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Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott

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REDGAUNTLET by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.



Letters I - XIII
Chapters I - XXIII


Note: Footnotes in the printed book have been inserted in the
etext in square brackets ("[]") close to the place where
they were referenced by a suffix in the original text.
Text in italics has been written in capital letters.
There are some numbered notes at the end of the text that
are referred to by their numbers with brief notes, also in
square brackets, embedded in the text.



The Jacobite enthusiasm of the eighteenth century, particularly
during the rebellion of 1745, afforded a theme, perhaps the
finest that could be selected for fictitious composition, founded
upon real or probable incident. This civil war and its
remarkable events were remembered by the existing generation
without any degree of the bitterness of spirit which seldom fails
to attend internal dissension. The Highlanders, who formed the
principal strength of Charles Edward's army, were an ancient and
high-spirited race, peculiar in their habits of war and of peace,
brave to romance, and exhibiting a character turning upon points
more adapted to poetry than to the prose of real life. Their
prince, young, valiant, patient of fatigue, and despising danger,
heading his army on foot in the most toilsome marches, and
defeating a regular force in three battles--all these were
circumstances fascinating to the imagination, and might well be
supposed to seduce young and enthusiastic minds to the cause in
which they were found united, although wisdom and reason frowned
upon the enterprise.

The adventurous prince, as is well known, proved to be one of
those personages who distinguish themselves during some single
and extraordinarily brilliant period of their lives, like the
course of a shooting-star, at which men wonder, as well on
account of the briefness, as the brilliancy of its splendour. A
long tract of darkness overshadowed the subsequent life of a man
who, in his youth, showed himself so capable of great
undertakings; and, without the painful task of tracing his course
farther, we may say the latter pursuits and habits of this
unhappy prince are those painfully evincing a broken heart, which
seeks refuge from its own thoughts in sordid enjoyments.

Still, however, it was long ere Charles Edward appeared to be,
perhaps it was long ere he altogether became, so much degraded
from his original self; as he enjoyed for a time the lustre
attending the progress and termination of his enterprise. Those
who thought they discerned in his subsequent conduct an
insensibility to the distresses of his followers, coupled with
that egotistical attention to his own interests which has been
often attributed to the Stuart family, and which is the natural
effect of the principles of divine right in which they were
brought up, were now generally considered as dissatisfied and
splenetic persons, who, displeased with the issue of their
adventure and finding themselves involved in the ruins of a
falling cause, indulged themselves in undeserved reproaches
against their leader. Indeed, such censures were by no means
frequent among those of his followers who, if what was alleged
had been just, had the best right to complain. Far the greater
number of those unfortunate gentlemen suffered with the most
dignified patience, and were either too proud to take notice of
ill-treatment an the part of their prince, or so prudent as to be
aware their complaints would meet with little sympathy from the
world. It may be added, that the greater part of the banished
Jacobites, and those of high rank and consequence, were not much
within reach of the influence of the prince's character and
conduct, whether well regulated or otherwise.

In the meantime that great Jacobite conspiracy, of which the
insurrection of 1745-6 was but a small part precipitated into
action on the failure of a far more general scheme, was resumed
and again put into motion by the Jacobites of England, whose
force had never been broken, as they had prudently avoided
bringing it into the field. The surprising effect which had been
produced by small means, in 1745-6, animated their hopes for more
important successes, when the whole nonjuring interest of
Britain, identified as it then was with great part of the landed
gentlemen, should come forward to finish what had been gallantly
attempted by a few Highland chiefs.

It is probable, indeed, that the Jacobites of the day were
incapable of considering that the very small scale on which the
effort was made, was in one great measure the cause of its
unexpected success. The remarkable speed with which the
insurgents marched, the singularly good discipline which they
preserved, the union and unanimity which for some time animated
their councils, were all in a considerable degree produced by the
smallness of their numbers. Notwithstanding the discomfiture of
Charles Edward, the nonjurors of the period long continued to
nurse unlawful schemes, and to drink treasonable toasts, until
age stole upon them. Another generation arose, who did not share
the sentiments which they cherished; and at length the sparkles
of disaffection, which had long smouldered, but had never been
heated enough to burst into actual flame, became entirely
extinguished. But in proportion as the political enthusiasm died
gradually away among men of ordinary temperament, it influenced
those of warm imaginations and weak understandings, and hence
wild schemes were formed, as desperate as they were adventurous.

Thus a young Scottishman of rank is said to have stooped so low
as to plot the surprisal of St. James's Palace, and the
assassination of the royal family. While these ill-digested and
desperate conspiracies were agitated among the few Jacobites who
still adhered with more obstinacy to their purpose, there is no
question but that other plots might have been brought to an open
explosion, had it not suited the policy of Sir Robert Walpole
rather to prevent or disable the conspirators in their projects,
than to promulgate the tale of danger, which might thus have been
believed to be more widely diffused than was really the case.

In one instance alone this very prudential and humane line of
conduct was departed from, and the event seemed to confirm the
policy of the general course. Doctor Archibald Cameron, brother
of the celebrated Donald Cameron of Lochiel, attainted for the
rebellion of 1745, was found by a party of soldiers lurking with
a comrade in the wilds of Loch Katrine five or six years after
the battle of Culloden, and was there seized. There were
circumstances in his case, so far as was made known to the
public, which attracted much compassion, and gave to the judicial
proceedings against him an appearance of cold-blooded revenge on
the part of government; and the following argument of a zealous
Jacobite in his favour, was received as conclusive by Dr. Johnson
and other persons who might pretend to impartiality. Dr. Cameron
had never borne arms, although engaged in the Rebellion, but used
his medical skill for the service, indifferently, of the wounded
of both parties. His return to Scotland was ascribed exclusively
to family affairs. His behaviour at the bar was decent, firm,
and respectful. His wife threw herself, on three different
occasions, before George II and the members of his family, was
rudely repulsed from their presence, and at length placed, it was
said, in the same prison with her husband, and confined with
unmanly severity.

Dr. Cameron was finally executed with all the severities of the
law of treason; and his death remains in popular estimation a
dark blot upon the memory of George II, being almost publicly
imputed to a mean and personal hatred of Donald Cameron of
Lochiel, the sufferer's heroic brother.

Yet the fact was that whether the execution of Archibald Cameron
was political or otherwise, it might certainly have been
justified, had the king's ministers so pleased, upon reasons of a
public nature. The unfortunate sufferer had not come to the
Highlands solely upon his private affairs, as was the general
belief; but it was not judged prudent by the English ministry to
let it be generally known that he came to inquire about a
considerable sum of money which had been remitted from France to
the friends of the exiled family. He had also a commission to
hold intercourse with the well-known M'Pherson of Cluny, chief of
the clan Vourich, whom the Chevalier had left behind at his
departure from Scotland in 1746, and who remained during ten
years of proscription and danger, skulking from place to place in
the Highlands, and maintaining an uninterrupted correspondence
between Charles and his friends. That Dr. Cameron should have
held a commission to assist this chief in raking together the
dispersed embers of disaffection, is in itself sufficiently
natural, and, considering his political principles, in no respect
dishonourable to his memory. But neither ought it to be imputed
to George II that he suffered the laws to be enforced against a
person taken in the act of breaking them. When he lost his
hazardous game, Dr. Cameron only paid the forfeit which he must
have calculated upon. The ministers, however, thought it proper
to leave Dr. Cameron's new schemes in concealment, lest, by
divulging them, they had indicated the channel of communication
which, it is now well known, they possessed to all the plots of
Charles Edward. But it was equally ill advised and ungenerous to
sacrifice the character of the king to the policy of the
administration. Both points might have been gained by sparing
the life of Dr. Cameron after conviction, and limiting his
punishment to perpetual exile.

These repeated and successive Jacobite plots rose and burst like
bubbles on a fountain; and one of them, at least, the Chevalier
judged of importance enough to induce him to risk himself within
the dangerous precincts of the British capital. This appears

'September, 1750.--I received a note from my Lady Primrose, who
desired to see me immediately. As soon as I waited on her, she
led me into her dressing-room, and presented me to--' [the
Chevalier, doubtless]. 'If I was surprised to find him there, I
was still more astonished when he acquainted me with the motives
which had induced him to hazard a journey to England at this
juncture. The impatience of his friends who were in exile had
formed a scheme which was impracticable; but although it had been
as feasible as they had represented it to him, yet no preparation
had been made, nor was anything ready to carry it into execution.
He was soon convinced that he had been deceived; and, therefore,
after a stay in London of five days only, he returned to the
place from whence he came.' Dr. King was in 1750 a keen
Jacobite, as may be inferred from the visit made by him to the
prince under such circumstances, and from his being one of that
unfortunate person's chosen correspondents. He, as well as other
men of sense and observation, began to despair of making their
fortune in the party which they had chosen. It was indeed
sufficiently dangerous; for, during the short visit just
described, one of Dr. King's servants remarked the stranger's
likeness to Prince Charles, whom he recognized from the common

The occasion taken for breaking up the Stuart interest we shall
tell in Dr. King's own words:--'When he (Charles Edward) was in
Scotland, he had a mistress whose name was Walkinshaw, and whose
sister was at that time, and is still, housekeeper at Leicester
House. Some years after he was released from his prison, and
conducted out of France, he sent for this girl, who soon acquired
such a dominion over him, that she was acquainted with all his
schemes, and trusted with his most secret correspondence. As
soon as this was known in England, all those persons of
distinction who were attached to him were greatly alarmed: they
imagined that this wench had been placed in his family by the
English ministers; and, considering her sister's situation, they
seemed to have some ground for their suspicion; wherefore, they
dispatched a gentleman to Paris, where the prince then was, who
had instructions to insist that Mrs. Walkinshaw should be removed
to a convent for a certain term; but her gallant absolutely
refused to comply with this demand; and although Mr. M'Namara,
the gentleman who was sent to him, who has a natural eloquence
and an excellent understanding, urged the most cogent reasons,
and used all the arts of persuasion, to induce him to part with
his mistress, and even proceeded so far as to assure him,
according to his instructions, that an immediate interruption of
all correspondence with his most powerful friends in England,
and, in short, that the ruin of his interest, which was now daily
increasing, would be the infallible consequence of his refusal;
yet he continued inflexible, and all M'Namara's entreaties and
remonstrances were ineffectual. M'Namara stayed in Paris some
days beyond the time prescribed him, endeavouring to reason the
prince into a better temper; but finding him obstinately
persevere in his first answer, he took his leave with concern and
indignation, saying, as he passed out, "What has your family
done, sir, thus to draw down the vengeance of Heaven on every
branch of it, through so many ages?" It is worthy of remark,
that in all the conferences which M'Namara had with the prince on
this occasion, the latter declared that it was not a violent
passion, or indeed any particular regard, which attached him to
Mrs. Walkinshaw and that he could see her removed from him
without any concern; but he would not receive directions, in
respect to his private conduct, from any man alive. When
M'Namara returned to London, and reported the prince's answer to
the gentlemen who had employed him, they were astonished and
confounded. However, they soon resolved on the measures which
they were to pursue for the future, and determined no longer to
serve a man who could not be persuaded to serve himself, and
chose rather to endanger the lives of his best and most faithful
friends, than part with an harlot, whom, as he often declared, he
neither loved nor esteemed.'

From this anecdote, the general truth of which is indubitable,
the principal fault of Charles Edward's temper is sufficiently
obvious. It was a high sense of his own importance, and an
obstinate adherence to what he had once determined on--qualities
which, if he had succeeded in his bold attempt, gave the nation
little room to hope that he would have been found free from the
love of prerogative and desire of arbitrary power, which
characterized his unhappy grandfather. He gave a notable
instance how far this was the leading feature of his character,
when, for no reasonable cause that can be assigned, he placed his
own single will in opposition to the necessities of France,
which, in order to purchase a peace become necessary to the
kingdom, was reduced to gratify Britain by prohibiting the
residence of Charles within any part of the French dominions. It
was in vain that France endeavoured to lessen the disgrace of
this step by making the most flattering offers, in hopes to
induce the prince of himself to anticipate this disagreeable
alternative, which, if seriously enforced, as it was likely to
be, he had no means whatever of resisting, by leaving the kingdom
as of his own free will. Inspired, however, by the spirit of
hereditary obstinacy, Charles preferred a useless resistance to a
dignified submission, and, by a series of idle bravadoes, laid
the French court under the necessity of arresting their late
ally, and sending him to close confinement in the Bastille, from
which he was afterwards sent out of the French dominions, much in
the manner in which a convict is transported to the place of his

In addition to these repeated instances of a rash and inflexible
temper, Dr. King also adds faults alleged to belong to the
prince's character, of a kind less consonant with his noble birth
and high pretensions. He is said by this author to have been
avaricious, or parsimonious at least, to such a degree of
meanness, as to fail, even when he had ample means, in relieving
the sufferers who had lost their fortune, and sacrificed all in
his ill-fated attempt. [The approach is thus expressed by Dr.
King, who brings the charge:--'But the most odious part of his
character is his love of money, a vice which I do not remember to
have been imputed by our historians to any of his ancestors, and
is the certain index of a base and little mind. I know it may be
urged in his vindication, that a prince in exile ought to be an
economist. And so he ought; but, nevertheless, his purse should
be always open as long as there is anything in it, to relieve the
necessities of his friends and adherents. King Charles II,
during his banishment, would have shared the last pistole in his
pocket with his little family. But I have known this gentleman,
with two thousand louis-d'ors in his strong-box, pretend he was
in great distress, and borrow money from a lady in Paris who was
not in affluent circumstances. His most faithful servants, who
had closely attended him in all his difficulties, were ill
rewarded.'--King's MEMOIRS.] We must receive, however, with some
degree of jealousy what is said by Dr. King on this subject,
recollecting that he had left at least, if he did not desert, the
standard of the unfortunate prince, and was not therefore a
person who was likely to form the fairest estimate of his virtues
and faults. We must also remember that if the exiled prince gave
little, he had but little to give, especially considering how
late he nourished the scheme of another expedition to Scotland,
for which he was long endeavouring to hoard money.

The case, also, of Charles Edward must be allowed to have been a
difficult one. He had to satisfy numerous persons, who, having
lost their all in his cause, had, with that all, seen the
extinction of hopes which they accounted nearly as good as
certainties; some of these were perhaps clamorous in their
applications, and certainly ill pleased with their want of
success. Other parts of the Chevalier's conduct may have
afforded grounds for charging him with coldness to the sufferings
of his devoted followers. One of these was a sentiment which has
nothing in it that is generous, but it was certainly a principle
in which the young prince was trained, and which may be too
probably denominated peculiar to his family, educated in all the
high notions of passive obedience and non-resistance. If the
unhappy prince gave implicit faith to the professions of
statesmen holding such notions, which is implied by his whole






CUR ME EXANIMAS QUERELIS TUIS? In plain English, Why do you
deafen me with your croaking? The disconsolate tone in which you
bade me farewell at Noble House, [The first stage on the road
from Edinburgh to Dumfries via Moffat.] and mounted your
miserable hack to return to your law drudgery, still sounds in my
ears. It seemed to say, 'Happy dog! you can ramble at pleasure
over hill and dale, pursue every object of curiosity that
presents itself, and relinquish the chase when it loses interest;
while I, your senior and your better, must, in this brilliant
season, return to my narrow chamber and my musty books.'

Such was the import of the reflections with which you saddened
our parting bottle of claret, and thus I must needs interpret the
terms of your melancholy adieu.

And why should this be so, Alan? Why the deuce should you not be
sitting precisely opposite to me at this moment, in the same
comfortable George Inn; thy heels on the fender, and thy
juridical brow expanding its plications as a pun rose in your
fancy? Above all, why, when I fill this very glass of wine,
cannot I push the bottle to you, and say, 'Fairford, you are
chased!' Why, I say, should not all this be, except because Alan
Fairford has not the same true sense of friendship as Darsie
Latimer, and will not regard our purses as common, as well as our

I am alone in the world; my only guardian writes to me of a large
fortune which will be mine when I reach the age of twenty-five
complete; my present income is, thou knowest, more than
sufficient for all my wants; and yet thou--traitor as thou art to
the cause of friendship--dost deprive me of the pleasure of thy
society, and submittest, besides, to self-denial on thine own
part, rather than my wanderings should cost me a few guineas
more! Is this regard for my purse, or for thine own pride? Is
it not equally absurd and unreasonable, whichever source it
springs from? For myself, I tell thee, I have, and shall have,
more than enough for both. This same methodical Samuel
Griffiths, of Ironmonger Lane, Guildhall, London, whose letter
arrives as duly as quarter-day, has sent me, as I told thee,
double allowance for this my twenty-first birthday, and an
assurance, in his brief fashion, that it will be again doubled
for the succeeding years, until I enter into possession of my own
property. Still I am to refrain from visiting England until my
twenty-fifth year expires; and it is recommended that I shall
forbear all inquiries concerning my family, and so forth, for the

Were it not that I recollect my poor mother in her deep widow's
weeds, with a countenance that never smiled but when she looked
on me--and then, in such wan and woful sort, as the sun when he
glances through an April cloud,--were it not, I say, that her
mild and matron-like form and countenance forbid such a
suspicion, I might think myself the son of some Indian director,
or rich citizen, who had more wealth than grace, and a handful of
hypocrisy to boot, and who was breeding up privately, and
obscurely enriching, one of whose existence he had some reason to
be ashamed. But, as I said before, I think on my mother, and am
convinced as much as of the existence of my own soul, that no
touch of shame could arise from aught in which she was
implicated. Meantime, I am wealthy, and I am alone, and why does
my friend scruple to share my wealth?

Are you not my only friend? and have you not acquired a right to
share my wealth? Answer me that, Alan Fairford. When I was
brought from the solitude of my mother's dwelling into the tumult
of the Gaits' Class at the High School--when I was mocked for my
English accent--salted with snow as a Southern--rolled in the
gutter for a Saxon pock-pudding,--who, with stout arguments and
stouter blows, stood forth my defender?--why, Alan Fairford. Who
beat me soundly when I brought the arrogance of an only son, and
of course a spoiled urchin, to the forms of the little republic?
--why, Alan. And who taught me to smoke a cobbler, pin a losen,
head a bicker, and hold the bannets?--[Break a window, head a
skirmish with stones, and hold the bonnet, or handkerchief, which
used to divide High School boys when fighting.] Alan, once more.
If I became the pride of the Yards, and the dread of the
hucksters in the High School Wynd, it was under thy patronage;
and, but for thee, I had been contented with humbly passing
through the Cowgate Port, without climbing over the top of it,
and had never seen the KITTLE NINE-STEPS nearer than from
Bareford's Parks. [A pass on the very brink of the Castle rock
to the north, by which it is just possible for a goat, or a High
School boy, to turn the corner of the building where it rises
from the edge of the precipice. This was so favourite a feat
with the 'hell and neck boys' of the higher classes, that at one
time sentinels were posted to prevent its repetition. One of the
nine-steps was rendered more secure because the climber could
take hold of the root of a nettle, so precarious were the means
of passing this celebrated spot. The manning the Cowgate Port,
especially in snowball time, was also a choice amusement, as it
offered an inaccessible station for the boys who used these
missiles to the annoyance of the passengers. The gateway is now
demolished; and probably most of its garrison lie as low as the
fortress. To recollect that the author himself, however
naturally disqualified, was one of those juvenile dreadnoughts,
is a sad reflection to one who cannot now step over a brook
without assistance.]

You taught me to keep my fingers off the weak, and to clench my
fist against the strong--to carry no tales out of school--to
stand forth like a true man--obey the stern order of a PANDE
MANUM, and endure my pawmies without wincing, like one that is
determined not to be the better for them. In a word, before I
knew thee, I knew nothing.

At college it was the same. When I was incorrigibly idle, your
example and encouragement roused me to mental exertion, and
showed me the way to intellectual enjoyment. You made me an
historian, a metaphysician (INVITA MINERVA)--nay, by Heaven! you
had almost made an advocate of me, as well as of yourself. Yes,
rather than part with you, Alan, I attended a weary season at the
Scotch Law Class; a wearier at the Civil; and with what excellent
advantage, my notebook, filled with caricatures of the professors
and my fellow students, is it not yet extant to testify?

Thus far have I held on with thee untired;

and, to say truth, purely and solely that I might travel the same
road with thee. But it will not do, Alan. By my faith, man, I
could as soon think of being one of those ingenious traders who
cheat little Master Jackies on the outside of the partition with
tops, balls, bats, and battledores, as a member of the long-robed
fraternity within, who impose on grown country gentlemen with
bouncing brocards of law. [The Hall of the Parliament House of
Edinburgh was, in former days, divided into two unequal portions
by a partition, the inner side of which was consecrated to the
use of the Courts of Justice and the gentlemen of the law; while
the outer division was occupied by the stalls of stationers,
toymen, and the like, as in a modern bazaar. From the old play
of THE PLAIN DEALER, it seems such was formerly the case with
Westminster Hall. Minos has now purified his courts in both
cities from all traffic but his own.] Now, don't you read this
to your worthy father, Alan--he loves me well enough, I know, of
a Saturday night; but he thinks me but idle company for any other
day of the week. And here, I suspect, lies your real objection
to taking a ramble with me through the southern counties in this
delicious weather. I know the good gentleman has hard thoughts
of me for being so unsettled as to leave Edinburgh before the
Session rises; perhaps, too, he quarrels a little--I will not say
with my want of ancestry, but with my want of connexions. He
reckons me a lone thing in this world, Alan, and so, in good
truth, I am; and it seems a reason to him why you should not
attach yourself to me, that I can claim no interest in the
general herd.

Do not suppose I forget what I owe him, for permitting me to
shelter for four years under his roof: My obligations to him are
not the less, but the greater, if he never heartily loved me. He
is angry, too, that I will not, or cannot, be a lawyer, and, with
reference to you, considers my disinclination that way as PESSIMI
EXEMPLI, as he might say.

But he need not be afraid that a lad of your steadiness will be
influenced by such a reed shaken by the winds as I am. You will
go on doubting with Dirleton, and resolving those doubts with
Stewart, ['Sir John Nisbett of Dirleton's DOUBTS AND QUESTIONS
AND ANSWERED,' are works of authority in Scottish jurisprudence.
As is generally the case, the doubts are held more in respect
than the solution.] until the cramp speech [Till of late years,
every advocate who catered at the Scottish bar made a Latin
address to the Court, faculty, and audience, in set terms, and
said a few words upon a text of the civil law, to show his
Latinity and jurisprudence. He also wore his hat for a minute,
in order to vindicate his right of being covered before the
Court, which is said to have originated from the celebrated
lawyer, Sir Thomas Hope, having two sons on the bench while he
himself remained at the bar. Of late this ceremony has been
dispensed with, as occupying the time of the Court unnecessarily.
The entrant lawyer merely takes the oaths to government, and
swears to maintain the rules and privileges of his order.] has
been spoken more SOLITO from the corner of the bench, and with
covered head--until you have sworn to defend the liberties and
privileges of the College of Justice--until the black gown is
hung on your shoulders, and you are free as any of the Faculty to
sue or defend. Then will I step forth, Alan, and in a character
which even your father will allow may be more useful to you than
had I shared this splendid termination of your legal studies. In
a word, if I cannot be a counsel, I am determined to be a CLIENT,
a sort of person without whom a lawsuit would be as dull as a
supposed case. Yes, I am determined to give you your first fee.
One can easily, I am assured, get into a lawsuit--it is only the
getting out which is sometimes found troublesome;--and, with your
kind father for an agent, and you for my counsel learned in the
law, and the worshipful Master Samuel Griffiths to back me, a few
sessions shall not tire my patience. In short, I will make my
way into court, even if it should cost me the committing a
DELICT, or at least a QUASI DELICT.--You see all is not lost of
what Erskine wrote, and Wallace taught.

Thus far I have fooled it off well enough; and yet, Alan, all is
not at ease within me. I am affected with a sense of loneliness,
the more depressing, that it seems to me to be a solitude
peculiarly my own. In a country where all the world have a
circle of consanguinity, extending to sixth cousins at least, I
am a solitary individual, having only one kind heart to throb in
unison with my own. If I were condemned to labour for my bread,
methinks I should less regard this peculiar species of
deprivation, The necessary communication of master and servant
would be at least a tie which would attach me to the rest of my
kind--as it is, my very independence seems to enhance the
peculiarity of my situation. I am in the world as a stranger in
the crowded coffeehouse, where he enters, calls for what
refreshment he wants, pays his bill, and is forgotten so soon as
the waiter's mouth has pronounced his 'Thank ye, sir.'

I know your good father would term this SINNING MY MERCIES, [A
peculiar Scottish phrase expressive of ingratitude for the
favours of Providence.] and ask how I should feel if, instead of
being able to throw down my reckoning, I were obliged to
deprecate the resentment of the landlord for consuming that which
I could not pay for. I cannot tell how it is; but, though this
very reasonable reflection comes across me, and though I do
confess that four hundred a year in possession, eight hundred in
near prospect, and the L--d knows how many hundreds more in the
distance, are very pretty and comfortable things, yet I would
freely give one half of them to call your father father, though
he should scold me for my idleness every hour of the day, and to
call you brother, though a brother whose merits would throw my
own so completely into the shade.

The faint, yet not improbable, belief has often come across me,
that your father knows something more about my birth and
condition than he is willing to communicate; it is so unlikely
that I should be left in Edinburgh at six years old, without any
other recommendation than the regular payment of my board to old
M--, [Probably Mathieson, the predecessor of Dr. Adams, to whose
memory the author and his contemporaries owe a deep debt of
gratitude.] of the High School. Before that time, as I have
often told you, I have but a recollection of unbounded indulgence
on my mother's part, and the most tyrannical exertion of caprice
on my own. I remember still how bitterly she sighed, how vainly
she strove to soothe me, while, in the full energy of despotism,
I roared like ten bull-calves, for something which it was
impossible to procure for me. She is dead, that kind, that ill-
rewarded mother! I remember the long faces--the darkened rooms
--the black hangings--the mysterious impression made upon my mind
by the hearse and mourning coaches, and the difficulty which I
had to reconcile all this to the disappearance of my mother. I
do not think I had before this event formed, any idea, of death,
or that I had even heard of that final consummation of all that
lives. The first acquaintance which I formed with it deprived me
of my only relation.

A clergyman of venerable appearance, our only visitor, was my
guide and companion in a journey of considerable length; and in
the charge of another elderly man, substituted in his place, I
know not how or why, I completed my journey to Scotland--and this
is all I recollect.

I repeat the little history now, as I have a hundred times
before, merely because I would wring some sense out of it. Turn,
then, thy sharp, wire-drawing, lawyer-like ingenuity to the same
task--make up my history as though thou wert shaping the
blundering allegations of some blue-bonneted, hard-headed client,
into a condescendence of facts and circumstances, and thou shalt
be, not my Apollo--QUID TIBI CUM LYRA?--but my Lord Stair,
[Celebrated as a Scottish lawyer.] Meanwhile, I have written
myself out of my melancholy and blue devils, merely by prosing
about them; so I will now converse half an hour with Roan Robin
in his stall--the rascal knows me already, and snickers whenever
I cross the threshold of the stable.

The black which you bestrode yesterday morning promises to be an
admirable roadster, and ambled as easily with Sam and the
portmanteau, as with you and your load of law-learning. Sam
promises to be steady, and has hitherto been so. No long trial,
you will say. He lays the blame of former inaccuracies on evil
company--the people who were at the livery-stable were too
seductive, I suppose--he denies he ever did the horse injustice--
would rather have wanted his own dinner, he says. In this I
believe him, as Roan Robin's ribs and coat show no marks of
contradiction. However, as he will meet with no saints in the
inns we frequent, and as oats are sometimes as speedily converted
into ale as John Barleycorn himself, I shall keep a look-out
after Master Sam. Stupid fellow! had he not abused my good
nature, I might have chatted to him to keep my tongue in
exercise; whereas now I must keep him at a distance.

Do you remember what Mr. Fairford said to me on this subject--it
did not become my father's son to speak in that manner to Sam's
father's son? I asked you what your father could possibly know
of mine; and you answered, 'As much, you supposed, as he knew of
Sam's--it was a proverbial expression.' This did not quite
satisfy me; though I am sure I cannot tell why it should not.
But I am returning to a fruitless and exhausted subject. Do not
be afraid that I shall come back on this well-trodden yet
pathless field of conjecture. I know nothing so useless, so
utterly feeble and contemptible, as the groaning forth one's
lamentations into the ears of our friends.

I would fain promise you that my letters shall be as entertaining
as I am determined they shall be regular and well filled. We
have an advantage over the dear friends of old, every pair of
them. Neither David and Jonathan, nor Orestes and Pylades, nor
Damon and Pythias--although, in the latter case particularly, a
letter by post would have been very acceptable--ever corresponded
together; for they probably could not write, and certainly had
neither post nor franks to speed their effusions to each other;
whereas yours, which you had from the old peer, being handled
gently, and opened with precaution, may be returned to me again,
and serve to make us free of his Majesty's post office, during
the whole time of my proposed tour. [It is well known and
remembered, that when Members of Parliament enjoyed the unlimited
privilege of franking by the mere writing the name on the cover,
it was extended to the most extraordinary occasions. One noble
lord, to express his regard for a particular regiment, franked a
letter for every rank and file. It was customary also to save
the covers and return them, in order that the correspondence
might be carried on as long as the envelopes could hold
together.] Mercy upon us, Alan! what letters I shall have to
send to you, with an account of all that I can collect, of
pleasant or rare, in this wild-goose jaunt of mine! All I
stipulate is that you do not communicate them to the SCOTS
MAGAZINE; for though you used, in a left-handed way, to
compliment me on my attainments in the lighter branches of
literature, at the expense of my deficiency in the weightier
matters of the law, I am not yet audacious enough to enter the
portal which the learned Ruddiman so kindly opened for the
acolytes of the Muses.--VALE SIS MEMOR MEI. D. L.

PS. Direct to the Post Office here. I shall leave orders to
forward your letters wherever I may travel.



NEGATUR, my dear Darsie--you have logic and law enough to
understand the word of denial. I deny your conclusion. The
premises I admit, namely, that when I mounted on that infernal
hack, I might utter what seemed a sigh, although I deemed it lost
amid the puffs and groans of the broken-winded brute, matchless
in the complication of her complaints by any save she, the poor
man's mare, renowned in song, that died

A mile aboon Dundee.

[Alluding, as all Scotsmen know, to the humorous old song:--
'The auld man's mare's dead,
The puir man's mare's dead,
The auld man's mare's dead,
A mile aboon Dundee.']

But credit me, Darsie, the sigh which escaped me, concerned thee
more than myself, and regarded neither the superior mettle of
your cavalry, nor your greater command of the means of
travelling. I could certainly have cheerfully ridden with you
for a few days; and assure yourself I would not have hesitated to
tax your better filled purse for our joint expenses. But you
know my father considers every moment taken from the law as a
step down hill; and I owe much to his anxiety on my account,
although its effects are sometimes troublesome. For example:

I found, on my arrival at the shop in Brown's Square, that the
old gentleman had returned that very evening, impatient, it
seems, of remaining a night out of the guardianship of the
domestic Lares. Having this information from James, whose brow
wore rather an anxious look on the occasion, I dispatched a
Highland chairman to the livery stable with my Bucephalus, and
slunk, with as little noise as might be, into my own den, where I
began to mumble certain half-gnawed and not half-digested
doctrines of our municipal code. I was not long seated, when my
father's visage was thrust, in a peering sort of way, through the
half-opened door; and withdrawn, on seeing my occupation, with a
half-articulated HUMPH! which seemed to convey a doubt of the
seriousness of my application. If it were so, I cannot condemn
him; for recollection of thee occupied me so entirely during an
hour's reading, that although Stair lay before me, and
notwithstanding that I turned over three or four pages, the sense
of his lordship's clear and perspicuous style so far escaped me,
that I had the mortification to find my labour was utterly in

Ere I had brought up my lee-way, James appeared with his summons
to our frugal supper--radishes, cheese, and a bottle of the old
ale-only two plates though--and no chair set for Mr. Darsie, by
the attentive James Wilkinson. Said James, with his long face,
lank hair, and very long pig-tail in its leathern strap, was
placed, as usual, at the back of my father's chair, upright as a
wooden sentinel at the door of a puppet-show. 'You may go down,
James,' said my father; and exit Wilkinson.--What is to come
next? thought I; for the weather is not clear on the paternal

My boots encountered his first glance of displeasure, and he
asked me, with a sneer, which way I had been riding. He expected
me to answer, 'Nowhere,' and would then have been at me with his
usual sarcasm, touching the humour of walking in shoes at twenty
shillings a pair. But I answered with composure, that I had
ridden out to dinner as far as Noble House. He started (you know
his way) as if I had said that I had dined at Jericho; and as I
did not choose to seem to observe his surprise, but continued
munching my radishes in tranquillity, he broke forth in ire.

'To Noble House, sir! and what had you to do at Noble House, sir?
Do you remember you are studying law, sir?--that your Scots law
trials are coming on, sir?--that every moment of your time just
now is worth hours at another time?--and have you leisure to go
to Noble House, sir?--and to throw your books behind you for so
many hours?--Had it been a turn in the meadows, or even a game at
golf--but Noble House, sir!'

'I went so far with Darsie Latimer, sir, to see him begin his

'Darsie Latimer?' he replied in a softened tone--'Humph!--Well,
I do not blame you for being kind to Darsie Latimer; but it would
have done as much good if you had walked with him as far as the
toll-bar, and then made your farewells--it would have saved
horse-hire--and your reckoning, too, at dinner.'

'Latimer paid that, sir,' I replied, thinking to soften the
matter; but I had much better have left it unspoken.

'The reckoning, sir!' replied my father. 'And did you sponge
upon any man for a reckoning? Sir, no man should enter the door
of a public-house without paying his lawing.'

'I admit the general rule, sir,' I replied; 'but this was a
parting-cup between Darsie and me; and I should conceive it fell
under the exception of DOCH AN DORROCH.'

'You think yourself a wit,' said my father, with as near an
approach to a smile as ever he permits to gild the solemnity of
his features; 'but I reckon you did not eat your dinner standing,
like the Jews at their Passover? and it was decided in a case
before the town-bailies of Cupar-Angus, when Luckie Simpson's cow
had drunk up Luckie Jamieson's browst of ale while it stood in
the door to cool, that there was no damage to pay, because the
crummie drank without sitting down; such being the very
circumstance constituting DOCH AN DORROCH, which is a standing
drink, for which no reckoning is paid. Ha, sir! what says your
advocateship (FIERI) to that? EXEPTIO FIRMAT REGULAM--But come,
fill your glass, Alan; I am not sorry ye have shown this
attention to Darsie Latimer, who is a good lad, as times go; and
having now lived under my roof since he left the school, why,
there is really no great matter in coming under this small
obligation to him.'

As I saw my father's scruples were much softened by the
consciousness of his superiority in the legal argument, I took
care to accept my pardon as a matter of grace, rather than of
justice; and only replied, we should feel ourselves duller of an
evening, now that you were absent. I will give you my father's
exact words in reply, Darsie. You know him so well, that they
will not offend you; and you are also aware, that there mingles
with the good man's preciseness and formality, a fund of shrewd
observation and practical good sense.

'It is very true,' he said; 'Darsie was a pleasant companion-but
over waggish, over waggish, Alan, and somewhat scatter-brained.
--By the way, Wilkinson must get our ale bottled in English pints
now, for a quart bottle is too much, night after night, for you
and me, without his assistance.--But Darsie, as I was saying, is
an arch lad, and somewhat light in the upper story--I wish him
well through the world; but he has little solidity, Alan, little

I scorn to desert an absent friend, Darsie, so I said for you a
little more than my conscience warranted: but your defection
from your legal studies had driven you far to leeward in my
father's good opinion.

'Unstable as water, he shall not excel,' said my father; 'or, as
the Septuagint hath it, EFUSA EST SICUT AQUA--NON CRESCAT. He
goeth to dancing-houses, and readeth novels--SAT EST.'

I endeavoured to parry these texts by observing, that the
dancing-houses amounted only to one night at La Pique's ball--the
novels (so far as matter of notoriety, Darsie) to an odd volume

'But he danced from night to morning,' replied my father, 'and he
read the idle trash, which the author should have been scourged
for, at least twenty times over. It was never out of his hand.'

I then hinted, that in all probability your fortune was now so
easy as to dispense with your prosecuting the law any further
than you had done; and therefore you might think you had some
title to amuse yourself. This was the least palatable argument
of all.

'If he cannot amuse himself with the law,' said my father,
snappishly 'it is the worse for him. If he needs not law to
teach him to make a fortune, I am sure he needs it to teach him
how to keep one; and it would better become him to be learning
this, than to be scouring the country like a land-louper, going
he knows not where, to see he knows not what, and giving treats
at Noble House to fools like himself' (an angry glance at poor
me), 'Noble House, indeed!' he repeated, with elevated voice and
sneering tone, as if there were something offensive to him in the
name, though I will venture to say that any place in which you
had been extravagant enough to spend five shillings, would have
stood as deep in his reprobation.

Mindful of your idea, that my father knows more of your real
situation than he thinks proper to mention, I thought I would
hazard a fishing observation. 'I did not see,' I said, 'how the
Scottish law would be useful to a young gentleman whose fortune
would seem to be vested in England.'--I really thought my father
would have beat me.

'D'ye mean to come round me, sir, PER AMBAGES, as Counsellor Pest
says? What is it to you where Darsie Latimer's fortune is
vested, or whether he hath any fortune, aye or no? And what ill
would the Scottish law do to him, though he had as much of it as
either Stair or Bankton, sir? Is not the foundation of our
municipal law the ancient code of the Roman Empire, devised at a
time when it was so much renowned for its civil polity, sir, and
wisdom? Go to your bed, sir, after your expedition to Noble
House, and see that your lamp be burning and your book before you
ere the sun peeps. ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS--were it not a sin to
call the divine science of the law by the inferior name of art.'

So my lamp did burn, dear Darsie, the next morning, though the
owner took the risk of a domiciliary visitation, and lay snug in
bed, trusting its glimmer might, without further inquiry, be
received as sufficient evidence of his vigilance. And now, upon
this the third morning after your departure, things are but
little better; for though the lamp burns in my den, and VOET ON
THE PANDECTS hath his wisdom spread open before me, yet as I only
use him as a reading-desk on which to scribble this sheet of
nonsense to Darsie Latimer, it is probable the vicinity will be
of little furtherance to my studies.

And now, methinks, I hear thee call me an affected hypocritical
varlet, who, living under such a system of distrust and restraint
as my father chooses to govern by, nevertheless pretends not to
envy you your freedom and independence.

Latimer, I will tell you no lies. I wish my father would allow
me a little more exercise of my free will, were it but that I
might feel the pleasure of doing what would please him of my own
accord. A little more spare time, and a little more money to
enjoy it, would, besides, neither misbecome my age nor my
condition; and it is, I own, provoking to see so many in the same
situation winging the air at freedom, while I sit here, caged up
like a cobbler's linnet, to chant the same unvaried lesson from
sunrise to sunset, not to mention the listening to so many
lectures against idleness, as if I enjoyed or was making use of
the means of amusement! But then I cannot at heart blame either
the motive or the object of this severity. For the motive, it is
and can only be my father's anxious, devoted, and unremitting
affection and zeal for my improvement, with a laudable sense of
the honour of the profession to which he has trained me.

As we have no near relations, the tie betwixt us is of even
unusual closeness, though in itself one of the strongest which
nature can form. I am, and have all along been, the exclusive
object of my father's anxious hopes, and his still more anxious
and engrossing fears; so what title have I to complain, although
now and then these fears and hopes lead him to take a troublesome
and incessant charge of all my motions? Besides, I ought to
recollect, and, Darsie, I do recollect, that my father upon
various occasions, has shown that he can be indulgent as well as
strict. The leaving his old apartments in the Luckenbooths was
to him like divorcing the soul from the body; yet Dr. R-- did but
hint that the better air of this new district was more favourable
to my health, as I was then suffering under the penalties of too
rapid a growth, when he exchanged his old and beloved quarters,
adjacent to the very Heart of Midlothian, for one of those new
tenements (entire within themselves) which modern taste has so
lately introduced. Instance also the inestimable favour which he
conferred on me by receiving you into his house, when you had
only the unpleasant alternative of remaining, though a grown-up
lad, in the society of mere boys. [The diminutive and obscure
place called Brown's Square, was hailed about the time of its
erection as an extremely elegant improvement upon the style of
designing and erecting Edinburgh residences. Each house was, in
the phrase used by appraisers, 'finished within itself,' or, in
the still newer phraseology, 'self-contained.' It was built
about the year 1763-4; and the old part of the city being near
and accessible, this square soon received many inhabitants, who
ventured to remove to so moderate a distance from the High
Street.] This was a thing so contrary to all my father's ideas
of seclusion, of economy, and of the safety to my morals and
industry, which he wished to attain, by preserving me from the
society of other young people, that, upon my word, I am always
rather astonished how I should have had the impudence to make the
request, than that he should have complied with it.

Then for the object of his solicitude--Do not laugh, or hold up
your hands, my good Darsie; but upon my word I like the
profession to which I am in the course of being educated, and am
serious in prosecuting the preliminary studies. The law is my
vocation--in an especial, and, I may say, in an hereditary way,
my vocation; for although I have not the honour to belong to any
of the great families who form in Scotland, as in France, the
noblesse of the robe, and with us, at least, carry their heads as
high, or rather higher, than the noblesse of the sword,--for the
former consist more frequently of the 'first-born of Egypt,'--yet
my grandfather, who, I dare say, was a most excellent person, had
the honour to sign a bitter protest against the Union, in the
respectable character of town-clerk to the ancient Borough of
Birlthegroat; and there is some reason--shall I say to hope, or
to suspect?--that he may have been a natural son of a first
cousin of the then Fairford of that Ilk, who had been long
numbered among the minor barons. Now my father mounted a step
higher on the ladder of legal promotion, being, as you know as
well as I do, an eminent and respected Writer to his Majesty's
Signet; and I myself am destined to mount a round higher still,
and wear the honoured robe which is sometimes supposed, like
Charity, to cover a multitude of sins. I have, therefore, no
choice but to climb upwards; since we have mounted thus high, or
else to fall down at the imminent risk of my neck. So that I
reconcile myself to my destiny; and while you, are looking from
mountain peaks, at distant lakes and firths, I am, DE APICIBUS
JURIS, consoling myself with visions of crimson and scarlet
gowns--with the appendages of handsome cowls, well lined with

You smile, Darsie, MORE TUO, and seem to say it is little worth
while to cozen one's self with such vulgar dreams; yours being,
on the contrary, of a high and heroic character, bearing the same
resemblance to mine, that a bench, covered with purple cloth and
plentifully loaded with session papers, does to some Gothic
throne, rough with barbaric pearl and gold. But what would you
have?--SUA QUEMQUE TRAHIT VOLUPTAS. And my visions of
preferment, though they may be as unsubstantial at present, are
nevertheless more capable of being realized, than your
aspirations after the Lord knows what. What says my father's
proverb? 'Look to a gown of gold, and you will at least get a
sleeve of it.' Such is my pursuit; but what dost thou look to?
The chance that the mystery, as you call it, which at present
overclouds your birth and connexions, will clear up into
something inexpressibly and inconceivably brilliant; and this
without any effort or exertion of your own, but purely by the
goodwill of Fortune. I know the pride and naughtiness of thy
heart, and sincerely do I wish that thou hadst more beatings to
thank me for, than those which thou dost acknowledge so
gratefully. Then had I thumped these Quixotical expectations out
of thee, and thou hadst not, as now, conceived thyself to be the
hero of some romantic history, and converted, in thy vain
imaginations, honest Griffiths, citizen and broker, who never
bestows more than the needful upon his quarterly epistles, into
some wise Alexander or sage Alquife, the mystical and magical
protector of thy peerless destiny. But I know not how it was,
thy skull got harder, I think, and my knuckles became softer; not
to mention that at length thou didst begin to show about thee a
spark of something dangerous, which I was bound to respect at
least, if I did not fear it.

And while I speak of this, it is not much amiss to advise thee to
correct a little this cock-a-hoop courage of thine. I fear much
that, like a hot-mettled horse, it will carry the owner into some
scrape, out of which he will find it difficult to extricate
himself, especially if the daring spirit which bore thee thither
should chance to fail thee at a pinch. Remember, Darsie, thou
art not naturally courageous; on the contrary, we have long since
agreed that, quiet as I am, I have the advantage in this
important particular. My courage consists, I think, in strength
of nerves and constitutional indifference to danger; which,
though it never pushes me on adventure, secures me in full use of
my recollection, and tolerably complete self-possession, when
danger actually arrives. Now, thine seems more what may be
called intellectual courage; highness of spirit, and desire of
distinction; impulses which render thee alive to the love of
fame, and deaf to the apprehension of danger, until it forces
itself suddenly upon thee. I own that, whether it is from my
having caught my father's apprehensions, or that I have reason to
entertain doubts of my own, I often think that this wildfire
chase of romantic situation and adventure may lead thee into some
mischief; and then what would become of Alan Fairford? They
might make whom they pleased Lord Advocate or Solicitor-General,
I should never have the heart to strive for it. All my exertions
are intended to Vindicate myself one day in your eyes; and I
think I should not care a farthing for the embroidered silk gown,
more than for an old woman's apron, unless I had hopes that thou
shouldst be walking the boards to admire, and perhaps to envy me.

That this may be the case, I prithee--beware! See not a
Dulcinea, in every slipshod girl, who, with blue eyes, fair hair,
a tattered plaid, and a willow-wand in her grip, drives out the
village cows to the loaning. Do not think you will meet a
gallant Valentine in every English rider, or an Orson in every
Highland drover. View things as they are, and not as they may be
magnified through thy teeming fancy. I have seen thee look at an
old gravel pit, till thou madest out capes, and bays, and inlets,
crags and precipices, and the whole stupendous scenery of the
Isle of Feroe, in what was, to all ordinary eyes, a mere horse-
pond. Besides, did I not once find thee gazing with respect at a
lizard, in the attitude of one who looks upon a crocodile? Now
this is, doubtless, so far a harmless exercise of your
imagination; for the puddle cannot drown you, nor the Lilliputian
alligator eat you up. But it is different in society, where you
cannot mistake the character of those you converse with, or
suffer your fancy to exaggerate their qualities, good or bad,
without exposing yourself not only to ridicule, but to great and
serious inconveniences. Keep guard, therefore, on your
imagination, my dear Darsie; and let your old friend assure you,
it is the point of your character most pregnant with peril to its
good and generous owner. Adieu! let not the franks of the
worthy peer remain unemployed; above all, SIS MEMOR MEI. A. F.




I have received thine absurd and most conceited epistle. It is
well for thee that, Lovelace and Belford-like, we came under a
convention to pardon every species of liberty which we may take
with each other; since, upon my word, there are some reflections
in your last which would otherwise have obliged me to return
forthwith to Edinburgh, merely to show you I was not what you
took me for.

Why, what a pair of prigs hast thou made of us! I plunging into
scrapes, without having courage to get out of them--thy sagacious
self, afraid to put one foot before the other, lest it should run
away from its companion; and so standing still like a post, out
of mere faintness and coldness of heart, while all the world were
driving full speed past thee. Thou a portrait-painter! I tell
thee, Alan, I have seen a better seated on the fourth round of a
ladder, and painting a bare-breeched Highlander, holding a pint-
stoup as big as himself, and a booted Lowlander, in a bobwig,
supporting a glass of like dimensions; the whole being designed
to represent the sign of the Salutation.

How hadst thou the heart to represent thine own individual self,
with all thy motions, like those of a great Dutch doll, depending
on the pressure of certain springs, as duty, reflection, and the
like; without the impulse of which, thou wouldst doubtless have
me believe thou wouldst not budge an inch! But have I not seen
Gravity out of his bed at midnight? and must I, in plain terms,
remind thee of certain mad pranks? Thou hadst ever, with the
gravest sentiments in thy mouth and the most starched reserve in
thy manner, a kind of lumbering proclivity towards mischief,
although with more inclination to set it a-going than address to
carry it through; and I cannot but chuckle internally, when I
think of having seen my most venerable monitor, the future
president of some high Scottish court, puffing, blowing, and
floundering, like a clumsy cart-horse in a bog where his efforts
to extricate himself only plunged him deeper at every awkward
struggle, till some one--I myself, for example--took compassion
on the moaning monster, and dragged him out by mane and tail.

As for me, my portrait is, if possible, even more scandalously
caricatured, I fail or quail in spirit at the upcome! Where
canst thou show me the least symptom of the recreant temper, with
which thou hast invested me (as I trust) merely to set off the
solid and impassible dignity of thine own stupid indifference?
If you ever saw me tremble, be assured that my flesh, like that
of the old Spanish general, only quaked at the dangers into which
my spirit was about to lead it. Seriously, Alan, this imputed
poverty of spirit is a shabby charge to bring against your
friend. I have examined myself as closely as I can, being, in
very truth, a little hurt at your having such hard thoughts of
me, and on my life I can see no reason for them. I allow you
have, perhaps, some advantage of me in the steadiness and
indifference of your temper; but I should despise myself, if I
were conscious of the deficiency in courage which you seem
willing enough to impute to me. However, I suppose, this
ungracious hint proceeds from sincere anxiety for my safety; and
so viewing it, I swallow it as I would do medicine from a
friendly doctor, although I believed in my heart he had mistaken
my complaint.

This offensive insinuation disposed of, I thank thee, Alan, for
the rest of thy epistle. I thought I heard your good father
pronouncing the word Noble House, with a mixture of contempt and
displeasure, as if the very name of the poor little hamlet were
odious to him, or as if you had selected, out of all Scotland,
the very place at which you had no call to dine. But if he had
had any particular aversion to that blameless village and very
sorry inn, is it not his own fault that I did not accept the
invitation of the Laird of Glengallacher, to shoot a buck in what
he emphatically calls 'his country'? Truth is, I had a strong
desire to have complied with his lairdship's invitation. To
shoot a buck! Think how magnificent an idea to one who never
shot anything but hedge-sparrows, and that with a horse-pistol
purchased at a broker's stand in the Cowgate! You, who stand
upon your courage, may remember that I took the risk of firing
the said pistol for the first time, while you stood at twenty
yards' distance; and that, when you were persuaded it would go
off without bursting, forgetting all law but that of the biggest
and strongest, you possessed yourself of it exclusively for the
rest of the holidays. Such a day's sport was no complete
introduction to the noble art of deer-stalking, as it is
practised in the Highlands; but I should not have scrupled to
accept honest Glengallacher's invitation, at the risk of firing a
rifle for the first time, had it not been for the outcry which
your father made at my proposal, in the full ardour of his zeal
for King George, the Hanover succession, and the Presbyterian
faith. I wish I had stood out, since I have gained so little
upon his good opinion by submission. All his impressions
concerning the Highlanders are taken from the recollections of
the Forty-five, when he retreated from the West Port with his
brother volunteers, each to the fortalice of his own separate
dwelling, so soon as they heard the Adventurer was arrived with
his clans as near them as Kirkliston. The flight of Falkirk--
PARMA NON BENE SELECTA--in which I think your sire had his share
with the undaunted western regiment, does not seem to have
improved his taste for the company of the Highlanders; (quaere,
Alan, dost thou derive the courage thou makest such boast of from
an hereditary source?) and stories of Rob Roy Macgregor, and
Sergeant Alan Mhor Cameron, have served to paint them in still
more sable colours to his imagination. [Of Rob Roy we have had
more than enough. Alan Cameron, commonly called Sergeant Mhor, a
freebooter of the same period, was equally remarkable for
strength, courage, and generosity.]

Now, from all I can understand, these ideas, as applied to the
present state of the country, are absolutely chimerical. The
Pretender is no more remembered in the Highlands than if the poor
gentleman were gathered to his hundred and eight fathers, whose
portraits adorn the ancient walls of Holyrood; the broadswords
have passed into other hands; the targets are used to cover the
butter churns; and the race has sunk, or is fast sinking, from
ruffling bullies into tame cheaters. Indeed, it was partly my
conviction that there is little to be seen in the north, which,
arriving at your father's conclusions, though from different
premisses, inclined my course in this direction, where perhaps I
shall see as little.

One thing, however, I HAVE seen; and it was with pleasure the
more indescribable, that I was debarred from treading the land
which my eyes were permitted to gaze upon, like those of the
dying prophet from top of Mount Pisgah,--I have seen, in a word,
the fruitful shores of merry England; merry England! of which I
boast myself a native, and on which I gaze, even while raging
floods and unstable quicksands divide us, with the filial
affection of a dutiful son.

Thou canst not have forgotten, Alan--for when didst thou ever
forget what was interesting to thy friend?--that the same letter
from my friend Griffiths, which doubled my income, and placed my
motions at my own free disposal, contained a prohibitory clause,
by which, reason none assigned, I was prohibited, as I respected
my present safety and future fortunes, from visiting England;
every other part of the British dominions, and a tour, if I
pleased, on the Continent, being left to my own choice.--Where is
the tale, Alan, of a covered dish in the midst of a royal
banquet, upon which the eyes of every guest were immediately
fixed, neglecting all the dainties with which the table was
loaded? This cause of banishment from England--from my native
country--from the land of the brave, and the wise, and the free--
affects me more than I am rejoiced by the freedom and
independence assigned to me in all other respects. Thus, in
seeking this extreme boundary of the country which I am forbidden
to tread, I resemble the poor tethered horse, which, you may have
observed, is always grazing on the very verge of the circle to
which it is limited by its halter.

Do not accuse me of romance for obeying this impulse towards the
South; nor suppose that, to satisfy the imaginary longing of an
idle curiosity, I am in any danger of risking the solid comforts
of my present condition. Whoever has hitherto taken charge of my
motions has shown me, by convincing proofs more weighty than the
assurances which they have witheld, that my real advantage is
their principal object. I should be, therefore, worse than a
fool did I object to their authority, even when it seems somewhat
capriciously exercised; for assuredly, at my age, I might--
intrusted as I am with the care and management of myself in every
other particular--expect that the cause of excluding me from
England should be frankly and fairly stated for my own
consideration and guidance. However, I will not grumble about
the matter. I shall know the whole story one day, I suppose; and
perhaps, as you sometimes surmise, I shall not find there is any
mighty matter in it after all.

Yet one cannot help wondering--but plague on it, if I wonder any
longer, my letter will be as full of wonders as one of
Katterfelto's advertisements. I have a month's mind, instead of
this damnable iteration of guesses and forebodings, to give thee
the history of a little adventure which befell me yesterday;
though I am sure you will, as usual, turn the opposite side of
the spyglass on my poor narrative, and reduce, MORE TUO, to the
most petty trivialities, the circumstance to which thou accusest
me of giving undue consequence. Hang thee, Alan, thou art as
unfit a confidant for a youthful gallant with some spice of
imagination, as the old taciturn secretary of Facardin of
Trebizond. Nevertheless, we must each perform our separate
destinies. I am doomed to see, act, and tell; thou, like a
Dutchman enclosed in the same diligence with a Gascon, to hear,
and shrug thy shoulders.

Of Dumfries, the capital town of this county, I have but little
to say, and will not abuse your patience by reminding you that it
is built on the gallant river Nith, and that its churchyard, the
highest place of the old town, commands an extensive and fine
prospect. Neither will I take the traveller's privilege of
inflicting upon you the whole history of Bruce poniarding the Red
Comyn in the Church of the Dominicans at this place, and becoming
a king and patriot because he had been a church-breaker and a
murderer. The present Dumfriezers remember and justify the deed,
observing it was only a papist church--in evidence whereof, its
walls have been so completely demolished that no vestiges of them
remain. They are a sturdy set of true-blue Presbyterians, these
burghers of Dumfries; men after your father's own heart, zealous
for the Protestant succession--the rather that many of the great
families around are suspected to be of a different way of
thinking, and shared, a great many of them, in the insurrection
of the Fifteen, and some in the more recent business of the
Forty-five. The town itself suffered in the latter era; for Lord
Elcho, with a large party of the rebels, levied a severe
contribution upon Dumfries, on account of the citizens having
annoyed the rear of the Chevalier during his march into England.

Many of these particulars I learned from Provost C--, who,
happening to see me in the market-place, remembered that I was an
intimate of your father's, and very kindly asked me to dinner.
Pray tell your father that the effects of his kindness to me
follow me everywhere. I became tired, however, of this pretty
town in the course of twenty-four hours, and crept along the
coast eastwards, amusing myself with looking out for objects of
antiquity, and sometimes making, or attempting to make, use of my
new angling-rod. By the way, old Cotton's instructions, by which
I hoped to qualify myself for one of the gentle society of
anglers, are not worth a farthing for this meridian. I learned
this by mere accident, after I had waited four mortal hours. I
shall never forget an impudent urchin, a cowherd, about twelve
years old, without either brogue or bonnet, barelegged, and with
a very indifferent pair of breeches--how the villain grinned in
scorn at my landing-net, my plummet, and the gorgeous jury of
flies which I had assembled to destroy all the fish in the river.
I was induced at last to lend the rod to the sneering scoundrel,
to see what he would make of it; and he had not only half filled
my basket in an hour, but literally taught me to kill two trouts
with my own hand. This, and Sam having found the hay and oats,
not forgetting the ale, very good at this small inn, first made
me take the fancy of resting here for a day or two; and I have
got my grinning blackguard of a piscator leave to attend on me,
by paying sixpence a day for a herd-boy in his stead.

A notably clean Englishwoman keeps this small house, and my
bedroom is sweetened with lavender, has a clean sash-window, and
the walls are, moreover, adorned with ballads of Fair Rosamond
and Cruel Barbara Allan. The woman's accent, though uncouth
enough, sounds yet kindly in my ear; for I have never yet
forgotten the desolate effect produced on my infant organs, when
I heard on all sides your slow and broad northern pronunciation,
which was to me the tone of a foreign land. I am sensible I
myself have since that time acquired Scotch in perfection, and
many a Scotticism withal. Still the sound of the English
accentuation comes to my ears as the tones of a friend; and even
when heard from the mouth of some wandering beggar, it has seldom
failed to charm forth my mite. You Scotch, who are so proud of
your own nationality, must make due allowance for that of other

On the next morning I was about to set forth to the stream where
I had commenced angler the night before, but was prevented by a
heavy shower of rain from stirring abroad the whole forenoon;
during all which time, I heard my varlet of a guide as loud with
his blackguard jokes in the kitchen, as a footman in the shilling
gallery; so little are modesty and innocence the inseparable
companions of rusticity and seclusion.

When after dinner the day cleared, and we at length sallied out
to the river side, I found myself subjected to a new trick on the
part of my accomplished preceptor. Apparently, he liked fishing
himself better than the trouble of instructing an awkward novice
such as I; and in hopes of exhausting my patience, and inducing
me to resign the rod, as I had done the preceding day, my friend
contrived to keep me thrashing the water more than an hour with a
pointless hook. I detected this trick at last, by observing the
rogue grinning with delight when he saw a large trout rise and
dash harmless away from the angle. I gave him a sound cuff,
Alan; but the next moment was sorry, and, to make amends, yielded
possession of the fishing-rod for the rest of the evening, he
undertaking to bring me home a dish of trouts for my supper, in
atonement for his offences.

Having thus got honourably rid of the trouble of amusing myself
in a way I cared not for, I turned my steps towards the sea, or
rather the Solway Firth which here separates the two sister
kingdoms, and which lay at about a mile's distance, by a pleasant
walk over sandy knells, covered with short herbage, which you
call Links, and we English, Downs.

But the rest of my adventure would weary out my fingers, and must
be deferred until to-morrow, when you shall hear from me, by way
of continuation; and, in the meanwhile, to prevent over-hasty
conclusions, I must just hint to you, we are but yet on the verge
of the adventure which it is my purpose to communicate.




I mentioned in my last, that having abandoned my fishing-rod as
an unprofitable implement, I crossed over the open downs which
divided me from the margin of the Solway. When I reached the
banks of the great estuary, which are here very bare and exposed,
the waters had receded from the large and level space of sand,
through which a stream, now feeble and fordable, found its way to
the ocean. The whole was illuminated by the beams of the low and
setting sun, who showed his ruddy front, like a warrior prepared
for defence, over a huge battlemented and turreted wall of
crimson and black clouds, which appeared like an immense Gothic
fortress, into which the lord of day was descending. His setting
rays glimmered bright upon the wet surface of the sands, and the
numberless pools of water by which it was covered, where the
inequality of the ground had occasioned their being left by the

The scene was animated by the exertions of a number of horsemen,
who were actually employed in hunting salmon. Aye, Alan, lift up
your hands and eyes as you will, I can give their mode of fishing
no name so appropriate; for they chased the fish at full gallop,
and struck them with their barbed spears, as you see hunters
spearing boars in the old tapestry. The salmon, to be sure, take
the thing more quietly than the boars; but they are so swift in
their own element, that to pursue and strike them is the task of
a good horseman, with a quick eye, a determined hand, and full
command both of his horse and weapon. The shouts of the fellows
as they galloped up and down in the animating exercise--their
loud bursts of laughter when any of their number caught a fall--
and still louder acclamations when any of the party made a
capital stroke with his lance--gave so much animation to the
whole scene, that I caught the enthusiasm of the sport, and
ventured forward a considerable space on the sands. The feats of
one horseman, in particular, called forth so repeatedly the
clamorous applause of his companions, that the very banks rang
again with their shouts. He was a tall man, well mounted on a
strong black horse, which he caused to turn and wind like a bird
in the air, carried a longer spear than the others, and wore a
sort of fur cap or bonnet, with a short feather in it, which gave
him on the whole rather a superior appearance to the other
fishermen. He seemed to hold some sort of authority among them,
and occasionally directed their motions both by voice and hand:
at which times I thought his gestures were striking, and his
voice uncommonly sonorous and commanding.

The riders began to make for the shore, and the interest of the
scene was almost over, while I lingered on the sands, with my
looks turned to the shores of England, still gilded by the sun's
last rays, and, as it seemed, scarce distant a mile from me. The
anxious thoughts which haunt me began to muster in my bosom, and
my feet slowly and insensibly approached the river which divided
me from the forbidden precincts, though without any formed
intention, when my steps were arrested by the sound of a horse
galloping; and as I turned, the rider (the same fisherman whom I
had formerly distinguished) called out to me, in an abrupt
manner, 'Soho, brother! you are too late for Bowness to-night--
the tide will make presently.'

I turned my head and looked at him without answering; for, to my
thinking, his sudden appearance (or rather, I should say, his
unexpected approach) had, amidst the gathering shadows and
lingering light, something in it which was wild and ominous.

'Are you deaf?' he added--'or are you mad?--or have you a mind
for the next world?'

'I am a stranger,' I answered,' and had no other purpose than
looking on at the fishing--I am about to return to the side I
came from.'

'Best make haste then,' said he. 'He that dreams on the bed of
the Solway, may wake in the next world. The sky threatens a
blast that will bring in the waves three feet abreast.'

So saying, he turned his horse and rode off, while I began to
walk back towards the Scottish shore, a little alarmed at what I
had heard; for the tide advances with such rapidity upon these
fatal sands, that well-mounted horsemen lay aside hopes of
safety, if they see its white surge advancing while they are yet
at a distance from the bank.

These recollections grew more agitating, and, instead of walking
deliberately, I began a race as fast as I could, feeling, or
thinking I felt, each pool of salt water through which I
splashed, grow deeper and deeper. At length the surface of the
sand did seem considerably more intersected with pools and
channels full of water--either that the tide was really beginning
to influence the bed of the estuary, or, as I must own is equally
probable, that I had, in the hurry and confusion of my retreat,
involved myself in difficulties which I had avoided in my more
deliberate advance. Either way, it was rather an unpromising
state of affairs, for the sands at the same time turned softer,
and my footsteps, so soon as I had passed, were instantly filled
with water. I began to have odd recollections concerning the
snugness of your father's parlour, and the secure footing
afforded by the pavement of Brown's Square and Scott's Close,
when my better genius, the tall fisherman, appeared once more
close to my side, he and his sable horse looming gigantic in the
now darkening twilight.

'Are you mad?' he said, in the same deep tone which had before
thrilled on my ear, 'or are you weary of your life? You will be
presently amongst the quicksands.' I professed my ignorance of
the way, to which he only replied, 'There is no time for prating
--get up behind me.'

He probably expected me to spring from the ground with the
activity which these Borderers have, by constant practice,
acquired in everything relating to horsemanship; but as I stood
irresolute, he extended his hand, and grasping mine, bid me place
my foot on the toe of his boot, and thus raised me in a trice to
the croupe of his horse. I was scarcely securely seated, ere he
shook the reins of his horse, who instantly sprang forward; but
annoyed, doubtless, by the unusual burden, treated us to two or
three bounds, accompanied by as many flourishes of his hind
heels. The rider sat like a tower, notwithstanding that the
unexpected plunging of the animal threw me forward upon him. The
horse was soon compelled to submit to the discipline of the spur
and bridle, and went off at a steady hand gallop; thus shortening
the devious, for it was by no means a direct path, by which the
rider, avoiding the loose quicksands, made for the northern bank.

My friend, perhaps I may call him my preserver,--for, to a
stranger, my situation was fraught with real danger,--continued
to press on at the same speedy pace, but in perfect silence, and
I was under too much anxiety of mind to disturb him with any
questions. At length we arrived at a part of the shore with
which I was utterly unacquainted, when I alighted and began to
return in the best fashion I could my thanks for the important
service which he had just rendered me.

The stranger only replied by an impatient 'pshaw!' and was about
to ride off, and leave me to my own resources when I implored him
to complete his work of kindness by directing me to Shepherd's
Bush, which was, as I informed him, my home for the present.

'To Shepherd's Bush?' he said; 'it is but three miles but if you
know not the land better than the sand, you may break your neck
before you get there; for it is no road for a moping boy in a
dark night; and, besides, there are the brook and the fens to

I was a little dismayed at this communication of such
difficulties as my habits had not called on me to contend with.
Once more the idea of thy father's fireside came across me; and I
could have been well contented to have swapped the romance of my
situation, together with the glorious independence of control
which I possessed at the moment, for the comforts of that
chimney-corner, though I were obliged to keep my eyes chained to

I asked my new friend whether he could not direct me to any house
of public entertainment for the night; and supposing it probable
he was himself a poor man, I added, with the conscious dignity of
a well-filled pocket-book, that I could make it worth any man's
while to oblige me. The fisherman making no answer, I turned
away from him with as gallant an appearance of indifference as I
could command, and began to take, as I thought, the path which he
had pointed out to me.

His deep voice immediately sounded after me to recall me. 'Stay,
young man, stay--you have mistaken the road already.--I wonder
your friends sent out such an inconsiderate youth, without some
one wiser than himself to take care of him.'

'Perhaps they might not have done so,' said I, 'if I had any
friends who cared about the matter.'

'Well, sir,' he said, 'it is not my custom to open my house to
strangers, but your pinch is like to be a smart one; for, besides
the risk from bad roads, fords, and broken ground, and the night,
which looks both black and gloomy, there is bad company on the
road sometimes--at least it has a bad name, and some have come to
harm; so that I think I must for once make my rule give way to
your necessity, and give you a night's lodging in my cottage.

Why was it, Alan, that I could not help giving an involuntary
shudder at receiving an invitation so seasonable in itself, and
so suitable to my naturally inquisitive disposition? I easily
suppressed this untimely sensation; and as I returned thanks, and
expressed my hope that I should not disarrange, his family, I
once more dropped a hint of my desire to make compensation for
any trouble I might occasion. The man answered very coldly,
'Your presence will no doubt give me trouble, sir, but it is of a
kind which your purse, cannot compensate; in a word, although I
am content to receive you as my guest, I am no publican to call a

I begged his pardon, and, at his instance, once more seated
myself behind hint upon the good horse, which went forth steady
as before--the moon, whenever she could penetrate the clouds,
throwing the huge shadow of the animal, with its double burden,
on the wild and bare ground over which we passed.

Thou mayst laugh till thou lettest the letter fall, if thou wilt,
but it reminded me of the magician Atlantes on his hippogriff
with a knight trussed up behind him, in the manner Ariosto has
depicted that matter. Thou art I know, matter-of-fact enough to
affect contempt of that fascinating and delicious poem; but think
not that, to conform with thy bad taste, I shall forbear any
suitable illustration which now or hereafter may occur to me.

On we went, the sky blackening around us, and the wind beginning
to pipe such a wild and melancholy tune as best suited the hollow
sounds of the advancing tide, which I could hear at a distance,
like the roar of some immense monster defrauded of its prey.

At length, our course was crossed by a deep dell or dingle, such
as they call in some parts of Scotland a den, and in others a
cleuch or narrow glen. It seemed, by the broken glances which
the moon continued to throw upon it, to be steep, precipitous,
and full of trees, which are, generally speaking, rather scarce
upon these shores. The descent by which we plunged into this
dell was both steep and rugged, with two or three abrupt
turnings; but neither danger nor darkness impeded the motion of
the black horse, who seemed rather to slide upon his haunches,
than to gallop down the pass, throwing me again on the shoulders
of the athletic rider, who, sustaining no inconvenience by the
circumstance, continued to press the horse forward with his heel,
steadily supporting him at the same time by raising his bridle-
hand, until we stood in safety at the bottom of the steep--not a
little to my consolation, as, friend Alan, thou mayst easily

A very short advance up the glen, the bottom of which we had
attained by this ugly descent, brought us in front of two or
three cottages, one of which another blink of moonshine enabled
me to rate as rather better than those of the Scottish peasantry
in this part of the world; for the sashes seemed glazed, and
there were what are called storm-windows in the roof, giving
symptoms of the magnificence of a second story. The scene around
was very interesting; for the cottages, and the yards or crofts
annexed to them, occupied a haugh, or helm, of two acres, which a
brook of some consequence (to judge from its roar) had left upon
one side of the little glen while finding its course close to the
farther bank, and which appeared to be covered and darkened with
trees, while the level space beneath enjoyed such stormy smiles
as the moon had that night to bestow.

I had little time for observation, for my companion's loud
whistle, seconded by an equally loud halloo, speedily brought to
the door of the principal cottage a man and a woman, together
with two large Newfoundland dogs, the deep baying of which I had
for some time heard. A yelping terrier or two, which had joined
the concert, were silent at the presence of my conductor, and
began to whine, jump up, and fawn upon him. The female drew back
when she beheld a stranger; the man, who had a lighted lantern,
advanced, and, without any observation, received the horse from
my host, and led him, doubtless, to stable, while I followed my
conductor into the house. When we had passed the HALLAN, [The
partition which divides a Scottish cottage.] we entered a well-
sized apartment, with a clean brick floor, where a fire blazed
(much to my contentment) in the ordinary projecting sort of a
chimney, common in Scottish houses. There were stone seats
within the chimney; and ordinary utensils, mixed with fishing-
spears, nets, and similar implements of sport, were hung around
the walls of the place. The female who had first appeared at the
door, had now retreated into a side apartment. She was presently
followed by my guide, after he had silently motioned me to a
seat; and their place was supplied by an elderly woman, in a grey
stuff gown, with a check apron and toy, obviously a menial,
though neater in her dress than is usual in her apparent rank--an
advantage which was counterbalanced by a very forbidding aspect.
But the most singular part of her attire, in this very Protestant
country, was a rosary, in which the smaller beads were black oak,
and those indicating the PATER-NOSTER of silver, with a crucifix
of the same metal.

This person made preparations for supper, by spreading a clean
though coarse cloth over a large oaken table, placing trenchers
and salt upon it, and arranging the fire to receive a gridiron.
I observed her motions in silence; for she took no sort of notice
of me, and as her looks were singularly forbidding, I felt no
disposition to commence conversation.

When this duenna had made all preliminary arrangements, she took
from the well-filled pouch of my conductor, which he had hung up
by the door, one or two salmon, or GRILSES, as the smaller sort
are termed, and selecting that which seemed best and in highest
season, began to cut it into slices, and to prepare a GRILLADE;
the savoury smell of which affected me so powerfully that I began
sincerely to hope that no delay would intervene between the
platter and the lip.

As this thought came across me, the man who had conducted the
horse to the stable entered the apartment, and discovered to me a
countenance yet more uninviting than that of the old crone who
was performing with such dexterity the office of cook to the
party. He was perhaps sixty years old; yet his brow was not much
furrowed, and his jet-black hair was only grizzled, not whitened,
by the advance of age. All his motions spoke strength unabated;
and, though rather undersized, he had very broad shoulders, was
square-made, thin-flanked, and apparently combined in his frame
muscular strength and activity; the last somewhat impaired
perhaps by years, but the first remaining in full vigour. A hard
and harsh countenance--eyes far sunk under projecting eyebrows,
which were grizzled like his hair--a wide mouth, furnished from
ear to ear with it range of unimpaired teeth, of uncommon
whiteness, and a size and breadth which might have become the
jaws of an ogre, completed this delightful portrait. He was clad
like a fisherman, in jacket and trousers of the blue cloth
commonly used by seamen, and had a Dutch case-knife, like that of
a Hamburgh skipper, stuck into a broad buff belt, which seemed as
if it might occasionally sustain weapons of a description still
less equivocally calculated for violence.

This man gave me an inquisitive, and, as I thought, a sinister
look upon entering the apartment; but without any further notice
of me, took up the office of arranging the table, which the old
lady had abandoned for that of cooking the fish, and, with more
address than I expected from a person of his coarse appearance,
placed two chairs at the head of the table, and two stools below;
accommodating each seat to a cover, beside which he placed an
allowance of barley-bread, and a small jug, which he replenished
with ale from a large black jack. Three of these jugs were of
ordinary earthenware, but the fourth, which he placed by the
right-hand cover at, the upper end of the table, was a flagon of
silver, and displayed armorial bearings. Beside this flagon he
placed a salt-cellar of silver, handsomely wrought, containing
salt of exquisite whiteness, with pepper and other spices. A
sliced lemon was also presented on a small silver salver. The
two large water-dogs, who seemed perfectly to understand the
nature of the preparations, seated themselves one on each side of
the table, to be ready to receive their portion of the
entertainment. I never saw finer animals, or which seemed to be
more influenced by a sense of decorum, excepting that they
slobbered a little as the rich scent from the chimney was wafted
past their noses. The small dogs ensconced themselves beneath
the table.

I am aware that I am dwelling upon trivial and ordinary
circumstances, and that perhaps I may weary out your patience in
doing so. But conceive me alone in this strange place, which
seemed, from the universal silence, to be the very temple of
Harpocrates--remember that this is my first excursion from home--
forget not that the manner in which I had been brought hither had
the dignity of danger and something the air of an adventure, and
that there was a mysterious incongruity in all I had hitherto
witnessed; and you will not, I think, be surprised that these
circumstances, though trifling, should force themselves on my
notice at the time, and dwell in my memory afterwards.

That a fisher, who pursued the sport perhaps for his amusement as
well as profit, should be well mounted and better lodged than the
lower class of peasantry, had in it nothing surprising; but there
was something about all that I saw which seemed to intimate that
I was rather in the abode of a decayed gentleman, who clung to a
few of the forms and observances of former rank, than in that of
a common peasant, raised above his fellows by comparative

Besides the articles of plate which I have already noticed, the
old man now lighted and placed on the table a silver lamp, or
CRUISIE as the Scottish term it, filled with very pure oil, which
in burning diffused an aromatic fragrance, and gave me a more
perfect view of the cottage walls, which I had hitherto only seen
dimly by the light of the fire. The BINK [The frame of wooden
shelves placed in a Scottish kitchen for holding plates.] with
its usual arrangement of pewter and earthenware, which was most
strictly and critically clean, glanced back the flame of the lamp
merrily from one side of the apartment. In a recess, formed by
the small bow of a latticed window, was a large writing-desk of
walnut-tree wood, curiously carved, above which arose shelves of
the same, which supported a few books and papers. The opposite
side of the recess contained (as far as I could discern, for it
lay in shadow, and I could at any rate have seen it but
imperfectly from the place where I was seated) one or two guns,
together with swords, pistols, and other arms a collection which,
in a poor cottage, and in a country so peaceful, appeared
singular at least, if not even somewhat suspicious.

All these observations, you may suppose, were made much sooner
than I have recorded, or you (if you have not skipped) have been
able to read them. They were already finished, and I was
considering how I should open some communication with the mute
inhabitants of the mansion, when my conductor re-entered from the
side-door by which he had made his exit.

He had now thrown off his rough riding-cap, and his coarse
jockey-coat, And stood before me in a grey jerkin trimmed with
black, which sat close to, and set off, his large and sinewy
frame, and a pair of trousers of a lighter colour, cut as close
to the body as they are used by Highlandmen. His whole dress was
of finer cloth than that of the old man; and his linen, so minute
was my observation, clean and unsullied. His shirt was without
ruffles, and tied at the collar with a black ribbon, which showed
his strong and muscular neck rising from it like that of an
ancient Hercules. His head was small, with a large forehead, and
well-formed ears. He wore neither peruke nor hair-powder; and
his chestnut locks, curling close to his head like those of an
antique statue, showed not the least touch of time, though the
owner must have been at least fifty. His features were high and
prominent in such a degree that one knew not whether to term them
harsh or handsome. In either case, the sparkling grey eye,
aquiline nose, and well-formed mouth, combined to render his
physiognomy noble and expressive. An air of sadness, or
severity, or of both, seemed to indicate a melancholy, and, at
the same time, a haughty temper. I could not help running
mentally over the ancient heroes, to whom I might assimilate the
noble form and countenance before me. He was too young, and
evinced too little resignation to his fate, to resemble
Belisarius. Coriolanus, standing by the hearth of Tullus
Aufidius, came nearer the mark; yet the gloomy and haughty look
of the stranger had, perhaps, still more of Marius, seated among
the ruins of Carthage.

While I was lost in these imaginations, my host stood by the
fire, gazing on me with the same attention which I paid to him,
until, embarrassed by his look, I was about to break silence at
all hazards. But the supper, now placed upon the table, reminded
me, by its appearance, of those wants which I had almost
forgotten while I was gazing on the fine form of my conductor.
He spoke at length, and I almost started at the deep rich tone of
his voice, though what he said was but to invite me to sit down
to the table. He himself assumed the seat of honour, beside
which the silver flagon was placed, and beckoned to me to sit
down beside him.

Thou knowest thy father's strict and excellent domestic
discipline has trained me to bear the invocation of a blessing
before we break the daily bread, for which we are taught to pray
--I paused a moment, and, without designing to do so, I suppose
my manner made him sensible of what I expected. The two
domestics or inferiors, as I should have before observed, were
already seated at the bottom of the table, when my host shot a
glance of a very peculiar expression towards the old man,
observing, with something approaching to a sneer, 'Cristal Nixon,
say grace--the gentleman expects one.'

'The foul fiend shall be clerk, and say amen, when I turn
chaplain,' growled out the party addressed, in tones which might
have become the condition of a dying bear; 'if the gentleman is a
whig, he may please himself with his own mummery. My faith is
neither in word nor writ, but in barley-bread and brown ale.'

'Mabel Moffat,' said my guide, looking at the old woman, and
raising his sonorous voice, probably because she was hard of
hearing, 'canst thou ask a blessing upon our victuals?'

The old woman shook her head, kissed the cross which hung from
her rosary, and was silent.

'Mabel will say grace for no heretic,' said the master of the
house, with the same latent sneer on his brow and in his accent.

At the same moment, the side-door already mentioned opened, and
the young woman (so she proved) whom I had first seen at the door
of the cottage, advanced a little way into the room, then stopped
bashfully, as if she had observed that I was looking at her, and
asked the master of the house, 'if he had called?'

'Not louder than to make old Mabel hear me,' he replied; 'and
yet,' be added, as she turned to retire, 'it is a shame a
stranger should see a house where not one of the family can or
will say a grace--do thou be our chaplain.'

The girl, who was really pretty, came forward with timid modesty,
and, apparently unconscious that she was doing anything uncommon,
pronounced the benediction in a silver-toned voice, and with
affecting simplicity--her cheek colouring just so much as to show
that on a less solemn occasion she would have felt more

Now, if thou expectest a fine description of this young woman,
Alan Fairford, in order to entitle thee to taunt me with having
found a Dulcinea in the inhabitant of a fisherman's cottage on
the Solway Firth, thou shalt be disappointed; for, having said
she seemed very pretty, and that she was a sweet and gentle-
speaking creature, I have said all concerning her that I can tell
thee. She vanished when the benediction was spoken.

My host, with a muttered remark on the cold of our ride, and the
keen air of the Solway Sands, to which he did not seem to wish an
answer, loaded my plate from Mabel's grillade, which, with a
large wooden bowl of potatoes, formed our whole meal. A
sprinkling from the lemon gave a much higher zest than the usual
condiment of vinegar; and I promise you that whatever I might
hitherto have felt, either of curiosity or suspicion, did not
prevent me from making a most excellent supper, during which
little passed betwixt me and my entertainer, unless that he did
the usual honours of the table with courtesy, indeed, but without
even the affectation of hearty hospitality, which those in his
(apparent) condition generally affect on such occasions, even
when they do not actually feel it. On the contrary, his manner
seemed that of a polished landlord towards an unexpected and
unwelcome guest, whom, for the sake of his own credit, he
receives with civility, but without either goodwill or

If you ask how I learned all this, I cannot tell you; nor, were I
to write down at length the insignificant intercourse which took
place between us, would it perhaps serve to justify these
observations. It is sufficient to say, that in helping his dogs,
which he did from time to time with great liberality, he seemed
to discharge a duty much more pleasing to himself, than when he
paid the same attention to his guest. Upon the whole, the result
on my mind was as I tell it you.

When supper was over, a small case-bottle of brandy, in a curious
frame of silver filigree, circulated to the guests. I had
already taken a small glass of the liquor, and, when it had
passed to Mabel and to Cristal and was again returned to the
upper end of the table, I could not help taking the bottle in my
hand, to look more at the armorial bearings which were chased
with considerable taste on the silver framework. Encountering
the eye of my entertainer, I instantly saw that my curiosity was
highly distasteful; he frowned, bit his lip, and showed such
uncontrollable signs of impatience, that, setting the bottle
immediately down, I attempted some apology. To this he did not
deign either to reply, or even to listen; and Cristal, at a
signal from his master, removed the object of my curiosity, as
well as the cup, upon which the same arms were engraved.

Then ensued an awkward pause, which I endeavoured to break by
observing, that 'I feared my intrusion upon his hospitality had
put his family to some inconvenience'.

'I hope you see no appearance of it, sir,' he replied, with cold
civility. 'What inconvenience a family so retired as ours may
suffer from receiving an unexpected guest is like to be trifling,
in comparison of what the visitor himself sustains from want of
his accustomed comforts. So far, therefore, as our connexion
stands, our accounts stand clear.'

Notwithstanding this discouraging reply, I blundered on, as is
usual in such cases, wishing to appear civil, and being, perhaps,
in reality the very reverse. 'I was afraid,' I said, that my
presence had banished one of the family' (looking at the side-
door) 'from his table.'

'If,' he coldly replied, 'I meant the young woman whom I had seen
in the apartment, he bid me observe that there was room enough at
the table for her to have seated herself, and meat enough, such
as it was, for her supper. I might, therefore, be assured, if
she had chosen it, she would have supped with us.'

There was no dwelling on this or any other topic longer; for my
entertainer, taking up the lamp, observed, that 'my wet clothes
might reconcile me for the night to their custom of keeping early
hours; that he was under the necessity of going abroad by peep of
day to-morrow morning, and would call me up at the same time, to
point out the way by which I was to return to the Shepherd's

This left no opening for further explanation; nor was there room
for it on the usual terms of civility; for, as he neither asked
my name, nor expressed the least interest concerning my
condition, I--the obliged person--had no pretence to trouble him
with such inquiries on my part.

He took up the lamp, and led me through the side-door into a very
small room, where a bed had been hastily arranged for my
accommodation, and, putting down the lamp, directed me to leave
my wet clothes on the outside of the door, that they might be
exposed to the fire during the night. He then left me, having
muttered something which was meant to pass for good night.

I obeyed his directions with respect to my clothes, the rather
that, in despite of the spirits which I had drunk, I felt my
teeth begin to chatter, and received various hints from an aguish
feeling, that a town-bred youth, like myself, could not at once
rush into all the hardihood of country sports with impunity. But
my bed, though coarse and hard, was dry and clean; and I soon was
so little occupied with my heats and tremors, as to listen with
interest to a heavy foot, which seemed to be that of my landlord,
traversing the boards (there was no ceiling, as you may believe)
which roofed my apartment. Light, glancing through these rude
planks, became visible as soon as my lamp was extinguished; and
as the noise of the slow, solemn, and regular step continued, and
I could distinguish that the person turned and returned as he
reached the end of the apartment, it seemed clear to me that the
walker was engaged in no domestic occupation, but merely pacing
to and fro for his own pleasure. 'An odd amusement this,' I
thought, 'for one who had been engaged at least a part of the
preceding day in violent exercise, and who talked of rising by
the peep of dawn on the ensuing morning.'

Meantime I heard the storm, which had been brewing during the
evening, begin to descend with a vengeance; sounds as of distant-
thunder (the noise of the more distant waves, doubtless, on the
shore) mingled with the roaring of the neighbouring torrent, and
with the crashing, groaning, and even screaming of the trees in
the glen whose boughs were tormented by the gale. Within the
house, windows clattered, and doors clapped, and the walls,
though sufficiently substantial for a building of the kind,
seemed to me to totter in the tempest.

But still the heavy steps perambulating the apartment over my
head were distinctly heard amid the roar and fury of the
elements. I thought more than once I even heard a groan; but I
frankly own that, placed in this unusual situation, my fancy may
have misled me. I was tempted several times to call aloud, and
ask whether the turmoil around us did not threaten danger to the
building which we inhabited; but when I thought of the secluded
and unsocial master of the dwelling, who seemed to avoid human
society, and to remain unperturbed amid the elemental war, it
seemed that to speak to him at that moment would have been to
address the spirit of the tempest himself, since no other being,
I thought, could have remained calm and tranquil while winds and
waters were thus raging around.

In process of time, fatigue prevailed over anxiety and curiosity.
The storm abated, or my senses became deadened to its terrors,
and I fell asleep ere yet the mysterious paces of my host had
ceased to shake the flooring over my head.

It might have been expected that the novelty of my situation,
although it did not prevent my slumbers, would have at least
diminished their profoundness, and shortened their duration.
It proved otherwise, however; for I never slept more soundly in
my life, and only awoke when, at morning dawn, my landlord shook
me by the shoulder, and dispelled some dream, of which,
fortunately for you, I have no recollection, otherwise you would
have been favoured with it, in hopes you might have proved a
second Daniel upon the occasion.

'You sleep sound--' said his full deep voice; 'ere five years
have rolled over your head, your slumbers will be lighter--unless
ere then you are wrapped in the sleep which is never broken.'

'How!' said I, starting up in the bed; 'do you know anything of
me--of my prospects--of my views in life?'

'Nothing,' he answered, with a grim smile; 'but it is evident you
are entering upon the world young, inexperienced, and full of
hopes, and I do but prophesy to you what I would to any one in
your condition. But come; there lie your clothes--a brown crust
and a draught of milk wait you, if you choose to break your fast;
but you must make haste.'

'I must first,' I said, 'take the freedom to spend a few minutes
alone, before beginning the ordinary works of the day.'

'Oh!--umph!--I cry your devotions pardon,' he replied, and left
the apartment.

Alan, there is something terrible about this man.

I joined him, as I had promised, in the kitchen where we had
supped overnight, where I found the articles which he had offered
me for breakfast, without butter or any other addition.

He walked up and down while I partook of the bread and milk; and
the slow measured weighty step seemed identified with those which
I had heard last night. His pace, from its funereal slowness,

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