Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Chronicles of the Canongate by Sir Walter Scott

Part 5 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

instinctively griped beneath the folds of his plaid,

"But it's better not," he said in his own language. "A hundred
curses on the swine-eaters, who know neither decency nor

"Make room, the pack of you," he said, advancing to the door.

But his former friend interposed his sturdy bulk, and opposed his
leaving the house; and when Robin Oig attempted to make his way
by force, he hit him down on the floor, with as much ease as a
boy bowls down a nine-pin.

"A ring, a ring!" was now shouted, until the dark rafters, and
the hams that hung on them, trembled again, and the very platters
on the BINK clattered against each other. "Well done, Harry"
--"Give it him home, Harry"--"Take care of him now--he sees his
own blood!"

Such were the exclamations, while the Highlander, starting from
the ground, all his coldness and caution lost in frantic rage,
sprung at his antagonist with the fury, the activity, and the
vindictive purpose of an incensed tiger-cat. But when could rage
encounter science and temper? Robin Oig again went down in the
unequal contest; and as the blow was necessarily a severe one, he
lay motionless on the floor of the kitchen. The landlady ran to
offer some aid, but Mr. Fleecebumpkin would not permit her to

"Let him alone," he said, "he will come to within time, and come
up to the scratch again. He has not got half his broth yet."

"He has got all I mean to give him, though," said his antagonist,
whose heart began to relent towards his old associate; "and I
would rather by half give the rest to yourself, Mr.
Fleecebumpkin, for you pretend to know a thing or two, and Robin
had not art enough even to peel before setting to, but fought
with his plaid dangling about him.--Stand up, Robin, my man! All
friends now; and let me hear the man that will speak a word
against you, or your country, for your sake."

Robin Oig was still under the dominion of his passion, and eager
to renew the onset; but being withheld on the one side by the
peacemaking Dame Heskett, and on the other, aware that Wakefield
no longer meant to renew the combat, his fury sunk into gloomy

"Come, come, never grudge so much at it, man," said the brave-
spirited Englishman, with the placability of his country; "shake
hands, and we will be better friends than ever."

"Friends!" exclaimed Robin Oig with strong emphasis--"friends!
Never. Look to yourself, Harry Waakfelt."

"Then the curse of Cromwell on your proud Scots stomach, as the
man says in the play, and you may do your worst, and be d--d; for
one man can say nothing more to another after a tussle, than that
he is sorry for it."

On these terms the friends parted. Robin Oig drew out, in
silence, a piece of money, threw it on the table, and then left
the alehouse. But turning at the door, he shook his hand at
Wakefield, pointing with his forefinger upwards, in a manner
which might imply either a threat or a caution. He then
disappeared in the moonlight.

Some words passed after his departure, between the bailiff, who
piqued himself on being a little of a bully, and Harry Wakefield,
who, with generous inconsistency, was now not indisposed to begin
a new combat in defence of Robin Oig's reputation, "although he
could not use his daddles like an Englishman, as it did not come
natural to him." But Dame Heskett prevented this second quarrel
from coming to a head by her peremptory interference. "There
should be no more fighting in her house," she said; "there had
been too much already.--And you, Mr. Wakefield, may live to
learn," she added, "what it is to make a deadly enemy out of a
good friend."

"Pshaw, dame! Robin Oig is an honest fellow, and will never keep

"Do not trust to that; you do not know the dour temper of the
Scots, though you have dealt with them so often. I have a right
to know them, my mother being a Scot."

"And so is well seen on her daughter," said Ralph Heskett.

This nuptial sarcasm gave the discourse another turn. Fresh
customers entered the tap-room or kitchen, and others left it.
The conversation turned on the expected markets, and the report
of prices from different parts both of Scotland and England.
Treaties were commenced, and Harry Wakefield was lucky enough to
find a chap for a part of his drove, and at a very considerable
profit--an event of consequence more than sufficient to blot out
all remembrances of the unpleasant scuffle in the earlier part of
the day. But there remained one party from whose mind that
recollection could not have been wiped away by the possession of
every head of cattle betwixt Esk and Eden.

This was Robin Oig M'Combich. "That I should have had no
weapon," he said, "and for the first time in my life! Blighted
be the tongue that bids the Highlander part with the dirk. The
dirk--ha! the English blood! My Muhme's word! When did her
word fall to the ground?"

The recollection of the fatal prophecy confirmed the deadly
intention which instantly sprang up in his mind.

"Ha! Morrison cannot be many miles behind; and if it were an
hundred, what then?"

His impetuous spirit had now a fixed purpose and motive of
action, and he turned the light foot of his country towards the
wilds, through which he knew, by Mr. Ireby's report, that
Morrison was advancing. His mind was wholly engrossed by the
sense of injury--injury sustained from a friend; and by the
desire of vengeance on one whom he now accounted his most bitter
enemy. The treasured ideas of self-importance and self-opinion
--of ideal birth and quality, had become more precious to him,
(like the hoard to the miser) because he could only enjoy them in
secret. But that hoard was pillaged--the idols which he had
secretly worshipped had been desecrated and profaned. Insulted,
abused, and beaten, he was no longer worthy, in his own opinion,
of the name he bore, or the lineage which he belonged to.
Nothing was left to him--nothing but revenge; and as the
reflection added a galling spur to every step, he determined it
should be as sudden and signal as the offence.

When Robin Oig left the door of the alehouse, seven or eight
English miles at least lay betwixt Morrison and him. The advance
of the former was slow, limited by the sluggish pace of his
cattle; the latter left behind him stubble-field and hedgerow,
crag and dark heath, all glittering with frost-rime in the broad
November moonlight, at the rate of six miles an hour. And now
the distant lowing of Morrison's cattle is heard; and now they
are seen creeping like moles in size and slowness of motion on
the broad face of the moor; and now he meets them--passes them,
and stops their conductor.

"May good betide us," said the Westlander. "Is this you, Robin
M'Combich, or your wraith?"

"It is Robin Oig M'Combich," answered the Highlander, "and it is
not. But never mind that, put pe giving me the skene-dhu."

"What! you are for back to the Highlands! The devil! Have you
selt all off before the fair? This beats all for quick markets!"

"I have not sold--I am not going north--maype I will never go
north again. Give me pack my dirk, Hugh Morrison, or there will
pe words petween us."

"Indeed, Robin, I'll be better advised before I gie it back to
you; it is a wanchancy weapon in a Highlandman's hand, and I am
thinking you will be about some harns-breaking."

"Prutt, trutt! let me have my weapon," said Robin Oig

"Hooly and fairly," said his well-meaning friend. "I'll tell you
what will do better than these dirking doings. Ye ken
Highlander, and Lowlander, and Border-men are a' ae man's bairns
when you are over the Scots dyke. See, the Eskdale callants, and
fighting Charlie of Liddesdale, and the Lockerby lads, and the
four Dandies of Lustruther, and a wheen mair grey plaids, are
coming up behind; and if you are wranged, there is the hand of a
Manly Morrison, we'll see you righted, if Carlisle and Stanwix
baith took up the feud."

"To tell you the truth," said Robin Oig, desirous of eluding the
suspicions of his friend, "I have enlisted with a party of the
Black Watch, and must march off to-morrow morning."

"Enlisted! Were you mad or drunk? You must buy yourself off. I
can lend you twenty notes, and twenty to that, if the drove

"I thank you--thank ye, Hughie; but I go with good-will the gate
that I am going. So the dirk, the dirk!"

"There it is for you then, since less wunna serve. But think on
what I was saying. Waes me, it will be sair news in the braes of
Balquidder that Robin Oig M'Combich should have run an ill gate,
and ta'en on."

"Ill news in Balquidder, indeed!" echoed poor Robin. "But Cot
speed you, Hughie, and send you good marcats. Ye winna meet with
Robin Oig again, either at tryste or fair."

So saying, he shook hastily the hand of his acquaintance, and set
out in the direction from which he had advanced, with the spirit
of his former pace.

"There is something wrang with the lad," muttered the Morrison to
himself; "but we will maybe see better into it the morn's

But long ere the morning dawned, the catastrophe of our tale had
taken place. It was two hours after the affray had happened, and
it was totally forgotten by almost every one, when Robin Oig
returned to Heskett's inn. The place was filled at once by
various sorts of men, and with noises corresponding to their
character. There were the grave low sounds of men engaged in
busy traffic, with the laugh, the song, and the riotous jest of
those who had nothing to do but to enjoy themselves. Among the
last was Harry Wakefield, who, amidst a grinning group of smock-
frocks, hobnailed shoes, and jolly English physiognomies, was
trolling forth the old ditty,--

"What though my name be Roger,
Who drives the plough and cart--"

when he was interrupted by a well-known voice saying in a high
and stern voice, marked by the sharp Highland accent, "Harry
Waakfelt--if you be a man stand up!"

"What is the matter?--what is it?" the guests demanded of each

"It is only a d--d Scotsman," said Fleecebumpkin, who was by this
time very drunk, "whom Harry Wakefield helped to his broth to-
day, who is now come to have HIS CAULD KAIL het again."

"Harry Waakfelt," repeated the same ominous summons, "stand up,
if you be a man!"

There is something in the tone of deep and concentrated passion,
which attracts attention and imposes awe, even by the very sound.
The guests shrunk back on every side, and gazed at the Highlander
as he stood in the middle of them, his brows bent, and his
features rigid with resolution.

"I will stand up with all my heart, Robin, my boy, but it shall
be to shake hands with you, and drink down all unkindness. It is
not the fault of your heart, man, that you don't know how to
clench your hands."

By this time he stood opposite to his antagonist, his open and
unsuspecting look strangely contrasted with the stern purpose,
which gleamed wild, dark, and vindictive in the eyes of the

"'Tis not thy fault, man, that, not having the luck to be an
Englishman, thou canst not fight more than a school-girl."

"I can fight," answered Robin Oig sternly, but calmly, "and you
shall know it. You, Harry Waakfelt, showed me to-day how the
Saxon churls fight; I show you now how the Highland Dunnie-wassel

He seconded the word with the action, and plunged the dagger,
which he suddenly displayed, into the broad breast of the English
yeoman, with such fatal certainty and force that the hilt made a
hollow sound against the breast-bone, and the double-edged point
split the very heart of his victim. Harry Wakefield fell and
expired with a single groan. His assassin next seized the
bailiff by the collar, and offered the bloody poniard to his
throat, whilst dread and surprise rendered the man incapable of

"It were very just to lay you peside him," he said, "but the
blood of a pase pickthank shall never mix on my father's dirk,
with that of a brave man."

As he spoke, he cast the man from him with so much force that he
fell on the floor, while Robin, with his other hand, threw the
fatal weapon into the blazing turf-fire.

"There," he said, "take me who likes--and let fire cleanse blood
if it can."

The pause of astonishment still continuing, Robin Oig asked for a
peace-officer, and a constable having stepped out, he surrendered
himself to his custody.

"A bloody night's work you have made of it," said the constable.

"Your own fault," said the Highlander. "Had you kept his hands
off me twa hours since, he would have been now as well and merry
as he was twa minutes since."

"It must be sorely answered," said the peace-officer.

"Never you mind that--death pays all debts; it will pay that

The horror of the bystanders began now to give way to
indignation, and the sight of a favourite companion murdered in
the midst of them, the provocation being, in their opinion, so
utterly inadequate to the excess of vengeance, might have induced
them to kill the perpetrator of the deed even upon the very spot.
The constable, however, did his duty on this occasion, and with
the assistance of some of the more reasonable persons present,
procured horses to guard the prisoner to Carlisle, to abide his
doom at the next assizes. While the escort was preparing, the
prisoner neither expressed the least interest, nor attempted the
slightest reply. Only, before he was carried from the fatal
apartment, he desired to look at the dead body, which, raised
from the floor, had been deposited upon the large table (at the
head of which Harry Wakefield had presided but a few minutes
before, full of life, vigour, and animation), until the surgeons
should examine the mortal wound. The face of the corpse was
decently covered with a napkin. To the surprise and horror of
the bystanders, which displayed itself in a general AH! drawn
through clenched teeth and half-shut lips, Robin Oig removed the
cloth, and gazed with a mournful but steady eye on the lifeless
visage, which had been so lately animated that the smile of good-
humoured confidence in his own strength, of conciliation at once
and contempt towards his enemy, still curled his lip. While
those present expected that the wound, which had so lately
flooded the apartment with gore, would send forth fresh streams
at the touch of the homicide, Robin Oig replaced the covering
with the brief exclamation, "He was a pretty man!"

My story is nearly ended. The unfortunate Highlander stood his
trial at Carlisle. I was myself present, and as a young Scottish
lawyer, or barrister at least, and reputed a man of some quality,
the politeness of the Sheriff of Cumberland offered me a place on
the bench. The facts of the case were proved in the manner I
have related them; and whatever might be at first the prejudice
of the audience against a crime so un-English as that of
assassination from revenge, yet when the rooted national
prejudices of the prisoner had been explained, which made him
consider himself as stained with indelible dishonour, when
subjected to personal violence--when his previous patience,
moderation, and endurance were considered--the generosity of the
English audience was inclined to regard his crime as the wayward
aberration of a false idea of honour rather than as flowing from
a heart naturally savage, or perverted by habitual vice. I shall
never forget the charge of the venerable judge to the jury,
although not at that time liable to be much affected either by
that which was eloquent or pathetic.

"We have had," he said, "in the previous part of our duty"
(alluding to some former trials), "to discuss crimes which infer
disgust and abhorrence, while they call down the well-merited
vengeance of the law. It is now our still more melancholy task
to apply its salutary though severe enactments to a case of a
very singular character, in which the crime (for a crime it is,
and a deep one) arose less out of the malevolence of the heart,
than the error of the understanding--less from any idea of
committing wrong, than from an unhappily perverted notion of that
which is right. Here we have two men, highly esteemed, it has
been stated, in their rank of life, and attached, it seems, to
each other as friends, one of whose lives has been already
sacrificed to a punctilio, and the other is about to prove the
vengeance of the offended laws; and yet both may claim our
commiseration at least, as men acting in ignorance of each
other's national prejudices, and unhappily misguided rather than
voluntarily erring from the path of right conduct.

"In the original cause of the misunderstanding, we must in
justice give the right to the prisoner at the bar. He had
acquired possession of the enclosure, which was the object of
competition, by a legal contract with the proprietor, Mr. Ireby;
and yet, when accosted with reproaches undeserved in themselves,
and galling, doubtless, to a temper at least sufficiently
susceptible of passion, he offered notwithstanding, to yield up
half his acquisition, for the sake of peace and good
neighbourhood, and his amicable proposal was rejected with scorn.
Then follows the scene at Mr. Heskett the publican's, and you
will observe how the stranger was treated by the deceased, and, I
am sorry to observe, by those around, who seem to have urged him
in a manner which was aggravating in the highest degree. While
he asked for peace and for composition, and offered submission to
a magistrate, or to a mutual arbiter, the prisoner was insulted
by a whole company, who seem on this occasion to have forgotten
the national maxim of 'fair play;' and while attempting to escape
from the place in peace, he was intercepted, struck down, and
beaten to the effusion of his blood.

"Gentlemen of the jury, it was with some impatience that I heard
my learned brother who opened the case for the crown give an
unfavourable turn to the prisoner's conduct on this occasion. He
said the prisoner was afraid to encounter his antagonist in fair
fight, or to submit to the laws of the ring; and that therefore,
like a cowardly Italian, he had recourse to his fatal stiletto,
to murder the man whom he dared not meet in manly encounter. I
observed the prisoner shrink from this part of the accusation
with the abhorrence natural to a brave man; and as I would wish
to make my words impressive when I point his real crime, I must
secure his opinion of my impartiality by rebutting everything
that seems to me a false accusation. There can be no doubt that
the prisoner is a man of resolution--too much resolution. I wish
to Heaven that he had less--or, rather that he had had a better
education to regulate it.

"Gentlemen, as to the laws my brother talks of, they may be known
in the bull-ring, or the bear-garden, or the cock-pit, but they
are not known here. Or, if they should be so far admitted as
furnishing a species of proof that no malice was intended in this
sort of combat, from which fatal accidents do sometimes arise, it
can only be so admitted when both parties are IN PARI CASU,
equally acquainted with, and equally willing to refer themselves
to, that species of arbitrament. But will it be contended that a
man of superior rank and education is to be subjected, or is
obliged to subject himself, to this coarse and brutal strife,
perhaps in opposition to a younger, stronger, or more skilful
opponent? Certainly even the pugilistic code, if founded upon
the fair play of Merry Old England, as my brother alleges it to
be, can contain nothing so preposterous. And, gentlemen of the
jury, if the laws would support an English gentleman, wearing, we
will suppose, his sword, in defending himself by force against a
violent personal aggression of the nature offered to this
prisoner, they will not less protect a foreigner and a stranger,
involved in the same unpleasing circumstances. If, therefore,
gentlemen of the jury, when thus pressed by a VIS MAJOR, the
object of obloquy to a whole company, and of direct violence from
one at least, and, as he might reasonably apprehend, from more,
the panel had produced the weapon which his countrymen, as we are
informed, generally carry about their persons, and the same
unhappy circumstance had ensued which you have heard detailed in
evidence, I could not in my conscience have asked from you a
verdict of murder. The prisoner's personal defence might indeed,
even in that case, have gone more or less beyond the MODERAMEN
INCULPATAE TUTELAE, spoken of by lawyers; but the punishment
incurred would have been that of manslaughter, not of murder. I
beg leave to add that I should have thought this milder species
of charge was demanded in the case supposed, notwithstanding the
statute of James I. cap. 8, which takes the case of slaughter by
stabbing with a short weapon, even without MALICE PREPENSE, out
of the benefit of clergy. For this statute of stabbing, as it is
termed, arose out of a temporary cause; and as the real guilt is
the same, whether the slaughter be committed by the dagger, or by
sword or pistol, the benignity of the modern law places them all
on the same, or nearly the same, footing.

"But, gentlemen of the jury, the pinch of the case lies in the
interval of two hours interposed betwixt the reception of the
injury and the fatal retaliation. In the heat of affray and
CHAUDE MELEE, law, compassionating the infirmities of humanity,
makes allowance for the passions which rule such a stormy moment
--for the sense of present pain, for the apprehension of further
injury, for the difficulty of ascertaining with due accuracy the
precise degree of violence which is necessary to protect the
person of the individual, without annoying or injuring the
assailant more than is absolutely necessary. But the time
necessary to walk twelve miles, however speedily performed, was
an interval sufficient for the prisoner to have recollected
himself; and the violence with which he carried his purpose into
effect, with so many circumstances of deliberate determination,
could neither be induced by the passion of anger, nor that of
fear. It was the purpose and the act of predetermined revenge,
for which law neither can, will, nor ought to have sympathy or

"It is true, we may repeat to ourselves, in alleviation of this
poor man's unhappy action, that his case is a very peculiar one.
The country which he inhabits was, in the days of many now alive,
inaccessible to the laws, not only of England, which have not
even yet penetrated thither, but to those to which our neighbours
of Scotland are subjected, and which must be supposed to be, and
no doubt actually are, founded upon the general principles of
justice and equity which pervade every civilized country.
Amongst their mountains, as among the North American Indians, the
various tribes were wont to make war upon each other, so that
each man was obliged to go armed for his own protection. These
men, from the ideas which they entertained of their own descent
and of their own consequence, regarded themselves as so many
cavaliers or men-at-arms, rather than as the peasantry of a
peaceful country. Those laws of the ring, as my brother terms
them, were unknown to the race of warlike mountaineers; that
decision of quarrels by no other weapons than those which nature
has given every man must to them have seemed as vulgar and as
preposterous as to the NOBLESSE of France. Revenge, on the other
hand, must have been as familiar to their habits of society as to
those of the Cherokees or Mohawks. It is indeed, as described by
Bacon, at bottom a kind of wild untutored justice; for the fear
of retaliation must withhold the hands of the oppressor where
there is no regular law to check daring violence. But though all
this may be granted, and though we may allow that, such having
been the case of the Highlands in the days of the prisoner's
fathers, many of the opinions and sentiments must still continue
to influence the present generation, it cannot, and ought not,
even in this most painful case, to alter the administration of
the law, either in your hands, gentlemen of the jury, or in mine.
The first object of civilisation is to place the general
protection of the law, equally administered, in the room of that
wild justice which every man cut and carved for himself,
according to the length of his sword and the strength of his arm.
The law says to the subjects, with a voice only inferior to that
of the Deity, 'Vengeance is mine.' The instant that there is time
for passion to cool, and reason to interpose, an injured party
must become aware that the law assumes the exclusive cognisance
of the right and wrong betwixt the parties, and opposes her
inviolable buckler to every attempt of the private party to right
himself. I repeat that this unhappy man ought personally to be
the object rather of our pity than our abhorrence, for he failed
in his ignorance, and from mistaken notions of honour. But his
crime is not the less that of murder, gentlemen, and, in your
high and important office, it is your duty so to find.
Englishmen have their angry passions as well as Scots; and should
this man's action remain unpunished, you may unsheath, under
various pretences, a thousand daggers betwixt the Land's-End and
the Orkneys."

The venerable Judge thus ended what, to judge by his apparent
emotion, and by the tears which filled his eyes, was really a
painful task. The jury, according to his instructions, brought
in a verdict of Guilty; and Robin Oig M'Combich, ALIAS McGregor,
was sentenced to death, and left for execution, which took place
accordingly. He met his fate with great firmness, and
acknowledged the justice of his sentence. But he repelled
indignantly the observations of those who accused him of
attacking an unarmed man. "I give a life for the life I took,"
he said, "and what can I do more?" [See Note 11.--Robert Donn's




Note 1.--HOLYROOD.

The reader may be gratified with Hector Boece's narrative of the
original foundation of the famous abbey of Holyrood, or the Holy
Cross, as given in Bellenden's translation:--

"Eftir death of Alexander the first, his brothir David come out
of Ingland, and wes crownit at Scone, the yeir of God MCXXIV
yeiris, and did gret justice, eftir his coronation, in all partis
of his realme. He had na weris during the time of King Hary; and
wes so pietuous, that he sat daylie in judgement, to caus his
pure commonis to have justice; and causit the actionis of his
noblis to be decidit be his othir jugis. He gart ilk juge redres
the skaithis that come to the party be his wrang sentence; throw
quhilk, he decorit his realm with mony nobil actis, and ejeckit
the vennomus custome of riotus cheir, quhilk wes inducit afore be
Inglismen, quhen thay com with Quene Margaret; for the samin wes
noisum to al gud maneris, makand his pepil tender and effeminat.

"In the fourt yeir of his regne, this nobill prince come to visie
the madin Castell of Edinburgh. At this time, all the boundis of
Scotland were ful of woddis, lesouris, and medois; for the
countre wes more gevin to store of bestiall, than ony productioun
of cornis; and about this castell was ane gret forest, full of
haris, hindis, toddis, and siclike maner of beistis. Now was the
Rude Day cumin, called the Exaltation of the Croce; and, becaus
the samin wes ane hie solempne day, the king past to his
contemplation. Eftir the messis wer done with maist solempnitie
and reverence, comperit afore him mony young and insolent baronis
of Scotland, richt desirus to haif sum plesur and solace, be
chace of hundis in the said forest. At this time wes with the
king ane man of singulare and devoit life, namit Alkwine, channon
eftir the ordour of Sanct Augustine, quhilk well lang time
confessoure, afore, to King David in Ingland, the time that he
wes Erle of Huntingtoun and Northumbirland. This religious man
dissuadit the king, be mony reasonis, to pas to this huntis; and
allegit the day wes so solempne, be reverence of the haly croce,
that he suld gif him erar, for that day, to contemplation, than
ony othir exersition. Nochtheles, his dissuasion is litill
avalit; for the king wes finallie so provokit, be inoportune
solicitatioun of his baronis, that he past, nochtwithstanding the
solempnite of this day, to his hountis. At last, quhen he wes
cumin throw the vail that lyis to the gret eist fra the said
castell, quhare now lyis the Canongait, the staik past throw the
wod with sic noyis and din of rachis and bugillis, that all the
bestis were rasit fra thair dennis. Now wes the king cumin to
the fute of the crag, and all his nobilis severit, heir and
thair, fra him, at thair game and solace; quhen suddenlie apperit
to his sicht the fairist hart that evir wes sene afore with
levand creature. The noyis and din of this hart rinnand, as
apperit, with awful and braid tindis, maid the kingis hors so
effrayit, that na renzeis micht hald him, bot ran, perforce, ouir
mire and mossis, away with the king. Nochtheles, the hart
followit so fast, that he dang baith the king and his hors to the
ground. Than the king kest abak his handis betwix the tindis of
this hart, to haif savit him fra the strak thairof; and the haly
croce slaid, incontinent, in his handis. The hart fled away with
gret violence, and evanist in the same place quhare now springis
the Rude Well. The pepil richt affrayitly, returnit to him out
of all partis of the wod, to comfort him efter his trubill; and
fell on kneis, devotly adoring the haly croce; for it was not
cumin but sum hevinly providence, as weill apperis; for thair is
na man can schaw of quhat mater it is of, metal or tre. Sone
eftir, the king returnit to his castell; and in the nicht
following, he was admonist, be ane vision in his sleip, to big
ane abbay of channonis regular in the same place quhare he gat
the croce. Als sone as he was awalkinnit, he schew his visione
to Alkwine, his confessoure; and he na thing suspended his gud
mind, bot erar inflammit him with maist fervent devotion thairto.
The king, incontinent, send his traist servandis in France and
Flanderis, and brocht richt crafty masonis to big this abbay;
syne dedicat it in the honour of this haly croce. The croce
remanit continewally in the said abbay, to the time of King David
Bruce; quhilk was unhappily tane with it at Durame, quhare it is
haldin yit in gret veneration."--BOECE, BOOK 12, CH. 16.

It is by no means clear what Scottish prince first built a
palace, properly so called, in the precincts of this renowned
seat of sanctity. The abbey, endowed by successive sovereigns
and many powerful nobles with munificent gifts of lands and
tithes, came, in process of time, to be one of the most important
of the ecclesiastical corporations of Scotland; and as early as
the days of Robert Bruce, parliaments were held occasionally
within its buildings. We have evidence that James IV. had a
royal lodging adjoining to the cloister; but it is generally
agreed that the first considerable edifice for the accommodation
of the royal family erected here was that of James V., anno 1525,
great part of which still remains, and forms the north-western
side of the existing palace. The more modern buildings which
complete the quadrangle were erected by King Charles II. The
name of the old conventual church was used as the parish church
of the Canongate from the period of the Reformation, until James
II. claimed it for his chapel royal, and had it fitted up
accordingly in a style of splendour which grievously outraged the
feelings of his Presbyterian subjects. The roof of this fragment
of a once magnificent church fell in in the year 1768, and it has
remained ever since in a state of desolation. For fuller
particulars, see the PROVINCIAL ANTIQUITIES OF SCOTLAND, or the

The greater part of this ancient palace is now again occupied by
his Majesty Charles the Tenth of France, and the rest of that
illustrious family, which, in former ages so closely connected by
marriage and alliance with the house of Stewart, seems to have
been destined to run a similar career of misfortune. REQUIESCANT


The following extract from Swift's Life of Creichton gives the
particulars of the bloody scene alluded to in the text:--

"Having drank hard one night, I (Creichton) dreamed that I had
found Captain David Steele, a notorious rebel, in one of the five
farmers' houses on a mountain in the shire of Clydesdale, and
parish of Lismahago, within eight miles of Hamilton, a place that
I was well acquainted with. This man was head of the rebels
since the affair of Airs-Moss, having succeeded to Hackston, who
had been there taken, and afterward hanged, as the reader has
already heard; for, as to Robert Hamilton, who was then
Commander-in-chief at Bothwell Bridge, he appeared no more among
them, but fled, as it was believed, to Holland.

"Steele, and his father before him, held a farm in the estate of
Hamilton, within two or three miles of that town. When he betook
himself to arms, the farm lay waste, and the Duke could find no
other person who would venture to take it; whereupon his Grace
sent several messages to Steele, to know the reason why he kept
the farm waste. The Duke received no other answer than that he
would keep it waste, in spite of him and the king too; whereupon
his Grace, at whose table I had always the honour to be a welcome
guest, desired I would use my endeavours to destroy that rogue,
and I would oblige him for ever.


"I return to my story. When I awaked out of my dream, as I had
done before in the affair of Wilson (and I desire the same
apology I made in the introduction to these Memoirs may serve for
both), I presently rose, and ordered thirty-six dragoons to be at
the place appointed by break of day. When we arrived thither, I
sent a party to each of the five farmers' houses. This villain
Steele had murdered above forty of the king's subjects in cold
blood, and, as I was informed, had often laid snares to entrap
me; but it happened that, although he usually kept a gang to
attend him, yet at this time he had none, when he stood in the
greatest need. One of the party found him in one of the farmers'
houses, just as I happened to dream. The dragoons first searched
all the rooms below without success, till two of them hearing
somebody stirring over their heads, went up a pair of turnpike
stairs. Steele had put on his clothes while the search was
making below; the chamber where he lay was called the Chamber of
Deese, [Or chamber of state; so called from the DAIS, or canopy
and elevation of floor, which distinguished the part of old halls
which was occupied by those of high rank. Hence the phrase was
obliquely used to signify state in general.] which is the name
given to a room where the laird lies when he comes to a tenant's
house. Steele suddenly opening the door, fired a blunderbuss
down at the two dragoons, as they were coming up the stairs; but
the bullets grazing against the side of the turnpike, only
wounded, and did not kill them. Then Steele violently threw
himself down the stairs among them, and made towards the door to
save his life, but lost it upon the spot; for the dragoons who
guarded the house dispatched him with their broadswords. I was
not with the party when he was killed, being at that time
employed in searching one of the other houses, but I soon found
what had happened, by hearing the noise of the shot made with the
blunderbuss; from whence I returned straight to Lanark, and
immediately sent one of the dragoons express to General Drummond
CREICHTON), pages 57-59, Edit. Edinb. 1824.

Woodrow gives a different account of this exploit:--"In December
this year, (1686), David Steil, in the parish of Lismahagow, was
surprised in the fields by Lieutenant Creichton, and after his
surrender of himself on quarters, he was in a very little time
most barbarously shot, and lies buried in the churchyard there."

Note 3.--IRON RASP.

The ingenious Mr. R. CHAMBERS'S Traditions of Edinburgh give the
following account of the forgotten rasp or risp:--

"This house had a PIN or RISP at the door, instead of the more
modern convenience--a knocker. The pin, rendered interesting by
the figure which it makes in Scottish song, was formed of a small
rod of iron, twisted or notched, which was placed
perpendicularly, starting out a little from the door, and bore a
small ring of the same metal, which an applicant for admittance
drew rapidly up and down the NICKS, so as to produce a grating
sound. Sometimes the rod was simply stretched across the
VIZZYING hole, a convenient aperture through which the porter
could take cognisance of the person applying; in which case it
acted also as a stanchion. These were almost all disused about
sixty years ago, when knockers were generally substituted as more
genteel. But knockers at that time did not long remain in
repute, though they have never been altogether superseded, even
by bells, in the Old Town. The comparative merit of knockers and
pins was for a long time a subject of doubt, and many knockers
got their heads twisted off in the course of the dispute."--


Susannah Kennedy, daughter of Sir Archibald Kennedy of Cullean,
Bart., by Elizabeth Lesly, daughter of David Lord Newark, third
wife of Alexander 9th Earl of Eglinton, and mother of the 10th
and 11th Earls. She survived her husband, who died 1729, no less
than fifty-seven years, and died March 1780, in her ninety-first
year. Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, published 1726, is
dedicated to her, in verse, by Hamilton of Bangour.

The following account of this distinguished lady is taken from
Boswell's Life of Johnson by Mr. Croker:--

"Lady Margaret Dalrymple, only daughter of John, Earl of Stair,
married in 1700, to Hugh, third Earl of Loudoun. She died in
1777, aged ONE HUNDRED. Of this venerable lady, and of the
Countess of Eglintoune, whom Johnson visited next day, he thus
speaks in his JOURNEY:--'Length of life is distributed
impartially to very different modes of life, in very different
climates; and the mountains have no greater examples of age than
the Lowlands, where I was introduced to two ladies of high
quality, one of whom (Lady Loudoun) in her ninety-fourth year,
presided at her table with the full exercise of all her powers,
and the other (Lady Eglintoun) had attained her eighty-fourth
year, without any diminution of her vivacity, and little reason
to accuse time of depredations on her beauty.'"


"Lady Eglintoune, though she was now in her eighty-fifth year,
and had lived in the retirement of the country for almost half a
century, was still a very agreeable woman. She was of the noble
house of Kennedy, and had all the elevation which the
consciousness of such birth inspires. Her figure was majestic,
her manners high-bred, her reading extensive, and her
conversation elegant. She had been the admiration of the gay
circles of life, and the patroness of poets. Dr. Johnson was
delighted with his reception here. Her principles in church and
state were congenial with his. She knew all his merit, and had
heard much of him from her son, Earl Alexander, who loved to
cultivate the acquaintance of men of talents in every


"In the course of our conversation this day, it came out that
Lady Eglintoune was married the year before Dr. Johnson was born;
upon which she graciously said to him, that she might have been
his mother, and that she now adopted him, and when we were going
away, she embraced him, saying, 'My dear son, farewell!' My
friend was much pleased with this day's entertainment, and owned
that I had done well to force him out."


"At Sir Alexander Dick's, from that absence of mind to which
every man is at times subject, I told, in a blundering manner,
Lady Eglintoune's complimentary adoption of Dr. Johnson as her
son; for I unfortunately stated that her ladyship adopted him as
her son, in consequence of her having been married the year AFTER
he was born. Dr. Johnson instantly corrected me. 'Sir, don't
you perceive that you are defaming the Countess? For, supposing
me to be her son, and that she was not married till the year
after my birth, I must have been her NATURAL son.' A young lady
of quality who was present very handsomely said, 'Might not the
son have justified the fault?' My friend was much flattered by
this compliment, which he never forgot. When in more than
ordinary spirits, and talking of his journey in Scotland, he has
called to me, 'Boswell, what was it that the young lady of
quality said of me at Sir Alexander Dick's?' Nobody will doubt
that I was happy in repeating it."


The incident here alluded to is thus narrated in Nichols'
Progresses of James I., Vol.III. p.306:--

"The family" (of Winton) "owed its first elevation to the union
of Sir Christopher Seton with a sister of King Robert Bruce.
With King James VI. they acquired great favour, who, having
created his brother Earl of Dunfermline in 1599, made Robert,
seventh Lord Seton, Earl of Winton in 1600. Before the King's
accession to the English throne, his Majesty and the Queen were
frequently at Seton, where the Earl kept a very hospitable table,
at which all foreigners of quality were entertained on their
visits to Scotland. His Lordship died in 1603, and was buried on
the 5th of April, on the very day the King left Edinburgh for
England. His Majesty, we are told, was pleased to rest himself
at the south-west round of the orchard of Seton, on the highway,
till the funeral was over, that he might not withdraw the noble
company; and he said that he had lost a good, faithful, and loyal


"The 2 of Octr: (1603) Allaster MacGregor of Glenstrae tane be
the laird Arkynles, bot escapit againe; bot after taken be the
Earle of Argyll the 4 of Januarii, and brought to Edr: the 9 of
Januar: 1604, wt: 18 mae of hes friendes MacGregors. He wes
convoyit to Berwick be the gaird, conform to the Earle's promes;
for he promesit to put him out of Scottis grund: Sua, he keipit
an Hielandman's promes, in respect he sent the gaird to convoy
him out of Scottis grund; bot yai wer not directit to pairt wt:
him, bot to fetche him bak againe. The 18 of Januar, he came at
evin againe to Edinburghe; and upone the 20 day, he was hangit at
the crosse, and ij of his freindes and name, upon ane gallows:
himself being chieff, he was hangit his awin hight above the rest


Note 7.--LOCH AWE.

"Loch Awe, upon the banks of which the scene of action took
place, is thirty-four miles in length. The north side is bounded
by wide muirs and inconsiderable hills, which occupy an extent of
country from twelve to twenty miles in breadth, and the whole of
this space is enclosed as by circumvallation. Upon the north it
is barred by Loch Eitive, on the south by Loch Awe, and on the
east by the dreadful pass of Brandir, through which an arm of the
latter lake opens, at about four miles from its eastern
extremity, and discharges the river Awe into the former. The
pass is about three miles in length; its east side is bounded by
the almost inaccessible steeps which form the base of the vast
and rugged mountain of Cruachan. The crags rise in some places
almost perpendicularly from the water, and for their chief extent
show no space nor level at their feet, but a rough and narrow
edge of stony beach. Upon the whole of these cliffs grows a
thick and interwoven wood of all kinds of trees, both timber,
dwarf, and coppice; no track existed through the wilderness, but
a winding path, which sometimes crept along the precipitous
height, and sometimes descended in a straight pass along the
margin of the water. Near the extremity of the defile, a narrow
level opened between the water and the crag; but a great part of
this, as well as of the preceding steeps, was formerly enveloped
in a thicket, which showed little facility to the feet of any but
the martens and wild cats. Along the west side of the pass lies
a wall of sheer and barren crags. From behind they rise in
rough, uneven, and heathy declivities, out of the wide muir
before mentioned, between Loch Eitive and Loch Awe; but in front
they terminate abruptly in the most frightful precipices, which
form the whole side of the pass, and descend at one fall into the
water which fills its trough. At the north end of the barrier,
and at the termination of the pass, lies that part of the cliff
which is called Craiganuni; at its foot the arm of the lake
gradually contracts its water to a very narrow space, and at
length terminates at two rocks (called the Rocks of Brandir),
which form a strait channel, something resembling the lock of a
canal. From this outlet there is a continual descent towards
Loch Eitive, and from hence the river Awe pours out its current
in a furious stream, foaming over a bed broken with holes, and
cumbered with masses of granite and whinstone.

"If ever there was a bridge near Craiganuni in ancient times, it
must have been at the Rocks of Brandir. From the days of Wallace
to those of General Wade, there were never passages of this kind
but in places of great necessity, too narrow for a boat, and too
wide for a leap; even then they were but an unsafe footway formed
of the trunks of trees placed transversely from rock to rock,
unstripped of their bark, and destitute of either plank or rail.
For such a structure there is no place in the neighbourhood of
Craiganuni but at the rocks above mentioned. In the lake and on
the river the water is far too wide; but at the strait the space
is not greater than might be crossed by a tall mountain pine, and
the rocks on either side are formed by nature like a pier. That
this point was always a place of passage is rendered probable by
its facility and the use of recent times. It is not long since
it was the common gate of the country on either side the river
and the pass: the mode of crossing is yet in the memory of
people living, and was performed by a little currach moored on
either side the water, and a stout cable fixed across the stream
from bank to bank, by which the passengers drew themselves across
in the manner still practised in places of the same nature. It
is no argument against the existence of a bridge in former times
that the above method only existed in ours, rather than a passage
of that kind, which would seem the more improved expedient. The
contradiction is sufficiently accounted for by the decay of
timber in the neighbourhood. Of old, both oaks and firs of an
immense size abounded within a very inconsiderable distance; but
it is now many years since the destruction of the forests of Glen
Eitive and Glen Urcha has deprived the country of all the trees
of sufficient size to cross the strait of Brandir; and it is
probable that the currach was not introduced till the want of
timber had disenabled the inhabitants of the country from
maintaining a bridge. It only further remains to be noticed that
at some distance below the Rocks of Brandir there was formerly a
ford, which was used for cattle in the memory of people living;
from the narrowness of the passage, the force of the stream, and
the broken bed of the river, it was, however, a dangerous pass,
and could only be attempted with safety at leisure and by


"But the King, whose dear-bought experience in war had taught him
extreme caution, remained in the Braes of Balquhidder till he had
acquired by his spies and outskirries a perfect knowledge of the
disposition of the army of Lorn, and the intention of its leader.
He then divided his force into two columns, entrusting the
command of the first, in which he placed his archers and lightest
armed troops, to Sir James Douglas, whilst he himself took the
leading of the other, which consisted principally of his knights
and barons. On approaching the defile, Bruce dispatched Sir
James Douglas by a pathway which the enemy had neglected to
occupy, with directions to advance silently, and gain the heights
above and in front of the hilly ground where the men of Lorn were
concealed; and having ascertained that this movement had been
executed with success, he put himself at the head of his own
division, and fearlessly led his men into the defile. Here,
prepared as he was for what was to take place, it was difficult
to prevent a temporary panic when the yell which, to this day,
invariably precedes the assault of the mountaineer, burst from
the rugged bosom of Ben Cruachan; and the woods which, the moment
before, had waved in silence and solitude, gave forth their birth
of steel-clad warriors, and, in an instant, became instinct with
the dreadful vitality of war. But although appalled and checked
for a brief space by the suddenness of the assault, and the
masses of rock which the enemy rolled down from the precipices,
Bruce, at the head of his division, pressed up the side of the
mountain. Whilst this party assaulted the men of Lorn with the
utmost fury, Sir James Douglas and his party shouted suddenly
upon the heights in their front, showering down their arrows upon
them; and, when these missiles were exhausted, attacking them
with their swords and battle-axes. The consequence of such an
attack, both in front and rear, was the total discomfiture of the
army of Lorn; and the circumstances to which this chief had so
confidently looked forward, as rendering the destruction of Bruce
almost inevitable, were now turned with fatal effect against
himself. His great superiority of numbers cumbered and impeded
his movements. Thrust by the double assault, and by the peculiar
nature of the ground, into such narrow room as the pass afforded,
and driven to fury by finding themselves cut to pieces in detail,
without power of resistance, the men of Lorn fled towards Loch
Eitive, where a bridge thrown over the Awe, and supported upon
two immense rocks, known by the name of the Rocks of Brandir,
formed the solitary communication between the side of the river
where the battle took place and the country of Lorn. Their
object was to gain the bridge, which was composed entirely of
wood, and having availed themselves of it in their retreat, to
destroy it, and thus throw the impassable torrent of the Awe
between them and their enemies. But their intention was
instantly detected by Douglas, who, rushing down from the high
grounds at the head of his archers and light-armed foresters,
attacked the body of the mountaineers, which had occupied the
bridge, and drove them from it with great slaughter, so that
Bruce and his division, on coming up, passed it without
molestation; and this last resource being taken from them, the
army of Lorn were, in a few hours, literally cut to pieces,
whilst their chief, who occupied Loch Eitive with his fleet, saw,
from his ships, the discomfiture of his men, and found it
impossible to give them the least assistance."--TYTLER'S LIFE OF


The following succinct account of this too celebrated event, may
be sufficient for this place:--

"In the beginning of the year 1692 an action of unexampled
barbarity disgraced the government of King William III. in
Scotland. In the August preceding, a proclamation had been
issued, offering an indemnity to such insurgents as should take
the oaths to the King and Queen, on or before the last day of
December; and the chiefs of such tribes, as had been in arms for
James, soon after took advantage of the proclamation. But
Macdonald of Glencoe was prevented by accident, rather than
design, from tendering his submission within the limited time.
In the end of December he went to Colonel Hill, who commanded the
garrison in Fort William, to take the oaths of allegiance to the
government; and the latter having furnished him with a letter to
Sir Colin Campbell, Sheriff of the county of Argyll, directed him
to repair immediately to Inverary, to make his submission in a
legal manner before that magistrate. But the way to Inverary lay
through almost impassable mountains, the season was extremely
rigorous, and the whole country was covered with a deep snow. So
eager, however, was Macdonald to take the oaths before the
limited time should expire, that, though the road lay within half
a mile of his own house, he stopped not to visit his family, and,
after various obstructions, arrived at Inverary. The time had
elapsed, and the sheriff hesitated to receive his submission; but
Macdonald prevailed by his importunities, and even tears, in
inducing that functionary to administer to him the oath of
allegiance, and to certify the cause of his delay. At this time
Sir John Dalrymple, afterwards Earl of Stair, being in attendance
upon William as Secretary of State for Scotland, took advantage
of Macdonald's neglecting to take the oath within the time
prescribed, and procured from the King a warrant of military
execution against that chief and his whole clan. This was done
at the instigation of the Earl of Breadalbane, whose lands the
Glencoe men had plundered, and whose treachery to government in
negotiating with the Highland clans Macdonald himself had
exposed. The King was accordingly persuaded that Glencoe was the
main obstacle to the pacification of the Highlands; and the fact
of the unfortunate chief's submission having been concealed, the
sanguinary orders for proceeding to military execution against
his clan were in consequence obtained. The warrant was both
signed and countersigned by the King's own hand, and the
Secretary urged the officers who commanded in the Highlands to
execute their orders with the utmost rigour. Campbell of
Glenlyon, a captain in Argyll's regiment, and two subalterns,
were ordered to repair to Glencoe on the first of February with a
hundred and twenty men. Campbell being uncle to young
Macdonald's wife, was received by the father with all manner of
friendship and hospitality. The men were lodged at free quarters
in the houses of his tenants, and received the kindest
entertainment. Till the 13th of the month the troops lived in
the utmost harmony and familiarity with the people, and on the
very night of the massacre the officers passed the evening at
cards in Macdonald's house. In the night Lieutenant Lindsay,
with a party of soldiers, called in a friendly manner at his
door, and was instantly admitted. Macdonald, while in the act of
rising to receive his guest, was shot dead through the back with
two bullets. His wife had already dressed; but she was stripped
naked by the soldiers, who tore the rings off her fingers with
their teeth. The slaughter now became general, and neither age
nor infirmity was spared. Some women, in defending their
children, were killed; boys, imploring mercy, were shot dead by
officers on whose knees they hung. In one place nine persons, as
they sat enjoying themselves at table, were butchered by the
soldiers. In Inverriggon, Campbell's own quarters, nine men were
first bound by the soldiers, and then shot at intervals, one by
one. Nearly forty persons were massacred by the troops, and
several who fled to the mountains perished by famine and the
inclemency of the season. Those who escaped owed their lives to
a tempestuous night. Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, who had
received the charge of the execution from Dalrymple, was on his
march with four hundred men, to guard all the passes from the
valley of Glencoe; but he was obliged to stop by the severity of
the weather, which proved the safety of the unfortunate clan.
Next day he entered the valley, laid the houses in ashes, and
carried away the cattle and spoil, which were divided among the
officers and soldiers."--ARTICLE "BRITAIN;" ENCYC. BRITANNICA--


Of the strong, undeviating attachment of the Highlanders to the
person, and their deference to the will or commands of their
chiefs and superiors--their rigid adherence to duty and
principle--and their chivalrous acts of self-devotion to these in
the face of danger and death, there are many instances recorded
in General Stewart of Garth's interesting Sketches of the
Highlanders and Highland Regiments, which might not inaptly
supply parallels to the deeds of the Romans themselves, at the
era when Rome was in her glory. The following instances of such
are worthy of being here quoted:--

"In the year 1795 a serious disturbance broke out in Glasgow
among the Breadalbane Fencibles. Several men having been
confined and threatened with corporal punishment, considerable
discontent and irritation were excited among their comrades,
which increased to such violence, that, when some men were
confined in the guard-house, a great proportion of the regiment
rushed out and forcibly released the prisoners. This violation
of military discipline was not to be passed over, and accordingly
measures were immediately taken to secure the ringleaders. But
so many were equally concerned, that it was difficult, if not
impossible, to fix the crime on any, as being more prominently
guilty. And here was shown a trait of character worthy of a
better cause, and which originated from a feeling alive to the
disgrace of a degrading punishment. The soldiers being made
sensible of the nature of their misconduct, and the consequent
necessity of public example, SEVERAL MEN VOLUNTARILY OFFERED
THEMSELVES TO STAND TRIAL, and suffer the sentence of the law as
an atonement for the whole. These men were accordingly marched
to Edinburgh Castle, tried, and four condemned to be shot. Three
of them were afterwards reprieved, and the fourth, Alexander
Sutherland, was shot on Musselburgh Sands.

"The following semi-official account of this unfortunate
misunderstanding was published at the time:--

"'During the afternoon of Monday, when a private of the light
company of the Breadalbane Fencibles, who had been confined for a
MILITARY offence, was released by that company, and some other
companies, who had assembled in a tumultuous manner before the
guard-house, no person whatever was hurt, and no violence
offered; and however unjustifiable the proceedings, it originated
not from any disrespect or ill-will to their officers, but from a
mistaken point of honour, in a particular set of men in the
battalion, who thought themselves disgraced by the impending
punishment of one of their number. The men have, in every
respect, since that period conducted themselves with the greatest
regularity, and strict subordination. The whole of the battalion
seemed extremely sensible of the improper conduct of such as were
concerned, whatever regret they might feel for the fate of the
few individuals who had so readily given themselves up as
prisoners, to be tried for their own and others' misconduct.'

"On the march to Edinburgh a circumstance occurred, the more
worthy of notice, as it shows a strong principle of honour and
fidelity to his word and to his officer in a common Highland
soldier. One of the men stated to the officer commanding the
party, that he knew what his fate would be, but that he had left
business of the utmost importance to a friend in Glasgow, which
he wished to transact before his death; that, as to himself, he
was fully prepared to meet his fate; but with regard to his
friend, he could not die in peace unless the business was
settled, and that, if the officer would suffer him to return to
Glasgow, a few hours there would be sufficient, and he would join
him before he reached Edinburgh, and march as a prisoner with the
party. The soldier added, 'You have known me since I was a
child; you know my country and kindred; and you may believe I
shall never bring you to any blame by a breach of the promise I
now make, to be with you in full time to be delivered up in the
Castle.' This was a startling proposal to the officer, who was a
judicious, humane man, and knew perfectly his risk and
responsibility in yielding to such an extraordinary application.
However, his confidence was such, that he complied with the
request of the prisoner, who returned to Glasgow at night,
settled his business, and left the town before daylight to redeem
his pledge. He took a long circuit to avoid being seen,
apprehended as a deserter, and sent back to Glasgow, as probably
his account of his officer's indulgence would not have been
credited. In consequence of this caution, and the lengthened
march through woods and over hills by an unfrequented route,
there was no appearance of him at the hour appointed. The
perplexity of the officer when he reached the neighbourhood of
Edinburgh may be easily imagined. He moved forward slowly
indeed, but no soldier appeared; and unable to delay any longer,
he marched up to the Castle, and as he was delivering over the
prisoners, but before any report was given in, Macmartin, the
absent soldier, rushed in among his fellow prisoners, all pale
with anxiety and fatigue, and breathless with apprehension of the
consequences in which his delay might have involved his

"In whatever light the conduct of the officer (my respectable
friend, Major Colin Campbell) may be considered, either by
military men or others, in this memorable exemplification of the
characteristic principle of his countrymen, fidelity to their
word, it cannot but be wished that the soldier's magnanimous
self-devotion had been taken as an atonement for his own
misconduct and that of the whole, who also had made a high
sacrifice, in the voluntary offer of their lives for the conduct
of their brother soldiers. Are these a people to be treated as
malefactors, without regard to their feelings and principles?
and might not a discipline, somewhat different from the usual
mode, be, with advantage, applied to them?"--Vol.II. pp.413-15.
3rd Edit.

"A soldier of this regiment, (The Argyllshire Highlanders)
deserted, and emigrated to America, where he settled. Several
years after his desertion, a letter was received from him, with a
sum of money, for the purpose of procuring one or two men to
supply his place in the regiment, as the only recompense he could
make for 'breaking his oath to his God and his allegiance to his
King, which preyed on his conscience in such a manner, that he
had no rest night nor day.'

"This man had had good principles early instilled into his mind,
and the disgrace which he had been originally taught to believe
would attach to a breach of faith now operated with full effect.
The soldier who deserted from the 42nd Regiment at Gibraltar, in
1797, exhibited the same remorse of conscience after he had
violated his allegiance. In countries where such principles
prevail, and regulate the character of a people, the mass of the
population may, on occasions of trial, be reckoned on as sound
and trustworthy."--Vol.II., p.218. 3rd Edit.

"The late James Menzies of Culdares, having engaged in the
rebellion of 1715, and been taken at Preston, in Lancashire, was
carried to London, where he was tried and condemned, but
afterwards reprieved. Grateful for this clemency, he remained at
home in 1745, but, retaining a predilection for the old cause, he
sent a handsome charger as a present to Prince Charles, when
advancing through England. The servant who led and delivered the
horse was taken prisoner, and carried to Carlisle, where he was
tried and condemned. To extort a discovery of the person who
sent the horse, threats of immediate execution in case of
refusal, and offers of pardon on his giving information, were
held out ineffectually to the faithful messenger. He knew, he
said, what the consequence of a disclosure would be to his
master, and his own life was nothing in the comparison. When
brought out for execution, he was again pressed to inform on his
master. He asked if they were serious in supposing him such a
villain. If he did what they desired, and forgot his master and
his trust, he could not return to his native country, for
Glenlyon would be no home or country for him, as he would be
despised and hunted out of the glen. Accordingly he kept steady
to his trust, and was executed. This trusty servant's name was
John Macnaughton, from Glenlyon, in Perthshire. He deserves to
be mentioned, both on account of his incorruptible fidelity, and
of his testimony to the honourable principles of the people, and
to their detestation of a breach of trust to a kind and
honourable master, however great might be the risk, or however
fatal the consequences, to the individual himself."--Vol.1., pp.
52,53, 3rd Edit.



I cannot dismiss this story without resting attention for a
moment on the light which has been thrown on the character of the
Highland Drover since the time of its first appearance, by the
account of a drover poet, by name Robert Mackay, or, as he was
commonly called, Rob Donn--that is, Brown Robert--and certain
specimens of his talents, published in the ninetieth number of
the Quarterly Review. The picture which that paper gives of the
habits and feelings of a class of persons with which the general
reader would be apt to associate no ideas but those of wild
superstition and rude manners, is in the highest degree
interesting, and I cannot resist the temptation of quoting two of
the songs of this hitherto unheard-of poet of humble life. They
are thus introduced by the reviewer:--

"Upon one occasion, it seems, Rob's attendance upon his master's
cattle business detained him a whole year from home, and at his
return he found that a fair maiden to whom his troth had been
plighted of yore had lost sight of her vows, and was on the eve
of being married to a rival (a carpenter by trade), who had
profited by the young drover's absence. The following song was
composed during a sleepless night, in the neighbourhood of
Creiff, in Perthshire, and the home sickness which it expresses
appears to be almost as much that of the deer-hunter as of the
loving swain.

More pleasant were it to be with thee
In the little glen of calves,
Than to be counting of droves
In the enclosures of Creiff.

'Great is my esteem of the maiden
Towards whose dwelling the north wind blows;
She is ever cheerful, sportive, kindly,
Without folly, without vanity, without pride.
True is her heart--were I under hiding,
And fifty men in pursuit of my footsteps,
I should find protection, when they surrounded me most
In the secret recess of that shieling.

'Oh for the day for turning my face homeward,
That I may see the maiden of beauty--
Joyful will it be to me to be with thee,
Fair girl with the long heavy locks!
Choice of all places for deer-hunting
Are the brindled rock and the ridge!
How sweet at evening to be dragging the slain deer
Downwards along the piper's cairn!

'Great is my esteem for the maiden
Who parted from me by the west side of the enclosed field;
Late yet again will she linger in that fold,
Long after the kine are assembled.
It is I myself who have taken no dislike to thee,
Though far away from thee am I now.
It is for the thought of thee that sleep flies from me;
Great is the profit to me of thy parting kiss!

'Dear to me are the boundaries of the forest;
Far from Creiff is my heart;
My remembrance is of the hillocks of sheep,
And the heath of many knolls.
Oh for the red-streaked fissures of the rock,
Where in spring time the fawns leap;
Oh for the crags towards which the wind is blowing--
Cheap would be my bed to be there!

"The following describes Rob's feelings on the first discovery
of his damsel's infidelity. The airs of both these pieces
are his own, and, the Highland ladies say, very beautiful.

'Heavy to me is the shieling, and the hum that is in it,
Since the ear that was wont to listen is now no more on the
Where is Isabel, the courteous, the conversable, a sister in
Where is Anne, the slender-browed, the turret-breasted, whose
glossy hair pleased me when yet a boy?

'I traversed the fold, and upward among the trees--
Each place, far and near, wherein I was wont to salute my
When I looked down from the crag, and beheld the fair-haired
stranger dallying with his bride,
I wished I had never revisited the glen of my dreams.

'Since it has been heard that the carpenter had persuaded thee,
My sleep is disturbed--busy is foolishness within me at
The kindness that has been between us, I cannot shake off that
memory in visions;
Thou callest me not to thy side; but love is to me for a

'Anne, yellow-haired daughter of Donald, surely thou knowest
not how it is with me--
That it is old love, unrepaid, which has worn down from me my
That when far from thee, beyond many mountains, the wound in
my heart was throbbing,
Stirring, and searching for ever, as when I sat beside thee on
the turf.

'Haughtily and scornfully the maid looked upon me:--
Never will it be work for thy fingers to unloose the band from
my curls.
Thou hast been absent a twelvemonth, and six were seeking me
Was thy superiority so high that there should be no end of
abiding for thee?

'But how shall I hate thee, even though towards me thou hast
become cold?
When my discourse is most angry concerning thy name in thine
Of sudden thine image, with its old dearness, comes visibly
into my mind,
And a secret voice whispers that love will yet prevail!

"Rude and bald as these things appear in a verbal translation,
and rough as they might possibly appear, even were the originals
intelligible, we confess we are disposed to think they would of
themselves justify Dr. Mackay (their Editor) in placing this
herdsman-lover among the true sons of song."--QUARTERLY REVIEW,
NO. XC., JULY 1831.

Book of the day: