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

Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott

Part 4 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

long, lean, and hungry-faced, like the unicorn. I ought to have
recollected, that under the close inspection of two such watchful
salvages, our communication, while in repose, could not have been
easy; that the period of dancing a minuet was not the very
choicest time for conversation; but that the noise, the exercise,
and the mazy confusion of a country-dance, where the
inexperienced performers were every now and then running against
each other, and compelling the other couples to stand still for a
minute at a time, besides the more regular repose afforded by the
intervals of the dance itself, gave the best possible openings
for a word or two spoken in season, and without being liable to

We had but just led down, when an opportunity of the kind
occurred, and my partner said, with great gentleness and modesty,
'It is not perhaps very proper in me to acknowledge an
acquaintance that is not claimed; but I believe I speak to Mr.
Darsie Latimer?'

'Darsie Latimer was indeed the person that had now the honour and

I would have gone on in the false gallop of compliment, but she
cut me short. 'And why,' she said, 'is Mr. Latimer here, and in
disguise, or at least assuming an office unworthy of a man of
education?--I beg pardon,' she continued,--'I would not give you
pain, but surely making, an associate of a person of that

She looked towards my friend Willie, and was silent. I felt
heartily ashamed of myself, and hastened to say it was an idle
frolic, which want of occupation had suggested, and which I could
not regret, since it had procured me the pleasure I at present

Without seeming to notice my compliment, she took the next
opportunity to say, 'Will Mr. Latimer permit a stranger who
wishes him well to ask, whether it is right that, at his active
age, he should be in so far void of occupation, as to be ready to
adopt low society for the sake of idle amusement?'

'You are severe, madam,' I answered; 'but I cannot think myself
degraded by mixing with any society where I meet'--

Here I stopped short, conscious that I was giving my answer an
unhandsome turn. The ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM, the last to which a
polite man has recourse, may, however, be justified by
circumstances, but seldom or never the ARGUMENTUM AD FOEMINAM.

She filled up the blank herself which I had left. 'Where you
meet ME, I suppose you would say? But the case is different. I
am, from my unhappy fate, obliged to move by the will of others,
and to be in places which I would by my own will gladly avoid.
Besides, I am, except for these few minutes, no participator of
the revels--a spectator only, and attended by my servants. Your
situation is different--you are here by choice, the partaker and
minister of the pleasures of a class below you in education,
birth, and fortunes. If I speak harshly, Mr. Latimer,' she
added, with much sweetness of manner, 'I mean kindly.'

I was confounded by her speech, 'severe in youthful wisdom'; all
of naive or lively, suitable to such a dialogue, vanished from my
recollection, and I answered with gravity like her own, 'I am,
indeed, better educated than these poor people; but you, madam,
whose kind admonition I am grateful for, must know more of my
condition than I do myself--I dare not say I am their superior in
birth, since I know nothing of my own, or in fortunes, over which
hangs an impenetrable cloud.'

'And why should your ignorance on these points drive you into low
society and idle habits?' answered my female monitor. 'Is it
manly to wait till fortune cast her beams upon you, when by
exertion of your own energy you might distinguish yourself? Do
not the pursuits of learning lie open to you--of manly ambition
--of war? But no--not of war, that has already cost you too

'I will be what you wish me to be,' I replied with eagerness--
'You have but to choose my path, and you shall see if I do not
pursue it with energy, were it only because you command me.'

'Not because I command you,' said the maiden, 'but because
reason, common sense, manhood, and, in one word, regard for your
own safety, give the same counsel.'

'At least permit me to reply, that reason and sense never assumed
a fairer form--of persuasion,' I hastily added; for she turned
from me--nor did she give me another opportunity of continuing
what I had to say till the next pause of the dance, when,
determined to bring our dialogue to a point, I said, 'You
mentioned manhood also, and in the same breath, personal danger.
My ideas of manhood suggest that it is cowardice to retreat
before dangers of a doubtful character. You, who appear to know
so much of my fortunes that I might call you my guardian angel,
tell me what these dangers are, that I may judge whether manhood
calls on me to face or to fly them.'

She was evidently perplexed by this appeal.

'You make me pay dearly for acting as your humane adviser,' she
replied at last: 'I acknowledge an interest in your fate, and
yet I dare not tell you whence it arises; neither am I at liberty
to say why, or from whom, you are in danger; but it is not less
true that danger is near and imminent. Ask me no more, but, for
your own sake, begone from this country. Elsewhere you are safe
--here you do but invite your fate.'

'But am I doomed to bid thus farewell to almost the only human
being who has showed an interest in my welfare? Do not say so--
say that we shall meet again, and the hope shall be the leading
star to regulate my course!'

'It is more than probable,' she said--'much more than probable,
that we may never meet again. The help which I now render you is
all that may be in my power; it is such as I should render to a
blind man whom I might observe approaching the verge of a
precipice; it ought to excite no surprise, and requires no

So saying, she again turned from me, nor did she address me until
the dance was on the point of ending, when she said, 'Do not
attempt to speak to or approach me again in the course of the
night; leave the company as soon as you can, but not abruptly,
and God be with you.'

I handed her to her seat, and did not quit the fair palm I held,
without expressing my feelings by a gentle pressure. She
coloured slightly, and withdrew her hand, but not angrily.
Seeing the eyes of Cristal and Mabel sternly fixed on me, I bowed
deeply, and withdrew from her; my heart saddening, and my eyes
becoming dim in spite of me, as the shifting crowd hid us from
each other.

It was my intention to have crept back to my comrade Willie, and
resumed my bow with such spirit as I might, although, at the
moment, I would have given half my income for an instant's
solitude. But my retreat was cut off by Dame Martin, with the
frankness--if it is not an inconsistent phrase-of rustic
coquetry, that goes straight up to the point.

'Aye, lad, ye seem unco sune weary, to dance sae lightly? Better
the nag that ambles a' the day, than him that makes a brattle for
a mile, and then's dune wi' the road.'

This was a fair challenge, and I could not decline accepting it.
Besides, I could see Dame Martin was queen of the revels; and so
many were the rude and singular figures about me, that I was by
no means certain whether I might not need some protection. I
seized on her willing hand, and we took our places in the dance,
where, if I did not acquit myself with all the accuracy of step
and movement which I had before attempted, I at least came up to
the expectations of my partner, who said, and almost swore, 'I
was prime at it;' while, stimulated to her utmost exertions, she
herself frisked like a kid, snapped her fingers like castanets,
whooped like a Bacchanal, and bounded from the floor like a
tennis-ball,--aye, till the colour of her garters was no
particular mystery. She made the less secret of this, perhaps,
that they were sky-blue, and fringed with silver.

The time has been that this would have been special fun; or
rather, last night was the only time I can recollect these four
years when it would not have been so; yet, at this moment, I
cannot tell you how I longed to be rid of Dame Martin. I almost
wished she would sprain one of those 'many-twinkling' ankles,
which served her so alertly; and when, in the midst of her
exuberant caprioling, I saw my former partner leaving the
apartment, and with eyes, as I thought, turning towards me, this
unwillingness to carry on the dance increased to such a point,
that I was almost about to feign a sprain or a dislocation
myself, in order to put an end to the performance. But there
were around me scores of old women, all of whom looked as if they
might have some sovereign recipe for such an accident; and,
remembering Gil Blas, and his pretended disorder in the robber's
cavern, I thought it as wise to play Dame Martin fair, and dance
till she thought proper to dismiss me. What I did I resolved to
do strenuously, and in the latter part of the exhibition I cut
and sprang from the floor as high and as perpendicularly as Dame
Martin herself; and received, I promise you, thunders of
applause, for the common people always prefer exertion and
agility to grace. At length Dame Martin could dance no more,
and, rejoicing at my release, I led her to a seat, and took the
privilege of a partner to attend her.

'Hegh, sirs,' exclaimed Dame Martin, 'I am sair forfoughen!
Troth! callant, I think ye hae been amaist the death o' me.'

I could only atone for the alleged offence by fetching her some
refreshment, of which she readily partook.

'I have been lucky in my partners,' I said, 'first that pretty
young lady, and then you, Mrs, Martin.'

'Hout wi' your fleeching,' said Dame Martin. 'Gae wa--gae wa,
lad; dinna blaw in folk's lugs that gate; me and Miss Lilias
even'd thegither! Na, na, lad--od, she is maybe four or five
years younger than the like o' me,--bye and attour her gentle

'She is the laird's daughter?' said I, in as careless a tone of
inquiry as I could assume.

'His daughter, man? Na, na, only his niece--and sib aneugh to
him, I think.'

'Aye, indeed,' I replied; 'I thought she had borne his name?'

'She bears her ain name, and that's Lilias.'

'And has she no other name?' asked I.

'What needs she another till she gets a gudeman?' answered my
Thetis, a little miffed perhaps--to use the women's phrase--that
I turned the conversation upon my former partner, rather than
addressed it to herself.

There was a little pause, which was interrupted by Dame Martin
observing, 'They are standing up again.'

'True,' said I, having no mind to renew my late violent CAPRIOLE,
and I must go help old Willie.'

Ere I could extricate myself, I heard poor Thetis address herself
to a sort of merman in a jacket of seaman's blue, and a pair of
trousers (whose hand, by the way, she had rejected at an earlier
part of the evening) and intimate that she was now disposed to
take a trip.

'Trip away, then, dearie,' said the vindictive man of the waters,
without offering his hand; 'there,' pointing to the floor, 'is a
roomy berth for you.'

Certain I had made one enemy, and perhaps two, I hastened to my
original seat beside Willie, and began to handle my bow. But I
could see that my conduct had made an unfavourable impression;
the words, 'flory conceited chap,'--'hafflins gentle,' and at
length, the still more alarming epithet of 'spy,' began to be
buzzed about, and I was heartily glad when the apparition of
Sam's visage at the door, who was already possessed of and
draining a can of punch, gave me assurance that my means of
retreat were at hand. I intimated as much to Willie, who
probably had heard more of the murmurs of the company than I had,
for he whispered, 'Aye, aye,--awa wi' ye--ower lang here--slide
out canny--dinna let them see ye are on the tramp.'

I slipped half a guinea into the old man's hand, who answered,
'Truts pruts! nonsense but I 'se no refuse, trusting ye can
afford it. Awa wi' ye--and if ony body stops ye, cry on me.'

I glided, by his advice, along the room as if looking for a
partner, joined Sam, whom I disengaged with some difficulty from
his can, and we left the cottage together in a manner to attract
the least possible observation. The horses were tied in a
neighbouring shed, and as the moon was up, and I was now familiar
with the road, broken and complicated as it is, we soon reached
the Shepherd's Bush, where the old landlady was sitting up
waiting for us, under some anxiety of mind, to account for which
she did not hesitate to tell me that some folks had gone to
Brokenburn from her house, or neighbouring towns, that did not
come so safe back again. 'Wandering Willie,' she said, 'was
doubtless a kind of protection.'

Here Willie's wife, who was smoking in the chimney corner, took
up the praises of her 'hinnie,' as she called him, and
endeavoured to awaken my generosity afresh, by describing the
dangers from which, as she was pleased to allege, her husband's
countenance had assuredly been the means of preserving me. I was
not, however, to be fooled out of more money at this time, and
went to bed in haste, full of vanous cogitations.

I have since spent a couple of days betwixt Mount Sharon and this
place, and betwixt reading, writing to thee this momentous
history, forming plans for seeing the lovely Lilias, and--partly,
I think, for the sake of contradiction--angling a little in spite
of Joshua'a scruples--though I am rather liking the amusement
better as I begin to have some success in it.

And now, my dearest Alan, you are in full possession of my
secret--let me as frankly into the recesses of your bosom. How
do you feel towards this fair ignis fatuus, this lily of the
desert? Tell me honestly; for however the recollection of her
may haunt my own mind, my love for Alan Fairford surpasses the
love of woman, I know, too, that when you DO love, it will be to

Love once and love no more.

A deep-consuming passion, once kindled in a breast so steady as
yours, would never be extinguished but with life. I am of
another and more volatile temper, and though I shall open your
next with a trembling hand and uncertain heart, yet let it bring
a frank confession that this fair unknown has made a deeper
impression on your gravity than you reckoned for, and you will
see I can tear the arrow from my own wound, barb and all. In the
meantime, though I have formed schemes once more to see her, I
will, you may rely on it, take no step for putting them into
practice. I have refrained from this hitherto, and I give you my
word of honour, I shall continue to do so; yet why should you
need any further assurance from one who is so entirely yours as

PS.--I shall be on thorns till I receive your answer. I read,
and re-read your letter, and cannot for my soul discover what
your real sentiments are. Sometimes I think you write of her as
one in jest--and sometimes I think that cannot be. Put me at
ease as soon as possible.



I write on the instant, as you direct; and in a tragi-comic
humour, for I have a tear in my eye and a smile on my cheek.
Dearest Darsie, sure never a being but yourself could be so
generous--sure never a being but yourself could be so absurd! I
remember when you were a boy you wished to make your fine new
whip a present to old Aunt Peggy, merely because she admired it;
and now, with like unreflecting and inappropriate liberality, you
would resign your beloved to a smoke-dried young sophister, who
cares not one of the hairs which it is his occupation to split,
for all the daughters of Eve. I in love with your Lilias--your
Green Mantle--your unknown enchantress!--why I scarce saw her for
five minutes, and even then only the tip of her chin was
distinctly visible. She was well made, and the tip of her chin
was of a most promising cast for the rest of the face; but,
Heaven save you! she came upon business! and for a lawyer to
fall in love with a pretty client on a single consultation, would
be as wise as if he became enamoured of a particularly bright
sunbeam which chanced for a moment to gild his bar-wig. I give
you my word I am heart-whole and moreover, I assure you, that
before I suffer a woman to sit near my heart's core, I must see
her full face, without mask or mantle, aye, and know a good deal
of her mind into the bargain. So never fret yourself on my
account, my kind and generous Darsie; but, for your own sake,
have a care and let not an idle attachment, so lightly taken up,
lead you into serious danger.

On this subject I feel so apprehensive, that now when I am
decorated with the honours of the gown, I should have abandoned
my career at the very starting to come to you, but for my father
having contrived to clog my heels with fetters of a professional
nature. I will tell you the matter at length, for it is comical
enough; and why should not you list to my juridical adventures,
as well as I to those of your fiddling knight-errantry?

It was after dinner, and I was considering how I might best
introduce to my father the private resolution I had formed to set
off for Dumfriesshire, or whether I had not better run away at
once, and plead my excuse by letter, when, assuming the peculiar
look with which he communicates any of his intentions respecting
me, that he suspects may not be altogether acceptable, 'Alan,' he
said, 'ye now wear a gown--ye have opened shop, as we would say
of a more mechanical profession; and, doubtless, ye think the
floor of the courts is strewed with guineas, and that ye have
only to stoop down to gather them?'

'I hope I am sensible, sir,' I replied, 'that I have some
knowledge and practice to acquire, and must stoop for that in the
first place.'

'It is well said,' answered my father; and, always afraid to give
too much encouragement, added, 'Very well said, if it be well
acted up to--Stoop to get knowledge and practice is the very
word. Ye know very well, Alan, that in the other faculty who
study the ARS MEDENDI, before the young doctor gets to the
bedsides of palaces, he must, as they call it, walk the
hospitals; and cure Lazarus of his sores, before he be admitted
to prescribe for Dives, when he has gout or indigestion'--

'I am aware, sir, that'--

'Whisht--do not interrupt the court. Well--also the chirurgeons
have a useful practice, by which they put their apprentices and
tyrones to work; upon senseless dead bodies, to which, as they
can do no good, so they certainly can do as little harm; while at
the same time the tyro, or apprentice, gains experience, and
becomes fit to whip off a leg or arm from a living subject, as
cleanly as ye would slice an onion.'

'I believe I guess your meaning, sir,' answered I; 'and were it
not for a very particular engagement'--

'Do not speak to me of engagements ; but whisht--there is a good
lad--and do not interrupt the court.'

My father, you know, is apt--be it said with all filial duty--to
be a little prolix in his harangues. I had nothing for it but to
lean back and listen.

'Maybe you think, Alan, because I have, doubtless, the management
of some actions in dependence, whilk my worthy clients have
intrusted me with, that I may think of airting them your way
INSTANTER; and so setting you up in practice, so far as my small
business or influence may go; and, doubtless, Alan, that is a day
whilk I hope may come round. But then, before I give, as the
proverb hath it, "My own fish-guts to my own sea-maws," I must,
for the sake of my own character, be very sure that my sea-maw
can pick them to some purpose. What say ye?'

'I am so far,' answered I, 'from wishing to get early into
practice, sir, that I would willingly bestow a few days'--

'In further study, ye would say, Alan. But that is not the way
either--ye must walk the hospitals--ye must cure Lazarus--ye must
cut and carve on a departed subject, to show your skill.'

'I am sure,' I replied, 'I will undertake the cause of any poor
man with pleasure, and bestow as much pains upon it as if it were
a duke's; but for the next two or three days'--

'They must be devoted to close study, Alan--very close study
indeed; for ye must stand primed for a hearing, IN PRESENTIA
DOMINORUM, upon Tuesday next.'

'I, sir?' I replied in astonishment--'I have not opened my mouth
in the Outer House yet!'

'Never mind the court of the Gentiles, man,' said my father; 'we
will have you into the Sanctuary at once--over shoes, over

'But, sir, I should really spoil any cause thrust on me so

'Ye cannot spoil it, Alan,' said my father, rubbing his hands
with much complacency ; 'that is the very cream of the business,
man--it is just, as I said before, a subject upon whilk all the
TYRONES have been trying their whittles for fifteen years; and as
there have been about ten or a dozen agents concerned, and each
took his own way, the case is come to that pass, that Stair or
Amiston could not mend it; and I do not think even you, Alan, can
do it much harm--ye may get credit by it, but ye can lose none.'

'And pray what is the name of my happy client, sir?' said I,
ungraciously enough, I believe.

'It is a well-known name in the Parliament House,' replied my
father. 'To say the truth, I expect him every moment; it is
Peter Peebles.' [See Note 4.]

'Peter Peebles!' exclaimed I, in astonishment; 'he is an insane
beggar--as poor as Job, and as mad as a March hare!'

'He has been pleaing in the court for fifteen years,' said my
father, in a tone of commiseration, which seemed to acknowledge
that this fact was enough to account for the poor man's condition
both in mind and circumstances.

'Besides, sir,' I added, 'he is on the Poor's Roll; and you know
there are advocates regularly appointed to manage those cases;
and for me to presume to interfere'--

'Whisht, Alan!--never interrupt the court--all THAT is managed
for ye like a tee'd ball' (my father sometimes draws his similes
from his once favourite game of golf); 'you must know, Alan, that
Peter's cause was to have been opened by young Dumtoustie--ye may
ken the lad, a son of Dumtoustie of that ilk, member of
Parliament for the county of --, and a nephew of the laird's
younger brother, worthy Lord Bladderskate, whilk ye are aware
sounds as like being akin to a peatship [Formerly, a lawyer,
supposed to be under the peculiar patronage of any particular
judge, was invidiously termed his PEAT or PET.] and a sheriffdom,
as a sieve is sib to a riddle. Now, Peter Drudgeit, my lord's
clerk, came to me this morning in the House, like ane bereft of
his wits; for it seems that young Dumtoustie is ane of the Poor's
lawyers, and Peter Peebles's process had been remitted to him of
course. But so soon as the harebrained goose saw the pokes
[Process-bags.] (as indeed, Alan, they are none of the least) he
took fright, called for his nag, lap on, and away to the country
is he gone; and so? said Peter, my lord is at his wit's end wi'
vexation, and shame, to see his nevoy break off the course at the
very starting. "I'll tell you, Peter," said I, "were I my lord,
and a friend or kinsman of mine should leave the town while the
court was sitting, that kinsman, or be he what he liked, should
never darken my door again." And then, Alan, I thought to turn
the ball our own way; and I said that you were a gey sharp
birkie, just off the irons, and if it would oblige my lord, and
so forth, you would open Peter's cause on Tuesday, and make some
handsome apology for the necessary absence of your learned
friend, and the loss which your client and the court had
sustained, and so forth. Peter lap at the proposition like a
cock at a grossart; for, he said, the only chance was to get a
new hand, that did not ken the charge he was taking upon him; for
there was not a lad of two sessions' standing that was not dead-
sick of Peter Peebles and his cause; and he advised me to break
the matter gently to you at the first; but I told him you were, a
good bairn, Alan, and had no will and pleasure in these matters
but mine.'

What could I say, Darsie, in answer to this arrangement, so very
well meant--so very vexatious at the same time? To imitate the
defection and flight of young Dumtoustie, was at once to destroy
my father's hopes of me for ever; nay, such is the keenness with
which he regards all connected with his profession, it might have
been a step to breaking his heart. I was obliged, therefore, to
bow in sad acquiescence, when my father called to James Wilkinson
to bring the two bits of pokes he would find on his table.

Exit James, and presently re-enters, bending under the load of
two huge leathern bags, full of papers to the brim, and labelled
on the greasy backs with the magic impress of the clerks of
court, and the title, PEEBLES AGAINST PLAINSTANES. This huge
mass was deposited on the table, and my father, with no ordinary
glee in his countenance, began to draw out; the various bundles
of papers, secured by none of your red tape or whipcord, but
stout, substantial casts of tarred rope, such as might have held
small craft at their moorings.

I made a last and desperate effort to get rid of the impending
job. 'I am really afraid, sir, that this case seems so much
complicated, and there is so little time to prepare, that we had
better move the court to supersede it till next session.'

'How, sir?--how, Alan?' said my father--'Would you approbate and
reprobate, sir? You have accepted the poor man's cause, and if
you have not his fee in your pocket, it is because he has none to
give you; and now would you approbate and reprobate in the same
breath of your mouth? Think of your oath of office, Alan, and
your duty to your father, my dear boy.'

Once more, what could I say? I saw from my father's hurried and
alarmed manner, that nothing could vex him so much as failing in
the point he had determined to carry, and once more intimated my
readiness to do my best, under every disadvantage.

'Well, well, my boy,' said my father, 'the Lord will make your
days long in the land, for the honour you have given to your
father's grey hairs. You may find wiser advisers, Alan, but none
that can wish you better.'

My father, you know, does not usually give way to expressions of
affection, and they are interesting in proportion to their
rarity. My eyes began to fill at seeing his glisten; and my
delight at having given him such sensible gratification would
have been unmixed but for the thoughts of you. These out of the
question, I could have grappled with the bags, had they been as
large as corn-sacks. But, to turn what was grave into farce, the
door opened, and Wilkinson ushered in Peter Peebles.

You must have seen this original, Darsie, who, like others in the
same predicament, continues to haunt the courts of justice, where
he has made shipwreck of time, means, and understanding. Such
insane paupers have sometimes seemed to me to resemble wrecks
lying upon the shoals on the Goodwin Sands, or in Yarmouth Roads,
warning other vessels to keep aloof from the banks on which they
have been lost; or rather, such ruined clients are like
scarecrows and potato-bogies, distributed through the courts to
scare away fools from the scene of litigation.

The identical Peter wears a huge greatcoat threadbare and patched
itself, yet carefully so disposed and secured by what buttons
remain, and many supplementary pins, as to conceal the still more
infirm state of his under garments. The shoes and stockings of a
ploughman were, however, seen to meet at his knees with a pair of
brownish, blackish breeches; a rusty-coloured handkerchief, that
has been black in its day, surrounded his throat, and was an
apology for linen. His hair, half grey, half black, escaped in
elf-locks around a huge wig, made of tow, as it seemed to me, and
so much shrunk that it stood up on the very top of his head;
above which he plants, when covered, an immense cocked hat,
which, like the chieftain's banner in an ancient battle, may be
seen any sederunt day betwixt nine and ten, high towering above
all the fluctuating and changeful scene in the Outer House, where
his eccentricities often make him the centre of a group of
petulant and teasing boys, who exercise upon him every art of
ingenious torture. His countenance, originally that of a portly,
comely burgess, is now emaciated with poverty and anxiety, and
rendered wild by an insane lightness about the eyes; a withered
and blighted skin and complexion; features begrimed with snuff,
charged with the self-importance peculiar to insanity; and a
habit of perpetually speaking to himself. Such was my
unfortunate client; and I must allow, Darsie, that my profession
had need to do a great deal of good, if, as is much to be feared,
it brings many individuals to such a pass.

After we had been, with a good deal of form, presented to each
other, at which time I easily saw by my father's manner that he
was desirous of supporting Peter's character in my eyes, as much
as circumstances would permit, 'Alan,' he said, 'this is the
gentleman who has agreed to accept of you as his counsel, in
place of young Dumtoustie.'

'Entirely out of favour to my old acquaintance your father, said
Peter. with a benign and patronizing countenance, 'out of
respect to your father, and my old intimacy with Lord
Bladderskate. Otherwise, by the REGIAM MAJESTATEM! I would have
presented a petition and complaint against Daniel Dumtoustie,
Advocate, by name and surname--I would, by all the practiques!--
I know the forms of process; and I am not to be triffled with.'

My father here interrupted my client, and reminded him that there
was a good deal of business to do, as he proposed to give the
young counsel an outline of the state of the conjoined process,
with a view to letting him into the merits of the cause,
disencumbered from the points of form. 'I have made a short
abbreviate, Mr. Peebles,' said he; 'having sat up late last
night, and employed much of this morning in wading through these
papers, to save Alan some trouble, and I am now about to state
the result.'

'I will state it myself,' said Peter, breaking in without
reverence upon his solicitor.

'No, by no means,' said my father; 'I am your agent for the

'Mine eleventh in number,' said Peter; 'I have a new one every
year; I wish I could get a new coat as regularly.'

'Your agent for the time,' resumed my father; 'and you, who are
acquainted with the forms, know that the client states the cause
to the agent--the agent to the counsel'--

'The counsel to the Lord Ordinary,' continued Peter, once set
a-going, like the peal of an alarm clock, 'the Ordinary to the
Inner House, the President to the Bench. It is just like the
rope to the man, the man to the ox, the ox to the water, the
water to the fire'--

'Hush, for Heaven's sake, Mr. Peebles,' said my father, cutting
his recitation short; 'time wears on--we must get to business--
you must not interrupt the court, you know.--Hem, hem! From this
abbreviate it appears'--

'Before you begin,' said Peter Peebles 'I'll thank you to order me
a morsel of bread and cheese, or some cauld meat, or broth, or
the like alimentary provision; I was so anxious to see your son,
that I could not eat a mouthful of dinner.'

Heartily glad, I believe, to have so good a chance of stopping
his client's mouth effectually, my father ordered some cold meat;
to which James Wilkinson, for the honour of the house, was about
to add the brandy bottle, which remained on the sideboard, but,
at a wink from my father, supplied its place with small beer.
Peter charged the provisions with the rapacity of a famished
lion; and so well did the diversion engage him, that though,
while my father stated the case, he looked at him repeatedly, as
if he meant to interrupt his statement, yet he always found more
agreeable employment for his mouth, and returned to the cold beef
with an avidity which convinced me he had not had such an
opportunity for many a day of satiating his appetite. Omitting
much formal phraseology, and many legal details, I will endeavour
to give you, in exchange for your fiddler's tale, the history of
a litigant, or rather, the history of his lawsuit.

'Peter Peebles and Paul Plainstanes,' said my father, entered
into partnership, in the year --, as mercers and linendrapers, in
the Luckenbooths, and carried on a great line of business to
mutual advantage. But the learned counsel needeth not to be
told, SOCIETAS EST MATER DISCORDIARUM, partnership oft makes
pleaship. The company being dissolved by mutual consent, in the
year --, the affairs had to be wound up, and after certain
attempts to settle the matter extra-judicially, it was at last
brought into the court, and has branched out into several
distinct processes, most of whilk have been conjoined by the
Ordinary. It is to the state of these processes that counsel's
attention is particularly directed. There is the original action
of Peebles v. Plainstanes, convening him for payment of 3000l.,
less or more, as alleged balance due by Plainstanes. Secondly,
there is a counter action, in which Plainstanes is pursuer and
Peebles defender, for 2500l., less or more, being balance alleged
per contra, to be due by Peebles. Thirdly, Mr. Peeble's seventh
agent advised an action of Compt and Reckoning at his instance,
wherein what balance should prove due on either side might be
fairly struck and ascertained. Fourthly, to meet the
hypothetical case, that Peebles might be found liable in a
balance to Plainstanes, Mr. Wildgoose, Mr. Peebles's eighth
agent, recommended a Multiplepoinding, to bring all parties
concerned into the field.'

My brain was like to turn at this account of lawsuit within
lawsuit, like a nest of chip-boxes, with all of which I was
expected to make myself acquainted.

'I understand,' I said, 'that Mr. Peebles claims a sum of money
from Plainstanes--how then can he be his debtor? and if not his
debtor, how can he bring a Multiplepoinding, the very summons of
which sets forth, that the pursuer does owe certain monies, which
he is desirous to pay by warrant of a judge?' [Multiplepoinding
is, I believe, equivalent to what is called in England a case of
Double Distress.]

'Ye know little of the matter, I doubt, friend,' said Mr.
Peebles; 'a Multiplepoinding is the safest REMEDIUM JURIS in the
whole; form of process. I have known it conjoined with a
declarator of marriage.--Your beef is excellent,' he said to my
father, who in vain endeavoured to resume his legal disquisition;
'but something highly powdered--and the twopenny is undeniable;
but it is small swipes--small swipes--more of hop than malt-with
your leave, I'll try your black bottle.'

My father started to help him with his own hand, and in due
measure; but, infinitely to my amusement, Peter got possession of
the bottle by the neck, and my father's ideas of hospitality were
far too scrupulous to permit his attempting, by any direct means,
to redeem it; so that Peter returned to the table triumphant,
with his prey in his clutch.

'Better have a wine-glass, Mr. Peebles,' said my father, in an
admonitory tone, 'you will find it pretty strong.'

'If the kirk is ower muckle, we can sing mass in the quire,' said
Peter, helping himself in the goblet out of which he had been
drinking the small beer. 'What is it, usquebaugh?--BRANDY, as I
am an honest man! I had almost forgotten the name and taste of
brandy. Mr. Fairford elder, your good health' (a mouthful of
brandy), 'Mr. Alan Fairford, wishing you well through your
arduous undertaking' (another go-down of the comfortable liquor).
'And now, though you have given a tolerable breviate of this
great lawsuit, of whilk everybody has heard something that has
walked the boards in the Outer House (here's to ye again, by way
of interim decreet) yet ye have omitted to speak a word of the

'I was just coming to that point, Mr. Peebles.'

'Or of the action of suspension of the charge on the bill.'

'I was just coming to that.'

'Or the advocation of the Sheriff-Court process.'

'I was just coming to it.'

'As Tweed comes to Melrose, I think,' said the litigant; and then
filling his goblet about a quarter full of brandy, as if in
absence of mind, 'Oh, Mr. Alan Fairford, ye are a lucky man to
buckle to such a cause as mine at the very outset! it is like a
specimen of all causes, man. By the Regiam, there is not a
REMEDIUM JURIS in the practiques but ye'll find a spice o't.
Here's to your getting weel through with it--Pshut--I am drinking
naked spirits, I think. But if the heathen he ower strong, we'll
christen him with the brewer' (here he added a little small beer
to his beverage, paused, rolled his eyes, winked, and
proceeded),--'Mr. Fairford--the action of assault and battery,
Mr. Fairford, when I compelled the villain Plainstanes to pull my
nose within two steps of King Charles's statue, in the Parliament
Close--there I had him in a hose-net. Never man could tell me
how to shape that process--no counsel that ever selled mind could
condescend and say whether it were best to proceed by way of
petition and complaint, AD VINDICTAM PUBLICAM, with consent of
his Majesty's advocate, or by action on the statute for battery
PENDENTE LITE, whilk would be the winning my plea at once, and so
getting a back-door out of court.--By the Regiam, that beef and
brandy is unco het at my heart--I maun try the ale again' (sipped
a little beer); 'and the ale's but cauld, I maun e'en put in the
rest of the brandy.'

He was as good as his word, and proceeded in so loud and animated
a style of elocution, thumping the table, drinking and snuffing
alternately, that my father, abandoning all attempts to interrupt
him, sat silent and ashamed, suffering, and anxious for the
conclusion of the scene.

'And then to come back to my pet process of all--my battery and
assault process, when I had the good luck to provoke him to pull
my nose at the very threshold of the court, whilk was the very
thing I wanted--Mr. Pest, ye ken him, Daddie Fairford? Old Pest
was for making it out HAMESUCKEN, for he said the court might be
said--said--ugh!--to be my dwelling-place. I dwell mair there
than ony gate else, and the essence of hamesucken is to strike a
man in his dwelling-place--mind that, young advocate--and so
there's hope Plainstanes may be hanged, as many has for a less
matter; for, my lords,--will Pest say to the Justiciary bodies,--
my lords, the Parliament House is Peebles' place of dwelling,
DOMICILIUM--Lass, fetch another glass of and score it--time to
gae hame--by the practiques, I cannot find the jug--yet there's
twa of them, I think. By the Regiam, Fairford--Daddie Fairford
--lend us twal pennies to buy sneeshing, mine is done--Macer,
call another cause.'

The box fell from his hands, and his body would at the same time
have fallen from the chair, had not I supported him.

'This is intolerable,' said my father--'Call a chairman, James
Wilkinson, to carry this degraded, worthless, drunken beast

When Peter Peebles was removed from this memorable consultation,
under the care of an able-bodied Celt, my father hastily bundled
up the papers, as a showman, whose exhibition has miscarried,
hastes to remove his booth. 'Here are my memoranda, Alan,' he
said, in a hurried way; 'look them carefully over--compare them
with the processes, and turn it in your head before Tuesday.
Many a good speech has been made for a beast of a client; and
hark ye, lad, hark ye--I never intended to cheat you of your fee
when all was done, though I would have liked to have heard the
speech first; but there is nothing like corning the horse before
the journey. Here are five goud guineas in a silk purse--of your
poor mother's netting, Alan--she would have been a blithe woman
to have seen her young son with a gown on his back--but no more
of that--be a good boy, and to the work like a tiger.'

I did set to work, Darsie; for who could resist such motives?
With my father's assistance, I have mastered the details,
confused as they are; and on Tuesday I shall plead as well for
Peter Peebles as I could for a duke. Indeed, I feel my head so
clear on the subject as to be able to write this long letter to
you; into which, however, Peter and his lawsuit have insinuated
themselves so far as to show you how much they at present occupy
my thoughts. Once more, be careful of yourself, and mindful of
me, who am ever thine, while

From circumstances, to be hereafter mentioned, it was long ere
this letter reached the person to whom it was addressed.




The advantage of laying before the reader, in the words of the
actors themselves, the adventures which we must otherwise have
narrated in our own, has given great popularity to the
publication of epistolary correspondence, as practised by various
great authors, and by ourselves in the preceding chapters.
Nevertheless, a genuine correspondence of this kind (and Heaven
forbid it should be in any respect sophisticated by
interpolations of our own!) can seldom be found to contain all
in which it is necessary to instruct the reader for his full
comprehension of the story. Also it must often happen that
various prolixities and redundancies occur in the course of an
interchange of letters, which must hang as a dead weight on the
progress of the narrative. To avoid this dilemma, some
biographers have used the letters of the personages concerned, or
liberal extracts from them, to describe particular incidents, or
express the sentiments which they entertained; while they connect
them occasionally with such portions of narrative, as may serve
to carry on the thread of the story.

It is thus that the adventurous travellers who explore the summit
of Mont Blanc now move on through the crumbling snowdrift so
slowly, that their progress is almost imperceptible, and anon
abridge their journey by springing over the intervening chasms
which cross their path, with the assistance of their pilgrim-
staves. Or, to make a briefer simile, the course of story-
telling which we have for the present adopted, resembles the
original discipline of the dragoons, who were trained to serve
either on foot or horseback, as the emergencies of the service
required. With this explanation, we shall proceed to narrate
some circumstances which Alan Fairford did not, and could not,
write to his correspondent.

Our reader, we trust, has formed somewhat approaching to a
distinct idea of the principal characters who have appeared
before him during our narrative; but in case our good opinion of
his sagacity has been exaggerated, and in order to satisfy such
as are addicted to the laudable practice of SKIPPING (with whom
we have at times a strong fellow-feeling), the following
particulars may not be superfluous.

Mr. Saunders Fairford, as he was usually called, was a man of
business of the old school, moderate in his charges, economical
and even niggardly in his expenditure, strictly honest in
conducting his own affairs and those of his clients, but taught
by long experience to be wary and suspicious in observing the
motions of others. Punctual as the clock of Saint Giles tolled
nine, the neat dapper form of the little hale old gentleman was
seen at the threshold of the court hall, or at farthest, at the
head of the Back Stairs, trimly dressed in a complete suit of
snuff-coloured brown, with stockings of silk or woollen as,
suited the weather; a bob-wig, and a small cocked hat; shoes
blacked as Warren would have blacked them; silver shoe-buckles,
and a gold stock-buckle. A nosegay in summer, and a sprig of
holly in winter, completed his well-known dress and appearance.
His manners corresponded with his attire, for they were
scrupulously civil, and not a little formal. He was an elder of
the kirk, and, of course, zealous for King George and the
Government even to slaying, as he had showed by taking up arms in
their cause. But then, as he had clients and connexions of
business among families of opposite political tenets, he was
particularly cautious to use all the conventional phrases which
the civility of the time had devised, as an admissible mode of
language betwixt the two parties. Thus he spoke sometimes of the
Chevalier, but never either of the Prince, which would have been
sacrificing his own principles, or of the Pretender, which would
have been offensive to those of others. Again, he usually
designated the Rebellion as the AFFAIR of 1745, and spoke of any
one engaged in it as a person who had been OUT at a certain
period. [OLD-FASHIONED SCOTTISH CIVILITY.--Such were literally
the points of politeness observed in general society during the
author's youth, where it was by no means unusual in a company
assembled by chance, to find individuals who had borne arms on
one side or other in the civil broils of 1745. Nothing,
according to my recollection, could be more gentle and decorous
than the respect these old enemies paid to each other's
prejudices. But in this I speak generally. I have witnessed one
or two explosions.] So that, on the whole, Mr. Fairford was a
man much liked and respected on all sides, though his friends
would not have been sorry if he had given a dinner more
frequently, as his little cellar contained some choice old wine,
of which, on such rare occasions he was no niggard.

The whole pleasure of this good old-fashioned man of method,
besides that which he really felt in the discharge of his daily
business, was the hope to see his son Alan, the only fruit of a
union which death early dissolved, attain what in the father's
eyes was the proudest of all distinctions--the rank and fame of a
well-employed lawyer.

Every profession has its peculiar honours, and Mr. Fairford's
mind was constructed upon so limited and exclusive a plan, that
he valued nothing save the objects of ambition which his own
presented. He would have shuddered at Alan's acquiring the
renown of a hero, and laughed with scorn at the equally barren
laurels of literature; it was by the path of the law alone that
he was desirous to see him rise to eminence, and the
probabilities of success or disappointment were the thoughts of
his father by day, and his dream by night.

The disposition of Alan Fairford, as well as his talents, were
such as to encourage his father's expectations. He had acuteness
of intellect, joined to habits of long and patient study,
improved no doubt by the discipline of his father's house; to
which, generally speaking, he conformed with the utmost docility,
expressing no wish for greater or more frequent relaxation than
consisted with his father's anxious and severe restrictions.
When he did indulge in any juvenile frolics, his father had the
candour to lay the whole blame upon his more mercurial companion,
Darsie Latimer.

This youth, as the reader must be aware, had been received as an
inmate into the family of Mr. Fairford, senior, at a time when
some of the delicacy of constitution which had abridged the life
of his consort began to show itself in the son, and when the
father was, of course, peculiarly disposed to indulge his
slightest wish. That the young Englishman was able to pay a
considerable board, was a matter of no importance to Mr.
Fairford; it was enough that his presence seemed to make his son
cheerful and happy. He was compelled to allow that 'Darsie was a
fine lad, though unsettled,' and he would have had some
difficulty in getting rid of him, and the apprehensions which his
levities excited, had it not been for the voluntary excursion
which gave rise to the preceding correspondence, and in which Mr.
Fairford secretly rejoiced, as affording the means of separating
Alan from his gay companion, at least until he should have
assumed, and become accustomed to, the duties of his dry and
laborious profession.

But the absence of Darsie was far from promoting the end which
the elder Mr. Fairford had expected and desired. The young men
were united by the closest bonds of intimacy; and the more so,
that neither of them sought nor desired to admit any others into
their society. Alan Fairford was averse to general company, from
a disposition naturally reserved, and Darsie Latimer from a
painful sense of his own unknown origin, peculiarly afflicting in
a country where high and low are professed genealogists. The
young men were all in all to each other; it is no wonder,
therefore, that their separation was painful, and that its
effects upon Alan Fairford, joined to the anxiety occasioned by
the tenor of his friend's letters, greatly exceeded what the
senior had anticipated. The young man went through his usual
duties, his studies, and the examinations to which he was
subjected, but with nothing like the zeal and assiduity which he
had formerly displayed; and his anxious and observant father saw
but too plainly that his heart was with his absent comrade.

A philosopher would have given way to this tide of feeling, in
hopes to have diminished its excess, and permitted the youths to
have been some time together, that their intimacy might have been
broken off by degrees; but Mr. Fairford only saw the more direct
mode of continued restraint, which, however, he was desirous of
veiling under some plausible pretext. In the anxiety which he
felt on this occasion, he had held communication with an old
acquaintance, Peter Drudgeit, with whom the reader is partly
acquainted. 'Alan,' he said, 'was ance wud, and ay waur; and he
was expecting every moment when he would start off in a
wildgoose-chase after the callant Latimer; Will Sampson, the
horse-hirer in Candlemaker Row, had given him a hint that Alan
had been looking for a good hack, to go to the country for a few
days. And then to oppose him downright--he could not but think
on the way his poor mother was removed. Would to Heaven he was
yoked to some tight piece of business, no matter whether well or
ill paid, but some job that would hamshackle him at least until
the courts rose, if it were but for decency's sake.'

Peter Drudgeit sympathized, for Peter had a son, who, reason or
none, would needs exchange the torn and inky fustian sleeves for
the blue jacket and white lapelle; and he suggested, as the
reader knows, the engaging our friend Alan in the matter of Poor
Peter Peebles, just opened by the desertion of young Dumtoustie,
whose defection would be at the same time concealed; and this,
Drudgeit said, 'would be felling two dogs with one stone.'

With these explanations, the reader will hold a man of the elder
Fairford's sense and experience free from the hazardous and
impatient curiosity with which boys fling a puppy into a deep
pond, merely to see if the creature can swim. However confident
in his son's talents, which were really considerable, he would
have been very sorry to have involved him in the duty of pleading
a complicated and difficult case, upon his very first appearance
at the bar, had he not resorted to it as an effectual way to
prevent the young man from taking a step which his habits of
thinking represented as a most fatal one at his outset of life.

Betwixt two evils, Mr. Fairford chose that which was in his own
apprehension the least; and, like a brave officer sending forth
his son to battle, rather chose he should die upon the breach,
than desert the conflict with dishonour. Neither did he leave
him to his own unassisted energies. Like Alpheus preceding
Hercules, he himself encountered the Augean mass of Peter
Peebles' law-matters. It was to the old man a labour of love to
place in a clear and undistorted view the real merits of this
case, which the carelessness and blunders of Peter's former
solicitors had converted into a huge chaotic mass of
unintelligible technicality; and such was his skill and industry,
that he was able, after the severe toil of two or three days, to
present to the consideration of the young counsel the principal
facts of the case, in a light equally simple and comprehensible.
With the assistance of a solicitor so affectionate and
indefatigable, Alan Fairford was enabled, then the day of trial
arrived, to walk towards the court, attended by his anxious yet
encouraging parent, with some degree of confidence that he would
lose no reputation upon this arduous occasion.

They were met at the door of the court by Poor Peter Peebles in
his usual plenitude of wig and celsitude of hat. He seized on
the young pleader like a lion on his prey. 'How is a' wi' you,
Mr. Alan--how is a' wi' you, man? The awfu' day is come at last
--a day that will be lang minded in this house. Poor Peter
Peebles against Plainstanes--conjoined proceases--Hearing in
presence--stands for the Short Roll for this day--I have not been
able to sleep for a week for thinking of it, and, I dare to say,
neither has the Lord President himsell--for such a cause!! But
your father garr'd me tak a wee drap ower muckle of his pint
bottle the other night; it's no right to mix brandy wi' business,
Mr. Fairford. I would have been the waur o' liquor if I would
have drank as muckle as you twa would have had me. But there's a
time for a' things, and if ye will dine with me after the case is
heard, or whilk is the same, or maybe better, I'LL gang my ways
hame wi' YOU, and I winna object to a cheerfu' glass, within the
bounds of moderation.'

Old Fairford shrugged his shoulders and hurried past the client,
saw his son wrapped in the sable bombazine, which, in his eyes,
was more venerable than an archbishop's lawn, and could not help
fondly patting his shoulder, and whispering to him to take
courage, and show he was worthy to wear it. The party entered
the Outer Hall of the court, (once the place of meeting of the
ancient Scottish Parliament), and which corresponds to the use of
Westminster Hall in England, serving as a vestibule to the Inner
House, as it is termed, and a place of dominion to certain
sedentary personages called Lords Ordinary.

The earlier part of the morning was spent by old Fairford in
reiterating his instructions to Alan, and in running from one
person to another, from whom he thought he could still glean some
grains of information, either concerning the point at issue, or
collateral cases. Meantime, Poor Peter Peebles, whose shallow
brain was altogether unable to bear the importance of the moment,
kept as close to his young counsel as shadow to substance,
affected now to speak loud, now to whisper in his ear, now to
deck his ghastly countenance with wreathed smiles, now to cloud
it with a shade of deep and solemn importance, and anon to
contort it with the sneer of scorn and derision. These moods of
the client's mind were accompanied with singular 'mockings and
mowings,' fantastic gestures, which the man of rags and
litigation deemed appropriate to his changes of countenance. Now
he brandished his arm aloft, now thrust his fist straight out, as
if to knock his opponent down. Now he laid his open palm on his
bosom, and now hinging it abroad, he gallantly snapped his
fingers in the air.

These demonstrations, and the obvious shame and embarrassment of
Alan Fairford, did not escape the observation of the juvenile
idlers in the hall. They did not, indeed, approach Peter with
their usual familiarity, from some feeling of deference towards
Fairford, though many accused him of conceit in presuming to
undertake, at this early stage of his practice, a case of
considerable difficulty. But Alan, notwithstanding this
forbearance, was not the less sensible that he and his companion
were the subjects of many a passing jest, and many a shout of
laughter, with which that region at all times abounds.

At length the young counsel's patience gave way, and as it
threatened to carry his presence of mind and recollection along
with it, Alan frankly told his father, that unless he was
relieved from the infliction of his client's personal presence
and instructions, he must necessarily throw up his brief, and
decline pleading the case.

'Hush, hush, my dear Alan,' said the old gentleman, almost at his
own wit's end upon hearing this dilemma; 'dinna mind the silly
ne'er-do-weel; we cannot keep the man from hearing his own cause,
though he be not quite right in the head.'

'On my life, sir,' answered Alan, 'I shall be unable to go on, he
drives everything out of my remembrance; and if I attempt to
speak seriously of the injuries he has sustained, and the
condition he is reduced to, how can I expect but that the very
appearance of such an absurd scarecrow will turn it all into

'There is something in that,' said Saunders Fairford, glancing a
look at Poor Peter, and then cautiously inserting his forefinger
under his bob-wig, in order to rub his temple and aid his
invention; 'he is no figure for the fore-bar to see without
laughing; but how to get rid of him? To speak sense, or anything
like it, is the last thing he will listen to. Stay, aye,--Alan,
my darling, hae patience; I'll get him off on the instant, like a
gowff ba'.'

So saying, he hastened to his ally, Peter Drudgeit, who on seeing
him with marks of haste in his gait, and care upon his
countenance, clapped his pen behind his ear, with 'What's the
stir now, Mr. Saunders? Is there aught wrang?'

'Here's a dollar, man,' said Mr. Saunders; 'now, or never, Peter,
do me a good turn. Yonder's your namesake, Peter Peebles, will
drive the swine through our bonny hanks of yarn; get him over to
John's Coffeehouse, man--gie him his meridian--keep him there,
drunk or sober, till the hearing is ower.' [The simile is
obvious, from the old manufacture of Scotland, when the
gudewife's thrift, as the yarn wrought in the winter was called,
when laid down to bleach by the burn-side, was peculiarly exposed
to the inroads of pigs, seldom well regulated about a Scottish

'Eneugh said,' quoth Peter Drudgeit, no way displeased with his
own share in the service required, 'We'se do your bidding.'

Accordingly, the scribe was presently seen whispering in the ear
of Peter Peebles, whose response came forth in the following
broken form :-

'Leave the court for ae minute on this great day of judgement?
not I, by the Reg--Eh! what? Brandy, did ye say--French
brandy?--couldna ye fetch a stoup to the bar under your coat,
man? Impossible? Nay, if it's clean impossible, and if we have
an hour good till they get through the single bill and the
summar-roll, I carena if I cross the close wi' you; I am sure I
need something to keep my heart up this awful day; but I'll no
stay above an instant--not above a minute of time--nor drink
aboon a single gill,'

In a few minutes afterwards, the two Peters were seen moving
through the Parliament Close (which new-fangled affectation has
termed a Square), the triumphant Drudgeit leading captive the
passive Peebles, whose legs conducted him towards the dramshop,
while his reverted eyes were fixed upon the court. They dived
into the Cimmerian abysses of John's Coffeehouse, [See Note 5.]
formerly the favourite rendezvous of the classical and genial
Doctor Pitcairn, and were for the present seen no more.

Relieved from his tormentor, Alan Fairford had time to rally his
recollections, which, in the irritation of his spirits, had
nearly escaped him, and to prepare himself far a task, the
successful discharge or failure in which must, he was aware, have
the deepest influence upon his fortunes. He had pride, was not
without a consciousness of talent, and the sense of his father's
feelings upon the subject impelled him to the utmost exertion.
Above all, he had that sort of self-command which is essential to
success in every arduous undertaking, and he was constitutionally
free from that feverish irritability by which those whose over-
active imaginations exaggerate difficulties, render themselves
incapable of encountering such when they arrive.

Having collected all the scattered and broken associations which
were necessary, Alan's thoughts reverted to Dumfriesshire, and
the precarious situation in which he feared his beloved friend
had placed himself; and once and again he consulted his watch,
eager to have his present task commenced and ended, that he might
hasten to Darsie's assistance. The hour and moment at length
arrived. The macer shouted, with all his well-remembered brazen
strength of lungs, 'Poor Peter Peebles VERSUS Plainstanes, PER
Dumtoustie ET Tough!--Maister Da-a-niel Dumtoustie!' Dumtoustie
answered not the summons, which, deep and swelling as it was,
could not reach across the Queensferry; but our Maister Alan
Fairford appeared in his place.

The court was very much crowded; for much amusement had been
received on former occasions when Peter had volunteered his own
oratory, and had been completely successful in routing the
gravity of the whole procedure, and putting to silence, not
indeed the counsel of the opposite party, but his own.

Both bench and audience seemed considerably surprised at the
juvenile appearance of the young man who appeared in the room of
Dumtoustie, for the purpose of opening this complicated and long
depending process, and the common herd were disappointed at the
absence of Peter the client, the Punchinello of the expected
entertainment. The judges looked with a very favourable
countenance on our friend Alan, most of them being acquainted,
more or less, with so old a practitioner as his father, and all,
or almost all, affording, from civility, the same fair play to
the first pleading of a counsel, which the House of Commons
yields to the maiden speech of one of its members.

Lord Bladderskate was an exception to this general expression of
benevolence. He scowled upon Alan, from beneath his large,
shaggy, grey eyebrows, just as if the young lawyer had been
usurping his nephew's honours, instead of covering his disgrace;
and, from feelings which did his lordship little honour, he
privately hoped the young man would not succeed in the cause
which his kinsman had abandoned.

Even Lord Bladderskate, however, was, in spite of himself,
pleased with the judicious and modest tone in which Alan began
his address to the court, apologizing for his own presumption,
and excusing it by the sudden illness of his learned brother, for
whom the labour of opening a cause of some difficulty and
importance had been much more worthily designed. He spoke of
himself as he really was, and of young Dumtoustie as what he
ought to have been, taking care not to dwell on either topic a
moment longer than was necessary. The old judge's looks became
benign; his family pride was propitiated, and, pleased equally
with the modesty and civility of the young man whom he had
thought forward and officious, he relaxed the scorn of his
features into an expression of profound attention; the highest
compliment, and the greatest encouragement, which a judge can
render to the counsel addressing him.

Having succeeded in securing the favourable attention of the
court, the young lawyer, using the lights which his father's
experience and knowledge of business had afforded him, proceeded
with an address and clearness, unexpected from one of his years,
to remove from the case itself those complicated formalities with
which it had been loaded, as a surgeon strips from a wound the
dressings which had been hastily wrapped round it, in order to
proceed to his cure SECUNDUM ARTEM. Developed of the cumbrous
and complicated technicalities of litigation, with which the
perverse obstinacy of the client, the inconsiderate haste or
ignorance of his agents, and the evasions of a subtle adversary,
had invested the process, the cause of Poor Peter Peebles,
standing upon its simple merits, was no bad subject for the
declamation of a young counsel, nor did our friend Alan fail to
avail himself of its strong points.

He exhibited his client as a simple-hearted, honest, well-meaning
man, who, during a copartnership of twelve years, had gradually
become impoverished, while his partner (his former clerk) having
no funds but his share of the same business, into which he had
been admitted without any advance of stock, had become gradually
more and more wealthy.

'Their association,' said Alan, and the little flight was
received with some applause, 'resembled the ancient story of the
fruit which was carved with a knife poisoned on one side of the
blade only, so that the individual to whom the envenomed portion
was served, drew decay and death from what afforded savour and
sustenance to the consumer of the other moiety.' He then plunged
boldly into the MARE MAGNUM of accompts between the parties; he
pursued each false statement from the waste-book to the day-book,
from the day-book to the bill-book, from the bill-book to the
ledger; placed the artful interpolations and insertions of the
fallacious Plainstanes in array against each other, and against
the fact; and availing himself to the utmost of his father's
previous labours, and his own knowledge of accompts, in which he
had been sedulously trained, he laid before the court a clear and
intelligible statement of the affairs of the copartnery, showing,
with precision, that a large balance must, at the dissolution,
have been due to his client, sufficient to have enabled him to
have carried on business on his own account, and thus to have
retained his situation in society as an independent and
industrious tradesman. 'But instead of this justice being
voluntarily rendered by the former clerk to his former master,--
by the party obliged to his benefactor,--by one honest man to
another,--his wretched client had been compelled to follow his
quondam clerk, his present debtor, from court to court; had found
his just claims met with well-invented but unfounded counter-
claims, had seen his party shift his character of pursuer or
defender, as often as Harlequin effects his transformations,
till, in a chase so varied and so long, the unhappy litigant had
lost substance, reputation, and almost the use of reason itself,
and came before their lordships an object of thoughtless derision
to the unreflecting, of compassion to the better-hearted, and of
awful meditation to every one who considered that, in a country
where excellent laws were administered by upright and
incorruptible judges, a man might pursue an almost indisputable
claim through all the mazes of litigation; lose fortune,
reputation, and reason itself in the chase, and now come before
the supreme court of his country in the wretched condition of his
unhappy client, a victim to protracted justice, and to that hope
delayed which sickens the heart.'

The force of this appeal to feeling made as much impression on
the Bench as had been previously effected by the clearness of
Alan's argument. The absurd form of Peter himself, with his tow-
wig, was fortunately not present to excite any ludicrous emotion,
and the pause that took place when the young lawyer had concluded
his speech, was followed by a murmur of approbation, which the
ears of his father drank in as the sweetest sounds that had ever
entered them. Many a hand of gratulation was thrust out to his
grasp, trembling as it was with anxiety, and finally with
delight; his voice faltering as he replied, 'Aye, aye, I kend
Alan was the lad to make a spoon or spoil a horn.' [Said of an
adventurous gipsy, who resolves at all risks to convert a sheep's
horn into a spoon.]

The counsel on the other side arose, an old practitioner, who had
noted too closely the impression made by Alan's pleading not to
fear the consequences of an immediate decision. He paid the
highest compliments to his very young brother--'the Benjamin, as
he would presume to call him, of the learned Faculty--said the
alleged hardships of Mr. Peebles were compensated by his being
placed in a situation where the benevolence of their lordships
had assigned him gratuitously such assistance as he might not
otherwise have obtained at a high price--and allowed his young
brother had put many things in such a new point of view, that,
although he was quite certain of his ability to refute them, he
was honestly desirous of having a few hours to arrange his
answer, in order to be able to follow Mr. Fairford from point to
point. He had further to observe, there was one point of the
case to which his brother, whose attention had been otherwise so
wonderfully comprehensive, had not given the consideration which
he expected; it was founded on the interpretation of certain
correspondence which had passed betwixt the parties soon after
the dissolution of the copartnery.'

The court having heard Mr. Tough, readily allowed him two days
for preparing himself, hinting at the same time that he might
find his task difficult, and affording the young counsel, with
high encomiums upon the mode in which he had acquitted himself,
the choice of speaking, either now or at the next calling of the
cause, upon the point which Plainstanes's lawyer had adverted to.

Alan modestly apologized for what in fact had been an omission
very pardonable in so complicated a case, and professed himself
instantly ready to go through that correspondence, and prove that
it was in form and substance exactly applicable to the view of
the case he had submitted to their lordships. He applied to his
father, who sat behind him, to hand him, from time to time, the
letters, in the order in which he meant to read and comment upon

Old Counsellor Tough had probably formed an ingenious enough
scheme to blunt the effect of the young lawyer's reasoning, by
thus obliging him to follow up a process of reasoning, clear and
complete in itself, by a hasty and extemporary appendix. If so,
he seemed likely to be disappointed; for Alan was well prepared
on this as on other parts of the cause, and recommenced his
pleading with a degree of animation which added force even to
what he had formerly stated, and might perhaps have occasioned
the old gentleman to regret his having again called him up, when
his father, as he handed him the letters, put one into his hand
which produced a singular effect on the pleader.

At the first glance, he saw that the paper had no reference to
the affairs of Peter Peebles; but the first glance also showed
him, what, even at that time, and in that presence, he could not
help reading; and which, being read, seemed totally to disconcert
his ideas. He stopped short in his harangue--gazed on the paper
with a look of surprise and horror-uttered an exclamation, and
flinging down the brief which he had in his hand, hurried out of
court without returning a single word of answer to the various
questions, 'What was the matter?'--'Was he taken unwell?'--
'Should not a chair be called?' &c. &c. &c.

The elder Mr. Fairford, who remained seated, and looking as
senseless as if he had been made of stone, was at length recalled
to himself by the anxious inquiries of the judges and the counsel
after his son's health. He then rose with an air, in which was
mingled the deep habitual reverence in which he held the court,
with some internal cause of agitation, and with difficulty
mentioned something of a mistake--a piece of bad news--Alan, he
hoped would be well enough to-morrow. But unable to proceed
further, he clasped his hands together, exclaiming, 'My son! my
son!' and left the court hastily, as if in pursuit of him.

'What's the matter with the auld bitch next?' [Tradition
ascribes this whimsical style of language to the ingenious and
philosophical Lord Kaimes.] said an acute metaphysical judge,
though somewhat coarse in his manners, aside to his brethren.
'This is a daft cause, Bladderskate--first, it drives the poor
man mad that aught it--then your nevoy goes daft with fright, and
flies the pit--then this smart young hopeful is aff the hooks
with too hard study, I fancy--and now auld Saunders Fairford is
as lunatic as the best of them. What say ye till't, ye bitch?'

'Nothing, my lord,' answered Bladderskate, much too formal to
admire the levities in which his philosophical brother sometimes
indulged--'I say nothing, but pray to Heaven to keep our own

'Amen, amen,' answered his learned brother; 'for some of us have
but few to spare.'

The court then arose, and the audience departed, greatly
wondering at the talent displayed by Alan Fairford at his first
appearance in a case so difficult and so complicated, and
assigning a hundred conjectural causes, each different from the
others, for the singular interruption which had clouded his day
of success. The worst of the whole was, that six agents, who had
each come to the separate resolution of thrusting a retaining fee
into Alan's hand as he left the court, shook their heads as they
returned the money into their leathern pouches, and said, 'that
the lad was clever, but they would like to see more of him before
they engaged him in the way of business--they did not like his
lowping away like a flea in a blanket.'


Had our friend Alexander Fairford known the consequences of his
son's abrupt retreat from the court, which are mentioned in the
end of the last chapter, it might have accomplished the
prediction of the lively old judge, and driven him utterly
distracted. As it was, he was miserable enough. His son had
risen ten degrees higher in his estimation than ever by his
display of juridical talents, which seemed to assure him that the
applause of the judges and professors of the law, which, in his
estimation, was worth that of all mankind besides, authorized to
the fullest extent the advantageous estimate which even his
parental partiality had been induced to form of Alan's powers.
On the other hand, he felt that he was himself a little humbled,
from a disguise which he had practised towards this son of his
hopes and wishes.

The truth was, that on the morning of this eventful day, Mr.
Alexander Fairford had received from his correspondent and
friend, Provost Crosbie of Dumfries, a letter of the following

'Your respected favour of 25th ultimo, per favour of Mr. Darsie
Latimer, reached me in safety, and I showed to the young
gentleman such attention as he was pleased to accept of. The
object of my present writing is twofold. First, the council are
of opinion that you should now begin to stir in the thirlage
cause; and they think they will be able, from evidence NOVITER
REPERTUM, to enable you to amend your condescendence upon the use
and wont of the burgh, touching the GRANA INVECTA ET ILLATA. So
you will please consider yourself as authorized to speak to Mr.
Pest, and lay before him the papers which you will receive by
the coach. The council think that a fee of two guineas may be
sufficient on this occasion, as Mr. Pest had three for drawing
the original condescendence.

'I take the opportunity of adding that there has been a great
riot among the Solway fishermen, who have destroyed, in a
masterful manner, the stake-nets set up near the mouth of this
river; and have besides attacked the house of Quaker Geddes, one
of the principal partners of the Tide-net Fishing Company, and
done a great deal of damage. Am sorry to add, young Mr. Latimer
was in the fray and has not since been heard of. Murder is spoke
of, but that may be a word of course. As the young gentleman has
behaved rather oddly while in these parts, as in declining to
dine with me more than once, and going about the country with
strolling fiddlers and such-like, I rather hope that his present
absence is only occasioned by a frolic; but as his servant has
been making inquiries of me respecting his master, I thought it
best to acquaint you in course of post. I have only to add that
our sheriff has taken a precognition, and committed one or two of
the rioters. If I can be useful in this matter, either by
advertising for Mr. Latimer as missing, publishing a reward, or
otherwise, I will obey your respected instructions, being your
most obedient to

When Mr. Fairford received this letter, and had read it to an
end,' his first idea was to communicate it to his son, that an
express might be instantly dispatched, or a king's messenger sent
with proper authority to search after his late guest.

The habits of the fishers were rude; as he well knew, though not
absolutely sanguinary or ferocious; and there had been instances
of their transporting persons who had interfered in their
smuggling trade to the Isle of Man and elsewhere, and keeping
them under restraint for many weeks. On this account, Mr.
Fairford was naturally led to feel anxiety concerning the fate of
his late inmate; and, at a less interesting moment, would
certainly have set out himself, or licensed his son to go in
pursuit of his friend.

But, alas! he was both a father and an agent. In the one
capacity, he looked on his son as dearer to him than all the
world besides; in the other, the lawsuit which he conducted was
to him like an infant to its nurse, and the case of Poor Peter
Peebles against Plainstanes was, he saw, adjourned, perhaps SINE
DIE, should this document reach the hands of his son. The mutual
and enthusiastical affection betwixt the young men was well known
to him; and he concluded that if the precarious state of Latimer
were made known to Alan Fairford, it would render him not only
unwilling, but totally unfit, to discharge the duty of the day to
which the old gentleman attached such ideas of importance.

On mature reflection, therefore, he resolved, though not without
some feelings of compunction, to delay communicating to his son
the disagreeable intelligence which he had received, until the
business of the day should be ended. The delay, he persuaded
himself, could be of little consequence to Darsie Latimer, whose
folly, he dared to say, had led him into some scrape which would
meet an appropriate punishment in some accidental restraint,
which would be thus prolonged for only a few hours longer.
Besides, he would have time to speak to the sheriff of the
county--perhaps to the King's Advocate--and set about the matter
in a regular manner, or, as he termed it, as summing up the
duties of a solicitor, to AGE AS ACCORDS. [A Scots law phrase,
of no very determinate import, meaning, generally, to do what is

The scheme, as we have seen, was partially successful, and was
only ultimately defeated, as he confessed to himself with shame,
by his own very unbusiness-like mistake of shuffling the
provost's letter, in the hurry and anxiety of the morning, among
some papers belonging to Peter Peebles's affairs, and then
handing it to his son, without observing the blunder. He used to
protest, even till the day of his death, that he never had been
guilty of such an inaccuracy as giving a paper out of his hand
without looking at the docketing, except on that unhappy
occasion, when, of all others, he had such particular reason to
regret his negligence.

Disturbed by these reflections, the old gentleman had, for the
first time in his life, some disinclination, arising from shame
and vexation, to face his own son; so that to protract for a
little the meeting, which he feared would be a painful one, he
went to wait upon the sheriff-depute, who he found had set off
for Dumfries in great haste to superintend in person the
investigation which had been set on foot by his substitute. This
gentleman's clerk could say little on the subject of the riot,
excepting that it had been serious, much damage done to property,
and some personal violence offered to individuals; but, as far as
he had yet heard, no lives lost on the spot.

Mr. Fairford was compelled to return home with this intelligence;
and on inquiring at James Wilkinson where his son was, received
for answer, that 'Maister Alan was in his own room, and very

'We must have our explanation over,' said Saunders Fairford to
himself. 'Better a finger off, as ay wagging;' and going to the
door of his son's apartment, he knocked at first gently--then
more loudly--but received no answer. Somewhat alarmed at this
silence, he opened the door of the chamber it was empty--clothes
lay mixed in confusion with the law-books and papers, as if the
inmate had been engaged in hastily packing for a journey. As Mr.
Fairford looked around in alarm, his eye was arrested by a sealed
letter lying upon his son's writing-table, and addressed to
himself. It contained the following words:--

'You will not, I trust, be surprised, nor perhaps very much
displeased, to learn that I am on my way to Dumfriesshire, to
learn, by my own personal investigation, the present state of my
dear friend, and afford him such relief as may be in my power,
and which, I trust, will be effectual. I do not presume to
reflect upon you, dearest sir, for concealing from me information
of so much consequence to my peace of mind and happiness; but I
hope your having done so will be, if not an excuse, at least some
mitigation of my present offence, in taking a step of consequence
without consulting your pleasure; and, I must further own, under
circumstances which perhaps might lead to your disapprobation of
my purpose. I can only say, in further apology, that if anything
unhappy, which Heaven forbid! shall have occurred to the person
who, next to yourself, is dearest to me in this world, I shall
have on my heart, as a subject of eternal regret, that being in a
certain degree warned of his danger and furnished with the means
of obviating it, I did not instantly hasten to his assistance,
but preferred giving my attention to the business of this unlucky
morning. No view of personal distinction, nothing, indeed, short
of your earnest and often expressed wishes, could have detained
me in town till this day; and having made this sacrifice to
filial duty, I trust you will hold me excused if I now obey the
calls of friendship and humanity. Do not be in the least anxious
on my account; I shall know, I trust, how to conduct myself with
due caution in any emergence which may occur, otherwise my legal
studies for so many years have been to little purpose. I am
fully provided with money, and also with arms, in case of need;
but you may rely on my prudence in avoiding all occasions of
using the latter, short of the last necessity. God almighty
bless you, my dearest father! and grant that you may forgive the
first, and, I trust, the last act approaching towards
premeditated disobedience, of which I either have now, or shall
hereafter have, to accuse myself. I remain, till death, your
dutiful and affectionate son,

'PS.--I shall write with the utmost regularity, acquainting you
with my motions, and requesting your advice. I trust my stay
will be very short, and I think it possible that I may bring back
Darsie along with me.'

'The paper dropped from the old man's hand when he was thus
assured of the misfortune which he apprehended. His first idea
was to get a postchaise and pursue the fugitive; but he
recollected that, upon the very rare occasions when Alan had
shown himself indocile to the PATRIA POTESTAS, his natural ease
and gentleness of disposition seemed hardened into obstinacy, and
that now, entitled, as arrived at the years of majority and a
member of the learned faculty, to direct his own motions, there
was great doubt, whether, in the event of his overtaking his son,
he might be able to prevail upon him to return back. In such a
risk of failure he thought it wiser to desist from his purpose,
especially as even his success in such a pursuit would give a
ridiculous ECLAT to the whole affair, which could not be
otherwise than prejudicial to his son's rising character.

Bitter, however, were Saunders Fairford's reflections, as again
picking up the fatal scroll, he threw himself into his son's
leathern easy-chair, and bestowed upon it a disjointed
commentary, 'Bring back Darsie? little doubt of that--the bad
shilling is sure enough to come back again. I wish Darsie no
worse ill than that he were carried where the silly fool, Alan,
should never see him again. It was an ill hour that he darkened
my doors in, for, ever since that, Alan has given up his ain old-
fashioned mother-wit for the tother's capernoited maggots and
nonsense. Provided with money? you must have more than I know
of, then, my friend, for I trow I kept you pretty short, for your
own good. Can he have gotten more fees? or, does he think five
guineas has neither beginning nor end? Arms! What would he do
with arms, or what would any man do with them that is not a
regular soldier under government, or else a thief-taker? I have
had enough of arms, I trow, although I carried them for King
George and the government. But this is a worse strait than
Falkirk field yet. God guide us, we are poor inconsistent
creatures! To think the lad should have made so able an
appearance, and then bolted off this gate, after a glaiket ne'er-
do-weel, like a hound upon a false scent! Las-a-day! it's a
sore thing to see a stunkard cow kick down the pail when it's
reaming fou. But, after all, it's an ill bird that defiles its
ain nest. I must cover up the scandal as well as I can. What's
the matter now, James?'

'A message, sir,' said James Wilkinson, 'from my Lord President;
and he hopes Mr. Alan is not seriously indisposed.'

'From the Lord President? the Lord preserve us!--I'll send an
answer this instant; bid the lad sit down, and ask him to drink,
James. Let me see,' continued he, taking a sheet of gilt paper
'how we are to draw our answers.'

Ere his pen had touched the paper, James was in the room again.

'What now, James?'

'Lord Bladderskate's lad is come to ask how Mr. Alan is, as he
left; the court'--

'Aye, aye, aye,' answered Saunders, bitterly; 'he has e'en made a
moonlight flitting, like my lord's ain nevoy.'

'Shall I say sae, sir?' said James, who, as an old soldier, was
literal in all things touching the service.

'The devil! no, no!--Bid the lad sit down and taste our ale. I
will write his lordship an answer.'

Once more the gilt paper was resumed, and once more the door was
opened by James.

'Lord -- sends his servitor to ask after Mr. Alan.'

'Oh, the deevil take their civility!' said poor Saunders. set
him down to drink too--I will write to his lordship.'

'The lads will bide your pleasure, sir, as lang as I keep the
bicker fou; but this ringing is like to wear out the bell, I
think; there are they at it again.'

He answered the fresh summons accordingly, and came back to
inform Mr. Fairford that the Dean of Faculty was below, inquiring
for Mr. Alan. 'Will I set him down to drink, too?' said James.

'Will you be an idiot, sir?' said Mr. Fairford. 'Show Mr. Dean
into the parlour.'

In going slowly downstairs, step by step, the perplexed man of
business had time enough to reflect, that if it be possible to
put a fair gloss upon a true story, the verity always serves the
purpose better than any substitute which ingenuity can devise.
He therefore told his learned visitor, that although his son had
been incommoded by the heat of the court, and the long train of
hard study, by day and night, preceding his exertions, yet he had
fortunately so far recovered, as to be in condition to obey upon
the instant a sudden summons which had called him to the country,
on a matter of life and death.

'It should be a serious matter indeed that takes my young friend
away at this moment,' said the good-natured dean. 'I wish he had
stayed to finish his pleading, and put down old Tough. Without
compliment, Mr. Fairford, it was as fine a first appearance as I
ever heard. I should be sorry your son did not follow it up in a
reply. Nothing like striking while the iron is hot.'

Mr. Saunders Fairford made a bitter grimace as he acquiesced in
an opinion which was indeed decidedly his own; but he thought it
most prudent to reply, 'that the affair which rendered his son
Alan's presence in the country absolutely necessary, regarded the
affairs of a young gentleman of great fortune, who was a
particular friend of Alan's, and who never took any material step
in his affairs without consulting his counsel learned in the

'Well, well, Mr. Fairford, you know best,' answered the learned
dean; 'if there be death or marriage in the case, a will or a
wedding is to be preferred to all other business. I am happy Mr.
Alan is so much recovered as to be able for travel, and wish you
a very good morning.'

Having thus taken his ground to the Dean of Faculty, Mr. Fairford
hastily wrote cards in answer to the inquiry of the three judges,
accounting for Alan's absence in the same manner. These, being
properly sealed and addressed, he delivered to James with
directions to dismiss the particoloured gentry, who, in the
meanwhile, had consumed a gallon of twopenny ale, while
discussing points of law, and addressing each other by their
masters' titles. [The Scottish judges are distinguished by the
title of lord prefixed to their own temporal designation. As the
ladies of these official dignitaries do not bear any share in
their husbands' honours, they are distinguished only by their
lords' family name. They were not always contented with this
species of Salique law, which certainly is somewhat inconsistent.
But their pretensions to title are said to have been long since
repelled by James V, the sovereign who founded the College of
Justice. 'I,' said he, 'made the caries lords, but who the devil
made the carlines ladies?']

The exertion which these matters demanded, and the interest which
so many persons of legal distinction appeared to have taken in
his son, greatly relieved the oppressed spirit of Saunders
Fairford, who continued, to talk mysteriously of the very
important business which had interfered with his son's attendance
during the brief remainder of the session. He endeavoured to lay
the same unction to his own heart; but here the application was
less fortunate, for his conscience told him that no end, however
important, which could be achieved in Darsie Latimer's affairs,
could be balanced against the reputation which Alan was like to
forfeit by deserting the cause of Poor Peter Peebles.

In the meanwhile, although the haze which surrounded the cause,
or causes, of that unfortunate litigant had been for a time
dispelled by Alan's eloquence, like a fog by the thunder of
artillery, yet it seemed once more to settle down upon the mass
of litigation, thick as the palpable darkness of Egypt, at the
very sound of Mr. Tough's voice, who, on the second day after
Alan's departure, was heard in answer to the opening counsel.
Deep-mouthed, long-breathed, and pertinacious, taking a pinch of
snuff betwixt every sentence, which otherwise seemed
interminable--the veteran pleader prosed over all the themes
which had been treated so luminously by Fairford: he quietly and
imperceptibly replaced all the rubbish which the other had
cleared away, and succeeded in restoring the veil of obscurity
and unintelligibility which had for many years darkened the case
of Peebles against Plainstanes; and the matter was once more
hung up by a remit to an accountant, with instruction to report
before answer. So different a result from that which the public
had been led to expect from Alan's speech gave rise to various

The client himself opined, that it was entirely owing, first, to
his own absence during the first day's pleading, being, as he
said, deboshed with brandy, usquebaugh, and other strong waters,
at John's Coffee-house, PER AMBAGES of Peter Drudgeit, employed
to that effect by and through the device, counsel, and covyne of
Saunders Fairford, his agent, or pretended agent. Secondly by
the flight and voluntary desertion of the younger Fairford, the
advocate; on account of which, he served both father and son with
a petition and complaint against them, for malversation in
office. So that the apparent and most probable issue of this
cause seemed to menace the melancholy Mr. Saunders Fairford, with
additional subject for plague and mortification; which was the
more galling, as his conscience told him that the case was really
given away, and that a very brief resumption of the former
argument, with reference to the necessary authorities and points
of evidence, would have enabled Alan, by the mere breath, as it
were, of his mouth, to blow away the various cobwebs with which
Mr. Tough had again invested the proceedings. But it went, he
said, just like a decreet in absence, and was lost for want of a

In the meanwhile, nearly a week passed over without Mr. Fairford
hearing a word directly from his son. He learned, indeed, by a
letter from Mr. Crosbie, that the young counsellor had safely
reached Dumfries, but had left that town upon some ulterior
researches, the purpose of which he had not communicated. The
old man, thus left to suspense, and to mortifying recollections,
deprived also of the domestic society to which he had been
habituated, began to suffer in body as well as in mind. He had
formed the determination of setting out in person for
Dumfriesshire, when, after having been dogged, peevish, and
snappish to his clerks and domestics, to an unusual and almost
intolerable degree, the acrimonious humours settled in a hissing-
hot fit of the gout, which is a well-known tamer of the most
froward spirits, and under whose discipline we shall, for the
present, leave him, as the continuation of this history assumes,
with the next division, a form somewhat different from direct
narrative and epistolary correspondence, though partaking of the
character of both.


(The following address is written on the inside of the envelope
which contained the Journal.)

Into what hands soever these leaves may fall, they will instruct
him, during a certain time at least, in the history of the life
of an unfortunate young man, who, in the heart of a free country,
and without any crime being laid to his charge, has been, and is,
subjected to a course of unlawful and violent restraint. He who
opens this letter, is therefore conjured to apply to the nearest
magistrate, and, following such indications as the papers may
afford, to exert himself for the relief of one, who, while he
possesses every claim to assistance which oppressed innocence can
give, has, at the same time, both the inclination and the means
of being grateful to his deliverers. Or, if the person obtaining
these letters shall want courage or means to effect the writer's
release, he is, in that case, conjured, by every duty of a man to
his fellow mortals, and of a Christian towards one who professes
the same holy faith, to take the speediest measures for conveying
them with speed and safety to the hands of Alan Fairford, Esq.,
Advocate, residing in the family of his father, Alexander
Fairford, Esq., Writer to the Signet, Brown's Square, Edinburgh.
He may be assured of a liberal reward, besides the consciousness
of having discharged a real duty to humanity.

Feeling as warmly towards you in doubt and in distress, as I ever
did in the brightest days of our intimacy, it is to you whom I
address a history which may perhaps fall into very different
hands. A portion of my former spirit descends to my pen when I
write your name, and indulging the happy thought that you may be
my deliverer from my present uncomfortable and alarming
situation, as you have been my guide and counsellor on every
former occasion, I will subdue the dejection which would
otherwise overwhelm me. Therefore, as, Heaven knows, I have time
enough to write, I will endeavour to pour my thoughts out, as
fully and freely as of old, though probably without the same gay
and happy levity.

If the papers should reach other hands than yours, still I will
not regret this exposure of my feelings; for, allowing for an
ample share of the folly incidental to youth and inexperience, I
fear not that I have much to be ashamed of in my narrative; nay,
I even hope that the open simplicity and frankness with which I
am about to relate every singular and distressing circumstance,
may prepossess even a stranger in my favour; and that, amid the
multitude of seemingly trivial circumstances which I detail at
length, a clue may be found to effect my liberation.

Another chance certainly remains--the Journal, as I may call it,
may never reach the hands, either of the dear friend to whom it
is addressed, or those of an indifferent stranger, but may become
the prey of the persons by whom I am at present treated as a
prisoner. Let it be so--they will learn from it little but what
they already know; that, as a man and an Englishman, my soul
revolts at the usage which I have received; that I am determined
to essay every possible means to obtain my freedom; that
captivity has not broken my spirit, and that, although they may
doubtless complete their oppression by murder, I am still willing
to bequeath my cause to the justice of my country. Undeterred,
therefore, by the probability that my papers may be torn from me,
and subjected to the inspection of one in particular, who,
causelessly my enemy already, may be yet further incensed at me
for recording the history of my wrongs, I proceed to resume the
history of events which have befallen me since the conclusion of
my last letter to my dear Alan Fairford, dated, if I mistake not,
on the 5th day of this still current month of August.

Upon the night preceding the date of that letter, I had been
present, for the purpose of an idle frolic, at a dancing party at
the village of Brokenburn, about six miles from Dumfries; many
persons must have seen me there, should the fact appear of
importance sufficient to require investigation. I danced, played
on the violin, and took part in the festivity till about
midnight, when my servant, Samuel Owen, brought me my horses, and
I rode back to a small inn called Shepherd's Bush, kept by Mrs.
Gregson, which had been occasionally my residence for about a
fortnight past. I spent the earlier part of the forenoon in
writing a letter, which I have already mentioned, to you, my dear
Alan, and which, I think, you must have received in safety. Why
did I not follow your advice, so often given me? Why did I
linger in the neighbourhood of a danger, of which a kind voice
had warned me? These are now unavailing questions; I was blinded
by a fatality, and remained, fluttering like a moth around the
candle, until I have been scorched to some purpose.

The greater part of the day had passed, and time hung heavy on my
hands. I ought, perhaps, to blush at recollecting what has been
often objected to me by the dear friend to whom this letter is
addressed, viz. the facility with which I have, in moments of
indolence, suffered my motions to be, directed by any person who
chanced to be near me, instead of taking the labour of thinking
or deciding for myself. I had employed for some time, as a sort
of guide and errand-boy, a lad named Benjamin, the son of one
widow Coltherd, who lives near the Shepherd's Bush, and I cannot
but remember that, upon several occasions, I had of late suffered
him to possess more influence over my motions than at all became
the difference of our age and condition. At present, he exerted
himself to persuade me that it was the finest possible sport to
see the fish taken out from the nets placed in the Solway at the
reflux of the tide, and urged my going thither this evening so
much, that, looking back on the whole circumstances, I cannot but
think he had some especial motive for his conduct. These
particulars I have mentioned, that if these papers fall into
friendly hands, the boy may be sought after and submitted to

His eloquence being unable to persuade me that I should take any
pleasure in seeing the fruitless struggles of the fish when left
in the nets and deserted by the tide, he artfully suggested, that
Mr. and Miss Geddes, a respectable Quaker family well known in
the neighbourhood and with whom I had contracted habits of
intimacy, would possibly be offended if I did not make them an
early visit. Both, he said, had been particularly inquiring the
reasons of my leaving their house rather suddenly on the previous
day. I resolved, therefore, to walk up to Mount Sharon and make
my apologies; and I agreed to permit the boy to attend upon me,
and wait my return from the house, that I might fish on my way
homeward to Shepherd's Bush, for which amusement, he assured me,
I would find the evening most favourable. I mention this minute
circumstance, because I strongly suspect that this boy had a
presentiment how the evening was to terminate with me, and
entertained the selfish though childish wish of securing to
himself an angling-rod which he had often admired, as a part of
my spoils. I may do the boy wrong, but I had before remarked in
him the peculiar art of pursuing the trifling objects of cupidity
proper to his age, with the systematic address of much riper

When we had commenced our walk, I upbraided him with the coolness
of the evening, considering the season, the easterly wind, and
other circumstances, unfavourable for angling. He persisted in
his own story, and made a few casts, as if to convince me of my
error, but caught no fish; and, indeed, as I am now convinced,
was much more intent on watching my motions than on taking any.
When I ridiculed him once more on his fruitless endeavours, he
answered with a sneering smile, that 'the trouts would not rise,
because there was thunder in the air;' an intimation which, in
one sense, I have found too true.

I arrived at Mount Sharon; was received by my friends there with
their wonted kindness; and after being a little rallied on my
having suddenly left them on the preceding evening, I agreed to
make atonement by staying all night, and dismissed the lad who
attended with my fishing-rod, to carry that information to
Shepherd's Bush. It may be doubted whether he went thither, or
in a different direction.

Betwixt eight and nine o'clock, when it began to become dark, we
walked on the terrace to enjoy the appearance of the firmament,
glittering with ten million stars; to which a slight touch of
early frost gave tenfold lustre. As we gazed on this splendid
scene, Miss Geddes, I think, was the first to point out to our
admiration a shooting or falling star, which, she said, drew a
long train after it. Looking to the part of the heavens which
she pointed out, I distinctly observed two successive sky-rockets
arise and burst in the sky.

'These meteors,' said Mr. Geddes, in answer to his sister's
observation, 'are not formed in heaven, nor do they bode any good
to the dwellers upon earth.'

As he spoke, I looked to another quarter of the sky, and a
rocket, as if a signal in answer to those which had already
appeared, rose high from the earth, and burst apparently among
the stars.

Mr. Geddes seemed very thoughtful for some minutes, and then said
to his sister, 'Rachel, though it waxes late. I must go down to
the fishing station, and pass the night in the overseer's room

'Nay, then,' replied the lady, 'I am but too well assured that
the sons of Belial are menacing these nets and devices. Joshua,
art thou a man of peace, and wilt thou willingly and wittingly
thrust thyself where thou mayst be tempted by the old man Adam
within thee, to enter into debate and strife?'

'I am a man of peace, Rachel,' answered Mr. Geddes, 'even to the
utmost extent which our friends can demand of humanity; and
neither have I ever used, nor, with the help of God, will I at
any future time employ, the arm of flesh to repel or to revenge
injuries. But if I can, by mild reasons and firm conduct, save
those rude men from committing a crime, and the property
belonging to myself and others from sustaining damage, surely I
do but the duty of a man and a Christian.'

With these words, he ordered his horse instantly; and his sister,
ceasing to argue with him, folded her arms upon her bosom, and
looked up to heaven with a resigned and yet sorrowful

These particulars may appear trivial; but it is better, in my
present condition, to exert my faculties in recollecting the
past, and in recording it, than waste them in vain and anxious
anticipations of the future.

It would have been scarcely proper in me to remain in the house
from which the master was thus suddenly summoned away; and I
therefore begged permission to attend him to the fishing station,
assuring his sister that I would be a guarantee for his safety.

That proposal seemed to give much pleasure to Miss Geddes. 'Let
it be so, brother,' she said; 'and let the young man have the

Book of the day: