Part 6 out of 11
evidence to establish so absurd a claim; and if he had, his
circumstances, as an attainted traitor excepted from pardon,
would void such a right if it existed. I do therefore desire
you, Mr. Justice, and you, his clerk, to consider my situation,
and afford me relief at your peril.'
'Here is a young fellow now,' said the Justice, with much-
embarrassed looks, 'thinks that I carry the whole statute law of
England in my head, and a POSSE COMITATUS to execute them in my
pocket! Why, what good would my interference do?--but--hum--eh
--I will speak to your guardian in your favour.'
He took Mr. Herries aside, and seemed indeed to urge something
upon him with much earnestness; and perhaps such a species of
intercession was all which, in the circumstances, I was entitled
to expect from him.
They often looked at me as they spoke together; and as Cristal
Nixon entered with a huge four-pottle tankard, filled with the
beverage his master had demanded, Herries turned away from Mr.
Foxley somewhat impatiently, saying with emphasis, 'I give you my
word of honour, that you have not the slightest reason to
apprehend anything on his account.' He then took up the tankard,
and saying aloud in Gaelic, 'SLAINT AN REY,' [The King's health.]
just tasted the liquor, and handed the tankard to Justice Foxley,
who, to avoid the dilemma of pledging him to what might be the
Pretender's health, drank to Mr. Herries's own, with much pointed
solemnity, but in a draught far less moderate.
The clerk imitated the example of his principal, and I was fain
to follow their example, for anxiety and fear are at least as
thirsty as sorrow is said to be. In a word, we exhausted the
composition of ale, sherry, lemon-juice, nutmeg, and other good
things, stranded upon the silver bottom of the tankard the huge
toast, as well as the roasted orange, which had whilom floated
jollily upon the brim, and rendered legible Dr. Byrom's
celebrated lines engraved thereon--
God bless the King!--God bless the Faith's defender!
God bless--No harm in blessing--the Pretender.
Who that Pretender is, and who that King,--
God bless us all!--is quite another thing.
I had time enough to study this effusion of the Jacobite muse,
while the Justice was engaged in the somewhat tedious ceremony of
taking leave. That of Mr. Faggot was less ceremonious; but I
suspect something besides empty compliment passed betwixt him and
Mr. Herries; for I remarked that the latter slipped a piece of
paper into the hand of the former, which might perhaps be a
little atonement for the rashness with which he had burnt the
warrant, and imposed no gentle hand on the respectable minion of
the law by whom it was exhibited; and I observed that he made
this propitiation in such a manner as to be secret from the
worthy clerk's principal.
When this was arranged, the party took leave of each other with
much formality on the part of Squire Foxley, amongst whose adieus
the following phrase was chiefly remarkable: 'I presume you do
not intend to stay long in these parts?'
'Not for the present, Justice, you may be sure; there are good
reasons to the contrary. But I have no doubt of arranging my
affairs so that we shall speedily have sport together again.'
He went to wait upon the Justice to the courtyard; and, as he did
so, commanded Cristal Nixon to see that I returned into my
apartment. Knowing it would be to no purpose to resist or tamper
with that stubborn functionary, I obeyed in silence, and was once
more a prisoner in my former quarters.
LATIMER'S JOURNAL, IN CONTINUATION
I spent more than an hour, after returning to the apartment which
I may call my prison, in reducing to writing the singular
circumstances which I had just witnessed. Methought I could now
form some guess at the character of Mr. Herries, upon whose name
and situation the late scene had thrown considerable light--one
of those fanatical Jacobites, doubtless, whose arms, not twenty
years since, had shaken the British throne, and some of whom,
though their party daily diminished in numbers, energy, and
power, retained still an inclination to renew the attempt they
had found so desperate. He was indeed perfectly different from
the sort of zealous Jacobites whom it had been my luck hitherto
to meet with. Old ladies of family over their hyson, and grey-
haired lairds over their punch, I had often heard utter a little
harmless treason; while the former remembered having led down a
dance with the Chevalier, and the latter recounted the feats they
had performed at Preston, Clifton, and Falkirk.
The disaffection of such persons was too unimportant to excite
the attention of government. I had heard, however, that there
still existed partisans of the Stuart family of a more daring and
dangerous description; men who, furnished with gold from Rome,
moved, secretly and in disguise, through the various classes of
society, and endeavoured to keep alive the expiring zeal of their
I had no difficulty in assigning an important post among this
class of persons, whose agency and exertion are only doubted by
those who look on the surface of things, to this Mr. Herries,
whose mental energies, as well as his personal strength and
activity, seemed to qualify him well to act so dangerous a part;
and I knew that all along the Western Border, both in England and
Scotland, there are so many nonjurors, that such a person may
reside there with absolute safety, unless it becomes, in a very
especial degree, the object of the government to secure his
person; and which purpose, even then, might be disappointed by
early intelligence, or, as in the case of Mr. Foxley, by the
unwillingness of provincial magistrates to interfere in what is
now considered an invidious pursuit of the unfortunate.
There have, however, been rumours lately, as if the present state
of the nation or at least of some discontented provinces,
agitated by a variety of causes but particularly by the
unpopularity of the present administration, may seem to this
species of agitators a favourable period for recommencing their
intrigues; while, on the other hand, government may not, at such
a crisis, be inclined to look upon them with the contempt which a
few years ago would have been their most appropriate punishment.
That men should be found rash enough to throw away their services
and lives in a desperate cause, is nothing new in history, which
abounds with instances of similar devotion--that Mr. Herries is
such an enthusiast is no less evident; but all this explains not
his conduct towards me. Had he sought to make me a proselyte to
his ruined cause, violence and compulsion were arguments very
unlikely to prevail with any generous spirit. But even if such
were his object, of what use to him could be the acquisition of a
single reluctant partisan, who could bring only his own person to
support any quarrel which he might adopt? He had claimed over me
the rights of a guardian; he had more than hinted that I was in a
state of mind which could not dispense with the authority of such
a person. Was this man, so sternly desperate in his purpose--he
who seemed willing to take on his own shoulders the entire
support of a cause which had been ruinous to thousands--was he
the person that had the power of deciding on my fate? Was it
from him those dangers flowed, to secure me against which I had
been educated under such circumstances of secrecy and precaution?
And if this was so, of what nature was the claim which he
asserted?--Was it that of propinquity? And did I share the
blood, perhaps the features, of this singular being?--Strange as
it may seem, a thrill of awe, which shot across my mind at that
instant, was not unmingled with a wild and mysterious feeling of
wonder, almost amounting to pleasure. I remembered the
reflection of my own face in the mirror at one striking moment
during the singular interview of the day, and I hastened to the
outward apartment to consult a glass which hung there, whether it
were possible for my countenance to be again contorted into the
peculiar frown which so much resembled the terrific look of
Herries. But I folded my brows in vain into a thousand
complicated wrinkles, and I was obliged to conclude, either that
the supposed mark on my brow was altogether imaginary, or that it
could not be called forth by voluntary effort; or, in fine, what
seemed most likely, that it was such a resemblance as the
imagination traces in the embers of a wood fire, or among the
varied veins of marble, distinct at one time, and obscure or
invisible at another, according as the combination of lines
strikes the eye or impresses the fancy.
While I was moulding my visage like a mad player, the door
suddenly opened, and the girl of the house entered. Angry and
ashamed at being detected in my singular occupation, I turned
round sharply, and, I suppose, chance produced the change on my
features which I had been in vain labouring to call forth.
The girl started back, with her 'Don't ya look so now--don't ye,
for love's sake--you be as like the ould squoire as--But here a
comes,' she said, huddling away out of the room; 'and if you want
a third, there is none but ould Harry, as I know of, that can
match ye for a brent broo!'
As the girl muttered this exclamation, and hastened out of the
room, Herries entered. He stopped on observing that I had looked
again to the mirror, anxious to trace the look by which the wench
had undoubtedly been terrified. He seemed to guess what was
passing in my mind, for, as I turned towards him, he observed,
'Doubt not that it is stamped on your forehead--the fatal mark of
our race; though it is not now so apparent as it will become when
age and sorrow, and the traces of stormy passions and of bitter
penitence, shall have drawn their furrows on your brow.'
'Mysterious man,' I replied, 'I know not of what you speak; your
language is as dark as your purposes!'
'Sit down, then,' he said, 'and listen; thus far, at least, must
the veil of which you complain be raised. When withdrawn, it
will only display guilt and sorrow--guilt followed by strange
penalty, and sorrow which Providence has entailed upon the
posterity of the mourners.'
He paused a moment, and commenced his narrative, which he told
with the air of one, who, remote as the events were which he
recited, took still the deepest interest in them. The tone of
his voice, which I have already described as rich and powerful,
aided by its inflections the effects of his story, which I will
endeavour to write down, as nearly as possible, in the very words
which he used.
'It was not of late years that the English learned that their
best chance of conquering their independent neighbours must be by
introducing amongst them division and civil war. You need not be
reminded of the state of thraldom to which Scotland was reduced
by the unhappy wars betwixt the domestic factions of Bruce and
Baliol, nor how, after Scotland had been emancipated from a
foreign yoke by the conduct and valour of the immortal Bruce, the
whole fruits of the triumphs of Bannockburn were lost in the
dreadful defeats of Dupplin and Halidon; and Edward Baliol, the
minion and feudatory of his namesake of England, seemed, for a
brief season, in safe and uncontested possession of the throne so
lately occupied by the greatest general and wisest prince in
Europe. But the experience of Bruce had not died with him.
There were many who had shared his martial labours, and all
remembered the successful efforts by which, under circumstances
as disadvantageous as those of his son, he had achieved the
liberation of Scotland.
'The usurper, Edward Baliol, was feasting with a few of his
favourite retainers in the castle of Annan, when he was suddenly
surprised by a chosen band of insurgent patriots. Their chiefs
were, Douglas, Randolph, the young Earl of Moray, and Sir Simon
Fraser; and their success was so complete, that Baliol was
obliged to fly for his life scarcely clothed, and on a horse
which there was no leisure to saddle. It was of importance to
seize his person, if possible, and his flight was closely pursued
by a valiant knight of Norman descent, whose family had been long
settled in the marches of Dumfriesshire. Their Norman
appellation was Fitz-Aldin, but this knight, from the great
slaughter which he had made of the Southron, and the reluctance
which he had shown to admit them to quarter during the former war
of that bloody period, had acquired the name of Redgauntlet,
which he transmitted to his posterity'--
'Redgauntlet!' I involuntarily repeated.
'Yes, Redgauntlet,' said my alleged guardian, looking at me
keenly; 'does that name recall any associations to your mind?'
'No,' I replied, 'except that I had lately heard it given to the
hero of a supernatural legend.'
'There are many such current concerning the family,' he answered;
and then proceeded in his narrative.
'Alberick Redgauntlet, the first of his house so termed, was, as
may be supposed from his name, of a stern and implacable
disposition, which had been rendered more so by family discord.
An only son, now a youth of eighteen, shared so much the haughty
spirit of his father, that he became impatient of domestic
control, resisted paternal authority, and finally fled from his
father's house, renounced his political opinions, and awakened
his mortal displeasure by joining the adherents of Baliol. It
was said that his father cursed, in his wrath, his degenerate
offspring, and swore that if they met he should perish by his
hand. Meantime, circumstances seemed to promise atonement for
this great deprivation. The lady of Alberick Redgauntlet was
again, after many years, in a situation which afforded her
husband the hope of a more dutiful heir.
'But the delicacy and deep interest of his wife's condition did
not prevent Alberick from engaging in the undertaking of Douglas
and Moray. He had been the most forward in the attack of the
castle, and was now foremost in the pursuit of Baliol, eagerly
engaged in dispersing or cutting down the few daring followers
who endeavoured to protect the usurper in his flight.
'As these were successively routed or slain, the formidable
Redgauntlet, the mortal enemy of the House of Baliol, was within
two lances' length of the fugitive Edward Baliol, in a narrow
pass, when a, youth, one of the last who attended the usurper in
his flight, threw himself between them, received the shock of the
pursuer, and was unhorsed and overthrown. The helmet rolled from
his head, and the beams of the sun, then rising over the Solway,
showed Redgauntlet the features of his disobedient son, in the
livery, and wearing the cognizance, of the usurper.
'Redgauntlet beheld his son lying before his horse's feet; but he
also saw Baliol, the usurper of the Scottish crown, still, as it
seemed, within his grasp, and separated from him only by the
prostrate body of his overthrown adherent. Without pausing to
inquire whether young Edward was wounded, he dashed his spurs
into his horse, meaning to leap over him, but was unhappily
frustrated in his purpose. The steed made indeed a bound
forward, but was unable to clear the body of the youth, and with
its hind foot struck him in the forehead, as he was in the act of
rising. The blow was mortal. It is needless to add, that the
pursuit was checked, and Baliol escaped.
'Redgauntlet, ferocious as he is described, was yet overwhelmed
with the thoughts of the crime he had committed. When he
returned to his castle, it was to encounter new domestic sorrows.
His wife had been prematurely seized with the pangs of labour
upon hearing the dreadful catastrophe which had taken place. The
birth of an infant boy cost her her life. Redgauntlet sat by her
corpse for more than twenty-four hours without changing either
feature or posture, so far as his terrified domestics could
observe. The Abbot of Dundrennan preached consolation to him in
vain. Douglas, who came to visit in his affliction a patriot of
such distinguished zeal, was more successful in rousing his
attention. He caused the trumpets to sound an English point of
war in the courtyard, and Redgauntlet at once sprang to his arms,
and seemed restored to the recollection which had been lost in
the extent of his misery.
'From that moment, whatever he might feel inwardly, he gave way
to no outward emotion. Douglas caused his infant to be brought;
but even the iron-hearted soldiers were struck with horror to
observe that, by the mysterious law of nature, the cause of his
mother's death, and the evidence of his father's guilt, was
stamped on the innocent face of the babe, whose brow was
distinctly marked by the miniature resemblance of a horseshoe.
Redgauntlet himself pointed it out to Douglas, saying, with a
ghastly smile, "It should have been bloody."
'Moved, as he was, to compassion for his brother-in-arms, and
steeled against all softer feelings by the habits of civil war,
Douglas shuddered at this sight, and displayed a desire to leave
the house which was doomed to be the scene of such horrors. As
his parting advice, he exhorted Alberick Redgauntlet to make a
pilgrimage to Saint Ninian's of Whiteherne, then esteemed a
shrine of great sanctity; and departed with a precipitation which
might have aggravated, had that been possible, the forlorn state
of his unhappy friend. But that seems to have been incapable of
admitting any addition. Sir Alberick caused the bodies of his
slaughtered son and the mother to be laid side by side in the
ancient chapel of his house, after he had used the skill of a
celebrated surgeon of that time to embalm them; and it was said
that for many weeks he spent; some hours nightly in the vault
where they reposed.
'At length he undertook the proposed pilgrimage to Whiteherne,
where he confessed himself for the first time since his
misfortune, and was shrived by an aged monk, who afterwards died
in the odour of sanctity. It is said that it was then foretold
to the Redgauntlet, that on account of his unshaken patriotism
his family should continue to be powerful amid the changes of
future times; but that, in detestation of his unrelenting cruelty
to his own issue, Heaven had decreed that the valour of his race
should always be fruitless, and that the cause which they
espoused should never prosper.
'Submitting to such penance as was there imposed, Sir Alberick
went, it is thought, on a pilgrimage either to Rome, or to the
Holy Sepulchre itself. He was universally considered as dead;
and it was not till thirteen years afterwards, that in the great
battle of Durham, fought between David Bruce and Queen Philippa
of England, a knight, bearing a horseshoe for his crest, appeared
in the van of the Scottish army, distinguishing himself by his
reckless and desperate valour; who being at length overpowered
and slain, was finally discovered to be the brave and unhappy Sir
'And has the fatal sign,' said I, when Herries had ended his
narrative, 'descended on all the posterity of this unhappy
'It has been so handed down from antiquity, and is still
believed,' said Herries. 'But perhaps there is, in the popular
evidence, something of that fancy which creates what it sees.
Certainly, as other families have peculiarities by which they are
distinguished, this of Redgauntlet is marked in most individuals
by a singular indenture of the forehead, supposed to be derived
from the son of Alberick, their ancestor, and brother to the
unfortunate Edward, who had perished in so piteous a manner. It
is certain there seems to have been a fate upon the House of
Redgauntlet, which has been on the losing side in almost all the
civil broils which have divided the kingdom of Scotland from
David Bruce's days, till the late valiant and unsuccessful
attempt of the Chevalier Charles Edward.'
He concluded with a deep sigh, as one whom the subject had
involved in a train of painful reflections.
'And am I then,' I exclaimed, 'descended from this unhappy race?
Do you belong to it? And if so, why do I sustain restraint and
hard usage at the hands of a relation?'
'Inquire no further for the present,' he said. 'The line of
conduct which I am pursuing towards you is dictated, not by
choice but by necessity. You were withdrawn from the bosom of
your family and the care of your legal guardian, by the timidity
and ignorance of a doting mother, who was incapable of estimating
the arguments or feelings of those who prefer honour and
principle to fortune, and even to life. The young hawk,
accustomed only to the fostering care of its dam, must be tamed
by darkness and sleeplessness, ere it is trusted on the wing for
the purposes of the falconer.'
I was appalled at this declaration, which seemed to threaten a
long continuance, and a dangerous termination, of my captivity. I
deemed it best, however, to show some spirit, and at the same
time to mingle a tone of conciliation. 'Mr. Herries,' I said
'(if I call you rightly by that name), let us speak upon this
matter without the tone of mystery and fear in which you seem
inclined to envelop it. I have been long, alas! deprived of the
care of that affectionate mother to whom you allude--long under
the charge of strangers--and compelled to form my own resolutions
upon the reasoning of my own mind. Misfortune--early
deprivation--has given me the privilege of acting for myself; and
constraint shall not deprive me of an Englishman's best
'The true cant of the day,' said Herries, in a tone of scorn.
'The privilege of free action belongs to no mortal--we are tied
down by the fetters of duty--our mortal path is limited by the
regulations of honour--our most indifferent actions are but
meshes of the web of destiny by which we are all surrounded.'
He paced the room rapidly, and proceeded in a tone of enthusiasm
which, joined to some other parts of his conduct, seems to
intimate an over-excited imagination, were it not contradicted by
the general tenor of his speech and conduct.
'Nothing,' he said, in an earnest yet melancholy voice--'nothing
is the work of chance--nothing is the consequence of free-will--
the liberty of which the Englishman boasts gives as little real
freedom to its owner as the despotism, of an Eastern sultan
permits to his slave. The usurper, William of Nassau, went forth
to hunt, and thought, doubtless, that it was by an act of his own
royal pleasure that the horse of his murdered victim was prepared
for his kingly sport. But Heaven had other views; and before the
sun was high, a stumble of that very animal over an obstacle so
inconsiderable as a mole-hillock, cost the haughty rider his life
and his usurped crown, Do you think an inclination of the rein
could have avoided that trifling impediment? I tell you, it
crossed his way as inevitably as all the long chain of Caucasus
could have done. Yes, young man, in doing and suffering, we play
but the part allotted by Destiny, the manager of this strange
drama, stand bound to act no more than is prescribed, to say no
more than is set down for us; and yet we mouth about free-will
and freedom of thought and action, as if Richard must not die, or
Richmond conquer, exactly where the Author has decreed it shall
He continued to pace the room after this speech, with folded arms
and downcast looks; and the sound of his steps and tone of his
voice brought to my remembrance, that I had heard this singular
person, when I met him on a former occasion, uttering such
soliloquies in his solitary chamber. I observed that, like other
Jacobites, in his inveteracy against the memory of King William,
he had adopted the party opinion, that the monarch, on the day he
had his fatal accident, rode upon a horse once the property of
the unfortunate Sir John Friend, executed for high treason in
It was not my business to aggravate, but, if possible, rather to
soothe him in whose power I was so singularly placed. When I
conceived that the keenness of his feelings had in some degree
subsided, I answered him as follows:--'I will not--indeed I feel
myself incompetent to argue a question of such metaphysical
subtlety, as that which involves the limits betwixt free-will and
predestination. Let us hope we may live honestly and die
hopefully, without being obliged to form a decided opinion upon a
point so far beyond our comprehension.'
'Wisely resolved,' he interrupted, with a sneer--'there came a
note from some Geneva, sermon.'
'But,' I proceeded, 'I call your attention to the fact that I, as
well as you, am acted upon by impulses, the result either of my
own free will, or the consequences of the part which is assigned
to me by destiny. These may be--nay, at present they are--in
direct contradiction to those by which you are actuated; and how
shall we decide which shall have precedence?--YOU perhaps feel
yourself destined to act as my jailer. I feel myself, on the
contrary, destined to attempt and effect my escape. One of us
must be wrong, but who can say which errs till the event has
decided betwixt us?'
'I shall feel myself destined to have recourse to severe modes of
restraint,' said he, in the same tone of half jest, half earnest
which I had used.
'In that case,' I answered, 'it will be my destiny to attempt
everything for my freedom.'
'And it may be mine, young man,' he replied, in a deep and stern
tone, 'to take care that you should rather die than attain your
This was speaking out indeed, and I did not allow him to go
unanswered. 'You threaten me in vain,' said I; 'the laws of my
country will protect me; or whom they cannot protect, they will
I spoke this firmly, and he seemed for a moment silenced; and the
scorn with which he at last answered me, had something of
affectation in it.
'The laws!' he said; 'and what, stripling, do you know of the
laws of your country? Could you learn jurisprudence under a
base-born blotter of parchment, such as Saunders Fairford; or
from the empty pedantic coxcomb, his son, who now, forsooth,
writer himself advocate? When Scotland was herself, and had her
own king and legislature, such plebeian cubs, instead of being
called to the bar of her supreme courts, would scarce have been
admitted to the honour of bearing a sheepskin process-bag.'
Alan, I could not bear this, but answered indignantly, that he
knew not the worth and honour from which he was detracting.
'I know as much of these Fairfords as I do of you,' he replied.
'As much,' said I, 'and as little; for you can neither estimate
their real worth nor mine. I know you saw them when last in
'Ha!' he exclaimed, and turned on me an inquisitive look.
'It is true,' said I; 'you cannot deny it; and having thus shown
you that I know something of your motions, let me warn you I have
modes of communication with which you are not acquainted. Oblige
me not to use them to your prejudice.'
'Prejudice me!' he replied. 'Young man, I smile at, and forgive
your folly. Nay, I will tell you that of which you are not
aware, namely, that it was from letters received from these
Fairfords that I first suspected, what the result of my visit to
them confirmed, that you were the person whom I had sought for
'If you learned this,' said I, 'from the papers which were about
my person on the night when I was under the necessity of becoming
your guest at Brokenburn, I do not envy your indifference to the
means of acquiring information. It was dishonourable to'--
'Peace, young man,' said Herries, more calmly than I might have
expected; 'the word dishonour must not be mentioned as in
conjunction with my name. Your pocket-book was in the pocket of
your coat, and did not escape the curiosity of another, though it
would have been sacred from mine, My servant, Cristal Nixon,
brought me the intelligence after you were gone. I was
displeased with the manner in which he had acquired his
information; but it was not the less my duty to ascertain its
truth, and for that purpose I went to Edinburgh. I was in hopes
to persuade Mr. Fairford to have entered into my views; but I
found him too much prejudiced to permit me to trust him. He is a
wretched, yet a timid slave of the present government, under
which our unhappy country is dishonourably enthralled; and it
would have been altogether unfit and unsafe to have entrusted him
with the secret either of the right which I possess to direct
your actions, or of the manner in which I purpose to exercise
I was determined to take advantage of his communicative humour,
and obtain, if possible, more light upon his purpose. He seemed
most accessible to being piqued on the point of honour, and I
resolved to avail myself, but with caution, of his sensibility
upon that topic. 'You say,' I replied, 'that you are not
friendly to indirect practices, and disapprove of the means by
which your domestic obtained information of my name and quality--
Is it honourable to avail yourself of that knowledge which is
'It is boldly asked,' he replied; 'but, within certain necessary
limits, I dislike not boldness of expostulation. You have, in
this short conference, displayed more character and energy than I
was prepared to expect. You will, I trust, resemble a forest
plant, which has indeed, by some accident, been brought up in the
greenhouse, and thus rendered delicate and effeminate, but which
regains its native firmness and tenacity when exposed for a
season to the winter air. I will answer your question plainly.
In business, as in war, spies and informers are necessary evils,
which all good men detest; but which yet all prudent men must
use, unless they mean to fight and act blindfold. But nothing
can justify the use of falsehood and treachery in our own
'You said to the elder Mr. Fairford,' continued I, with the same
boldness, which I began to find was my best game, 'that I was the
son of Ralph Latimer of Langcote Hall? How do you reconcile this
with your late assertion that my name is not Latimer?'
He coloured as he replied, 'The doting old fool lied; or perhaps
mistook my meaning. I said, that gentleman might be your father.
To say truth, I wished you to visit England, your native country;
because, when you might do so, my rights over you would revive.'
This speech fully led me to understand a caution which had been
often impressed upon me, that, if I regarded my safety, I should
not cross the southern Border; and I cursed my own folly, which
kept me fluttering like a moth around the candle, until I was
betrayed into the calamity with which I had dallied. 'What are
those rights,' I said, 'which you claim over me? To what end do
you propose to turn them?'
'To a weighty one, you may be certain,' answered Mr. Herries;
'but I do not, at present, mean to communicate to you either its
nature or extent. You may judge of its importance, when, in
order entirely to possess myself of your person, I condescended
to mix myself with the fellows who destroyed the fishing station
of yon wretched Quaker. That I held him in contempt, and was
displeased at the greedy devices with which he ruined a manly
sport, is true enough; but, unless as it favoured my designs on
you, he might have, for me, maintained his stake-nets till Solway
should cease to ebb and flow.'
'Alas!' I said, 'it doubles my regret to have been the unwilling
cause of misfortune to an honest and friendly man.'
'Do not grieve for that,' said Herries; 'honest Joshua is one of
those who, by dint of long prayers, can possess themselves of
widow's houses--he will quickly repair his losses. When he
sustains any mishap, he and the other canters set it down as a
debt against Heaven, and, by way of set-off, practise rogueries
without compunction, till the they make the balance even, or
incline it to the winning side. Enough of this for the present.
--I must immediately shift my quarters; for, although I do not
fear the over-zeal of Mr. Justice Foxley or his clerk will lead
them to any extreme measure, yet that mad scoundrel's unhappy
recognition of me may make it more serious for them to connive at
me, and I must not put their patience to an over severe trial.
You must prepare to attend me, either as a captive or a
companion; if as the latter, you must give your parole of honour
to attempt no escape. Should you be so ill advised as to break
your word once pledged, be assured that I will blow your brains
out without a moment's scruple.'
'I am ignorant of your plans and purposes,' I replied, 'and
cannot but hold them dangerous. I do not mean to aggravate my
present situation by any unavailing resistance to the superior
force which detains me; but I will not renounce the right of
asserting my natural freedom should it favourable opportunity
occur. I will, therefore, rather be your prisoner than your
'That is spoken fairly,' he said; 'and yet not without the canny
caution of one brought up in the Gude Town of Edinburgh. On my
part, I will impose no unnecessary hardship upon you; but, on the
contrary, your journey shall be made as easy as is consistent
with your being kept safely. Do you feel strong enough to ride
on horseback as yet, or would you prefer a carriage? The former
mode of travelling is best adapted to the country through which
we are to travel, but you are at liberty to choose between them.'
I said, 'I felt my strength gradually returning, and that I
should much prefer travelling on horseback. A carriage,' I
added, 'is so close'--
'And so easily guarded,' replied Herries, with a look as if he
would have penetrated my very thoughts,--'that, doubtless, you
think horseback better calculated for an escape.'
'My thoughts are my own,' I answered; 'and though you keep my
person prisoner, these are beyond your control.'
'Oh, I can read the book,' he said, 'without opening the leaves.
But I would recommend to you to make no rash attempt, and it will
be my care to see that you have no power to make any that is
likely to be effectual. Linen, and all other necessaries for one
in your circumstances, are amply provided, Cristal Nixon will act
as your valet,--I should rather, perhaps, say, your FEMME DE
CHAMBRE. Your travelling dress you may perhaps consider as
singular; but it is such as the circumstances require; and, if
you object to use the articles prepared for your use, your mode
of journeying will be as personally unpleasant as that which
conducted you hither.--Adieu--We now know each other better than
we did--it will not be my fault if the consequences of further
intimacy be not a more favourable mutual opinion.'
He then left me, with a civil good night, to my own reflections,
and only turned back to say that we should proceed on our journey
at daybreak next morning, at furthest; perhaps earlier, he said;
but complimented me by supposing that, as I was a sportsman, I
must always be ready for a sudden start.
We are then at issue, this singular man and myself. His personal
views are to a certain point explained. He has chosen an
antiquated and desperate line of politics, and he claims, from
some pretended tie of guardianship or relationship, which he does
not deign to explain but which he seems to have been able to pass
current on a silly country Justice and his knavish clerk, a right
to direct and to control my motions. The danger which awaited me
in England, and which I might have escaped had I remained in
Scotland, was doubtless occasioned by the authority of this man.
But what my poor mother might fear for me as a child--what my
English friend, Samuel Griffiths, endeavoured to guard against
during my youth and nonage, is now, it seems, come upon me; and,
under a legal pretext, I am detained in what must be a most
illegal manner, by a person, foe, whose own political immunities
have been forfeited by his conduct. It matters not--my mind is
made up neither persuasion nor threats shall force me into the
desperate designs which this man meditates. Whether I am of the
trifling consequence which my life hitherto seems to intimate, or
whether I have (as would appear from my adversary's conduct) such
importance, by birth or fortune, as may make me a desirable
acquisition to a political faction, my resolution is taken in
either case. Those who read this journal, if it shall be perused
by impartial eyes, shall judge of me truly; and if they consider
me as a fool in encountering danger unnecessarily, they shall
have no reason to believe me a coward or a turncoat, when I find
myself engaged in it. I have been bred in sentiments of
attachment to the family on the throne and in these sentiments I
will live and die. I have, indeed, some idea that Mr. Herries
has already discovered that I am made of different and more
unmalleable metal than he had at first believed. There were
letters from my dear Alan Fairford, giving a ludicrous account of
my instability of temper, in the same pocket-book, which,
according to the admission of my pretended guardian, fell under
the investigation of his domestic during the night I passed at
Brokenburn, where, as I now recollect, my wet clothes, with the
contents of my pockets, were, with the thoughtlessness of a young
traveller, committed too rashly to the care of a strange servant.
And my kind friend and hospitable landlord, Mr. Alexander
Fairford, may also, and with justice, have spoken of my levities
to this man. But he shall find he has made a false estimate upon
these plausible grounds, since--
I must break off for the present.
LATIMER'S JOURNAL, IN CONTINUATION
There is at length a halt--at length I have gained so much
privacy as to enable me to continue my journal. It has become a
sort of task of duty to me, without the discharge of which I do
not feel that the business of the day is performed. True, no
friendly eye may ever look upon these labours, which have amused
the solitary hours of an unhappy prisoner. Yet, in the
meanwhile, the exercise of the pen seems to act as a sedative
upon my own agitated thoughts and tumultuous passions. I never
lay it down but I rise stronger in resolution, more ardent in
hope. A thousand vague fears, wild expectations, and indigested
schemes, hurry through one's thoughts in seasons of doubt and of
danger. But by arresting them as they flit across the mind, by
throwing them on paper, and even by that mechanical act
compelling ourselves to consider them with scrupulous and minute
attention, we may perhaps escape becoming the dupes of our own
excited imagination; just as a young horse is cured of the vice
of starting by being made to stand still and look for some time
without any interruption at the cause of its terror.
There remains but one risk, which is that of discovery. But
besides the small characters, in which my residence in Mr.
Fairford's house enabled me to excel, for the purpose of
transferring as many scroll sheets as possible to a huge sheet of
stamped paper, I have, as I have elsewhere intimated, had
hitherto the comfortable reflection that if the record of my
misfortunes should fall into the hands of him by whom they are
caused, they would, without harming any one, show him the real
character and disposition of the person who has become his
prisoner--perhaps his victim. Now, however, that other names,
and other characters, are to be mingled with the register of my
own sentiments, I must take additional care of these papers, and
keep them in such a manner that, in case of the least hazard of
detection, I may be able to destroy them at a moment's notice. I
shall not soon or easily forget the lesson I have been taught, by
the prying disposition which Cristal Nixon, this man's agent and
confederate, manifested at Brokenburn, and which proved the
original cause of my sufferings.
My laying aside the last sheet of my journal hastily was
occasioned by the unwonted sound of a violin, in the farmyard
beneath my windows. It will not appear surprising to those who
have made music their study, that, after listening to a few
notes, I became at once assured that the musician was no other
than the itinerant, formerly mentioned as present at the
destruction of Joshua Geddes's stake-nets, the superior delicacy
and force of whose execution would enable me to swear to his bow
amongst a whole orchestra. I had the less reason to doubt his
identity, because he played twice over the beautiful Scottish air
called Wandering Willie; and I could not help concluding that he
did so for the purpose of intimating his own presence, since what
the French called the nom de guerre of the performer was
described by the tune.
Hope will catch at the most feeble twig for support in extremity.
I knew this man, though deprived of sight, to be bold, ingenious,
and perfectly capable of acting as a guide. I believed I had won
his goodwill, by having, in a frolic, assumed the character of
his partner; and I remembered that in a wild, wandering, and
disorderly course of life, men, as they become loosened from the
ordinary bonds of civil society, hold those of comradeship more
closely sacred; so that honour is sometimes found among thieves,
and faith and attachment in such as the law has termed vagrants.
The history of Richard Coeur de Lion and his minstrel, Blondel,
rushed, at the same time, on my mind, though I could not even
then suppress a smile at the dignity of the example when applied
to a blind fiddler and myself. Still there was something in all
this to awaken a hope that, if I could open a correspondence with
this poor violer, he might be useful in extricating me from my
His profession furnished me with some hope that this desired
communication might be attained; since it is well known that, in
Scotland, where there is so much national music, the words and
airs of which are generally known, there is a kind of freemasonry
amongst performers, by which they can, by the mere choice of a
tune, express a great deal to the hearers. Personal allusions
are often made in this manner, with much point and pleasantry;
and nothing is more usual at public festivals, than that the air
played to accompany a particular health or toast, is made the
vehicle of compliment, of wit, and sometimes of satire. [Every
one must remember instances of this festive custom, in which the
adaptation of the tune to the toast was remarkably felicitous.
Old Neil Gow, and his son Nathaniel, were peculiarly happy on
While these things passed through my mind rapidly, I heard my
friend beneath recommence, for the third time, the air from which
his own name had been probably adopted, when he was interrupted
by his rustic auditors.
'If thou canst play no other spring but that, mon, ho hadst best
put up ho's pipes and be jogging. Squoire will be back anon, or
Master Nixon, and we'll see who will pay poiper then.'
Oho, thought I, if I have no sharper ears than those of my
friends Jan and Dorcas to encounter, I may venture an experiment
upon them; and, as most expressive of my state of captivity, I
sang two or three lines of the 137th Psalm--
By Babel's streams we sat and wept.
The country people listened with attention, and when I ceased, I
heard them whisper together in tones of commiseration, 'Lack-a-
day, poor soul! so pretty a man to be beside his wits!'
'An he be that gate,' said Wandering Willie, in a tone calculated
to reach my ears, 'I ken naething will raise his spirits like a
spring.' And he struck up, with great vigour and spirit, the
lively Scottish air, the words of which instantly occurred to me
Oh whistle and I'll come t'ye, my lad,
Oh whistle and I'll come t'ye, my lad;
Though father and mother and a' should gae mad,
Oh whistle and I'll come t'ye, my lad.
I soon heard a clattering noise of feet in the courtyard, which I
concluded to be Jan and Dorcas dancing a jig in their Cumberland
wooden clogs. Under cover of this din, I endeavoured to answer
Willie's signal by whistling, as loud as I could---
Come back again and loe me
When a' the lave are gane.
He instantly threw the dancers out, by changing his air to
There's my thumb, I'll ne'er beguile thee.
I no longer doubted that a communication betwixt us was happily
established, and that, if I had an opportunity of speaking to the
poor musician, I should find him willing to take my letter to the
post, to invoke the assistance of some active magistrate, or of
the commanding-officer of Carlisle Castle, or, in short, to do
whatever else I could point out, in the compass of his power, to
contribute to my liberation. But to obtain speech of him, I must
have run the risk of alarming the suspicions of Dorcas, if not of
her yet more stupid Corydon. My ally's blindness prevented his
receiving any communication by signs from the window--even if I
could have ventured to make them, consistently with prudence--so
that notwithstanding the mode of intercourse we had adopted was
both circuitous and peculiarly liable to misapprehension, I saw
nothing I could do better than to continue it, trusting my own
and my correspondent's acuteness in applying to the airs the
meaning they were intended to convey. I thought of singing the
words themselves of some significant song, but feared I might, by
doing so, attract suspicion. I endeavoured, therefore, to
intimate my speedy departure from my present place of residence,
by whistling the well-known air with which festive parties in
Scotland usually conclude the dance:--
Good night and joy be wi' ye a',
For here nae langer maun I stay;
There's neither friend nor foe, of mine
But wishes that I were away.
It appeared that Willie's powers of intelligence were much more
active than mine, and that, like a deaf person accustomed to be
spoken to by signs, he comprehended, from the very first notes,
the whole meaning I intended to convey; and he accompanied me in
the air with his violin, in such a manner as at once to show he
understood my meaning, and to prevent my whistling from being
His reply was almost immediate, and was conveyed in the old
martial air of 'Hey, Johnnie lad, cock up your beaver.' I ran
over the words, and fixed on the following stanza, as most
applicable to my circumstances:--
Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu' sprush;
We'll over the Border and give them a brush;
There's somebody there we'll teach better behaviour,
Hey, Johnnie lad, cock up your beaver.
If these sounds alluded, as I hope they do, to the chance of
assistance from my Scottish friends, I may indeed consider that a
door is open to hope and freedom. I immediately replied with:--
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the Highlands! farewell to the North!
The birth-place of valour, the cradle of worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
Willie instantly played, with a degree of spirit which might have
awakened hope in Despair herself, if Despair could be supposed to
understand Scotch music, the fine old Jacobite air,
For a' that, and a' that,
And twice as much as a' that.
I next endeavoured to intimate my wish to send notice of my
condition to my friends; and, despairing to find an air
sufficiently expressive of my purpose, I ventured to sing a
verse, which, in various forms, occurs so frequently in old
Whare will I get a bonny boy
That will win hose and shoon:
That will gae down to Durisdeer,
And bid my merry men come?
He drowned the latter part of the verse by playing, with much
Kind Robin loes me.
Of this, though I ran over the verses of the song in my mind, I
could make nothing; and before I could contrive any mode of
intimating my uncertainty, a cry arose in the courtyard that
Cristal Nixon was coming. My faithful Willie was obliged to
retreat; but not before he had half played, half hummed, by way
Leave thee--leave thee, lad--
I'll never leave thee;
The stars shall gae withershins
Ere I will leave thee.
I am thus, I think, secure of one trusty adherent in my
misfortunes; and, however whimsical it may be to rely much on a
man of his idle profession and deprived of sight withal, it is
deeply impressed on my mind that his services may be both useful
and necessary. There is another quarter from which I look for
succour, and which I have indicated to thee, Alan, in more than
one passage of my journal. Twice, at the early hour of daybreak,
I have seen the individual alluded to in the court of the farm,
and twice she made signs of recognition in answer to the gestures
by which I endeavoured to make her comprehend my situation; but
on both occasions she pressed her finger on her lips, as
expressive of silence and secrecy.
The manner in which G.M. entered upon the scene for the first
time, seems to assure me of her goodwill, so far as her power may
reach; and I have many reasons to believe it is considerable.
Yet she seemed hurried and frightened during the very transitory
moments of our interview, and I think was, upon the last
occasion, startled by the entrance of some one into the farmyard,
just as she was on the point of addressing me. You must not ask
whether I am an early riser, since such objects are only to be
seen at daybreak; and although I have never again seen her, yet I
have reason to think she is not distant. It was but three nights
ago, that, worn out by the uniformity of my confinement, I had
manifested more symptoms of despondence than I had before
exhibited, which I conceive may have attracted the attention of
the domestics, through whom the circumstance might transpire. On
the next morning, the following lines lay on my table; but how
conveyed there, I cannot tell. The hand in which they were
written is a beautiful Italian manuscript:--
As lords their labourers' hire delay,
Fate quits our toil with hopes to come,
Which, if far short of present pay,
Still, owns a debt and names a sum.
Quit not the pledge, frail sufferer, then,
Although a distant date be given;
Despair is treason towards man,
And blasphemy to Heaven.
That these lines were written with the friendly purpose of
inducing me to keep up my spirits, I cannot doubt; and I trust
the manner in which I shall conduct myself may show that the
pledge is accepted.
The dress is arrived in which it seems to be my self-elected
guardian's pleasure that I shall travel; and what does it prove
to be?--A skirt, or upper-petticoat of camlet, like those worn by
country ladies of moderate rank when on horseback, with such a
riding-mask as they frequently use on journeys to preserve their
eyes and complexion from the sun and dust, and sometimes, it is
suspected, to enable then to play off a little coquetry. From
the gayer mode of employing the mask, however, I suspect I shall
be precluded; for instead of being only pasteboard, covered with
black velvet, I observe with anxiety that mine is thickened with
a plate of steel, which, like Quixote's visor, serves to render
it more strong and durable.
This apparatus, together with a steel clasp for securing the mask
behind me with a padlock, gave me fearful recollections of the
unfortunate being, who, never being permitted to lay aside such a
visor, acquired the well-known historical epithet of the Man in
the Iron Mask. I hesitated a moment whether I should, so far
submit to the acts of oppression designed against me as to assume
this disguise, which was, of course, contrived to aid their
purposes. But when I remembered Mr. Herries's threat, that I
should be kept close prisoner in a carriage, unless I assumed the
dress which should be appointed for me; and I considered the
comparative degree of freedom which I might purchase by wearing
the mask and female dress as easily and advantageously purchased.
Here, therefore, I must pause for the present, and await what the
morning may bring forth.
[To carry on the story from the documents before us, we think it
proper here to drop the journal of the captive Darsie Latimer,
and adopt, instead, a narrative of the proceedings of Alan
Fairford in pursuit of his friend, which forms another series in
NARRATIVE OF ALAN FAIRFORD
The reader ought, by this time, to have formed some idea of the
character of Alan Fairford. He had a warmth of heart which the
study of the law and of the world could not chill, and talents
which they had rendered unusually acute. Deprived of the
personal patronage enjoyed by most of his contemporaries, who
assumed the gown under the protection of their aristocratic
alliances and descents, he early saw that he should have that to
achieve for himself which fell to them as a right of birth. He
laboured hard in silence and solitude, and his labours were
crowned with success. But Alan doted on his friend Darsie, even
more than he loved his profession, and, as we have seen, threw
everything aside when he thought Latimer in danger; forgetting
fame and fortune, and hazarding even the serious displeasure of
his father, to rescue him whom he loved with an elder brother's
affection. Darsie, though his parts were more quick and
brilliant than those of his friend, seemed always to the latter a
being under his peculiar charge, whom he was called upon to
cherish and protect in cases where the youth's own experience was
unequal to the exigency; and now, when, the fate of Latimer
seeming worse than doubtful, Alan's whole prudence and energy
were to be exerted in his behalf, an adventure which might have
seemed perilous to most youths of his age had no terrors for him.
He was well acquainted with the laws of his country, and knew how
to appeal to them; and, besides his professional confidence, his
natural disposition was steady, sedate, persevering, and
undaunted. With these requisites he undertook a quest which, at
that time, was not unattended with actual danger, and had much in
it to appal a more timid disposition.
Fairford's first inquiry concerning his friend was of the chief
magistrate of Dumfries, Provost Crosbie, who had sent the
information of Darsie's disappearance. On his first application,
he thought he discerned in the honest dignitary a desire to get
rid of the subject. The provost spoke of the riot at the fishing
station as an 'outbreak among those lawless loons the fishermen,
which concerned the sheriff,' he said, 'more than us poor town
council bodies, that have enough to do to keep peace within
burgh, amongst such a set of commoners as the town are plagued
'But this is not all, Provost Crosbie,' said Mr. Alan Fairford;
'A young gentleman of rank and fortune has disappeared amongst
their hands--you know him. My father gave him a letter to you--
Mr. Darsie Latimer.'
'Lack-a-day, yes! lack-a-day, yes!' said the provost; 'Mr.
Darsie Latimer--he dined at my house--I hope he is well?'
'I hope so too,' said Alan, rather indignantly; 'but I desire
more certainty on that point. You yourself wrote my father that
he had disappeared.'
'Troth, yes, and that is true,' said the provost. 'But did he
not go back to his friends in Scotland? it was not natural to
think he would stay here.'
'Not unless he is under restraint,' said Fairford, surprised at
the coolness with which the provost seemed to take up the matter.
'Rely on it, sir,' said Mr. Crosbie, 'that if he has not returned
to his friends in Scotland, he must have gone to his friends in
'I will rely on no such thing,' said Alan; 'if there is law or
justice in Scotland, I will have the thing cleared to the very
'Reasonable, reasonable,' said the provost, 'so far as is
possible; but you know I have no power beyond the ports of the
'But you are in the commission besides, Mr. Crosbie; a justice of
peace for the county.'
'True, very true--that is,' said the cautious magistrate, 'I will
not say but my name may stand on the list, but I cannot remember
that I have ever qualified.' [By taking the oaths to
'Why, in that case,' said young Fairford, 'there are ill-natured
people might doubt your attachment to the Protestant line, Mr.
'God forbid, Mr. Fairford! I who have done and suffered in the
Forty-five. I reckon the Highlandmen did me damage to the amount
of 100l. Scots, forby all they ate and drank--no, no, sir, I
stand beyond challenge; but as for plaguing myself with county
business, let them that aught the mare shoe the mare. The
commissioners of supply would see my back broken before they
would help me in the burgh's work, and all the world kens the
difference of the weight between public business in burgh and
landward. What are their riots to me? have we not riots enough
of our own?--But I must be getting ready, for the council meets
this forenoon. I am blithe to see your father's son on the
causeway of our ancient burgh, Mr. Alan Fairford. Were you a
twelve-month aulder, we would make a burgess of you, man. I hope
you will come and dine with me before you go away. What think
you of to-day at two o'clock--just a roasted chucky and a drappit
Alan Fairford resolved that his friend's hospitality should not,
as it seemed the inviter intended, put a stop to his queries. 'I
must delay you for a moment,' he said, 'Mr. Crosbie; this is a
serious affair; a young gentleman of high hopes, my own dearest
friend, is missing--you cannot think it will be passed over
slightly, if a man of your high character and known zeal for the
government do not make some active inquiry. Mr. Crosbie, you are
my father's friend, and I respect you as such--but to others it
will have a bad appearance.'
The withers of the provost were not unwrung; he paced the room in
much tribulation, repeating, 'But what can I do, Mr. Fairford? I
warrant your friend casts up again--he will come back again, like
the ill shilling--he is not the sort of gear that tynes--a
hellicat boy, running through the country with a blind fiddler
and playing the fiddle to a parcel of blackguards, who can tell
where the like of him may have scampered to?'
'There are persons apprehended, and in the jail of the town, as I
understand from the sheriff-substitute,' said Mr. Fairford; 'you
must call them before you, and inquire what they know of this
'Aye, aye--the sheriff-depute did commit some poor creatures, I
believe--wretched ignorant fishermen bodies, that had been
quarrelling with Quaker Geddes and his stake-nets, whilk, under
favour of your gown be it spoken, Mr. Fairford, are not over and
above lawful, and the town clerk thinks that they may be lawfully
removed VIA FACTI--but that is by the by. But, sir, the
creatures were a' dismissed for want of evidence; the Quaker
would not swear to them, and what could the sheriff and me do but
just let them loose? Come awa, cheer up, Master Alan, and take a
walk till dinner-time--I must really go to the council.'
'Stop a moment, provost,' said Alan; 'I lodge a complaint before
you as a magistrate, and you will find it serious to slight it
over. You must have these men apprehended again.'
'Aye, aye--easy said; but catch them that can,' answered the
provost; 'they are ower the march by this time, or by the point
of Cairn.--Lord help ye! they are a kind of amphibious deevils,
neither land nor water beasts neither English nor Scots--neither
county nor stewartry, as we say--they are dispersed like so much
quicksilver. You may as well try to whistle a sealgh out of the
Solway, as to get hold of one of them till all the fray is over.'
'Mr. Crosbie, this will not do,' answered the young counsellor;
'there is a person of more importance than such wretches as you
describe concerned in this unhappy business--I must name to you a
certain Mr. Herries.'
He kept his eye on the provost as he uttered the name, which he
did rather at a venture, and from the connexion which that
gentleman, and his real or supposed niece, seemed to have with
the fate of Darsie Latimer, than from any distinct cause of
suspicion which he entertained. He thought the provost seemed
embarrassed, though he showed much desire to assume an appearance
of indifference, in which he partly succeeded.
'Herries!' he said--'What Herries?--There are many of that name
--not so many as formerly, for the old stocks are wearing out;
but there is Herries of Heathgill, and Herries of Auchintulloch,
'To save you further trouble, this person's designation is
Herries of Birrenswork.'
'Of Birrenswork?' said Mr. Crosbie; 'I have you now, Mr. Alan.
Could you not as well have said, the Laird of Redgauntlet?'
Fairford was too wary to testify any surprise at this
identification of names, however unexpected. 'I thought,' said
he, 'he was more generally known by the name of Herries. I have
seen and been in company with him under that name, I am sure.'
'Oh aye; in Edinburgh, belike. You know Redgauntlet was
unfortunate a great while ago, and though he was maybe not deeper
in the mire than other folk, yet, for some reason or other, he
did not get so easily out.'
'He was attainted, I understand; and has no remission,' said
The cautious provost only nodded, and said, 'You may guess,
therefore, why it is so convenient he should hold his mother's
name, which is also partly his own, when he is about Edinburgh.
To bear his proper name might be accounted a kind of flying in
the face of government, ye understand. But he has been long
connived at--the story is an old story--and the gentleman has
many excellent qualities, and is of a very ancient and honourable
house--has cousins among the great folk--counts kin with the
advocate and with the sheriff--hawks, you know, Mr. Alan, will
not pike out hawks' een--he is widely connected--my wife is a
fourth cousin of Redgauntlet's.'
HINC ILLAE LACHRYMAE! thought Alan Fairford to himself; but the
hint presently determined him to proceed by soft means and with
caution. 'I beg you to understand,' said Fairford, 'that in the
investigation I am about to make, I design no harm to Mr.
Herries, or Redgauntlet--call him what you will. All I wish is,
to ascertain the safety of my friend. I know that he was rather
foolish in once going upon a mere frolic, in disguise, to the
neighbourhood of this same gentleman's house. In his
circumstances, Mr. Redgauntlet may have misinterpreted the
motives, and considered Darsie Latimer as a spy. His influence,
I believe, is great among the disorderly people you spoke of but
The provost answered with another sagacious shake of his head,
that would have done honour to Lord Burleigh in the CRITIC.
'Well, then,' continued Fairford,' is it not possible that, in
the mistaken belief that Mr. Latimer was a spy, he may, upon such
suspicion, have caused him to be carried off and confined
somewhere? Such things are done at elections, and on occasions
less pressing than when men think their lives are in danger from
'Mr. Fairford,' said the provost, very earnestly, 'I scarce think
such a mistake possible; or if, by any extraordinary chance, it
should have taken place, Redgauntlet, whom I cannot but know
well, being as I have said my wife's first cousin (fourth cousin,
I should say) is altogether incapable of doing anything harsh to
the young gentleman--he might send him ower to Ailsay for a night
or two, or maybe land him on the north coast of Ireland, or in
Islay, or some of the Hebrides; but depend upon it, he is
incapable of harming a hair of his head.'
'I am determined not to trust to that, provost,' answered
Fairford firmly; 'and I am a good deal surprised at your way of
talking so lightly of such an aggression on the liberty of the
subject. You are to consider, and Mr. Herries or Mr.
Redgauntlet's friends would do very well also to consider, how it
would sound in the ears of an English Secretary of State, that an
attainted traitor (for such is this gentleman) has not only
ventured to take up his abode in this realm--against the king of
which he has been in arms--but is suspected of having proceeded,
by open force and violence, against the person of one of the
lieges, a young man who is neither without friends nor property
to secure his being righted.'
The provost looked at the young counsellor with a face in which
distrust, alarm, and vexation seemed mingled. 'A fashious job,'
he said at last, 'a fashious job; and it will be dangerous
meddling with it. I should like ill to see your father's son
turn informer against an unfortunate gentleman.'
'Neither do I mean it,' answered Alan, 'provided that unfortunate
gentleman and his friends give me a quiet opportunity of securing
my friend's safety. If I could speak with Mr. Redgauntlet, and
hear his own explanation, I should probably be satisfied. If I
am forced, to denounce him to government, it will be in his new
capacity of a kidnapper. I may not be able, nor is it my
business, to prevent his being recognized in his former character
of an attainted person, excepted from the general pardon.'
'Master Fairford,' said the provost, 'would ye ruin the poor
innocent gentleman on an idle suspicion?'
'Say no more of it, Mr. Crosbie; my line of conduct is
determined--unless that suspicion is removed.'
'Weel, sir,' said the provost, 'since so it be, and since you say
that you do not seek to harm Redgauntlet personally, I'll ask a
man to dine with us to-day that kens as much about his matters as
most folk. You must think, Mr. Alan Fairford, though Redgauntlet
be my wife's near relative, and though, doubtless, I wish him
weel, yet I am not the person who is like to be intrusted with
his incomings and outgoings. I am not a man for that--I keep the
kirk, and I abhor Popery--I have stood up for the House of
Hanover, and for liberty and property--I carried arms, sir,
against the Pretender, when three of the Highlandmen's baggage-
carts were stopped at Ecclefechan; and I had an especial loss of
a hundred pounds'--
'Scots,' interrupted Fairford. 'You forget you told me all this
'Scots or English, it was too much for me to lose,' said the
provost; so you see I am not a person to pack or peel with
Jacobites, and such unfreemen as poor Redgauntlet.'
'Granted, granted, Mr. Crosbie; and what then?' said Alan
'Why, then, it follows, that if I am to help you at this pinch,
if cannot be by and through my ain personal knowledge, but
through some fitting agent or third person.'
'Granted again,' said Fairford. 'And pray who may this third
'Wha but Pate Maxwell of Summertrees--him they call Pate-in-
'An old Forty-five man, of course?' said Fairford.
'Ye may swear that,' replied the provost--'as black a Jacobite as
the auld leaven can make him; but a sonsy, merry companion, that
none of us think it worth while to break wi' for all his brags
and his clavers. You would have thought, if he had had but his
own way at Derby, he would have marched Charlie Stuart through
between Wade and the Duke, as a thread goes through the needle's
ee, and seated him in Saint James's before you could have said
haud your hand. But though he is a windy body when he gets on
his auld-warld stories, he has mair gumption in him than most
people--knows business, Mr. Alan, being bred to the law; but
never took the gown, because of the oaths, which kept more folk
out then than they do now--the more's the pity.'
'What! are you sorry, provost, that Jacobitism is upon the
decline?' said Fairford.
'No, no,' answered the provost--'I am only sorry for folks losing
the tenderness of conscience which they used to have. I have a
son breeding to the bar, Mr. Fairford; and, no doubt, considering
my services and sufferings, I might have looked for some bit
postie to him; but if the muckle tykes come in--I mean a' these
Maxwells, and Johnstones, and great lairds, that the oaths used
to keep out lang syne--the bits o' messan doggies, like my son,
and maybe like your father's son, Mr. Alan, will be sair put to
'But to return to the subject, Mr. Crosbie,' said Fairford, 'do
you really think it likely that this Mr. Maxwell will be of
service in this matter?'
'It's very like he may be, for he is the tongue of the trump to
the whole squad of them,' said the provost; 'and Redgauntlet,
though he will not stick at times to call him a fool, takes more
of his counsel than any man's else that I am aware of. If Fate
can bring him to a communing, the business is done. He's a sharp
'Pate-in-Peril!' repeated Alan; 'a very singular name.'
'Aye, and it was in as queer a way he got it; but I'll say
naething about that,' said the provost, 'for fear of forestalling
his market; for ye are sure to hear it once at least, however
oftener, before the punch-bowl gives place to the teapot.--And
now, fare ye weel; for there is the council-bell clinking in
earnest; and if I am not there before it jows in, Bailie Laurie
will be trying some of his manoeuvres.'
The provost, repeating his expectation of seeing Mr. Fairford at
two o'clock, at length effected his escape from the young
counsellor, and left him at a considerable loss how to proceed.
The sheriff, it seems, had returned to Edinburgh, and he feared
to find the visible repugnance of the provost to interfere with
this Laird of Birrenswork, or Redgauntlet, much stronger amongst
the country gentlemen, many of whom were Catholics as well as
Jacobites, and most others unwilling to quarrel with kinsmen and
friends, by prosecuting with severity political offences which
had almost run a prescription.
To collect all the information in his power, and not to have
recourse to the higher authorities until he could give all the
light of which the case was capable, seemed the wiser proceeding
in a choice of difficulties. He had some conversation with the
procurator-fiscal, who, as well as the provost, was an old
correspondent of his father. Alan expressed to that officer a
purpose of visiting Brokenburn, but was assured by him, that it
would be a step attended with much danger to his own person, and
altogether fruitless; that the individuals who had been
ringleaders in the riot were long since safely sheltered in their
various lurking-holes in the Isle of Man, Cumberland, and
elsewhere; and that those who might remain would undoubtedly
commit violence on any who visited their settlement with the
purpose of inquiring into the late disturbances.
There were not the same objections to his hastening to Mount
Sharon, where he expected to find the latest news of his friend;
and there was time enough to do so, before the hour appointed for
the provost's dinner. Upon the road, he congratulated himself on
having obtained one point of almost certain information. The
person who had in a manner forced himself upon his father's
hospitality, and had appeared desirous to induce Darsie Latimer
to visit England, against whom, too, a sort of warning had been
received from an individual connected with and residing in his
own family, proved to be a promoter of the disturbance in which
Darsie had disappeared.
What could be the cause of such an attempt on the liberty of an
inoffensive and amiable man? It was impossible it could be
merely owing to Redgauntlet's mistaking Darsie for a spy; for
though that was the solution which Fairford had offered to the
provost, he well knew that, in point of fact, he himself had been
warned by his singular visitor of some danger to which his friend
was exposed, before such suspicion could have been entertained;
and the injunctions received by Latimer from his guardian, or him
who acted as such, Mr. Griffiths of London, pointed to the same
thing. He was rather glad, however, that he had not let Provost
Crosbie into his secret further than was absolutely necessary;
since it was plain that the connexion of his wife with the
suspected party was likely to affect his impartiality as a
When Alan Fairford arrived at Mount Sharon, Rachel Geddes
hastened to meet him, almost before the servant could open the
door. She drew back in disappointment when she beheld a
stranger, and said, to excuse her precipitation, that 'she had
thought it was her brother Joshua returned from Cumberland.'
'Mr. Geddes is then absent from home?' said Fairford, much
disappointed in his turn.
'He hath been gone since yesterday, friend,' answered Rachel,
once more composed to the quietude which characterizes her sect,
but her pale cheek and red eye giving contradiction to her
'I am,' said Fairford, hastily, 'the particular friend of a young
man not unknown to you, Miss Geddes--the friend of Darsie
Latimer--and am come hither in the utmost anxiety, having
understood from Provost Crosbie, that he had disappeared in the
night when a destructive attack was made upon the fishing-station
of Mr. Geddes.'
'Thou dost afflict me, friend, by thy inquiries,' said Rachel,
more affected than before; 'for although the youth was like those
of the worldly generation, wise in his own conceit, and lightly
to be moved by the breath of vanity, yet Joshua loved him, and
his heart clave to him as if he had been his own son. And when
he himself escaped from the sons of Belial, which was not until
they had tired themselves with reviling, and with idle reproach,
and the jests of the scoffer, Joshua, my brother, returned to
them once and again, to give ransom for the youth called Darsie
Latimer, with offers of money and with promise of remission, but
they would not hearken to him. Also, he went before the head
judge, whom men call the sheriff, and would have told him of the
youth's peril; but he would in no way hearken to him unless he
would swear unto the truth of his words, which thing he might not
do without sin, seeing it is written, Swear not at all--also,
that our conversation shall be yea or nay. Therefore, Joshua
returned to me disconsolate, and said, "Sister Rachel, this youth
hath run into peril for my sake; assuredly I shall not be
guiltless if a hair of his head be harmed, seeing I have sinned
in permitting him to go with me to the fishing station when such
evil was to be feared. Therefore, I will take my horse, even
Solomon, and ride swiftly into Cumberland, and I will make myself
friends with Mammon of Unrighteousness, among the magistrates of
the Gentiles, and among their mighty men; and it shall come to
pass that Darsie Latimer shall be delivered, even if it were at
the expense of half my substance." And I said, "Nay, my brother,
go not, for they will but scoff at and revile thee; but hire with
thy silver one of the scribes, who are eager as hunters in
pursuing their prey, and he shall free Darsie Latimer from the
men of violence by his cunning, and thy soul shall be guiltless
of evil towards the lad." But he answered and said, "I will not
be controlled in this matter." And he is gone forth and hath not
returned, and I fear me that he may never return; for though he
be peaceful, as becometh one who holds all violence as offence
against his own soul, yet neither the floods of water, nor the
fear of the snare, nor the drawn sword of the adversary
brandished in the path, will overcome his purpose. Wherefore the
Solway may swallow him up, or the sword of the enemy may devour
him--nevertheless, my hope is better in Him who directeth all
things, and ruleth over the waves of the sea, and overruleth the
devices of the wicked, and who can redeem us even as a bird from
the fowler's net.'
This was all that Fairford could learn from Miss Geddes; but he
heard with pleasure that the good Quaker, her brother, had many
friends among those of his own profession in Cumberland, and
without exposing himself to so much danger as his sister seemed
to apprehend, he trusted he might be able to discover some traces
of Darsie Latimer. He himself rode back to Dumfries, having left
with Miss Geddes his direction in that place, and an earnest
request that she would forward thither whatever information she
might obtain from her brother.
On Fairford's return to Dumfries, he employed the brief interval
which remained before dinner-time, in writing an account of what
had befallen Latimer and of the present uncertainty of his
condition, to Mr. Samuel Griffiths, through whose hands the
remittances for his friend's service had been regularly made,
desiring he would instantly acquaint him with such parts of his
history as might direct him in the search which he was about to
institute through the border counties, and which he pledged
himself not; to give up until he had obtained news of his friend,
alive or dead, The young lawyer's mind felt easier when he had
dispatched this letter. He could not conceive any reason why his
friend's life should be aimed at; he knew Darsie had done nothing
by which his liberty could be legally affected; and although,
even of late years, there had been singular histories of men, and
women also, who had been trepanned, and concealed in solitudes
and distant islands in order to serve some temporary purpose,
such violences had been chiefly practised by the rich on the
poor, and by the strong on the feeble; whereas, in the present
case, this Mr. Herries, or Redgauntlet, being amenable, for more
reasons than one, to the censure of the law, must be the weakest
in any struggle in which it could be appealed to. It is true,
that his friendly anxiety whispered that the very cause which
rendered this oppressor less formidable, might make him more
desperate. Still, recalling his language, so strikingly that of
the gentleman, and even of the man of honour, Alan Fairford
concluded, that though, in his feudal pride, Redgauntlet might
venture on the deeds of violence exercised by the aristocracy in
other times, he could not be capable of any action of deliberate
atrocity. And in these convictions he went to dine with Provost
Crosbie, with a heart more at ease than might have been expected.
[See Note 7.]
NARRATIVE OF ALAN FAIRFORD, CONTINUED
Five minutes had elapsed after the town clock struck two,
before Alan Fairford, who had made a small detour to put his
letter into the post-house, reached the mansion of Mr. Provost
Crosbie, and was at once greeted by the voice of that civic
dignitary, and the rural dignitary his visitor, as by the voices
of men impatient for their dinner.
'Come away, Mr. Fairford--the Edinburgh time is later than ours,'
said the provost.
And, 'Come away, young gentleman,' said the laird; 'I remember your
father weel at the Cross thirty years ago--I reckon you are as
late in Edinburgh as at London, four o'clock hours--eh?'
'Not quite so degenerate,' replied Fairford; 'but certainly many
Edinburgh people are so ill-advised as to postpone their dinner
till three, that they may have full time to answer their London
'London correspondents!' said Mr. Maxwell; 'and pray what the
devil have the people of Auld Reekie to do with London
correspondents?' [Not much in those days, for within my
recollection the London post; was brought north in a small mail-
cart; and men are yet as live who recollect when it came down
with only one single letter for Edinburgh, addressed to the
manager of the British Linen Company.]
'The tradesmen must have their goods,' said Fairford.
'Can they not buy our own Scottish manufactures, and pick their
customers pockets in a more patriotic manner?'
'Then the ladies must have fashions,' said Fairford.
'Can they not busk the plaid over their heads, as their mothers
did? A tartan screen, and once a year a new cockernony from
Paris, should serve a countess. But ye have not many of them
left, I think--Mareschal, Airley, Winton, Vemyss, Balmerino, all
passed and gone--aye, aye, the countesses and ladies of quality
will scarce take up too much of your ball-room floor with their
quality hoops nowadays.'
'There is no want of crowding, however, sir,' said Fairford;
'they begin to talk of a new Assembly room.'
'A new Assembly room!' said the old Jacobite laird--'Umph--I
mind quartering three hundred men in the old Assembly room [I
remember hearing this identical answer given by an old Highland
gentleman of the Forty-Five, when he heard of the opening of the
New Assembly Rooms in George Street.]--But come, come--I'll ask
no more questions--the answers all smell of new lords new lands,
and do but spoil my appetite, which were a pity, since here comes
Mrs. Crosbie to say our mutton's ready.'
It was even so. Mrs. Crosbie had been absent, like Eve, 'on
hospitable cares intent,' a duty which she did not conceive
herself exempted from, either by the dignity of her husband's
rank in the municipality, or the splendour of her Brussels silk
gown, or even by the more highly prized lustre of her birth; for
she was born a Maxwell, and allied, as her husband often informed
his friends, to several of the first families in the county. She
had been handsome, and was still a portly, good-looking woman of
her years; and though her peep into the kitchen had somewhat
heightened her complexion, it was no more than a modest touch of
rouge might have done.
The provost was certainly proud of his lady, nay, some said he
was afraid of her; for of the females of the Redgauntlet family
there went a rumour, that, ally where they would, there was a
grey mare as surely in the stables of their husbands, as there is
a white horse in Wouvermans' pictures. The good dame, too, was
supposed to have brought a spice of politics into Mr. Crosbie's
household along with her; and the provost's enemies at the
council-table of the burgh used to observe that he uttered there
many a bold harangue against the Pretender, and in favour of King
George and government, of which he dared not have pronounced a
syllable in his own bedchamber; and that, in fact, his wife's
predominating influence had now and then occasioned his acting,
or forbearing to act, in a manner very different from his general
professions of zeal for Revolution principles. If this was in
any respect true, it was certain, on the other hand, that Mrs.
Crosbie, in all external points, seemed to acknowledge the
'lawful sway and right supremacy' of the head of the house, and
if she did not in truth reverence her husband, she at least
seemed to do so.
This stately dame received Mr. Maxwell (a cousin of course) with
cordiality, and Fairford with civility; answering at the same
time with respect, to the magisterial complaints of the provost,
that dinner was just coming up. 'But since you changed poor
Peter MacAlpin, that used to take care of the town-clock, my
dear, it has never gone well a single day.'
'Peter MacAlpin, my dear,' said the provost,' made himself too
busy for a person in office, and drunk healths and so forth,
which it became no man to drink or to pledge, far less one that
is in point of office a servant of the public, I understand that
he lost the music bells in Edinburgh, for playing "Ower the Water
to Charlie," upon the tenth of June. He is a black sheep, and
deserves no encouragement.'
'Not a bad tune though, after all,' said Summertrees; and,
turning to the window, he half hummed, half whistled, the air in
question, then sang the last verse aloud:
'Oh I loe weel my Charlie's name,
Though some there be that abhor him;
But oh to see the deil gang hame
Wi' a' the Whigs before him!
Over the water, and over the sea,
And over the water to Charlie;
Come weal, come woe, we'll gather and go,
And live or die with Charlie.'
Mrs. Crosbie smiled furtively on the laird, wearing an aspect at
the same time of deep submission; while the provost, not choosing
to hear his visitor's ditty, took a turn through the room, in
unquestioned dignity and independence of authority.
'Aweel, aweel, my dear,' said the lady, with a quiet smile of
submission, 'ye ken these matters best, and you will do your
pleasure--they are far above my hand--only, I doubt if ever the
town-clock will go right, or your meals be got up so regular as I
should wish, till Peter MacAlpin gets his office back again. The
body's auld, and can neither work nor want, but he is the only
hand to set a clock.'
It may be noticed in passing, that notwithstanding this
prediction, which, probably, the fair Cassandra had the full
means of accomplishing, it was not till the second council day
thereafter that the misdemeanours of the Jacobite clock-keeper
were passed over, and he was once more restored to his occupation
of fixing the town's time, and the provost's dinner-hour.
Upon the present occasion the dinner passed pleasantly away.
Summertrees talked and jested with the easy indifference of a man
who holds himself superior to his company. He was indeed an
important person, as was testified by his portly appearance; his
hat laced with POINT D'ESPAGNE; his coat and waistcoat once
richly embroidered, though now almost threadbare; the splendour
of his solitaire, and laced ruffles, though the first was sorely
creased, and the other sullied; not to forget the length of his
silver-hilted rapier. His wit, or rather humour, bordered on the
sarcastic, and intimated a discontented man; and although he
showed no displeasure when the provost attempted a repartee, yet
it seemed that he permitted it upon mere sufferance, as a
fencing-master, engaged with a pupil, will sometimes permit the
tyro to hit him, solely by way of encouragement. The laird's own
jests, in the meanwhile, were eminently successful, not only with
the provost and his lady, but with the red-cheeked and red-
ribboned servant-maid who waited at table, and who could scarce
perform her duty with propriety, so effectual were the explosions
of Summertrees. Alan Fairford alone was unmoved among all this
mirth; which was the less wonderful, that, besides the important
subject which occupied his thoughts, most of the laird's good
things consisted in sly allusions to little parochial or family
incidents, with which the Edinburgh visitor was totally
unacquainted: so that the laughter of the party sounded in his
ear like the idle crackling of thorns under the pot, with this
difference, that they did not accompany or second any such useful
operation as the boiling thereof.
Fairford was glad when the cloth was withdrawn; and when Provost
Crosbie (not without some points of advice from his lady touching
the precise mixture of the ingredients) had accomplished the
compounding of a noble bowl of punch, at which the old Jacobite's
eyes seemed to glisten, the glasses were pushed round it, filled,
and withdrawn each by its owner, when the provost emphatically
named the toast, 'The King,' with an important look to Fairford,
which seemed to say, You can have no doubt whom I mean, and
therefore there is no occasion to particularize the individual.
Summertrees repeated the toast, with a sly wink to the lady,
while Fairford drank his glass in silence.
'Well, young advocate,' said the landed proprietor, 'I am glad to
see there is some shame, if there is little honesty, left in the
Faculty. Some of your black gowns, nowadays, have as little of
the one as of the other.'
'At least, sir,' replied Mr. Fairford, 'I am so much of a lawyer
as not willingly to enter into disputes which I am not retained
to support--it would be but throwing away both time and
'Come, come,' said the lady, 'we will have no argument in this
house about Whig or Tory--the provost kens what he maun SAY, and
I ken what he should THINK; and for a' that has come and gane
yet, there may be a time coming when honest men may say what they
think, whether they be provosts or not.'
'D'ye hear that, provost?' said Summertrees; 'your wife's a
witch, man; you should nail a horseshoe on your chamber door--Ha,
This sally did not take quite so well as former efforts of the
laird's wit. The lady drew up, and the provost said, half aside,
'The sooth bourd is nae bourd. [The true joke is no joke.] You
will find the horseshoe hissing hot, Summertrees.'
'You can speak from experience, doubtless, provost,' answered
the laird; 'but I crave pardon--I need not tell Mrs. Crosbie that
I have all respect for the auld and honourable House of
'And good reason ye have, that are sae sib to them,' quoth the
lady, 'and kend weel baith them that are here, and them that are
'In troth, and ye may say sae, madam,' answered the laird; 'for
poor Harry Redgauntlet, that suffered at Carlisle, was hand and
glove with me; and yet we parted on short leave-taking.'
'Aye, Summertrees,' said the provost; 'that was when you played
Cheat-the-woodie, and gat the by-name of Pate-in-Peril. I wish
you would tell the story to my young friend here. He likes weel
to hear of a sharp trick, as most lawyers do.'
'I wonder at your want of circumspection, provost,' said the
laird,--much after the manner of a singer when declining to sing
the song that is quivering upon his tongue's very end. 'Ye
should mind there are some auld stories that cannot be ripped up
again with entire safety to all concerned. TACE is Latin for a
'I hope,' said the lady, 'you are not afraid of anything being
said out of this house to your prejudice, Summertrees? I have
heard the story before; but the oftener I hear it, the more
wonderful I think it.'
'Yes, madam; but it has been now a wonder of more than nine days,
and it is time it should be ended,' answered Maxwell.
Fairford now thought it civil to say, 'that he had often heard of
Mr. Maxwell's wonderful escape, and that nothing could be more
agreeable to him than to hear the right version of it.'
But Summertrees was obdurate, and refused to take up the time of
the company with such 'auld-warld nonsense.'
'Weel, weel,' said the provost, 'a wilful man maun hae his way.
What do your folk in the country think about the disturbances
that are beginning to spunk out in the colonies?'
'Excellent, sir, excellent. When things come to the worst; they
will mend; and to the worst they are coming. But as to that
nonsense ploy of mine, if ye insist on hearing the particulars,'
--said the laird, who began to be sensible that the period of
telling his story gracefully was gliding fast away.
'Nay,' said the provost, 'it was not for myself, but this young
'Aweel, what for should I not pleasure the young gentlemen? I'll
just drink to honest folk at hame and abroad, and deil ane else.
And then--but you have heard it before, Mrs. Crosbie?'
'Not so often as to think it tiresome, I assure ye,' said the
lady; and without further preliminaries, the laird addressed Alan
'Ye have heard of a year they call the FORTY-FIVE, young
gentleman; when the Southrons' heads made their last acquaintance
with Scottish claymores? There was a set of rampauging chields
in the country then that they called rebels--I never could find
out what for--Some men should have been wi' them that never came,
provost--Skye and the Bush aboon Traquair for that, ye ken.--
Weel, the job was settled at last. Cloured crowns were plenty,
and raxed necks came into fashion. I dinna mind very weel what I
was doing, swaggering about the country with dirk and pistol at
my belt for five or six months, or thereaway; but I had a weary
waking out of a wild dream. When did I find myself on foot in a
misty morning, with my hand, just for fear of going astray,
linked into a handcuff, as they call it, with poor Harry
Redgauntlet's fastened into the other; and there we were,
trudging along, with about a score more that had thrust their
horns ower deep in the bog, just like ourselves, and a sergeant's
guard of redcoats, with twa file of dragoons, to keep all quiet,
and give us heart to the road. Now, if this mode of travelling
was not very pleasant, the object did not particularly recommend
it; for, you understand, young man, that they did not trust these
poor rebel bodies to be tried by juries of their ain kindly
countrymen, though ane would have thought they would have found
Whigs enough in Scotland to hang us all; but they behoved to
trounce us away to be tried at Carlisle, where the folk had been
so frightened, that had you brought a whole Highland clan at once
into the court, they would have put their hands upon their een,
and cried, "hang them a'," just to be quit of them.'
'Aye, aye,' said the provost, 'that was a snell law, I grant ye.'
'Snell!' said the wife, 'snell! I wish they that passed it had
the jury I would recommend them to!'
'I suppose the young lawyer thinks it all very right,' said
Summertrees, looking at Fairford--"an OLD lawyer might have
thought otherwise. However, the cudgel was to be found to beat
the dog, and they chose a heavy one. Well, I kept my spirits
better than my companion, poor fellow; for I had the luck to have
neither wife nor child to think about, and Harry Redgauntlet had
both one and t'other.--You have seen Harry, Mrs. Crosbie?'
'In troth have I,' said she, with the sigh which we give to early
recollections, of which the object is no more. 'He was not so
tall as his brother, and a gentler lad every way. After he
married the great English fortune, folk called him less of a
Scottishman than Edward.'
'Folk lee'd, then,' said Summertrees; 'poor Harry was none of
your bold-speaking, ranting reivers, that talk about what they
did yesterday, or what they will do to-morrow; it was when
something was to do at the moment that you should have looked at
Harry Redgauntlet. I saw him at Culloden, when all was lost,
doing more than twenty of these bleezing braggarts, till the very
soldiers that took him cried not to hurt him--for all somebody's
orders, provost--for he was the bravest fellow of them all.
Weel, as I went by the side of Harry, and felt him raise my hand
up in the mist of the morning, as if he wished to wipe his eye--
for he had not that freedom without my leave--my very heart was
like to break for him, poor fellow. In the meanwhile, I had been
trying and trying to make my hand as fine as a lady's, to see if
I could slip it out of my iron wristband. You may think,' he
said, laying his broad bony hand on the table, 'I had work enough
with such a shoulder-of-mutton fist; but if you observe, the
shackle-bones are of the largest, and so they were obliged to
keep the handcuff wide; at length I got my hand slipped out, and
slipped in again; and poor Harry was sae deep in his ain
thoughts, I could not make him sensible what I was doing,'
'Why not?' said Alan Fairford, for whom the tale began to have
'Because there was an unchancy beast of a dragoon riding close
beside us on the other side; and if I had let him into my
confidence as well as Harry, it would not have been long before a
pistol-ball slapped through my bonnet.--Well, I had little for it
but to do the best I could for myself; and, by my conscience, it
was time, when the gallows was staring me in the face. We were
to halt for breakfast at Moffat. Well did I know the moors we
were marching over, having hunted and hawked on every acre of
ground in very different times. So I waited, you see, till I was
on the edge of Errickstane-brae--Ye ken the place they call the
Marquis's Beef-stand, because the Annandale loons used to put
their stolen cattle in there?'
Fairford intimated his ignorance,
'Ye must have seen it as ye came this way; it looks as if four
hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from
the dark hollow space between them. A d--d deep, black,
blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is, and goes straight down
from the roadside, as perpendicular as it can do, to be a
heathery brae. At the bottom, there is a small bit of a brook,
that you would think could hardly find, its way out from the
hills that are so closely jammed round it.'
'A bad pass, indeed,' said Alan.
'You may say that,' continued the laird. 'Bad as it was, sir, it
was my only chance; and though my very flesh creeped when I
thought what a rumble I was going to get, yet I kept my heart up
all the same. And so, just when we came on the edge of this
Beef-stand of the Johnstones, I slipped out my hand from the
handcuff, cried to Harry Gauntlet, 'Follow me!'--whisked under
the belly of the dragoon horse--flung my plaid round me with the
speed of lightning--threw myself on my side, for there was no
keeping my feet, and down the brae hurled I, over heather and
fern, and blackberries, like a barrel down Chalmer's Close, in
Auld Reekie. G--, sir, I never could help laughing when I think
how the scoundrel redcoats must have been bumbazed; for the mist
being, as I said, thick, they had little notion, I take it, that
they were on the verge of such a dilemma. I was half way down--
for rowing is faster wark than rinning--ere they could get at
their arms; and then it was flash, flash, flash--rap, rap, rap--
from the edge of the road; but my head was too jumbled to think
anything either of that or the hard knocks I got among the
stones. I kept my senses thegither, whilk has been thought
wonderful by all that ever saw the place; and I helped myself
with my hands as gallantly as I could, and to the bottom I came.
There I lay for half a moment; but the thoughts of a gallows is
worth all the salts and scent-bottles in the world for bringing a
man to himself. Up I sprang, like a four-year-auld colt. All
the hills were spinning round with me, like so many great big
humming-tops. But there was nae time to think of that neither;
more especially as the mist had risen a little with the firing.
I could see the villains, like sae mony craws on the edge of the
brae; and I reckon that they saw me; for some of the loons were
beginning to crawl down the hill, but liker auld wives in their
red cloaks, coming frae a field preaching, than such a souple lad
as I was. Accordingly, they soon began to stop and load their
pieces. Good-e'en to you, gentlemen, thought I, if that is to be
the gate of it. If you have any further word with me, you maun
come as far as Carriefraw-gauns. And so off I set, and never
buck went faster ower the braes than I did; and I never stopped
till I had put three waters, reasonably deep, as the season was
rainy, half a dozen mountains, and a few thousand acres of the
worst moss and ling in Scotland, betwixt me and my friends the
'It was that job which got you the name of Pate-in-Peril,' said
the provost, filling the glasses, and exclaiming with great
emphasis, while his guest, much animated with the recollections
which the exploit excited, looked round with an air of triumph
for sympathy and applause,--'Here is to your good health; and may
you never put your neck in such a venture again.' [The escape of
a Jacobite gentleman while on the road to Carlisle to take his
trial for his share in the affair of 1745, took place at
Errickstane-brae, in the singular manner ascribed to the Laird of
Summertrees in the text. The author has seen in his youth the
gentleman to whom the adventure actually happened. The distance
of time makes some indistinctness of recollection, but it is
believed the real name was MacEwen or MacMillan.]
'Humph!--I do not know,' answered Summertrees. 'I am not like to
be tempted with another opportunity--[An old gentleman of the
author's name was engaged in the affair of 1715, and with some
difficulty was saved from the gallows by the intercession of the
Duchess of Buccleugh and Monmouth. Her Grace, who maintained a
good deal of authority over her clan, sent for the object of her
intercession, and warning him of the risk which he had run, and
the trouble she had taken on his account, wound up her lecture by
intimating that in case of such disloyalty again, he was not to
expect her interest in his favour. 'An it please your Grace,'
said the stout old Tory, 'I fear I am too old to see another
opportunity.'] Yet who knows?' And then he made a deep pause.
'May I ask what became of your friend, sir?' said Alan Fairford.
'Ah, poor Harry!' said Summertrees. 'I'll tell you what, sir,
it takes time to make up one's mind to such a venture, as my
friend the provost calls it; and I was told by Neil Maclean,--who
was next file to us, but had the luck to escape the gallows by
some sleight-of-hand trick or other,--that, upon my breaking off,
poor Harry stood like one motionless, although all our brethren
in captivity made as much tumult as they could, to distract the
attention of the soldiers. And run he did at last; but he did
not know the ground, and either from confusion, or because he
judged the descent altogether perpendicular, he fled up the hill
to the left, instead of going down at once, and so was easily
pursued and taken. If he had followed my example, he would have
found enough among the shepherds to hide him, and feed him, as
they did me, on bearmeal scenes and braxy mutton, till better
days came round again.' [BRAXY MUTTON.--The flesh of sheep that
has died of disease, not by the hand of the butcher. In pastoral
countries it is used as food with little scruple.]
'He suffered then for his share in the insurrection?' said Alan.
'You may swear that,' said Summertrees. 'His blood was too red
to be spared when that sort of paint was in request. He
suffered, sir, as you call it--that is, he was murdered in cold
blood, with many a pretty fellow besides. Well, we may have our
day next--what is fristed is not forgiven--they think us all dead
and buried--but'--Here he filled his glass, and muttering some
indistinct denunciations, drank it off, and assumed his usual
manner, which had been a little disturbed towards the end of the
'What became of Mr. Redgauntlet's child?' said Fairford.