed, "Lord have mercy upon us," and at that moment
the vessel rose upon a mountain wave to a tremendous height, from whose
summit she descended with the velocity of lightning, as if she were going
to bury herself in the remorseless deep. By this rapid movement she was
precipitated beyond the reach of the breakers, which now rolled behind her
stern, and burst in impotence, as if incensed at the loss of their destined
prey. "We are safe!" exclaimed Captain Dundas; "jump, men, from the yards,
and make sail." This they did with tumultuous joy, which Mr Gordon checked,
and said to them, "Whilst you are working silently, thank God for your
miraculous preservation." The sea upon which the vessel rose was the means
of her preservation and that of her crew. Probably there was not, if the
sea had been calm, a depth of two feet water on the Carr Rock, for it was
that dangerous reef she had passed; but the mighty wave carried her safe
over at a moment when every hope but that of immortality was gone from the
minds of the ship's company.[I]

The tempest having somewhat abated, and the wind veered round to a more
favourable quarter, the vessel rode more smoothly, and the hour of eight
being arrived, all hands were enabled to sit up and take coffee for

For about three hours the ship had been working up the Firth, and had come
off Anstruther, into which port she entered shortly afterwards, in order
to undergo a survey, and get all necessary repairs completed in hull and
rigging; and as the vessel had been seen from the _Windmill Tower_ and the
_Brae_ all the morning to be in great distress, the eastern pier (for the
west pier had not then been built) was crowded with spectators to witness
her arrival.

Amongst others who had gone down the pier was Captain John Cunningham, the
provost or chief magistrate of the burgh, who, being a sea captain himself,
deeply sympathised both as a sailor and a man with the officers and crew of
the _Arethusa_, on seeing them in such a miserable plight, and proffered to
afford them all the aid and assistance in his power. He got into
conversation with Mr Gordon, and found him so intelligent and gentlemanly
in his manners, that he invited him to his house (which stood in the Shore
Street, and on the east side of the Pend Wynd, and was that which formerly
belonged to the late Mr Willis, collector of customs, and is presently
possessed by Mrs Rodger, Mr Imrie, and others), until the vessel was
repaired and made ready for sea. Mr Gordon thanked him for his kindness,
and cordially accepted his hospitable invitation.

Anstruther is a small country town, pleasantly situated on the banks of the
Forth. It is a favourable specimen of a good old Scottish town. There is an
old town-hall, and an old burgh school, (lately rebuilt,) an old jail, and
an old bridge, besides an old church, now completely renewed and repaired,
and forming, with the steeple, a handsome edifice, situated on the ridge or
high ground above the town. The manse, a fine old building, placed on the
summit of the same ridge near the church, was built by James Melville,
minister of the place in the reign of James VI. It afterwards became the
property of the Anstruther family, who, it is supposed, presented it to the
town, or exchanged it for a house in the _Pend Wynd_, now belonging to Mr
John Darsie, which was occupied for some time as the manse. At the time of
which we write, there was a fine old baronial mansion, called "Anstruther
Place," which stood near the present junction of the Crail and St Andrews
roads. It belonged to the above-mentioned ancient family, the Anstruthers
of Anstruther, whose progenitor was a Norman warrior that came to Britain
with William the Conqueror. It was a mansion as large as Balcaskie,
surmounted by a tower, and surrounded by fine old ancestral trees. A
magnificent hall graced its interior, large enough to contain a company of
volunteers, or local militiamen at drill, within its four corners. In
addition to these old buildings, which gave a peculiar character to the
place, there were a good many handsome new houses in the town of
Anstruther, for it was far from being in a state of decay. Many wealthy and
intelligent families chose it for their residence. It was the seat of a
custom-house and excise-office. There was a branch of the Paisley Bank
established in the town, under the management of a Mr Henry Russell, of the
customs, and the bank office was kept in that shop now belonging to Mr
James Reddie, ironmonger.[J] There was also a Greenland Whale Fishing
Company connected with the town, of which a Bailie Johnston was manager.
The company's place of business was situated in the East Green, and is now
the property of Mr Robert Todd, and it is still known to old people by the
name of the Greenland Close. There is, or was lately, an old stone placed
over the door at the southern entrance into the yard, indicating the
nature of the manufacture formerly carried on therein.[K] And before the
Reform Bill was passed, Anstruther-Easter joined with the other four
burghs of the district in sending a member to Parliament. Many thriving
and respectable trades-people, whose forefathers had resided there for
generations, and who looked upon the old buildings of their native town
with something of the same sort of feeling as the landowner surveys the
oaks which encircle his paternal hall, regarded it with pride and
veneration. Perhaps no town of its size in Scotland could be named where
so much good feeling prevailed among all classes. An eminent physician,
who came to settle in the place, expressed his astonishment at the amount
of private charity distributed. If a poor man met with any accident, every
kind assistance was given him by his wealthier neighbours. If a small
tradesman suffered a loss, or a carter his horse, or a widow's cow died, a
subscription was set on foot, and the accident often turned out a gain,
rather than a loss.

The old Castle of Dreel, another ancient seat of the Anstruther family,
stood on the east side of the Dreel Burn, at its entrance into the sea.
Several curious traditions are in circulation respecting this old baronial
residence and its proprietors. The castle has entirely disappeared, and its
site is now partly occupied by fish-curing premises, and partly by a large
antiquated tenement called Wightman's house. Some eminent men have been
born in Anstruther, among whom may be mentioned Drs Chalmers and Tennant,
and Professor Goodsir.

Such is a brief description of Anstruther at the time of which we write.
It is unnecessary to give a particular account of it at the present day,
because its trade and commerce, its fishing, farming, and shipping
interests--its new buildings and projected undertakings--its Sunday
schools and provident societies, and savings' banks and subscription
libraries, are familiar to the most of my readers.

Captain Cunningham, the chief magistrate of Anstruther, was a wealthy and
respectable shipowner, and his family consisted of a son about twenty, and
a daughter about seventeen years of age, besides some younger children. Mr
Gordon, their guest, then in his twenty-fifth year, was a light-hearted and
rising young officer. He was, at first, a little impatient of the delay
occasioned by the repairs of the vessel, the superintendence of which fell
to be his duty; but circumstances soon occurred which checked this
impatience, and more than reconciled him to his present quarters.

As Christina Cunningham is destined to occupy no unimportant position in
this narrative, some description of her will therefore be necessary.

Let us endeavour to draw her portrait.

She was not only beautiful, but full of life and animation, her smiling
face being the true index of a cheerful, happy disposition. Gentle,
amiable, affectionate, good-natured, she was beloved by all who knew her;
although, from a maidenly modesty and a natural reserve, she was really
known by few. With the figure of a sylph, and the face of a Hebe, she had
luxuriant hair of the darkest possible chestnut, wreathed generally in
thick cable plaits round her beautifully-shaped head, which, owing to the
fashion of that day, as well as of the present, of wearing the bonnets on
the shoulders, enabled her well-formed head to be seen to the greatest
advantage. In the delicate outline of her faultless features, there was a
harmony that made of her whole face a concerted loveliness of form, colour,
and expression, that was irresistible. Hackneyed as the simile is, her skin
was literally like snow, upon which blush rose-leaves seemed to have
fallen. Her long-cut oriental-looking eyes, were "deeply, darkly,
beautifully blue," while their heavy, snowy lids were fringed with long
black silken lashes, that seemed to be continually trying to salute her
cheeks, for which no one could possibly blame them. Her nose was, to say
the least, irreproachable. Then came the rich red pouting under, and the
short chisselled upper lip; the beautiful pearly arched teeth within them;
the little round velvety chin, and the perfectly oval peach-like cheeks. In
short, so pretty a creature was seldom to be seen.

But Miss Cunningham was something _more_ than beautiful, she was amiable,
and gentle, and affectionate; and besides, she was a Christian in the full
and true sense of the word; and, young as she was, she had learned to look
upon herself as a sinner, however innocent and pure she might appear in the
eyes of men. While enjoying the blessings of health, peace, and competence,
that providence had poured upon her, she looked upon them all as undeserved
mercies, marks and tokens of her heavenly Father's love--a love manifested
in man's redemption, in a way surpassing all understanding. Where on earth
can there be found a more lovely character than that in which are blended
true religion and natural amiability, rectitude of conduct, and tenderness
of disposition?

Residing under the same roof with Miss Cunningham, who can wonder that,
before many weeks had elapsed, Mr Gordon was as devoted to Captain
Cunningham's daughter as any young and ardent lover could be. Miss
Cunningham was not conscious of any deeper feeling than that of
affectionate friendship, nor was it till some time after that her heart
told her, that Charles Gordon occupied a place in her affections, which
could be held by one, and by one only.

Several weeks had passed away, the repairs of the _Arethusa_ had been
nearly completed, and the time was fast approaching when Charles Gordon
would be obliged to depart from Anstruther. It happened, however, that a
day or two previously to his leaving, a party of pleasure was planned for
visiting Kellie Law, near Carnbee, and Macduff's Cave, near Earlsferry. The
party consisted of Mr John Cunningham, junior, and his sister, and Mr
Gordon and Miss Anderson, the daughter of an opulent merchant in the town.
A vehicle having been hired for the occasion, a drive of about an hour
brought the excursionists to Kellie Law. Having put up the horse and
equipage at Gillingshill, and partaken of the hospitality of the occupants,
they ascended this beautiful conical eminence, which is 800 feet above the
level of the sea, and about four miles distant from it, and rises from the
ridge running eastward from Largo Law. From the summit of Kellie Law, on
which there is a large cairn of stones, one of the most magnificent views
in Scotland is obtained. Immediately below, to the south, is a rich and
beautiful stretch of country, all enclosed and highly cultivated; an
extensive range of sea-coast, studded with numerous little towns and
villages; the ample bosom of the Firth of Forth, enlivened with shipping
and fishing-boats; and in the extreme distance, the coast of the Lothians,
from St Abb's Head to Edinburgh. Near the south base of this hill stands
Kellie Castle, a fine baronial seat of the Earls of Kellie, surrounded by
old trees, and containing some princely apartments. Sir Thomas Erskine of
Gogar was one of those who rescued James VI. from the attempt of the Earl
of Gowrie to assassinate him at Perth in 1600, and killed the earl's
brother with his own hand. He was created Viscount Fenton in 1606, and Earl
of Kellie in 1619. The earldom merged into that of Marr on the death of
Methven, tenth Earl of Kellie, who was great-grand-uncle to Sir Thomas
Erskine of Cambo, the present baronet. It is said these earldoms may, and
probably will, be again disjoined, and the titles and honours of Marr and
Kellie inherited by two distinct noblemen.

After enjoying the splendid prospect from Kellie Law, the party set off for
Elie, on their way to view the caves in Kincraig Hill. The drive between
Gillingshill and Elie is delightful. The turnpike road passes in some
places through a long line of tall trees, arching high overhead, and
showing, at the termination, picturesque vistas. It skirts Kilconquhar
Loch, and affords not very distant views of Charlton and Balcarres,
Colinsburgh and Cairnie House; and passing through Kilconquhar, the
beautiful church of the parish and manse (which do credit to the heritors)
are close by. The noble mansions of Elie and Kilconquhar, in the immediate
neighbourhood, are also seen, surrounded with fine old trees, and standing
in a rich and fertile district.

On arriving at Elie, the party gave the horse and vehicle in charge of the
hostler, and set out on foot for Kincraig. Immediately from the beach, at
the south-west end of the parish, Kincraig Hill rises to the height of
about two hundred feet above the level of the sea. Its southern front
presents a nearly perpendicular rugged wall of trap rock, of the most
picturesque appearance, and in these rocks are several caves, called
Macduff's Cave, the Hall Cave, and the Devil's Cave. There is a tradition
that Macduff, the Maormar or Earl of Fife, in his flight from the vengeance
of Macbeth, was concealed in the cave which still bears his name, and was
afterwards ferried across the Firth to Dunbar by the fishermen of the
place, from which circumstance it was called "Earlsferry;" and, besides
being constituted a royal burgh by Malcolm III, about 1057, it obtained the
privilege, that the persons of all, in flight, who should cross the Firth
from thence, should be for a time inviolable--no boat being allowed to
leave the shore in pursuit, till those who were pursued were half-seas

The party now resolved that they should partake of luncheon on the
greensward, to fortify themselves for their proposed expedition among the
cliffs. While the viands were being produced, Mr Gordon set forth of
himself in quest of a very rare plant, which he was informed grew in this

On observing a group of persons gazing anxiously upwards at the overhanging
cliffs, he joined them, inquiring on what their attention was so earnestly
fixed. The persons addressed spoke not, but pointed to a spot about
half-way up the face of the rock. Mr Gordon looked in the direction
indicated, when, to his horror, he beheld a boy, apparently of about
fifteen years of age, climbing along a stony ledge, which was so narrow as
to be hardly visible from the spot where the group of terrified beholders
was stationed. Scarcely had there been time for Mr Gordon to fix his eye on
the human form that had reached so perilous a position, when a portion of
the ledge of rock on which the unhappy boy was standing gave way--a loud
scream rent the air, echoing through the cliffs--and in another instant all
that remained of him was a lifeless, mangled corpse. The poor fellow's
story is soon told. He was an idiot, and having wandered from his mother's
side, had reached the fatal spot, no one knew how, and thus met a fearful

His poor mother witnessed the dreadful catastrophe, and agonizing was her
grief as she followed the body of her child, which was borne on the
shoulders of the awe-struck villagers to her home. Mr Gordon also followed
the body to the house, and, feeling that at such a time any attempt at
comforting the childless widow would be of no avail, he merely placed a sum
of money in the hands of a respectable-looking person, a bystander, for her
use, and slowly and sick at heart he was in the act of returning to his
friends, when he met Christina Cunningham, who was in search of him, for
the purpose of bringing him back to luncheon. She saw that he was deadly
pale, and hurriedly asked if he felt ill. He told her all that had

"Oh!" she exclaimed, "if it had been _you_!"

"Well, Miss Cunningham," he replied, carelessly, "and if it had, few would
have missed me. I should probably have had fewer mourners than that poor
idiot boy."

"Oh, how can you say so?" she returned, and bending down her head, became
visibly agitated. And yet poor Christina knew not, even now, that she loved
Charles Gordon: she understood not the true cause of the beatings of her
disturbed heart. He looked at her. As he looked, a momentary smile passed
over his features, which was soon exchanged for an expression of deep
sorrow, as he thought of the lonely widow, bending over the lifeless form
of her lost son. The sad story was related to the rest of the party, and
all cheerfulness for the time was at an end.

This was destined to be an eventful day. Another calamity--and one that,
although it was not attended with fatal results, affected Charles more than
that which had occurred--was yet to take place. We have said that there
were some remarkable caves at this place, which had long been objects of
interest to the traveller and excursionist. One there is in particular,
called the Devil's Cave, which penetrates far into the heart of the rock,
on the face of which lies its entrance. From the steepness of the path
which leads into this cavern, it is rarely visited by tourists. The party,
however, with perhaps more curiosity than prudence, determined to explore
and visit this cave. A female guide was procured, and a candle supplied to
each person. All being ready, in single file they entered the mouth of the
cavern, carefully groping their way, not without difficulty. Miss Anderson
soon lost courage, and turned back, stating that she and Mr Cunningham
would return to the inn at Elie, and prepare tea; the other two resolved to
proceed along with the guide. The aperture through which they had to pass
became at length so low, and so narrow, that a consultation was held, and
it was agreed that it would be prudent to return. Charles now led the way
as they retraced their steps. He had not proceeded far when he heard a
heavy fall, and turning quickly round, beheld, to his horror, Christina
stretched upon the humid soil of the cavern; her eyes were closed, and her
candle had fallen from her hand. Whether bad air had struck her down or
not, he could not tell. For an instant he believed her to be dead, but,
bending over her, he perceived that she breathed. What was now to be done?
Only one plan lay before him which he could adopt. Giving his candle to the
guide, and directing her to keep in front of him, holding the light so as
he could see, he raised Miss Cunningham in his arms, and with all the
strength he was master of, bore her along in the direction of the entrance.
The roof of the cave was so low, that it was impossible to maintain an
upright position, and his strength so entirely failed him that he was
obliged to stop and take a rest before he could proceed with his precious
burden. On reaching the mouth or entrance of the now detested cave, signs
of returning consciousness began to appear in the poor sufferer. On
breathing the fresh air of heaven, she opened her eyes for a moment, then
closed them again, drawing several long and apparently painful
respirations. Charles placed her on a grassy bank, and seating himself
beside her, supported her by placing his arm round her waist. The guide was
despatched for water. By and by, Christina, looking round, said with her
own sweet smile, "I am better now." Charles pressed the form of her whom he
already loved so well, to himself, and then assisting her to rise, with
slow and measured steps they returned to Elie.

"You are very tired, I fear, and I am the cause," said Christina, as she
leaned on Charles's arm, turning her face to his.

For a moment their eyes met, those of Christina fell, while a shade of
colour tinged her still pallid face. She had met a look in Charles's face
that she had never seen there before. She again relapsed into silence.

Charles, in reply to her remark, uttered something that was inaudible; the
name of "Christina," however, was substituted for that of "Miss

Any endeavour to conceal what had occurred would have been useless. The
pale face of the sufferer plainly told that she had been ill, and general
was the consternation of all on hearing what had happened. Charles resigned
her to the care of Miss Anderson and the hostess, and, passing to the
little parlour of the village inn, flung himself on the sofa in a state of
complete exhaustion.

Long he remained buried in thought. At length his good nature and
compassion prompted him to visit once more the poor, childless widow, while
preparations were being made for their return to Anstruther. She was alone
with the body of her idiot son. Carefully had she cleansed away the blood
and dust from his face, which now appeared to exhibit more intelligence in
death than it had done in life.

As Charles entered, the poor Irish widow exclaimed,--"May the blessing of
the Great God, who is above us this day, be about ye, and wid ye for ever
and ever, my jewel young gentleman!" She held in her hand the money that he
had left for her, and added, "Sure isn't there enough here for the poor
lone widow, to buy her darlint son a dacent coffin for to lay him in the
could earth, in the land of the stranger, before she goes far, far away, to
a land beyant the rowling say (referring to America). You've given me money
when I wanted it sore, an' the blessin' of the lone widow woman will be wid
you wherever ye go; but none can give me back my boy! Oh, Patrick, jewel!
why did ye die? Och, my poor boy! my poor boy! my poor boy!"

The tears came into Charles's eyes as he listened to this pathetic
lamentation, but longer he could not remain. He succeeded, however, in
learning that she had resolved to accede to a proposal of her sister's, to
join her in America, which his gift had provided her with the means of

The drive to Anstruther was speedily made out, and in few days Miss
Cunningham was quite restored to her usual state of health and enjoyment.

Time rolled on. The _Arethusa_ has sailed. Mr Gordon has returned to
Deptford, and resumed his ordinary duties. Has all intercourse ceased
between him and Miss Cunningham? Assuredly not. Many a kind letter has
passed between them. She has been to England visiting his sister, at that
sister's kind invitation, and is come back to Anstruther. Charles has
proposed to her, and been accepted, and has obtained a special licence for
their marriage. He comes back to Anstruther to claim his bride.

If you, my reader, were at this moment greedily perusing a modern novel,
you would here be gratified by a very romantic and touching account, three
or four pages long at least, of the meeting of the two ardent lovers after
a long separation; smiles and tears, sighs and sobs, broken accents,
protestations of eternal love and fidelity, and all that sort of thing.
Here you will find nothing of the kind. I very much doubt myself as to
whether anything of the kind took place in this instance at all; I rather
imagine the meeting was a calm and quietly happy one, without anything
strikingly romantic or stage-like about it. But even suppose there had
been, and that I had been present to see, (which, by the by, would have
been an awkward enough situation for me, or any other third party, to have
found himself in) ought we to have disclosed it? Certainly not; such a
scene, every one knows, ought to be strictly private and confidential
Suffice it then to say, that doubtless both, parties found themselves
extremely comfortable and happy.

Let me now convey you, in thought, backwards one hundred and fourteen
years, and place you in the street of Pittenweem, opposite the Scottish
Episcopal Chapel. We see a crowd; let us inquire what is the occasion of

"What is this crowd collecting for, so early this morning?"

"There's going to be a wedding, ma'am."

"Do you know whose wedding it is?"

"No ma'am, I don't; I'm only here to keep order--nothing else to do with

It is some time since we have seen a wedding, suppose we go into church.
Here we are. We shall have a nice view of them from that front pew in the
gallery. How tastefully the chapel is decorated with foliage and flowers!
Make haste! I hear the carriages coming, that will do. Wait! here they
come, only fancy, it's Christina Cunningham, and--Who? Charles Gordon, I
declare. How nicely he looks in his naval uniform. Then the reports were
all true. Poor Christina! she's very much agitated. I suppose being married
must be rather nervous work. The clergyman who is marrying them is a
relation of the bridegroom's--he's rector of a large parish near
Deptford--how beautifully he reads. And there is our dear old clergyman, Mr
Spence, assisting him, how happy he looks. They say he has known the bride
since she was an infant, and the bridegroom for some time. There!--she's no
longer Christina Cunningham! I wonder where they are going to after
breakfast? Blessings on them both!


[I] On account of the many accidents which happen almost yearly at the Carr
Rock, some plan for marking its dangerous locality has long been an object
of deep solicitude. The writer recollects of a round tower of some height
having been built on the rock, on the same principle as that on the Bell
Rock, but it was soon overthrown by the first winter's storm, because there
was not a sufficient surface of rock at the base to admit of a strong
enough building being placed upon it. But might not an erection be made of
strong bars of iron, and a large bell placed on its summit, with an iron
cylinder in the centre, perforated with holes to admit the sea water?
Within the cylinder let a powerful floater be placed, which by the
perpetual action of the tides' ebb and flow, would cause the bell to ring,
and so give timeous warning of danger near. Or, another method might be
adopted, viz., Let a steady officer be stationed at Fifeness, whose duty it
should be to fire a gun, say a six or eight-pounder, at short intervals in
snow storms, or in thick and foggy weather, when neither the land during
the day, nor the stars or lights at night, can be seen. In either way the
expense would be trifling, and the benefit might be great. Captains of
steamers and of other vessels enveloped in the fog would then, on hearing
the sound of the bell or gun, know where they were, and would take their
bearings from Fifeness accordingly.

[J] The principles of banking seem to have been imperfectly understood in
our fathers' days, for it appears that, at the Anstruther branch, there was
a certain fixed sum _per month_ allotted for bills to be discounted. When
that sum was exhausted, it mattered not what further sum was wanted, there
were no more discounts allowed that month. It followed, that the most
_needy_ were always, at the beginning of the month, the _earliest_
customers, and, consequently, post-due bills became the rule, retired bills
the exception. Under these circumstances, it is not difficult to foresee
what would be the result. The bank was closed at no distant period, and the
agent, it is said, lost L1500 of his own money. No other banking company
attempted to establish a bank in Anstruther till May 1832, when the
National Bank of Scotland opened a branch under the management of Mr F.
Conolly, town-clerk, which he conducted successfully for twenty-five years.
A handsome new building has lately been erected for the use of this bank.
Two other branch banks have been opened in the town.

[K] There were two vessels belonging to the company, one named the _Hawk_,
and the other the _Rising Sun_. The _Hawk_ was lost on her first voyage,
and Bailie Meldrum--some time chief magistrate of Anstruther-Wester--one of
the crew, lost the toes of both his feet by frost-bite. The undertaking did
not prove a successful one; the company was dissolved; and the premises,
which were sold to the late John Miller, senior, shipowner in Anstruther,
afterwards became, as I said, the property of Mr Todd.


It was a beautiful evening in the month of September--the air still and
serene, forming a delightful change from the sultry heat of the day, which
had been oppressive in the extreme. Nature seemed to have redoubled her
energies; the swallows twittered cheerfully over the small pond; the bees
returned laden with the rich fruits of their industry, humming their
satisfaction; the heath sent its fragrance around; and the few sheep that
Simon Wallace attended were nibbling earnestly the stunted grass, having
spent the greater part of the day in the shade of a small knoll, listless
from the heat which oppressed them. In the midst stood Simon, enjoying the
scene around him, which, barren and desolate as it might be in the eyes of
a stranger, was to him the loveliest spot in the universe; nor would he
have bade it farewell to dwell in the most fertile vale in the Lothians.
Here he had been born sixty summers before, and here he had enjoyed as much
of happiness as falls to the lot of man. Humble and content, his wishes
were bounded by the few acres of moss land that his fathers had reclaimed
from the waste, and his knowledge of the busy world that lay beyond the
hills that bounded the horizon around his humble cottage, was derived from
a few books. Farther than the next market-town, Mid-Calder, he had never
been, save upon one occasion--an important epoch in his life--when, upon
some business of importance, concerning his lease, he had visited the
capital, the wonders of which had been a never-failing subject of discourse
at his humble hearth; yet, Simon was not ignorant, for he made good profit
of the few books he could procure; and there was one--the fountain of all
knowledge--he knew so well, that even Esdras, the holy scribe, could
scarcely have found him at fault, in pointing out all the most beautiful of
the inspired passages. His constant companion, he had been reading it on
the hill for the last hour, and now, before retiring to his home for the
night, he stood there in mental prayer, his face turned to the setting sun,
which sunk beyond a sea of clouds, tinged with the most gorgeous colours,
and his mind away among the bright realms of eternal felicity. A faint
breeze had arisen, and the heavy clouds began to sail along, denoting rain,
when he gave his orders to his faithful dog, to gather his sheep for the
night, and urged him to be active, to enable him to proceed home before the
shower came on. Looking along in the direction of the road that led through
the moor, he thought he could perceive, at a considerable distance, three
objects, urging their way forward; and, through the gloom, he with
difficulty made them out to be a man and two females upon horseback. A
feeling of surprise crossed his mind, as he saw travellers journeying over
the moor, at a period when it was not usual, except upon urgent business,
to leave Mid-Calder at a late hour, and proceed along roads almost
impassable, with no other prospect than a night journey, in dangerous and
troubled times. Musing on the circumstance, he had just reached the road on
his way to his cottage, when the travellers came up and accosted him with
an inquiry if they could find shelter for the night, as they had been
overtaken by the storm, and one of the females had been taken suddenly ill
since they had left the last town. With an apology for the poorness of his
accommodation, Simon made them welcome to his home, and led the way
homewards. Neither of the females spoke; but he thought he heard one of
them utter, at intervals, a stifled groan, while the other supported her on
her saddle, and the male led her horse over the rough path to prevent its
stumbling. A few minutes brought them to the house, and they were soon
seated by the blazing hearth, while Helen Wallace was busy preparing for
them some humble refreshments; but the lady continued to become worse--she
had been taken in labour, prematurely, as the female said, from the fatigue
of travelling. She appeared to be of a rank far above her companions, who
treated her with lowly attentions; but there was something harsh and
forbidding in the manner and appearance of the man, which made Helen quail,
and feel uneasy in his presence; and the female, who was above the middle
age, and of a masculine appearance, had a harshness of voice and manner,
that was disagreeable, even to the rustic wife of the moorland farmer. The
young and beautiful female they attended--apparently not above eighteen,
pale and dejected, her eyes red and swollen with weeping--had not, as yet,
uttered a single word; but, apparently fearful of her attendants,
especially the female, who sat close by her at the fire, had cast several
stolen and imploring glances at Helen, and seemed anxious to speak, but
afraid to give utterance to her thoughts.

The lady rapidly grew worse, and was put into their only spare bed, while
Helen requested her husband to take one of the horses and ride to the town
for assistance. This the man promptly forbade--saying, that the other
attendant, a skilful woman, was capable of doing all that was required at
such a time, with the assistance of the farmer's wife; that they were on
their way to the residence of his master when the present unfortunate
illness had occurred much sooner than was expected; that he had in the
_valise_ with him everything requisite; and that for any trouble the farmer
or his wife might be put to, they should be amply rewarded. The cottage
consisted of only one apartment, divided by a hallen or thin partition,
which did not extend beyond the centre of the floor, to protect the
fire-place from the blasts of winter; and Simon and the stranger retired to
a small distance from the door, where they stood and saw the full moon
rising in grandeur in the east. In vain the farmer endeavoured to gain any
information from his companion of who the strangers were, and whither they
were going. He got only an evasive answer. His position was extraordinary
and uncomfortable. Three hours had passed: no person appeared from the
house; his unsocial acquaintance scarcely spoke; a scowl in his eye, and a
shade of ferocity in his countenance, alarmed him; his whole soul,
sometimes intent upon some signal from the cottage, at other periods became
absent; and he clutched at the sword that hung by his side, as if he meant
to draw it and attack the farmer, endeavouring again, in a husky voice, to
make an apology for the inconvenience they had put him to. At length Helen
came to the door, and requested them to come into the house, for the lady
was now better.

"What has she got?" inquired Simon.

"Two beautiful boys as ever I saw," answered the wife; "--but one of them
is dead, and the mother is very weak."

While this and some other conversation passed between the farmer and his
wife, the man and the woman were busy whispering at the other end of the
house; but they at length approached the hearth and partook of some
refreshment which had been prepared for them. The farmer offered the
female, for the remainder of the night, the use of their only other bed;
but both the man and the woman objected to this proposition--saying, that
they preferred to sit by the hearth and attend to their mistress, and
requesting that their hosts should retire to it themselves. This they did,
and soon both fell into a sound sleep. Helen awoke about two hours
afterwards, and, to her astonishment, found that neither of the two
attendants was in the cottage. She arose and went to the bed of the sick
lady, who lay apparently in a deep and troubled sleep, with the babe in her
bosom. She looked for the body of its brother; but it was gone. She felt
alarmed, and gently awaking Simon, in a whisper told him to arise. He was
soon dressed, and, on going out, found that the strangers were gone, the
horses were away, and with them everything that had been brought, even to
the dress the lady had worn upon her arrival. In great anxiety they
approached the bed: the lady still appeared in a deep sleep; her breathing
was heavy and laborious, every attempt to awaken her was in vain; her eyes
were opened and closed unconsciously, and without a word of utterance.

"Surely," said Helen, with clasped hands, "that woman hasna poisoned the
puir young creature wi' that mixture she requested me to gie her just
before I ca'ed you into the house. She said it was to compose her to sleep.
She had offered it to the lady hersel, who, being afraid o' her, wadna
taste it. Then she gave me the cup, and I offered it. O Simon! what a
piteous look she threw upon me, as she said, 'From you I will take
anything; you, I know, will not do me harm'--and she drank it from my
hands. Surely, surely, I am not guilty of her blood, if death was in that

Here the poor woman sank upon the side of the bed in a passion of tears,
while Simon stood the image of horror, gazing alternately upon his wife and
the unconscious lady in the bed. Sinking upon his knees, he prayed for
counsel in this hour of distress, and his mind became more calm and

"Helen," said he, "you will not be afraid to stay by the poor young
creature, while I go and catch Mally, and ride as fast as she can carry me
to the manse, and bring the minister, who is a skilful man, and who,
perhaps, may be able to do something for the sufferer; at least, he will
advise us what is best for us to do in this hour of need."

"I will, indeed, be eerie," answered Helen--"very eerie; but do mak all the
haste ye can, and I will tent baith mother and bairn until ye return."

In a very short time, the farmer was on his way to the manse, and soon,
along with the minister, on his return to his cottage; but, before they
arrived, the victim had breathed her last sigh.

Helen was at the door, weeping and wringing her hands. She blamed herself
as being the cause of the young mother's death; nor was it until after the
minister had prayed, and assured her that no guilt could attach to her,
that she became composed. On his way to the cottage, the farmer had
informed him of every circumstance, as far as it had happened under his own
eye:--That the young lady had been very ill; that the female appeared
expert at her duty, and kept Helen as much at a distance from her patient
as she could; that the young creature wished her much to be near her, as if
she had something to communicate; but the attendant always told her, in a
harsh manner, that it was improper for her to speak, and found always some
excuse to send her from the bedside; that the lady appeared to be in great
awe of her; and that the first boy, the one that was alive, Helen kept at
the hearth until the other came; that she heard it cry once, and inquired
what it was, when the assistant said it was also a boy, but dead, and she
threw it from her upon the bed; that, after a time, she took a vial from
her pocket, and poured it into a cup, requesting the lady to drink it, as
it was a composing draught, but she put it away from her; and that the poor
murdered creature was persuaded by Helen to accept it at her hands.

The minister having drawn up a circumstantial detail of all the
circumstances narrated, bade the sorrowing couple adieu, and departed, to
send one of his maids to assist Helen, and to stay with her through the
day. He vowed to make the horrid transaction as public as possible, in
hopes of discovering the two wretches and their employer, and promised to
call in the evening, and direct what was further to be done. He rode direct
to Mid-Calder; and, on inquiry at the hostelry, if any such travellers had
been there the day before, found that they had passed through the town,
only stopping to bait their horses, and no particular attention had been
paid to them by the landlord of the house. Here his inquiries necessarily
terminated. In the meantime, Helen and her assistant had been employed
laying out the corpse of the murdered woman, and tending the orphan boy.
Tied by a silken cord, a curious gold ring, of massive workmanship, was
suspended from her neck, and lay resting upon her bosom.

"A true love-gift," ejaculated Helen, "an exchange o' plighted faiths.
Dearly had you loved the giver, for, even in sore distress and death it lay
upon thy bosom. Cruelly has your love been requited; but rest in
peace--your sorrows are past. I will keep this for your babe, and, as soon
as he can speak, I will tell him where I found it. I fear it will be a' I
will ever be able to inform him of either father or mother." She then
placed the ring in her own bosom, until she could shew it to her husband;
renewed her offices to the dead; took the babe in her lap, and, weeping
over it, resolved, as she thought of its desolate state, without a relation
in the world, that, so long as she had life, she would be a parent to
it--for death had been a spoiler in her own family of three sons, all of
whom it had been her misfortune to bury.

The minister arrived again in the evening. They shewed him the ring, and
told where it had been found. He examined it closely; but there were
neither armorial bearings nor cypher upon it, to lead even to a guess of
the person to whom it had belonged--yet the make and chasing were peculiar,
and might lead a person who had once examined it to remember it. The mother
was interred; the babe baptized by the name of William, put out to nurse;
and the usual routine of the cottage once more restored. The boy grew up
under the roof of his kind protectors. To his education the minister paid
particular attention, and was proud of his pupil--for William Wallace, as
he was called, did honour to the labour bestowed upon him. He was quick to
learn, yet his mind was not given to literary pursuits--for he delighted in
feats of strife, and dwelt with rapture on the feats of the warrior. Sir
William Wallace was the hero of his youthful imagination--and he longed to
be of man's stature, only that he might be a soldier. Thus years rolled on.
William was now eighteen years of age; the labour of the farm, in which he
engaged, was irksome to him; yet he restrained his inclinations, and toiled
on for his benefactors, who had both become so frail that they required his
aid. By the time he arrived at his twentieth year, his foster parents died
within a few months of each other, and left him possessor of their little
wealth. When spring returned, he made known to his benefactor, the
minister, his resolution of leaving the moor and going into the busy world.
The stock was turned into cash, and William, bidding a long adieu to the
scenes of his youth, set off for the capital, accompanied by the prayers of
the good man for his success. Since the death of his protectors he had worn
his mother's ring, and he had a vague hope that it might, by some way or
other, lead to a discovery of his parents, and enable him to avenge her
murder. All the mild lessons of his teacher upon this point had been vain.
His mind dwelt with a gloomy satisfaction upon a just retribution. At times
his feelings rose to agony--the idea that the guilty individual might be
his own parent, often flashed across his mind and made him love his
ignorance; but, nature prevailing, his wonted desire recurred again, and,
musing thus, he rode on towards Edinburgh, now with the reins resting upon
his horse's neck; and then, when urged by his troubled mind, urging forward
his steed. He stopped at the borders of the moor, and turned towards the
scenes so dear to him, where he had passed what of his life had gone by in
innocence and peace. For the first time, he felt alone in the world; and a
few involuntary tears fell from his eyes--a token of regret due to the
memory of departed worth, and a pleasing recollection of scenes endeared to
him by many tender associations. Thus in pensive meditation he rode on,
undetermined as to his future mode of life. Prior to his setting out,
everything had appeared to his imagination of easy execution; but now he
began to encounter difficulties he had never dreamed of before; and the
sight of Edinburgh, which he reached before nightfall, did not diminish
them. The vastness of the city overpowered him; the stateliness of the
buildings appeared to him the work of giants; and he almost shrank from
entering it, through a feeling of his own littleness. In his approach, his
eyes had been constantly fixed upon the buildings of the Castle, perched
high above the town, and crowning the almost circular, bold, and craggy
rocks on which it stands. Along the line of houses to the east, that
stretched farther than his eye could trace, the setting sun threw his
departing rays, and innumerable windows glanced like burnished gold; while
the diadem-shaped spire of St Giles', towering above all, in the centre,
seemed to proclaim her the queen of cities. With all the impatience of
youth, he urged on his horse, expecting to see all the inhabitants of so
fair a place themselves fair. But scarce had he entered the West-Port gate,
when his feelings were shocked to witness, on every side, squalid misery
and wretchedness, and every token of poverty and vice. He put up for the
night at one of the many inns of the Grassmarket; and, revolving in his
mind what he had already seen, retired to bed.

Early next morning, he arose, dressed, and sallied forth to gratify his
curiosity; but, with no one to whom he could communicate the feelings that
every new object awakened, he felt solitary among the surrounding crowds.
On the second day after his arrival, as he walked in the Meadows, he
observed among the crowd of well-dressed pedestrians that thronged the
walks, an elderly gentleman, who eyed him with marked attention. William's
curiosity was excited, and he threw himself again in his way. The old
gentleman bowed.

"I beg pardon," said he--"may I be so bold as to request your name?--for I
feel as if you and I had not now met for the first time. Yet it cannot be;
for it is now above twenty years since that time, and you do not appear to
be more than that time old."

"My name is William Wallace," answered William, with a beating heart. "I
never had the honour to see you until to-day."

"Wallace? Wallace?" said the old gentleman, musing. "No---my friend's name
was not Wallace; we were both of Monro's regiment--his name was Seaton; but
the likeness was so strong that you must excuse me for addressing you."

William's heart sank--he remained silent for a few minutes--his face was
alternately flushed and pale--a new train of ideas crowded upon his
mind--he wished to speak, but he could not find utterance--wiped his
forehead with his handkerchief, and went through the other forms of
confusion and bashfulness. His new acquaintance looked upon him, much
surprised at his emotion; and, with an energy bordering on violence, seized
his hand.

"Young man," said he, "that ring was once the property of my friend: how
came you by it? He valued it above all things, nor would he have parted
with it but with life. At this moment, I almost think the last long twenty
years of my life a dream, and that I am still a captain in Monro's
regiment. You must come and dine with me, and explain how this came into
your possession."

"With pleasure," replied William. "It is a sad account, I have to give, and
I am most impatient to learn something of its possessor. Alas! I fear I
must feel too great an interest in him."

"The early friend I allude to," replied the old man, "was an honour to his
country. A braver or more generous heart, no officer in the army possessed.
This you will acknowledge when I have told you all. Alas! poor Seaton!
shall I ever see you again?"

Thus conversing, they reached the house of Colonel Gordon, one of the
principal flats of a house in the High Street. After they had dined,
William gave a distinct account of his birth and the death of his mother,
and a modest outline of himself. His hearer listened to him with the
greatest interest, only interrupting him at the account of his mother's
death by an exclamation of horror.

"Henry Seaton," he cried, "had no hand in this, I could pledge my head for
him. I am strongly impressed, young man, with the idea, that my friend has
been cruelly injured, and his generous heart wounded past recovery by this
deed of darkness. Savage monsters! worse than demons! would to God I had
you in my power!" And he walked about the room in a state of violent
excitement. "William," said he again, "I have no doubt you are the son of
Henry Seaton, my more than brother; and, so far as is in my power, I shall
assist you in the discovery of your parents, and avenge the murder of your
mother. I shall now give you my story:--I was an ensign in Munro's regiment
of Scots, serving in Flanders, when your father (for I have no doubt that
he was such) joined us, early in the spring of the year 1706, a short time
before the battle of Ramilies. We were both of the same company, and of
congenial minds; so that we soon became bosom friends, and were ever as
much as possible in each other's society. In battle we fought side by side,
without being jealous of each other's fame. In our first battle, that of
Ramilies, the Scots had more than their share of the loss, and I had the
misfortune to be shot in the leg early in the action. When I fell, your
father saved me from the sword of the enemy, and bore me out of the line at
the hazard of his own life; for we were at the time, pressed by a strong
division of the French. I soon recovered, and joined the ranks, when our
friendship, if possible, was stronger than ever. At the battle of Oudenard,
where we drove the French from their trenches, your father led on his men,
over the works, with too much eagerness, and was not supported for a time,
as the enemy sprung a mine and made the ditch impassable, killing and
wounding a great many of the advancing column. Bravely did he and his
handful of Scots stand their ground, surrounded and overwhelmed by numbers;
but they were dropping fast, for they fought hand to hand, and they were so
pressed by the enemy, and hemmed in, that they could not fire, for fear of
killing their own men. I saw the perilous situation of my friend; with the
greatest efforts, I and a few noble countrymen got clambered up to their
rescue. At our arrival, there were not more than six of them upon their
feet--all were covered with wounds and spent with fatigue. Your father
still raged like a lion in the toils--all swords were aimed at him--he
seemed invulnerable. I had reached his side, when a severe wound laid him
insensible at my feet; but I stood over him, and backed by my brave
followers, we fought till the French gave way before the numbers of our
troops that had forced the works and poured in on every side. I raised him
up--the blood streamed from his side--he appeared to be dead--his eyes were
closed--I placed my hand upon his breast--all appeared still--then
mournfully I supported his head on my knee, and saw his eyelids move, and
then a faint heaving of the breast. I snatched the canteen of a dead
soldier that lay by my side; there was some wine in it; I applied it to his
lips--he opened his eyes."

"'Edward,' said he, 'I thank you. I fear my career of glory is run. I hope
we have beat the enemy. I die content. Farewell!' And he sank again into

"All this had passed in the course of a couple of minutes The enemy had
made a fresh stand, and were forcing our troops back upon the
intrenchments. I gently laid him down, and, rallying the men who were
retreating, again forced them back. The enemy began to give way in all
directions, and we followed up our advantage until the order for ceasing
the pursuit was given. For a time I had forgot everything, in the
impetuosity of battle; but, after rallying my company, and marching back to
our camp, I took a file of men, and proceeded to the spot where I had left
my friend. I looked for some time in vain. So active had been the work of
the pillagers that followed the camp, that the dead and the dying had been
stripped; and by the countenance alone could one discover a friend from a
foe, I examined every face amidst a heap of dead bodies, and discovered my
friend. Life was not yet extinct. I had him removed to my tent, and went
for a surgeon, who examined and dressed his wound, but gave me no hopes of
his recovery. He was carefully removed into Oudenard, where our hospitals
were established, and for some days his life was despaired of; but youth
and a good constitution prevailed, and he again bade fair for life and
happiness. As soon as he was enabled to converse, I was at my usual place
by his bedside, when, after thanking me for his preservation, he expressed
the deepest sorrow for the loss of his ring, which had been torn from his
finger by the pillagers.

"I had, until now, scarcely paid any attention to this bauble; but
remembered, when he spoke of it, of having seen at all times a ring upon
his finger. I expressed my concern at his loss, but said, that it ought not
to give him so much concern, at a time when a miraculously spared life
called for his gratitude to God.

"'I value it next to life itself,' was his reply, 'for it was the gift of
my mother, and had been in our family for ages. Publish among the sutlers,
my good friend, that fifty dollars will be given for the ring, upon its
delivery to me; and twenty dollars to any one who will give information
that will lead to its recovery.'

"I promised, and left him, consoled with the hopes of again getting the
jewel; yet I could not help thinking my friend too profuse in his offer. I
immediately published in the camp, a reward of ten dollars for the ring, or
five for any information to lead to its recovery, and next morning the ring
was delivered, and the ten dollars paid to one of the fiends in human
shape, that, like vultures, follow in the track of war. My fingers itched
to cut the ruffian down, but I restrained myself. I paid him the promised
reward with a hearty curse--the word of a soldier is sacred; and it was at
this time that I examined the bauble so minutely, that I never can forget
it. I never saw joy more vividly expressed than when he placed it upon his
emaciated finger, and said I had given him a medicine that would quickly
recover him.

"'Shade of my sainted mother,' he ejaculated, 'I have still thy latest
gift, and it shall be parted with only with my latest breath.' And he
kissed it fervently as he spoke."

"In the course of a few weeks, he was convalescent, and again joined the
regiment. Each officer had received one step of promotion, and our duties
went on in the usual routine, though we were principally occupied in
foraging parties. It was the depth of winter, and provisions were scarce.
Henry had the command of a strong foraging party; and, on one occasion, he
came in his route to a large farm-house, where he hoped to obtain supplies.
Approaching the house, he heard cries of distress and supplication in
female voices. He put his men into rapid motion, and rushed forward alone.
Passing a thick fence, he saw a party of Dutch soldiers, who had
anticipated him, and some of whom were at the door, guarding it; but the
greater part were within the house. The cries became more piteous and
piercing. He drew his sword and rushed past the sentinels at the door, who
attempted to prevent him; but the view of his men coming up unnerved them.
A scene of horror met his eyes: the male inmates of the house were bound,
and soldiers were standing over them, ready to plunge their bayonets into
their bosoms at the least movement, while others were proceeding to acts of
violence towards the females. With a voice of thunder, he commanded them to
desist, and, seizing the officer, hurled him from the terrified and
fainting daughter of the farmer. The Dutchman, in rage, drew and made a
furious lounge at him, which he parried; and his men entering at the same
time, they drove the others out of the house. My friend, in French,
requested the Dutchman to follow his men; but he refused, and challenged
him to single combat, for the insult he said he had received at his
hands--adding some opprobrious epithets, which roused the choler of the
brave Englishman. In an instant, they were engaged hand to hand; but short
was the strife--the Dutchman fell dead on the scene of his violence, and
his men returned to the camp, and made a complaint against Monro's
regiment, which was like to have led to some serious consequences; but,
after your father stating the circumstances to the colonel, the latter
waited upon the Duke of Marlborough, and we heard no more of the affair.

"The last action we were in together, we both escaped unhurt; yet it was
the bloodiest one we had ever been in. Of all the honours of Malplaquet,
the Monroes had their full share; for, although the Duke did not like the
Scots, and used at times to throw a sarcasm at their country, he always
gave them a situation of danger, either from dislike or a reliance on their
courage. About twelve months after Malplaquet, your father left the service
and retired into France. Peace was now evidently at hand, and an armistice
had been agreed upon and signed by several of the allies of the English;
and our gallant leader was now in disgrace. Much as Henry Seaton and I
esteemed each other in all other points, we had no fellowship in politics.
I was and am a Whig; he, a Tory of the first water--a devoted adherent of
the exiled family; yet, high as parties ran at this time in cities, we had
no differences in the camp, where each respected his neighbour's opinion,
nor overvalued his own. The last letter I received from him was about
twelve months after we parted. It was dated St Germain's. He said, and in a
mysterious sort of way, half-earnest, half-jest, that, in a short time, we
might meet, to try the force of our different opinions. I, at the time,
only laughed at it, and returned, for answer, that I had no doubt we would
both do our best, and leave the issue to the Disposer of events. Soon
after, Mar's ill-concerted rebellion took place, in which I have no doubt
your father was an active agent; but I have, since this last letter, lost
all trace of him. Your being born in the year '16 would lead me to suppose
that he must have married your mother about the time of the Rebellion,
either in Scotland or France."

That Henry Seaton was his father, William earnestly prayed; but how was he
to ascertain this fact? He knew not; neither could his kind host assist
him. The lapse of time was so great, that, in all probability, he was dead;
and, with a mind worse at ease than it had ever been, he took leave of the
Colonel, promising to call again in the forenoon of the following day, to
consult what steps he should take to follow out the information he had so
unexpectedly acquired. He reached the inn, and retired to rest; but sleep
had fled his pillow. A thousand ideas crowded his mind; method after method
was canvassed, each for a time offering assured success, but, upon more
mature consideration, being rejected. Day dawned, and found him as
unresolved as when he left Colonel Gordon. As soon as it was consistent
with propriety, he waited upon the Colonel, by whom he was greeted

"Well, tell me," said he, "the fruit of your invention for tracing out your
father, and I will tell you what has occurred to me as the best mode of

William, without hesitation, told the state of his mind, and his utter
inability to think of any feasible plan, from his ignorance of the world
and its ways.

"Poor fellow! I do not wonder at what you tell me," replied the Colonel.
"Before many years go over your head, you and the world will be better
acquainted. My own opinion is, that you must forthwith proceed to France,
where you will find many of the adherents of the Stuarts. The young Charles
Edward is easy of access to Scotchmen, for he is anxious to make adherents;
and I have no doubt that he, or others of his followers, will be able to
give you every information about Henry Seaton. But you must beware how you
acquit yourself, lest they cajole you into their party; for, if your father
be alive and acknowledge you, the trial will be greater than you are aware,
to resist him."

"I will at once follow your wise counsel," replied William. "I trust--nay,
my heart tells me I shall be successful. Of my ever being an adherent of
the Stuart family, I have no fears. Before that can happen, I must first
forget all I have ever learned, from my first dawn of reason up to this
present moment. The first tears of sorrow I ever shed were for the woes of
others, drawn forth by the tale of the sufferings of my foster parent's
father, who suffered for the cause of truth, near the very spot where I now
lodge. The worthy minister, to whom I am indebted for all the learning I
possess, had also some share in my politics. Nay, do not smile, when I say
he had political opinions. He spiritualized everything. Nebuchadnezzar was
a type of the Stuart family. The Babylonish king, driven out from men, was
only an emblem of their expulsion, during the time of the Commonwealth, and
his being restored was only the fortune of Charles II.; but, as he
continued in idolatry after his restoration, so did Charles, after his
subscribing the Covenant at Scone; and, as Nebuchadnezzar's family were
destroyed, so are the Stuarts cut off from the throne for ever. To the
whole of this I do not subscribe; but my aversion to the family of the
Stuarts, I can never overcome."

"My young friend," replied the Colonel, "I am not one to quarrel with any
one for his opinion; but I rejoice to find we are of one mind. I will
accompany you to Leith, and we will make inquiries if there is any vessel
there likely soon to sail for France."

They accordingly proceeded to Leith, where they found there was a brig to
sail in the course of a week or two for Bourdeaux, to bring home a cargo of
wine. There were also several vessels to sail in a few days, for different
ports in Holland; but the Colonel advised William to agree with the captain
of the vessel for Bourdeaux--which, he did; and, having never seen the sea
but at a distance, nor a vessel in his life, his friend, to oblige him,
lingered on the shore, and examined them with him. In this manner the time
passed. They dined in Leith, and again walked about the shore, enjoying the
delightful scene. The shades of evening were beginning to approach, when
they resumed their way back to the city. They had reached about half-way to
the Abbey-Hill, when two men rushed from behind the fence, and, presenting
pistols to their breasts, demanded their money or their lives.

"Ho, my good fellows, not so fast!" exclaimed the Colonel, and drew his
sword. William did the same. One of the villains fired, and wounded the
Colonel in the right shoulder. William, at the same moment, plunged his
sword into his side, and he fell. The other ruffian fled, pursued by
William; but he escaped. He then hastened to his friend, who stood leaning
against the wall, with the wounded robber beside him. William inquired if
he was much injured.

"No, Seaton," he said. "I believe it is only a flesh wound, for I can wield
my sword yet." And he raised it up, and pointing it at the breast of the
fallen wretch, who lay groaning at his feet--"We must secure him," said the
Colonel; "and, at the same time, be on our guard against his cowardly
associate. If he could walk, I would know how to act with him; but I am not
going to carry the base carrion. Indeed, my arm bleeds, and is getting
stiff; otherwise I would dispatch him where he lies, and save the hangman
his labour."

"For the love of God, do not despatch me!" cried the man. "I will try to
walk; I would not be cut off so suddenly. In mercy, spare me, even for a
few hours. I am unfit to die; yet I feel life ebbing fast."

He rose to his feet, but was sinking again, when William's pity overcoming
his anger, he supported him. The wretch looked in his face, uttered a
scream of horror, and sank senseless in his arms. He looked to the Colonel
in astonishment. The latter looked narrowly into the face of the robber,
passed his hand across his forehead, and mused, as if recalling something
to his memory, but spake not.

Two men now came up to them, and assisted them to carry the body to the
nearest house, where a surgeon was sent for, and intimation given to the
authorities, who were all in a state of the greatest alacrity--stimulated,
doubtless, by the Porteous mob, which had taken place only a few months
before. Until the surgeon arrived, William, by the directions of the
Colonel, bound up his shoulder. What the Colonel called a scratch, appeared
to him a serious wound; for the ball had passed through the muscle of his
arm. They proceeded to stanch the blood which flowed from the side of their
prisoner, when the surgeon arrived; who, after having examined it, at once
declared it mortal, and that the man had not many hours to live. After some
time, he succeeded in restoring sensibility to the sufferer. He opened his
eyes--fixed them on William, who was assisting the surgeon in his
efforts--a fearful change came over him--he groaned, and, clasping his
hands, shrieked, and closed them again. A sudden recollection had come over
the Colonel.

"I cannot be mistaken," said he; "I have seen him before; but when or where
I cannot say, unless he was one of my company in Monro's regiment."

At the mention of Monro's regiment, the wretched man shuddered--his eye
fell upon the ring upon William's hand, as he held up the candle by the
bedside--the sweat stood in large drops upon his forehead--he would have
started up, but was restrained.

"Nay, then, since I am discovered," he cried, "I will confess all to you,
my injured and betrayed master. I see the Colonel recollects me; but I am
surprised you do not remember your old servant, Alick Brown."

"Who was your master?" exclaimed William, in surprise.

"Captain Henry Seaton--yourself," said the man. "I cannot be mistaken. That
ring--your height and countenance. You are, I am happy to see, much
improved since I last saw you--time appears to have made no change."

"Know you aught of Henry Seaton?" demanded the Colonel; while William stood
mute in astonishment and surprise.

"If this is not my old master whom I see," said the man, "who can he be? My
mind is filled with guilt and remorse. Die I must, either of this wound, or
by the law--for me there is no hope here or hereafter." And he groaned and
ground his teeth in despair, while the surgeon bade him prepare for death,
as he had but a few hours to live. The officers entered, and claimed him as
their prisoner. The villain once more arose in his mind. "Ha!" he
exclaimed, "I have bilked you yet. I have a sufficient bail in my side to
rescue me out of your hands." The effort to speak now became more
difficult; his voice sank into whispers; he appeared to be dying. Remorse
again roused him; and, turning his head, he inquired who William was? The
Colonel told him. He became more dreadfully agitated, and groaned in
anguish, till the officers of justice looked upon him in horror.

"I can doubt no longer," he cried. "It is too true. There is a God that
governs all! Mercy, mercy! How shall I appear before Him, covered with the
blood of his creatures? Let me perform the only act now in my power--to
atone for the past. Young man, you are the son of my noble and injured
master. After he left the army in Flanders, I accompanied him to France,
where he lived on terms of great intimacy with the royal exiles and their
followers for several months; at the end of which time, he and two other
gentlemen, accompanied by me, set out for Scotland on a secret mission to
the disaffected, preparatory to the preconcerted rising. We remained
concealed for several months, in the houses of those whom we knew to be
adherents to the cause we were embarked in. At the house of Lord Somerville
we remained for a long time, where my master won the affections of his
daughter, and proposed for her; but his Lordship objected to their union at
that time, on account of the unsettled state of affairs. With the consent
of Helen, they were, however, privately married; and soon after we set out
for Aboyne, and joined in the unfortunate affair. He was slightly wounded
at Sheriff-muir, but escaped by my assistance, and got safe to our camp.
The Prince and the Earl of Mar embarked when all hopes of success were cut
off, and I was sent back to the house of his wife's father, to bring her to
her husband, who had remained concealed in the Highlands, during the
severity of the winter. It was arranged, through me, that, as soon as he
had received remittances from France, I was to conduct her to the coast of
Argyle, by Glasgow and the Clyde. It was far on in the summer before he
could get all the arrangements made. His wife, who expected in a few weeks
to be confined, and concealed her situation with difficulty, became most
urgent. Early in the month of September, she escaped unseen from her
father's house, and joined me at the appointed place, accompanied by a
fiend in woman's shape, the agent whom I had employed to carry on our
intercourse. She had been a follower of the camp, and, by the little
service for which I paid her well, had won the confidence of the simple
Helen. We rode as fast as the lady's circumstances would admit, only
halting twice for a short time, in secret places. It was then that the
devil first assailed me in the person of this woman. She told me what a
quantity of money and jewels the lady had in her valise, and how easy it
would be to get all into our possession. I shuddered at the very idea, and
threatened to shoot her upon the spot. She laughed, and said it was all a
jest; but it took hold of my mind during the course of our journey, and she
judged by my looks, I suppose, that I was now more fit for her purpose. We
conversed about it; the idea became familiar; but I shuddered at blood. She
said there would be none shed. Still I could not consent--neither was I
sufficiently averse. The poor lady was taken ill as we passed through the
moor. You know the rest. As we stood at the cottage door, the pious
discourse of the farmer tortured me past endurance. I was several times on
the point of rushing into the cottage, and guarding my lady from the fiend;
but my evil genius prevailed. When we entered and got the unsuspecting
couple to their bed, my tempter smiled, and whispered 'All is safe.' I
shuddered, and inquired what she meant.

"'Oh, nothing,' she replied. 'The lady cannot recover; the woman of the
house has given her a composing draught. She will never awake. The money
and jewels are our own.'

"And cautiously she displayed before me more gold than I had ever seen. I
could not think of parting with it. We carried off all that had belonged to
my mistress, even her body-clothes and the body of the dead babe, resolved
to shew it to my master, and impose upon him by saying that his wife had
died in childbed, and that we had left her to be buried by the clergyman.
Our object in this was to do away all suspicion of unfair play. Our excuse
for not seeing the body interred was haste to inform him, and prevent
inquiries that might lead to his discovery. On the day after we left the
cabin, I found my master at the appointed place, in the utmost anxiety for
the arrival of his wife. Every hour of delay was attended by the utmost
danger. A government cruiser had been seen on the coast; and there were
fears that the small vessel might be discovered. Oh, moment that has ever
since embittered my life! The agony he endured no human tongue can
describe. He was in a state of distraction. I, with a guilty officiousness,
displayed her wardrobe. He turned from it in an agony. The dead body of the
babe he kissed and pressed to his bosom. Low groans had as yet only escaped
him; but suddenly, to my alarm, he resolved to go with me and die on her
grave. I trembled and felt a faintness come over me--for I was then young
in guilt. My associate, hardened and inventive, began to urge the folly of
the attempt. He pushed her from him with violence, and would have set out;
but at that moment word was given that the cruiser was in sight, as if
bearing for the land. Two friends and some of the crew seized him, and by
force hurried him on board the vessel, and set sail. I felt as if reprieved
from death, and did not go on board; for I dreaded the presence of my
injured master. We returned to Glasgow, where we remained for a few weeks,
rioting on the fruits of our guilt. One morning when I awoke after a
debauch, I found my companion fled, and all the gold and valuables gone. I
arose in a state of distraction, ran to the port in quest of her; but in
vain--no vessel had sailed. I proceeded to Greenock; on the way I got
traces of her, and dogged her at every turn. My mind took a new direction
as I followed her. I looked upon her now as a fiend that had led me to
ruin, and left me, loaded with guilt, to die under the pangs of poverty and
an awakened conscience. My mind was distracted. Holding up my hands to
heaven, I vowed vengeance, and cursed and swore in such a manner that
people on the road turned and looked at me, and thought me mad. I was mad;
but it was the madness of passion that burned in my brain, and the stings
of conscience that pierced my heart. I paused several times in my pursuit.
I was told by one traveller that the woman I sought was not a mile from me,
that she was sitting by the road-side drinking ardent spirits alone, and
muttering strange words to herself. Ha! thought I, conscience is busy with
her too, and she drinks to drown its dreadful voice. 'Shall I kill her?' I
said to myself. My heart yearned for her blood. Why should I deny it? I
felt that I required that satisfaction to enable me to live a little longer
upon earth. So much was my frenzy roused, that I pictured to myself a total
impossibility to live and breathe if I did not feel the satisfaction of
having visited on that woman's head the evil she brought on that sweet lady
who died by her hands. Then did her beautiful face beam before me in full
contrast with that of the hag who had led me to ruin, to misery, to hell.
Every thought inflamed me more and more, and on I flew to the relief of my
burning brain. Wretch! How little did I think that, even in meditating her
death, who deserved that punishment, I was only adding more and more power
to my burning conscience? But all calculation of future accidents died
amidst my thirst of vengeance. Breathless I hurried on. I had a dagger in
my hand ready for the work of death. At a turn of a beech wood, I saw her
sitting by the road-side. She was drinking spirits; and, as I approached, I
heard her muttering strange words--yet she was not intoxicated. She was
only under the power of the demons that ruled her. Her back was to me, and
she knew not of my approach. I saw her take out the money and jewels she
had stolen from me, and for which, by her advice, I had sold my soul to
Satan. The sight again brought before me the horrid crime I had committed.
I saw the sweet lady before me, extended in the grasp of death; and
conscience, with a thousand fangs, tore at my heart. I grasped the dagger
firmer and firmer as she counted the money, and wrought myself up to the
pitch of a demon's fury. I advanced quietly. She burst into a loud laugh as
she finished the counting of the gold. 'Ha, ha, ha!' she cried--'I
have'--she would have said 'outwitted him,' but my dagger fixed the word in
her death-closed jaws. I struck her to the heart through her back, and the
word 'outwitted' died in her throat. She lay at my feet a corpse. I threw
the body in a ditch, and took up the money and jewels for which I had sold
my soul. I would have cast them away; but the devil again danced in the
faces of the gold coins. I put them in my pocket. The gold again corrupted
me. I drowned my conscience in drink at the next inn. I fled into England,
where I have lived by rapine ever since, until the other day, when I
returned to Scotland to meet the fate I so well deserve, from the hands of
the son of those I had injured. Of my old master I have never heard
anything. If he is alive, he is still in France."

Life seemed only to have been prolonged until he had made the horrid
disclosure; for he fell into convulsions and expired, soon after the
Colonel, whose wound had become stiff and painful, had left the house. Next
morning, William visited his friend, and was grieved to find that he was
rather feverish. His wound was still painful. The occurrence of the
preceding evening occupied both their minds. William had no doubt of his
being the lawful son of Henry Seaton by Miss Somerville; but was as much in
doubt as to whether his father was alive as ever. In a few days, the
Colonel was enabled to leave his bed-room, and became convalescent. He
urged the propriety of William's proceeding to France in quest of his
father; and, as the vessel was not yet to sail for a few days, he resolved
to pay a visit to his friend, the minister, to inform him of his
intentions, and relate the history of his mother's murderers. The Colonel
would have accompanied him; but he could not ride. He rode along to the
manse, with feelings very different from those with which he had left it.
The worthy minister rejoiced to see him, and held up his pious hands at
the horrid recital. He approved of William's determination of going in
quest of his father, and, after paying a visit to his mother's and foster
parents' graves, he once more mounted to return to Edinburgh. As he rode
slowly along, musing upon the wayward fate of his parents unconscious of
all around, he was roused by the tread of horses' feet behind him. He
looked back, and saw a gentleman, attended by a servant in livery,
approaching. He roused himself, and put his horse off the slow pace at
which he had been going. The stranger and he saluted each other, and
entered into conversation upon indifferent subjects. At length they became
interested in each other, and found that they were both on the eve of
sailing for France in the same vessel. The stranger requested to have the
pleasure of knowing the name of his fellow-traveller.

"Seaton," said William, "is my name."

"Seaton, Seaton," said the other--"I am surprised I did not recognise you
before. I thought we had met before; but your youth made me always doubt
the truth of my surmises. Colonel Henry Seaton was an intimate acquaintance
of mine--have I the pleasure of seeing his son?"

"I hope you have," replied William. "Pray, sir, when saw you him last? Was
he in good health?"

"It is some time since I left France," said the other. "At that time he was
in his ordinary health; but not more cheerful than usual--always grave and
sad as ever."

"Thank God!" cried William; "he is, I trust, then, still alive." And he
pressed the stranger's hand with a warmth that surprised him. "Where do you
mean to stay," resumed William, "until the vessel sails?"

"I have no relations," replied he, "in Edinburgh. I meant to stay at an inn
in the Canongate, where I have lived before; but it is all one to me--I may
as well tarry in the White Hart with you."

When they arrived, William sent a cadie to give notice to Colonel Gordon
that he was arrived in town; but was detained upon business with a
stranger, to whom he would be happy to introduce him, as he was an
acquaintance of his father's, and had seen him within the last few years.
Soon after dinner, they were all seated at their wine, and deep in
conversation. The stranger had been, from what he said, well acquainted
with the exiled party in France, and, more particularly, with Colonel
Seaton; but he knew nothing of his history, further than that he had lost a
beloved wife and child at the time of his expatriation, and had, both by
friends here and every other means, endeavoured in vain to get any
information of where she was buried, or what had become of a faithful
servant who had not embarked with him in the confusion of his flight--that
on this account he was often oppressed by a lowness of spirits, and had
many suspicions that all had not been as it ought to have been. This
subject discussed, they would have had recourse to politics; but each
seemed cautious of betraying his opinions, and the stranger, who did not
seem to relish much some of the sentiments that occasionally escaped the
Colonel, appeared to be a Tory. After the Colonel departed, the
conversation of William and Mr Graham--for this was the gentleman's
name--became more pointed, and it appeared that he was on business
connected with the exiles. He had assumed that William was of his own way
of thinking in politics, and was evidently much disappointed when he
discovered that he was not. He became much more reserved, but not less
attached to him; for William gave him a general outline of his misfortunes
and early education, and they parted for the night with the best opinion of
each other. Next morning both proceeded to Leith, where Graham expected to
find a messenger from the north with a packet of letters for him. When they
reached Leith, they found that the messenger had arrived on the previous
day, and was waiting for Mr Graham, who, having several persons to visit in
the neighbourhood, William and he parted, agreeing to meet in the Colonel's
to supper. They met in the evening.

"I have been making some inquiries," said Mr Graham, "about Colonel Henry
Seaton, on your account, and am happy to say that he is well. I fear I
shall not have the pleasure of your company to France. I have every reason
to believe that he is now in Scotland, or will be very soon. Excuse me if I
am not more particular. I shall, I hope, to-morrow, or at least before the
vessel sails, be able to give you more particular information. I can rely,
I think, upon your honour, that no harm shall come from my confidence."

Both thanked him for the interest he took, and the good news he had
communicated. They parted for the night, all in the best spirits--William
anticipating the joy he should feel at the sight of his parent, and the
Colonel anxious to see his old friend. Afterwards Mr Graham and William
occasionally met. Their evenings were spent with the Colonel, and all party
discussion carefully avoided. On the evening of the fourth day after Mr
Graham's last information, William had begun to fear that the vessel might
sail before any certainty could be obtained; and he was in doubt whether to
proceed with her or remain. Upon Mr Graham's arrival, which was later than
usual, he went directly up to William--

"I have good news for you," said he. "Colonel Seaton is at present in
Scotland--somewhere in Inverness-shire. He is the bearer of intelligence
that will render it unnecessary for me to proceed at present to France. I
am, I confess, much disappointed; but you, I perceive, are not."

"From my soul I thank you," said William. "Where shall I find my father?"

"That is more than I can tell you," answered the other--"I cannot even tell
the name he has at present assumed; all I know is, that he is the bearer of
intelligence from the Prince that crushes for a time our sanguine hopes.
The fickle and promise-breaking Louis has again deceived us. The Prince,
and the lukewarm, timid part of his adherents, the worshippers of the
ascendant, refuse to act without his powerful aid. His concurrence we have,
and a prospect of future aid at a more convenient season; but, bah! for a
Frenchman's promise! I am off from ever taking a leading part again. I will
wait the convenient season. I may be led, but shall never lead again. He
does not deserve a crown that will not dare for it; nor does he deserve the
hearts of a generous people that would not dare everything to free them
from the yoke of a foreign tyrant. Excuse me, gentlemen,--I go too far, and
am giving you offence; but I assure you it is not meant. My heart is full
of bitterness, and I forget what I say."

The Colonel, whose blood had begun to inflame when Graham checked himself,
cooled and felt rather gratified at the intelligence thus so unexpectedly
communicated. He felt for a generous mind crossed in its favourite object,
however much he thought that mind misled, from education and early
prejudice, and assured him he had already forgot his expressions. A
different turn was given to the conversation, by William's continued
inquiries after his father. Graham meant to set off for the north in a few
days, for a secret meeting of the heads of the disaffected, at which
Colonel Seaton was to communicate the message he had to them from France.
He offered to be William's guide. The Colonel, whose shoulder was now quite
well, requested to accompany them; and on the Monday morning after, they
crossed at Kinghorn, and proceeded by the most direct route, passing
through Perthshire to the Highlands. They arrived at Glengarry, and found
that Colonel Seaton was at the time on a visit, with the chief, to Glenelg,
but would be back on the following day. There were a number of visiters at
the castle, with all whom Graham was on the most intimate terms. Gordon and
William were introduced, and the latter was most cordially received, from
the strong resemblance he bore to his father. They got a guide to conduct
them to see the beautiful scenery around the house, and they were amusing
themselves admiring the grandeur of the mountain scenes, when the guide
said, pointing to a bend in the road--

"Gentlemen, there is Glengarry."

They looked towards the spot, and could perceive two persons on horseback,
approaching in earnest conversation. William's heart beat quick--the reins
almost dropped from his hand--he felt giddy, and his temples throbbed as if
they would have burst. They approached--they bowed to each other--William's
eyes were fixed upon the countenance of his father, who returned his gaze,
but neither spoke a word. The Colonel said, in answer to the polite
salutation, that he and his young friend had had the honour to accompany Mr
Graham on a visit.

"Has Graham come back so soon?" he said, with surprise, "I feared as much;
but, gentlemen, you are kindly welcome." And he shook hands with them.

"Macdonald, what is this?" he said, turning to Seaton, who was absorbed in
thought. "Here is a youthful counterpart of yourself!"

"My father!" exclaimed William, as he leaped from his horse, and clasped
his leg, leaning his face upon it, and bedewing it with his tears.

"Young man," said Seaton, coldly, "you are mistaken; I have no son."
William lifted his hands in an imploring manner, and the ring met his
father's eye. "Good heavens! what do I see!" he exclaimed, and sank
forward, overpowered by his feelings, upon his horse's neck. The chief and
the Colonel raised him up--the tears were streaming from his eyes. "A
thousand painful remembrances," said he, "have quite unmanned me. Young
man, you just now called me father--where, for mercy's sake tell me, did
you get that ring?"

"It was found on the bosom of my dead mother," faltered William.

"Then you are my son!"

And the next moment they were locked in each other's embrace. The chief and
Gordon were moved. They passed their hands hastily across their eyes.

"Dear father," said William, "have you forgot your old friend and associate
in arms--my best of friends?"

Seaton for the first time looked to him, and, extending his disengaged
hand, grasped the Colonel's, saying--

"Excuse me, Gordon--I am now too happy. I have found a son and a brother."

They walked to the castle, and William detailed to his father his mournful
story. Often had he to stop, to allow his father to give vent to his

"Ah, I often feared," said he, "that my Helen had been hardly dealt with;
but this I never did suspect. Cursed villain! and, oh! my poor murdered

They returned to the castle. It was agreed that Seaton should still retain
the name of Macdonald, until the Colonel should obtain, through the
influence of his friends, a pardon for him. He also had lost all hopes of
success for the Prince, and wished to enjoy the company of his son, visit
the grave of his beloved wife, and, at death, be buried by her side. All
was obtained; and Henry Seaton lived for many years, blessed in the society
of his son, who studied the law, at the suggestion of the Colonel, and
became distinguished in his profession.


It has been asserted by at least one historian, that it has been observed,
that the inhabitants of towns which have undergone a cruel siege, and
experienced all the horrors of storm and pillage, have retained for ages
the traces of the effects of their sufferings, in a detestation of war,
indications of pusillanimity, and decline of trade. If there be any truth
in this observation, what caitiffs must the inhabitants of Berwick be! No
town in the world has been so often exposed to the "ills that wait on the
red chariot of war;" for Picts, Romans, Danes, Saxons, English, and Scotch
have, in their turn, wasted their rage and their strength upon her broken
ribs. Her boasted "barre," (barrier,) from which her name, Barrewick, is
derived, has never been able to save her effectually, either from her
enemies of land or water. From the reign of Osbert, the king of
Northumberland, down to the time when Lord Sidmouth saw treason in her big
guns, she has been devoted to the harpies of foreign and intestine war and
discord. Yet who shall say, that the hearts or spirits of the inhabitants
of this extraordinary town lost either blood or buoyancy from their
misfortunes? No sooner were her bulwarks raised than they appeared
renascent; the inhabitants defended the new fortifications with a spirit
that received a salient power from the depression produced by the
demolition of the old; and her ships, that one day were shattered by
engines of war, sailed in a state of repair with the next fair wind, to
fetch from distant ports articles of merchandise, not seldom for those who
were fighting or had fought against her liberties. Such was Berwick; and
her sons of to-day inherit too much of the nobility and generosity of her
old children, to find fault with us for telling them a tale which, while it
exhibits some shades of the warlike spirit of their ancestors, shews also
that war and citizen warriors have their foibles, and are not always exempt
from the harmless laugh that does the heart more good than the touch of an
old spear.

The Lord Hume of the latter period of the seventeenth century, had a
natural son, Patrick, an arch rogue, inheriting the fire of the blood of
the Humes, along with that which burnt in the black eyes of the gipsies of
Yetholm. He was brought up by his father; and, true to the principles of
his education, would acknowledge no patrons of the heart, save the three
ruling powers of love, laughter, and war--Cupid, Momus, and Mars--a trio
chosen from all the gods, (the remainder being sent to Hades,) as being
alone worthy of the worship of a gentleman. How Patrick got acquainted,
and, far less, how he got in love with the Mayor of Berwick's daughter,
Isabella, we cannot say, nor need antiquarians try to discover; for where
there was a Southron to be slain or a lady to be won, Patrick Hume cared no
more for bar, buttress, battlement, fire, or water, than did Jove for his
own thunder-cloud, under the shade of which he courted the daughter of
Inachus. Letting alone the recondite subject of "love's beginning," we
shall tread safer ground in stating, that the affection had been very
materially increased on both sides by the walls of Berwick; for, although
Patrick was a great despiser of fortifications, he had felt, in the affair
of his love for Isabella, the fair daughter of the Mayor of Berwick, that
there is no getting a damsel through a _loop-hole_, though there might be
poured as much sentimental and pathetic speech and sigh-breath through the
invidious opening, as ever passed through the free air that fills the
breeze under the trysting thorn.

What we have now said requires the explanation, that at the period of our
story, the town of Berwick belonged to the English; and the Mayor, being
himself either an Englishman, or connected by strong ties of relationship
with the English, had a strong antipathy towards the Scottish Border
raiders, whom he denominated as gentlemen-robbers, headed by the noble
robber Hume. But, above all, he hated young Patrick--into whose veins, he
said, there had been poured the distilled raid-venom and love-poison of all
the gentlemen-scaumers that ever infested the Borders. The origin of this
hatred had some connection with an affair of the Newmilne, belonging to
Berwick; the dam-dike of which, Patrick alleged, prevented the salmon from
getting up the river, and hence destroyed all his angling sport, as well as
that of all the noblemen and gentlemen that resorted to the river for the
purpose of practising the "gentle art." He had therefore threatened to pull
it down, to let up the fish; and sounded his threat in the ears of the
indignant Mayor, in terms that were, peradventure, made stronger and
bitterer by the thought that dikes and walls were his greatest bane upon
earth: by the walls of Berwick the Mayor kept from his arms the fair
Isabella, and by the dam-dike of Newmilne the same Mayor deprived him of
the pleasure of angling. Was such power on the part of a Mayor to be borne
by the high-spirited youth who had been trained to look upon mason-work as
a mere stimulant to love or war--a thing that raised the value of what it
enclosed by the opposition it offered to the young blood that raged for
entrance? The youth thought not. He vowed that he would neither lose his
Isabella nor his salmon; and, as fate would have it, the old Mayor had
heard the vow, and vowed also that young Patrick should lose both.

Having fished one day to no purpose, in consequence of the obstruction of
"that most accursed of all dam-dikes, the Newmilne dike," as Patrick styled
it, he threw down his rod, and lay down upon the bank of the river, to wait
the hour when the moon should summon and lighten him to the loop-hole in
the other of his hated obstructions, the walls of Berwick--where that
evening he expected to meet his beloved Isabella, and commune with her in
the eloquent language of their mutual passion. The bright luminary burst in
the midst of his reveries from behind an autumn cloud, and flashed a long
silver beam upon the rolling waters. He started to his feet.

"It is beyond my time," he said, self-accusingly. "My Isabella is on
Berwick Wall, and I am still lingering here by the banks of the river,
three miles from where my love and honour require me to be. The loiterer in
love is a laggard in war; and shame on the Hume who is either!"

In a short time the young Hume was standing beneath a buttress of the old
walls of the town, looking earnestly through a small opening, in which he
expected to see the face of the fair daughter of the Mayor.

"Art there at last, love?" said he, in a soft voice, as he saw, with
palpitating heart, the pretty but arch face of the bewitching heiress of
all the wealth of the old burgher lord peering through the aperture. "What,
in the name of him who got his wings in the lap of Venus, and useth them to
this hour as cleverly as doth our pretty messenger of Spring, hath kept
thee, wench?"

"Ha! ha! hush! hush, man!" responded she, whose spirit equalled that of the
boldest Hume that ever headed a raid. "Thou'rt the laggard. I've waited for
thee an hour, until I've sighed this little love-hole into an oven-heat,
waiting thee, thou lover of broken troth! Some gipsy queen in Haugh of the
Tweed hath wooed thee out of thy affection for thy Isabel; and now thou
askest what hath kept me. Ha! ha! Good--for a Hume."

"The moon cheated me, and went skulking under a cloud," responded Hume.

"And the cloud threw thy love in the shade," added quickly the gay girl.
"Methought love kept his own dial, and was independent of sun or moon. What
if a rebel vapour cometh over the queen of heaven that night thou art to
make me free? My hope of liberty, I fancy, would be clouded; and I would be
remitted again to the care of Captain Wallace, who keepeth the town and the
Mayor's daughter from the spoiling arms of the robber Humes."

"Ha! ha!" replied he--"thy father wanteth not a Mayor's wits, Isabella, in
offering thee as a prize to the Governor of the town. Excellent device,
i'faith! The old burgher lord knew he could not keep thee, mad-cap wench as
thou art, from a hated Hume's arms, unless he gave the Captain an interest
as a _lover_ in guarding thee, like a piece of the old wall of Berwick."

"And therein thou'rt well complimented," replied she; "for my father could
not get, in all Berwick, a man that could keep me from thee, but he who
guardeth town, and Mayor, and maiden together. Since the Governor, as a
lover, got charge of me, I am more firmly caged than ever was the old
countess, who was so long confined in the grated wing-cage of the old
castle. When art thou to free me from the Governor's love and surveillance,
good Patrick? If what I have now to tell thee hath no power to quicken thy
wits and nerve thine arm, thou art indeed thyself no better than one of
those stones, to which, in thy wit, thou hast likened me. Knowest that a
day is fixed for Captain Wallace being my _legal_ governor?"

"Ha!" cried Hume, in agitation. "This soundeth differently from the playful
hammer of thy wit, Bell. What day is fixed? Thou hast fired me with high

"How high tower they?" cried the maiden, laughing. "Do they reach thy
former threat, to pull down the Newmilne dam-dike, and let _up_ the salmon,
in revenge for the letting _down_ of the Mayor's daughter?"

"Another time for thy wit, Bell," replied Patrick, in a more serious tone.
"Thou hast put to flight my spirits. The grey owl Meditation is flapping
his dingy wing over my heart. The time--the time--when is the day?"

"This day se'ennight," answered Isabel. "Hush! hush! here cometh the
Governor, blowing like a Tweedmouth grampus, fresh from the German Sea, in
full run after a lady-fish of the queen of rivers."

And now Hume heard the hoarse voice of the redoubted Governor, Captain
Wallace--that fat overgrown _bellygerent_ son of Mars, so famous, in his
day, for vaunting of feats of arms, at Bothwell, (where he never was,) over
the Mayor's wine, and in presence of his fair daughter, whom he thus
courted after the manner of the noble Moor, with a slight difference as to
the truth of his feats scarce worth mentioning. It appeared to Hume, as he
listened, that Wallace, and the Mayor, who was with him, had sallied out,
after the fourth bottle, in search of Isabel--a suspicion verified by the
speech of the warlike Captain.

"Did I not tell thee, Mr Mayor," said the Governor, in a voice that
reverberated among the walls, and fell distinctly on Hume's ear, "that she
would be about the fortifications? Ha!--anything appertaining to war
delighteth the fair creature as much as it did that rare author, Will
Shakspeare's Desdemona. If I had been as black as the Moor--ay, or as the
devil himself--my prowess at Bothwell would have given this person of mine,
albeit somewhat enlarged, the properties of beauty in the eyes of
noble-spirited women--so much do our bodies borrow from the qualities of
our souls."

"Where is she?" rejoined the Mayor. "I like not that love of the
fortifications. It is the outside of the walls she loves. See, she flies,
conscience-smitten. I like not this, my noble Captain--see, there is
Patrick Hume beyond the wall, if thou hast courage, drive thy pike through
that loop, and, peradventure, ye may blind a Hume for life."

"I like to strike a man fair--body to body--as we did on the Bridge of
Bothwell," responded the Captain. "Ha! ha! Give me the loop-hole of a good
bilbo-thrust, out of which the soul wings its flight in a comfortable
manner. Nevertheless, to please my noble friend the mayor, and to get quit
of a rival, I may" (lowering his voice to a whisper) "as well kill him in
the way thou hast propounded; but I assure thee, upon my honour, I would
much rather have the fellow before me, without the intervention of these
plaguey walls, that come thus in the way and march of one's valour. There

On looking-up, Hume saw the Captain's bilbo thrusting manfully through the
night air, as if it would pierce the night gnomes and spirits that love to
hang over old battlements. Taking out his handkerchief, he wrapped it round
his hand, and seizing the point of the sword, gave it a jerk, which (and
the consequent terror) disengaged it from the hand of the pot-valiant hero
of Bothwell. A shout of fear was heard from within.

"Stop! stop! mine good Mr Mayor!" cried the Captain to the Mayor, who had
begun to fly; "I do not see, as yet, any very great, that is, serious cause
of apprehension; but, I forget, thou wert not at Bothwell. By my honour,
I've done for him! He hath carried off my sword in his body. Was it Patrick
Hume, saidst thou? Then is he dead as my grandmother, and no more shall he
follow after my betrothed, or threaten thee with the downfall of the
Newmilne dam-dike. All I sorrow for is my good sword, which, but for that
accursed loop, I might have redrawn from his vile carcass, and thus saved
my property at the same time that I gave the carrion crows of old Berwick a

"Ah! but he's a devil that Hume," responded the Mayor. "Long has he hounded
after my daughter Bell; and though it is now likely near an end with him, I
should not like to come in the way of the dying tiger. Let us home."

The sound of the retreating warriors brought back Hume to the loop-hole, to
see if Isabel was still there, to whom he was anxious to propose a plan,
whereby he might (with the gay romp's most cheerful good-will and hearty
co-operation) carry her off from the contaminating embrace of the
pot-valiant Governor, with whom she was to be wed on that day se'ennight.
He waited a long time, but no Isabel came. He suspected that the Mayor,
after having caught her speaking to him, (Hume,) his most inveterate foe,
would, as he had often done before, lock her up, and set the noble Captain
as a guard upon his lady-love. Cursing his unlucky fate, that brought them
out to interrupt his converse with the mistress of his heart, and prevent
the arrangement of an elopement, he bent the Captain's bilbo hilt to point
till it rebounded with a loud twang, and stepping away up the Tweed, fell
into a deep meditation as to the manner by which he should secure Isabel.
As he went along, his eye fell upon that source of so much contention
between the men of Berwick and the border barons, the dam-dike of the
Newmilne, and against which the Lord Hume, as well as himself and many of
the neighbouring knights and lairds, had vowed destruction. A thought
flashed across his mind, and his eye sparkled in the moonbeam, as brightly
as did the Captain's sword, which he still held in his hand.

"I have hit it!" he cried, as he clapped his hand on his limb, and the
sound echoed back from the mill-walls. "For spearing a salmon or a
Southron, dissolving that old foolish tenure between a proprietor and his
cattle, or cutting the tie of forced duty between a rich old Mayor and his
daughter, where shall the bastard of Hume be equalled on the Borders? My
fair Bell, thou wouldst spring with the elasticity of this bent blade, and
dance like these moonbeams in the Tweed, if thou wert in the knowledge of
this thought that now tickles the wild fancy of thy lover, whom thou
equallest in all that belongest to the gay heart and the bounding spirit."

Occupied with these thoughts, Patrick went home to the castle of the Humes;
and, next morning, he bent his way to Foulden, where he sought Lord Ross's
baillie, James Sinclair, a man who had a very hearty spite against the
obstruction to the passage of the Tweed salmon. With him he communed for a
considerable time, and thereafter he proceeded to Paxton and to others of
the gentlemen in the vicinity. The subject of these interviews will perhaps
best be explained by the following placard, which appeared in various parts
of Berwick in two days thereafter:--

"On Friday last, the tenant of Newmilne, belonging to the toun of Baricke,
gave information to our honourable Mayor, who has communicated the same to
our gallant Governor, Captain Wallace, that the Lord Hume and other the
Scotch gentlemen, our neighbours, do, on Monday next, intend to be at the
Newmilne aforesaid, by tenn of the clock of the morninge; and that they had
summoned their tenants to be then and there present, alsoe, to assist in
the breaking downe and demolishing the dam of the said Newmilne; and that
the Lord Ross his bailiffe of Foulden had given out in speeches, that he
was desired to summon the said Lord Ross, his tenants, and inhabitants of
Foulden barronry, to be then and there aiding and assisting them, alsoe,
for better effecting the same: Whereupon, it is necessary, that, at a
ringing of a belle, our tounsmen, headed by our Mayor, and directed by the
warlike genius of Captain Wallace, should proceed to the said Newmilne, and
give battle in defence of the said dike, which is indispensable to the
existence of the toun's property. God save the Mayor!"

The effect produced by this proclamation was rapid and stirring. The
English, at that period, had contrived to raise a strong prejudice in the
minds of the Berwick burghers against the Border Scots; and the
intelligence that the daring robbers intended to demolish their property,
inflamed them to the high point of resolution to fight under their valorous
Captain, while one stone of the dike remained on another, and one drop of
blood was left in their bodies. Hume, who had a greater part in the
occasion of these preparations than had been made apparent, got secret
intelligence, on all that was going on within the town; but none of his
vigils at the loop-hole were rewarded with a sight of his spirited Isabel,
who, he understood, had been confined in her father's house since the night
on which she had been discovered upon the wall. Meanwhile, the preparations
for the defence of the town's property proceeded; and, on the Monday
morning, a bell, whose loud tongue spoke "war's alarums," sounded over town
and walls, spreading fear among the timid, and rousing in the noble breasts
of the valorous proud and swelling resolutions to give battle to the Border
robbers, in the style of their ancestors. Ever since the first
announcement, they had been drilled by the Captain, whose loud command of
voice, proud bearing, bent back (bent in self-defence against the
counterpoise of his stomach), and martial strut, filled them with great awe
of his power, and great confidence in his abilities. Many hundred people,
"on horse and foote," (we use the language of our old chronicle), "were
gathered together, considerably armed with swordes, pistolles, firelocks,
blunderbushes, foalingpieces, bowes and arrowes of the tyme of the first
Edward, and uther powerful ammunition, fit to resist the ryot of the
Scotch; and away they marched to the newe miln, with Mr Mayor and the
Governor (a verrie terrible man of war--to be married the morn to the
Mayor's dochter Isabel, if he come back with lyffe), and the sergeants with
their halberts, and constables with their staves, going before them." In
front, there was beat some thundering engines of warlike music, which was
cut occasionally by sharp screams of small fifes, blown into by the burgher
amateurs of that lively musical machine. Altogether, the cavalcade
presented many appearances of a stern and warlike nature, which might well
have prevented the Scotch raiders from proceeding with their felonious
intention of driving down the obstruction to the salmon, and forced them to
remain content with the angling of trout and parr. The "verrie sight" of
the brave Wallace was deemed sufficient by those who followed him, "to put
an end to the fraye before it was begunne."

This extraordinary cavalcade was seen passing along the road by Patrick
Hume, who had, with his companions, retired behind some brushwood, the
better to enjoy the sight. The warriors passed on, and every now and then
the loud voice of the captain was heard commanding and exhorting his troops
to keep up their courage for the coming strife. When the last file was
disappearing, Hume and his companions made the woods resound with a loud
laugh, and, starting up, and crying, "For Berwick, ho!" they hurried away
in the direction of the town, which the Governor, in his anxiety to form a
large assemblage, had left without a guard. Meanwhile the burgher army
pushed on for Newmilne; "and, when they came there," (says the chronicle),
"they pitched their camp; and nae doubt butt they were well disciplined,
seeing theye had the advantage of the Captain's training, with the great
blessing attour of weapons suitable--viz., rusty ould swords and pistolles;
and they continued about three or foure houres on the bankes and about the
milne: still there was nae appearance of the Scotch coming to fecht with
them." For a long time the Captain was solemn and quiet; but when it
appeared that the Scots "were not to come to show fecht," he got as wordy
as a blank-verse poet, and stood up in the face of a neighbouring wood,
from which it was expected the enemy would emanate, and called upon the
cowards (as he styled them) to come out "and dare to touche one stone of
the milne dam-dike."

"Did I not tell thee, Mr Mayor," he cried, "that I killed Patrick Hume? If
not, where is he now, and he the Lord Ross of Foulden, and he of Paxton,
and all the rest of the Border heroes? Come forth from thy wood recesses,
if there be as much pluck in thee as will enable thee to meet the fire of
the eye of the Governor of Berwick! Ha! ha! The rascals must have been at
Bothwell, where, doubtless, they felt the pith of this arm. There goeth the
disadvantage of bravery! The devil a man will encounter one whose name is
terrible, and I fear I may never have the luxury of a good fight again.
This day I expected to have fleshed my good sword. To-morrow is my
wedding-day. How glorious would it have been to have made it also a day of
victory! I could almost hack these unconscious trees for very spite, and to
give my sword the exercise it lacketh."

And he swung his falchion from side to side, cutting off the tops of the
young firs, just as if they had been men's heads; but no Scotchman made his
appearance. The whole bells of Berwick now began to swing and ring as if
the town had been invaded; and messengers, breathless and panting, arrived
at the camp, and communicated the intelligence that the Bastard of Hume
had, with a body of men, got entrance to the Mayor's house, by shewing the
guard the Governor's sword, and carried off Isabel, the Mayor's daughter,
who was more willing to go than to stay. The route of the fugitives was
distinctly laid down, and it was represented by the messengers that, by
crossing over a couple of miles, they had every chance of overtaking them
and reclaiming the disobedient maid. The recommendation was instantly
seized by the distracted Mayor, and a shout of the burgher forces, and an
accompanying peal from the drums and fifes, shewed the desire of the men to
fulfil the wish of their master. The captain's spirit was changed. He
burned to reclaim his bride; but he feared the Bastard of Hume, whose
prowess was acknowledged far and wide from the Borders. Shame did what
could not have been accomplished by love; and, putting himself, with a mock
warlike air, at the head of the troops, away he posted as fast as sixteen
stone of beef, penetrated by alternate currents of fear, shame, and valour,
would permit. The musical instruments of war were hushed; and as the forces
hurried on, panting and breathing, not a voice was heard but the occasional
vaunts of the captain, who found it necessary to conceal his fear by these
running shots of assumed valour. As fate would have it, the Berwickers came
up with the Bastard's party, who, with the gay and laughing Isabel in the
midst of them, were seated, as they thought securely, in the old Berwick
wood, enjoying some wine, which she, with wise providence, had handed to
one of the men as a refreshment when they should be beyond danger. The
sounds of merriment struck on the ear of the invaders; they stopped, and
thought it safer, in the first instance, to reconnoitre--a step highly
eulogized by the Captain, who seemed to want breath as well from the toil
of the chase as from some misgivings of his valour, which had come, like
qualms of sickness, over his stout heart.

"Ha! traitor!" cried the Mayor, "the device of sending us to Newmilne will
not avail thee. Give me my daughter, traitor!" addressing himself to the
Bastard, who stood now in the front of the party, all prepared for a tough

"In either of two events thou shalt have her," cried Hume--"if thou canst
take her, or if she is willing to go with thee."

"No, no!" cried the sprightly maid herself, coming boldly forward. "I love
my father and the good citizens of Berwick, and none of them shall lose a
drop of their blood for Isabel. If we are to have battle, let it be between
the two lovers who claim my hand. By the honour of a Mayor's daughter, I
shall be his who gaineth the day! Stand forward, Patrick Hume and Governor

"Bravo!" shouted the burghers, delighted with a scheme that smacked so
sweetly of justice and safety.

All eyes were now turned on the Captain; and Isabel, delighted with her
scheme, was seen concealing her face with the corner of her cloak, to
suppress her laughter. The Captain saw, however, neither justice nor safety
in the scheme, and, edging near the Mayor, whispered into his ear his
intention not to fight. Palpable indications of fear were escaping from his
trembling limbs, and the hero of Bothwell was on the eve of being
discovered. Hume was prepared--he stood, sword in hand, ready for the

"Come forward, Captain!" cried the Bastard.

"Come forward!" resounded from Isabel, and a hundred voices of the

"I am the Governor of Berwick," answered the hero, in a trembling voice,
keeping the body of the Mayor between him and Hume. "As the servant of the
King, I dare not" (panting) "run the risk of reducing my
authority--by--by--engaging, I say, by committing myself in single combat,
like a knight errant, for a runaway damsel. It comporteth not with my
dignity--hegh--hegh--I say, I cannot come down from the height of my glory
at Bothwell, by committing myself in a love brawl. But ye are my
men--hegh--hegh--ye are bound to fight when I command. Do your duty--on,
on, I say, to the rescue."

"We want not the wench," responded many voices. "He that will not fight for
his love, deserves to lose her for his cowardice." "Resign her, good
Mayor," cried others. "Give the damsel her choice," added others. "Bravo,
good fellows!" cried Bell, in the midst of her laughter; and a shout from
Hume's men rewarded her spirit. The enthusiasm was caught by the
Berwickers, some of whom, observing certain indications thrown out by
Isabel, ran forward and got from her a flagon of good wine. The vessel was
handed from one to another. "Hurra for Hume!" shouted the Berwickers. The
tables were turned. All, to a man, were with Isabel and her partner. The
Mayor had sense enough to see his position. In any way he was to lose his
daughter, and he heartily despised the coward that would not fight for his

"Hume," he cried, standing forward, "come hither; and, Isabel, approach the
side of thy father."

The laughing damsel ran forward, and, perceiving her absolute safety, flung
herself on her father's neck, and hung there, amidst the continued shouts
of the men.

"Forgive me, forgive me, father!" cried she. "My choice is justified by my
love, and the characters of my lovers. The one is a coward, the other a
brave youth. Hume's intentions are honourable, and I may be the respected
wife of one of noble blood."

"I forgive thee, Bell," answered the father. And he took her hand and
placed it in Hume's. "Come, Captain, forgive her too, and let us all be

He looked round for the Captain, and all the party looked also; but the
hero was gone. He had mounted a white Rosinante, as thin as he was fat, and
was busy striking her protruding bones with his sword, to propel her on to
Berwick, where he thought he would be more safe than where he was. The
figure he made in his retreat--his large swelled body on the lean jade,
like a tun of wine on a gantress--his anxiety to get off--his receding
position--his flight after such a day of vaunting--all conspired to render
the sight ludicrous in the extreme. One general burst of laughter filled
the air; but the Captain held on his course, and never stopped till he
arrived at Berwick. That day Hume and Isabel were wed--and a happy day it
was for the Berwickers; who, in place of fighting, were occupied in
drinking the healths of the couple. The device of Hume, in sending them to
the Newmilne, was admired for its ingenuity; and all Berwick rung with the
praises of Hume and his fair spouse. Regular entries were made in the
council books, of the expedition to the Newmilne, "where they braived the
Scottes to come and fecht them, butte the cowardes never appeared." But it
was deemed prudent to say nothing therein of Hume's trick, which,
doubtless, might have reduced the amount of bravery which it was necessary
should appear, for the honour of the town.


_Tubbs & Brook, Printers, Manchester._

    |                                                          |
    | Transcriber's Note:                                      |
    |                                                          |
    | Inconsistencies and unexpected spelling, punctuation and |
    | hyphenation have been retained as they appear in the     |
    | original book except:                                    |
    |                                                          |
    | Page 31 through the intrumentality has been changed to   |
    | through the instrumentality                              |
    |                                                          |
    | Page 43 and and unflinching opinion has been changed to  |
    | and an unflinching opinion                               |
    |                                                          |

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