Part 1 out of 5
This eBook was produced by David Widger [firstname.lastname@example.org]
By Sir Walter Scott
And hurry, hurry, off they rode,
As fast as fast might be;
Hurra, hurra, the dead can ride,
Dost fear to ride with me?
There is one advantage in an accumulation of evils, differing in cause
and character, that the distraction which they afford by their
contradictory operation prevents the patient from being overwhelmed under
either. I was deeply grieved at my separation from Miss Vernon, yet not
so much so as I should have been, had not my father's apprehended
distresses forced themselves on my attention; and I was distressed by the
news of Mr. Tresham, yet less so than if they had fully occupied my mind.
I was neither a false lover nor an unfeeling son; but man can give but a
certain portion of distressful emotions to the causes which demand them;
and if two operate at once, our sympathy, like the funds of a compounding
bankrupt, can only be divided between them. Such were my reflections when
I gained my apartment--it seems, from the illustration, they already
began to have a twang of commerce in them.
I set myself seriously to consider your father's letter. It was not very
distinct, and referred for several particulars to Owen, whom I was
entreated to meet with as soon as possible at a Scotch town called
Glasgow; being informed, moreover, that my old friend was to be heard of
at Messrs. MacVittie, MacFin, and Company, merchants in the Gallowgate of
the said town. It likewise alluded to several letters,--which, as it
appeared to me, must have miscarried or have been intercepted, and
complained of my obdurate silence, in terms which would have, been highly
unjust, had my letters reached their purposed destination. I was amazed
as I read. That the spirit of Rashleigh walked around me, and conjured up
these doubts and difficulties by which I was surrounded, I could not
doubt for one instant; yet it was frightful to conceive the extent of
combined villany and power which he must have employed in the
perpetration of his designs. Let me do myself justice in one respect. The
evil of parting from Miss Vernon, however distressing it might in other
respects and at another time have appeared to me, sunk into a subordinate
consideration when I thought of the dangers impending over my father. I
did not myself set a high estimation on wealth, and had the affectation
of most young men of lively imagination, who suppose that they can better
dispense with the possession of money, than resign their time and
faculties to the labour necessary to acquire it. But in my father's case,
I knew that bankruptcy would be considered as an utter and irretrievable
disgrace, to which life would afford no comfort, and death the speediest
and sole relief.
My mind, therefore, was bent on averting this catastrophe, with an
intensity which the interest could not have produced had it referred to
my own fortunes; and the result of my deliberation was a firm resolution
to depart from Osbaldistone Hall the next day and wend my way without
loss of time to meet Owen at Glasgow. I did not hold it expedient to
intimate my departure to my uncle, otherwise than by leaving a letter of
thanks for his hospitality, assuring him that sudden and important
business prevented my offering them in person. I knew the blunt old
knight would readily excuse ceremony; and I had such a belief in the
extent and decided character of Rashleigh's machinations, that I had some
apprehension of his having provided means to intercept a journey which
was undertaken with a view to disconcert them, if my departure were
publicly announced at Osbaldistone Hall.
I therefore determined to set off on my journey with daylight on the
ensuing morning, and to gain the neighbouring kingdom of Scotland before
any idea of my departure was entertained at the Hall. But one impediment
of consequence was likely to prevent that speed which was the soul of my
expedition. I did not know the shortest, nor indeed any road to Glasgow;
and as, in the circumstances in which I stood, despatch was of the
greatest consequence, I determined to consult Andrew Fairservice on the
subject, as the nearest and most authentic authority within my reach.
Late as it was, I set off with the intention of ascertaining this
important point, and after a few minutes' walk reached the dwelling of
Andrew's dwelling was situated at no great distance from the exterior
wall of the garden--a snug comfortable Northumbrian cottage, built of
stones roughly dressed with the hammer, and having the windows and doors
decorated with huge heavy architraves, or lintels, as they are called, of
hewn stone, and its roof covered with broad grey flags, instead of
slates, thatch, or tiles. A jargonelle pear-tree at one end of the
cottage, a rivulet and flower-plot of a rood in extent in front, and a
kitchen-garden behind; a paddock for a cow, and a small field, cultivated
with several crops of grain, rather for the benefit of the cottager than
for sale, announced the warm and cordial comforts which Old England, even
at her most northern extremity, extends to her meanest inhabitants.
As I approached the mansion of the sapient Andrew, I heard a noise,
which, being of a nature peculiarly solemn, nasal, and prolonged, led me
to think that Andrew, according to the decent and meritorious custom of
his countrymen, had assembled some of his neighbours to join in family
exercise, as he called evening devotion. Andrew had indeed neither wife,
child, nor female inmate in his family. "The first of his trade," he
said, "had had eneugh o'thae cattle." But, notwithstanding, he sometimes
contrived to form an audience for himself out of the neighbouring Papists
and Church-of-Englandmen--brands, as he expressed it, snatched out of the
burning, on whom he used to exercise his spiritual gifts, in defiance
alike of Father Vaughan, Father Docharty, Rashleigh, and all the world of
Catholics around him, who deemed his interference on such occasions an
act of heretical interloping. I conceived it likely, therefore, that the
well-disposed neighbours might have assembled to hold some chapel of ease
of this nature. The noise, however, when I listened to it more
accurately, seemed to proceed entirely from the lungs of the said Andrew;
and when I interrupted it by entering the house, I found Fairservice
alone, combating as he best could, with long words and hard names, and
reading aloud, for the purpose of his own edification, a volume of
"I was just taking a spell," said he, laying aside the huge folio volume
as I entered, "of the worthy Doctor Lightfoot."
"Lightfoot!" I replied, looking at the ponderous volume with some
surprise; "surely your author was unhappily named."
"Lightfoot was his name, sir; a divine he was, and another kind of a
divine than they hae now-adays. Always, I crave your pardon for keeping
ye standing at the door, but having been mistrysted (gude preserve us!)
with ae bogle the night already, I was dubious o' opening the yett till I
had gaen through the e'ening worship; and I had just finished the fifth
chapter of Nehemiah--if that winna gar them keep their distance, I wotna
"Trysted with a bogle!" said I; "what do you mean by that, Andrew?"
"I said mistrysted," replied Andrew; "that is as muckle as to say, fley'd
wi' a ghaist--Gude preserve us, I say again!"
"Flay'd by a ghost, Andrew! how am I to understand that?"
"I did not say flay'd," replied Andrew, "but _fley'd,_--that is, I got a
fleg, and was ready to jump out o' my skin, though naebody offered to
whirl it aff my body as a man wad bark a tree."
"I beg a truce to your terrors in the present case, Andrew, and I wish to
know whether you can direct me the nearest way to a town in your country
of Scotland, called Glasgow?"
"A town ca'd Glasgow!" echoed Andrew Fairservice. "Glasgow's a ceety,
man.--And is't the way to Glasgow ye were speering if I ken'd?--What suld
ail me to ken it?--it's no that dooms far frae my ain parish of
Dreepdaily, that lies a bittock farther to the west. But what may your
honour be gaun to Glasgow for?"
"Particular business," replied I.
"That's as muckle as to say, Speer nae questions, and I'll tell ye nae
lees.--To Glasgow?"--he made a short pause--"I am thinking ye wad be the
better o' some ane to show you the road."
"Certainly, if I could meet with any person going that way."
"And your honour, doubtless, wad consider the time and trouble?"
"Unquestionably--my business is pressing, and if you can find any guide
to accompany me, I'll pay him handsomely."
"This is no a day to speak o' carnal matters," said Andrew, casting his
eyes upwards; "but if it werena Sabbath at e'en, I wad speer what ye wad
be content to gie to ane that wad bear ye pleasant company on the road,
and tell ye the names of the gentlemen's and noblemen's seats and
castles, and count their kin to ye?"
"I tell you, all I want to know is the road I must travel; I will pay the
fellow to his satisfaction--I will give him anything in reason."
"Onything," replied Andrew, "is naething; and this lad that I am speaking
o' kens a' the short cuts and queer by-paths through the hills, and"--
"I have no time to talk about it, Andrew; do you make the bargain for me
your own way."
"Aha! that's speaking to the purpose," answered Andrew.--"I am thinking,
since sae be that sae it is, I'll be the lad that will guide you mysell."
"You, Andrew?--how will you get away from your employment?"
"I tell'd your honour a while syne, that it was lang that I hae been
thinking o' flitting, maybe as lang as frae the first year I came to
Osbaldistone Hall; and now I am o' the mind to gang in gude earnest--
better soon as syne--better a finger aff as aye wagging."
"You leave your service, then?--but will you not lose your wages?"
"Nae doubt there will be a certain loss; but then I hae siller o' the
laird's in my hands that I took for the apples in the auld orchyard--and
a sair bargain the folk had that bought them--a wheen green trash--and
yet Sir Hildebrand's as keen to hae the siller (that is, the steward is
as pressing about it) as if they had been a' gowden pippins--and then
there's the siller for the seeds--I'm thinking the wage will be in a
manner decently made up.--But doubtless your honour will consider my risk
of loss when we win to Glasgow--and ye'll be for setting out forthwith?"
"By day-break in the morning," I answered.
"That's something o' the suddenest--whare am I to find a naig?--Stay--I
ken just the beast that will answer me."
"At five in the morning, then, Andrew, you will meet me at the head of
"Deil a fear o' me (that I suld say sae) missing my tryste," replied
Andrew, very briskly; "and if I might advise, we wad be aff twa hours
earlier. I ken the way, dark or light, as weel as blind Ralph Ronaldson,
that's travelled ower every moor in the country-side, and disna ken the
colour of a heather-cowe when a's dune."
I highly approved of Andrew's amendment on my original proposal, and we
agreed to meet at the place appointed at three in the morning. At once,
however, a reflection came across the mind of my intended travelling
"The bogle! the bogle! what if it should come out upon us?--I downa
forgather wi' thae things twice in the four-and-twenty hours."
"Pooh! pooh!" I exclaimed, breaking away from him, "fear nothing from the
next world--the earth contains living fiends, who can act for themselves
without assistance, were the whole host that fell with Lucifer to return
to aid and abet them."
With these words, the import of which was suggested by my own situation,
I left Andrew's habitation, and returned to the Hall.
I made the few preparations which were necessary for my proposed journey,
examined and loaded my pistols, and then threw myself on my bed, to
obtain, if possible, a brief sleep before the fatigue of a long and
anxious journey. Nature, exhausted by the tumultuous agitations of the
day, was kinder to me than I expected, and I stink into a deep and
profound slumber, from which, however, I started as the old clock struck
two from a turret adjoining to my bedchamber. I instantly arose, struck a
light, wrote the letter I proposed to leave for my uncle, and leaving
behind me such articles of dress as were cumbrous in carriage, I
deposited the rest of my wardrobe in my valise, glided down stairs, and
gained the stable without impediment. Without being quite such a groom as
any of my cousins, I had learned at Osbaldistone Hall to dress and saddle
my own horse, and in a few minutes I was mounted and ready for my sally.
As I paced up the old avenue, on which the waning moon threw its light
with a pale and whitish tinge, I looked back with a deep and boding sigh
towards the walls which contained Diana Vernon, under the despondent
impression that we had probably parted to meet no more. It was
impossible, among the long and irregular lines of Gothic casements, which
now looked ghastly white in the moonlight, to distinguish that of the
apartment which she inhabited. "She is lost to me already," thought I, as
my eye wandered over the dim and indistinguishable intricacies of
architecture offered by the moonlight view of Osbaldistone Hall--"She is
lost to me already, ere I have left the place which she inhabits! What
hope is there of my maintaining any correspondence with her, when leagues
shall lie between?"
While I paused in a reverie of no very pleasing nature, the "iron tongue
of time told three upon the drowsy ear of night," and reminded me of the
necessity of keeping my appointment with a person of a less interesting
description and appearance--Andrew Fairservice.
At the gate of the avenue I found a horseman stationed in the shadow of
the wall, but it was not until I had coughed twice, and then called
"Andrew," that the horticulturist replied, "I'se warrant it's Andrew."
"Lead the way, then," said I, "and be silent if you can, till we are past
the hamlet in the valley."
Andrew led the way accordingly, and at a much brisker pace than I would
have recommended.--and so well did he obey my injunctions of keeping
silence, that he would return no answer to my repeated inquiries into the
cause of such unnecessary haste. Extricating ourselves by short cuts,
known to Andrew, from the numerous stony lanes and by-paths which
intersected each other in the vicinity of the Hall, we reached the open
heath and riding swiftly across it, took our course among the barren
hills which divide England from Scotland on what are called the Middle
Marches. The way, or rather the broken track which we occupied, was a
happy interchange of bog and shingles; nevertheless, Andrew relented
nothing of his speed, but trotted manfully forward at the rate of eight
or ten miles an hour. I was both surprised and provoked at the fellow's
obstinate persistence, for we made abrupt ascents and descents over
ground of a very break-neck character, and traversed the edge of
precipices, where a slip of the horse's feet would have consigned the
rider to certain death. The moon, at best, afforded a dubious and
imperfect light; but in some places we were so much under the shade of
the mountain as to be in total darkness, and then I could only trace
Andrew by the clatter of his horse's feet, and the fire which they struck
from the flints. At first, this rapid motion, and the attention which,
for the sake of personal safety, I was compelled to give to the conduct
of my horse, was of service, by forcibly diverting my thoughts from the
various painful reflections which must otherwise have pressed on my mind.
But at length, after hallooing repeatedly to Andrew to ride slower, I
became seriously incensed at his impudent perseverance in refusing either
to obey or to reply to me. My anger was, however, quite impotent. I
attempted once or twice to get up alongside of my self-willed guide, with
the purpose of knocking him off his horse with the butt-end of my whip;
but Andrew was better mounted than I, and either the spirit of the animal
which he bestrode, or more probably some presentiment of my kind
intentions towards him, induced him to quicken his pace whenever I
attempted to make up to him. On the other hand, I was compelled to exert
my spurs to keep him in sight, for without his guidance I was too well
aware that I should never find my way through the howling wilderness
which we now traversed at such an unwonted pace. I was so angry at
length, that I threatened to have recourse to my pistols, and send a
bullet after the Hotspur Andrew, which should stop his fiery-footed
career, if he did not abate it of his own accord. Apparently this threat
made some impression on the tympanum of his ear, however deaf to all my
milder entreaties; for he relaxed his pace upon hearing it, and,
suffering me to close up to him, observed, "There wasna muckle sense in
riding at sic a daft-like gate."
"And what did you mean by doing so at all, you self-willed scoundrel?"
replied I; for I was in a towering passion,--to which, by the way,
nothing contributes more than the having recently undergone a spice of
personal fear, which, like a few drops of water flung on a glowing fire,
is sure to inflame the ardour which it is insufficient to quench.
"What's your honour's wull?" replied Andrew, with impenetrable gravity.
"My will, you rascal?--I have been roaring to you this hour to ride
slower, and you have never so much as answered me--Are you drunk or mad
to behave so?"
"An it like your honour, I am something dull o' hearing; and I'll no deny
but I might have maybe taen a stirrup-cup at parting frae the auld
bigging whare I hae dwelt sae lang; and having naebody to pledge, nae
doubt I was obliged to do mysell reason, or else leave the end o' the
brandy stoup to thae papists--and that wad be a waste, as your honour
This might be all very true,--and my circumstances required that I should
be on good terms with my guide; I therefore satisfied myself with
requiring of him to take his directions from me in future concerning the
rate of travelling.
Andrew, emboldened by the mildness of my tone, elevated his own into the
pedantic, conceited octave, which was familiar to him on most occasions.
"Your honour winna persuade me, and naebody shall persuade me, that it's
either halesome or prudent to tak the night air on thae moors without a
cordial o' clow-gilliflower water, or a tass of brandy or aquavitae, or
sic-like creature-comfort. I hae taen the bent ower the Otterscrape-rigg
a hundred times, day and night, and never could find the way unless I had
taen my morning; mair by token that I had whiles twa bits o' ankers o'
brandy on ilk side o' me."--
"In other words, Andrew," said I, "you were a smuggler--how does a man of
your strict principles reconcile yourself to cheat the revenue?"
"It's a mere spoiling o' the Egyptians," replied Andrew; "puir auld
Scotland suffers eneugh by thae blackguard loons o' excisemen and
gaugers, that hae come down on her like locusts since the sad and
sorrowfu' Union; it's the part of a kind son to bring her a soup o'
something that will keep up her auld heart,--and that will they nill
they, the ill-fa'ard thieves!"
Upon more particular inquiry, I found Andrew had frequently travelled
these mountain-paths as a smuggler, both before and after his
establishment at Osbaldistone Hall--a circumstance which was so far of
importance to me, as it proved his capacity as a guide, notwithstanding
the escapade of which he had been guilty at his outset, Even now, though
travelling at a more moderate pace, the stirrup-cup, or whatever else had
such an effect in stimulating Andrew's motions, seemed not totally to
have lost its influence. He often cast a nervous and startled look behind
him; and whenever the road seemed at all practicable, showed symptoms of
a desire to accelerate his pace, as if he feared some pursuit from the
rear. These appearances of alarm gradually diminished as we reached the
top of a high bleak ridge, which ran nearly east and west for about a
mile, with a very steep descent on either side. The pale beams of the
morning were now enlightening the horizon, when Andrew cast a look behind
him, and not seeing the appearance of a living being on the moors which
he had travelled, his hard features gradually unbent, as he first
whistled, then sung, with much glee and little melody, the end of one of
his native songs--
"Jenny, lass! I think I hae her
Ower the muir amang the heather,
All their clan shall never get her."
He patted at the same time the neck of the horse which had carried him so
gallantly; and my attention being directed by that action to the animal,
I instantly recognised a favourite mare of Thorncliff Osbaldistone. "How
is this, sir?" said I sternly; "that is Mr. Thorncliff's mare!"
"I'll no say but she may aiblins hae been his honour's Squire
Thorncliff's in her day--but she's mine now."
"You have stolen her, you rascal."
"Na, na, sir--nae man can wyte me wi' theft. The thing stands this gate,
ye see. Squire Thorncliff borrowed ten punds o' me to gang to York Races
--deil a boddle wad he pay me back again, and spake o' raddling my banes,
as he ca'd it, when I asked him but for my ain back again;--now I think
it will riddle him or he gets his horse ower the Border again--unless he
pays me plack and bawbee, he sall never see a hair o' her tail. I ken a
canny chield at Loughmaben, a bit writer lad, that will put me in the way
to sort him. Steal the mear! na, na, far be the sin o' theft frae Andrew
Fairservice--I have just arrested her _jurisdictionis fandandy causey._
Thae are bonny writer words--amaist like the language o' huz gardeners
and other learned men--it's a pity they're sae dear;--thae three words
were a' that Andrew got for a lang law-plea and four ankers o' as gude
brandy as was e'er coupit ower craig--Hech, sirs! but law's a dear
"You are likely to find it much dearer than you suppose, Andrew, if you
proceed in this mode of paying yourself, without legal authority."
"Hout tout, we're in Scotland now (be praised for't!) and I can find
baith friends and lawyers, and judges too, as weel as ony Osbaldistone o'
them a'. My mither's mither's third cousin was cousin to the Provost o'
Dumfries, and he winna see a drap o' her blude wranged. Hout awa! the
laws are indifferently administered here to a' men alike; it's no like on
yon side, when a chield may be whuppit awa' wi' ane o' Clerk Jobson's
warrants, afore he kens where he is. But they will hae little enough law
amang them by and by, and that is ae grand reason that I hae gi'en them
I was highly provoked at the achievement of Andrew, and considered it as
a hard fate, which a second time threw me into collision with a person of
such irregular practices. I determined, however, to buy the mare of him,
when he should reach the end of our journey, and send her back to my
cousin at Osbaldistone Hall; and with this purpose of reparation I
resolved to make my uncle acquainted from the next post-town. It was
needless, I thought, to quarrel with Andrew in the meantime, who had,
after all, acted not very unnaturally for a person in his circumstances.
I therefore smothered my resentment, and asked him what he meant by his
last expressions, that there would be little law in Northumberland by and
"Law!" said Andrew, "hout, ay--there will be club-law eneugh. The priests
and the Irish officers, and thae papist cattle that hae been sodgering
abroad, because they durstna bide at hame, are a' fleeing thick in
Northumberland e'enow; and thae corbies dinna gather without they smell
carrion. As sure as ye live, his honour Sir Hildebrand is gaun to stick
his horn in the bog--there's naething but gun and pistol, sword and
dagger, amang them--and they'll be laying on, I'se warrant; for they're
fearless fules the young Osbaldistone squires, aye craving your honour's
This speech recalled to my memory some suspicions that I myself had
entertained, that the Jacobites were on the eve of some desperate
enterprise. But, conscious it did not become me to be a spy on my uncle's
words and actions, I had rather avoided than availed myself of any
opportunity which occurred of remarking upon the signs of the times.--
Andrew Fairservice felt no such restraint, and doubtless spoke very truly
in stating his conviction that some desperate plots were in agitation, as
a reason which determined his resolution to leave the Hall.
"The servants," he stated, "with the tenantry and others, had been all
regularly enrolled and mustered, and they wanted me to take arms also.
But I'll ride in nae siccan troop--they little ken'd Andrew that asked
him. I'll fight when I like mysell, but it sall neither be for the hure
o' Babylon, nor any hure in England."
Where longs to fall yon rifted spire,
As weary of the insulting air,--
The poet's thoughts, the warrior's fire,
The lover's sighs, are sleeping there.
At the first Scotch town which we reached, my guide sought out his friend
and counsellor, to consult upon the proper and legal means of converting
into his own lawful property the "bonny creature," which was at present
his own only by one of those sleight-of-hand arrangements which still
sometimes took place in that once lawless district. I was somewhat
diverted with the dejection of his looks on his return. He had, it seems,
been rather too communicative to his confidential friend, the attorney;
and learned with great dismay, in return for his unsuspecting frankness,
that Mr. Touthope had, during his absence, been appointed clerk to the
peace of the county, and was bound to communicate to justice all such
achievements as that of his friend Mr. Andrew Fairservice. There was a
necessity, this alert member of the police stated, for arresting the
horse, and placing him in Bailie Trumbull's stable, therein to remain at
livery, at the rate of twelve shillings (Scotch) per diem, until the
question of property was duly tried and debated. He even talked as if, in
strict and rigorous execution of his duty, he ought to detain honest
Andrew himself; but on my guide's most piteously entreating his
forbearance, he not only desisted from this proposal, but made a present
to Andrew of a broken-winded and spavined pony, in order to enable him to
pursue his journey. It is true, he qualified this act of generosity by
exacting from poor Andrew an absolute cession of his right and interest
in the gallant palfrey of Thorncliff Osbaldistone--a transference which
Mr. Touthope represented as of very little consequence, since his
unfortunate friend, as he facetiously observed, was likely to get nothing
of the mare excepting the halter.
Andrew seemed woeful and disconcerted, as I screwed out of him these
particulars; for his northern pride was cruelly pinched by being
compelled to admit that attorneys were attorneys on both sides of the
Tweed; and that Mr. Clerk Touthope was not a farthing more sterling coin
than Mr. Clerk Jobson.
"It wadna hae vexed him half sae muckle to hae been cheated out o' what
might amaist be said to be won with the peril o' his craig, had it
happened amang the Inglishers; but it was an unco thing to see hawks pike
out hawks' e'en, or ae kindly Scot cheat anither. But nae doubt things
were strangely changed in his country sin' the sad and sorrowfu' Union;"
an event to which Andrew referred every symptom of depravity or
degeneracy which he remarked among his countrymen, more especially the
inflammation of reckonings, the diminished size of pint-stoups, and other
grievances, which he pointed out to me during our journey.
For my own part, I held myself, as things had turned out, acquitted of
all charge of the mare, and wrote to my uncle the circumstances under
which she was carried into Scotland, concluding with informing him that
she was in the hands of justice, and her worthy representatives, Bailie
Trumbull and Mr. Clerk Touthope, to whom I referred him for farther
particulars. Whether the property returned to the Northumbrian
fox-hunter, or continued to bear the person of the Scottish attorney, it
is unnecessary for me at present to say.
We now pursued our journey to the north-westward, at a rate much slower
than that at which we had achieved our nocturnal retreat from England.
One chain of barren and uninteresting hills succeeded another, until the
more fertile vale of Clyde opened upon us; and, with such despatch as we
might, we gained the town, or, as my guide pertinaciously termed it, the
city, of Glasgow. Of late years, I understand, it has fully deserved the
name, which, by a sort of political second sight, my guide assigned to
it. An extensive and increasing trade with the West Indies and American
colonies, has, if I am rightly informed, laid the foundation of wealth
and prosperity, which, if carefully strengthened and built upon, may one
day support an immense fabric of commercial prosperity; but in the
earlier time of which I speak, the dawn of this splendour had not arisen.
The Union had, indeed, opened to Scotland the trade of the English
colonies; but, betwixt want of capital, and the national jealousy of the
English, the merchants of Scotland were as yet excluded, in a great
measure, from the exercise of the privileges which that memorable treaty
conferred on them. Glasgow lay on the wrong side of the island for
participating in the east country or continental trade, by which the
trifling commerce as yet possessed by Scotland chiefly supported itself.
Yet, though she then gave small promise of the commercial eminence to
which, I am informed, she seems now likely one day to attain, Glasgow, as
the principal central town of the western district of Scotland, was a
place of considerable rank and importance. The broad and brimming Clyde,
which flows so near its walls, gave the means of an inland navigation of
some importance. Not only the fertile plains in its immediate
neighbourhood, but the districts of Ayr and Dumfries regarded Glasgow as
their capital, to which they transmitted their produce, and received in
return such necessaries and luxuries as their consumption required.
The dusky mountains of the western Highlands often sent forth wilder
tribes to frequent the marts of St. Mungo's favourite city. Hordes of
wild shaggy, dwarfish cattle and ponies, conducted by Highlanders, as
wild, as shaggy, and sometimes as dwarfish, as the animals they had in
charge, often traversed the streets of Glasgow. Strangers gazed with
surprise on the antique and fantastic dress, and listened to the unknown
and dissonant sounds of their language, while the mountaineers, armed,
even while engaged in this peaceful occupation, with musket and pistol,
sword, dagger, and target, stared with astonishment on the articles of
luxury of which they knew not the use, and with an avidity which seemed
somewhat alarming on the articles which they knew and valued. It is
always with unwillingness that the Highlander quits his deserts, and at
this early period it was like tearing a pine from its rock, to plant him
elsewhere. Yet even then the mountain glens were over-peopled, although
thinned occasionally by famine or by the sword, and many of their
inhabitants strayed down to Glasgow--there formed settlements--there
sought and found employment, although different, indeed, from that of
their native hills. This supply of a hardy and useful population was of
consequence to the prosperity of the place, furnished the means of
carrying on the few manufactures which the town already boasted, and laid
the foundation of its future prosperity.
The exterior of the city corresponded with these promising circumstances.
The principal street was broad and important, decorated with public
buildings, of an architecture rather striking than correct in point of
taste, and running between rows of tall houses, built of stone, the
fronts of which were occasionally richly ornamented with mason-work--a
circumstance which gave the street an imposing air of dignity and
grandeur, of which most English towns are in some measure deprived, by
the slight, insubstantial, and perishable quality and appearance of the
bricks with which they are constructed.
In the western metropolis of Scotland, my guide and I arrived on a
Saturday evening, too late to entertain thoughts of business of any kind.
We alighted at the door of a jolly hostler-wife, as Andrew called her,--
the Ostelere of old father Chaucer,--by whom we were civilly received.
On the following morning the bells pealed from every steeple, announcing
the sanctity of the day. Notwithstanding, however, what I had heard of
the severity with which the Sabbath is observed in Scotland, my first
impulse, not unnaturally, was to seek out Owen; but on inquiry I found
that my attempt would be in vain, "until kirk time was ower." Not only
did my landlady and guide jointly assure me that "there wadna be a living
soul either in the counting-house or dwelling-house of Messrs. MacVittie,
MacFin, and Company," to which Owen's letter referred me, but, moreover,
"far less would I find any of the partners there. They were serious men,
and wad be where a' gude Christians ought to be at sic a time, and that
was in the Barony Laigh Kirk."*
* [The Laigh Kirk or Crypt of the Cathedral of Glasgow served for more *
than two centuries as the church of the Barony Parish, and, for a time,
was * converted into a burial-place. In the restorations of this grand
building * the crypt was cleared out, and is now admired as one of the
richest specimens * of Early English architecture existing in Scotland.]
Andrew Fairservice, whose disgust at the law of his country had
fortunately not extended itself to the other learned professions of his
native land, now sung forth the praises of the preacher who was to
perform the duty, to which my hostess replied with many loud amens. The
result was, that I determined to go to this popular place of worship, as
much with the purpose of learning, if possible, whether Owen had arrived
in Glasgow, as with any great expectation of edification. My hopes were
exalted by the assurance, that if Mr. Ephraim MacVittie (worthy man) were
in the land of life, he would surely honour the Barony Kirk that day with
his presence; and if he chanced to have a stranger within his gates,
doubtless he would bring him to the duty along with him. This probability
determined my motions, and under the escort of my faithful Andrew, I set
forth for the Barony Kirk.
On this occasion, however, I had little need of his guidance; for the
crowd, which forced its way up a steep and rough-paved street, to hear
the most popular preacher in the west of Scotland, would of itself have
swept me along with it. On attaining the summit of the hill, we turned to
the left, and a large pair of folding doors admitted us, amongst others,
into the open and extensive burying-place which surrounds the Minster or
Cathedral Church of Glasgow. The pile is of a gloomy and massive, rather
than of an elegant, style of Gothic architecture; but its peculiar
character is so strongly preserved, and so well suited with the
accompaniments that surround it, that the impression of the first view
was awful and solemn in the extreme. I was indeed so much struck, that I
resisted for a few minutes all Andrew's efforts to drag me into the
interior of the building, so deeply was I engaged in surveying its
Situated in a populous and considerable town, this ancient and massive
pile has the appearance of the most sequestered solitude. High walls
divide it from the buildings of the city on one side; on the other it is
bounded by a ravine, at the bottom of which, and invisible to the eye,
murmurs a wandering rivulet, adding, by its gentle noise, to the imposing
solemnity of the scene. On the opposite side of the ravine rises a steep
bank, covered with fir-trees closely planted, whose dusky shade extends
itself over the cemetery with an appropriate and gloomy effect. The
churchyard itself had a peculiar character; for though in reality
extensive, it is small in proportion to the number of respectable
inhabitants who are interred within it, and whose graves are almost all
covered with tombstones. There is therefore no room for the long rank
grass, which, in most cases, partially clothes the surface of those
retreats where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at
rest. The broad flat monumental stones are placed so close to each other,
that the precincts appear to be flagged with them, and, though roofed
only by the heavens, resemble the floor of one of our old English
churches, where the pavement is covered with sepulchral inscriptions. The
contents of these sad records of mortality, the vain sorrows which they
preserve, the stern lesson which they teach of the nothingness of
humanity, the extent of ground which they so closely cover, and their
uniform and melancholy tenor, reminded me of the roll of the prophet,
which was "written within and without, and there was written therein
lamentations and mourning and woe."
The Cathedral itself corresponds in impressive majesty with these
accompaniments. We feel that its appearance is heavy, yet that the effect
produced would be destroyed were it lighter or more ornamental. It is the
only metropolitan church in Scotland, excepting, as I am informed, the
Cathedral of Kirkwall, in the Orkneys, which remained uninjured at the
Reformation; and Andrew Fairservice, who saw with great pride the effect
which it produced upon my mind, thus accounted for its preservation--"Ah!
it's a brave kirk--nane o' yere whig-maleeries and curliewurlies and
opensteek hems about it--a' solid, weel-jointed mason-wark, that will
stand as lang as the warld, keep hands and gunpowther aff it. It had
amaist a douncome lang syne at the Reformation, when they pu'd doun the
kirks of St. Andrews and Perth, and thereawa', to cleanse them o' Papery,
and idolatry, and image worship, and surplices, and sic like rags o' the
muckle hure that sitteth on seven hills, as if ane wasna braid eneugh for
her auld hinder end. Sae the commons o' Renfrew, and o' the Barony, and
the Gorbals and a' about, they behoved to come into Glasgow no fair
morning, to try their hand on purging the High Kirk o' Popish
nick-nackets. But the townsmen o' Glasgow, they were feared their auld
edifice might slip the girths in gaun through siccan rough physic, sae
they rang the common bell, and assembled the train-bands wi' took o'
drum. By good luck, the worthy James Rabat was Dean o' Guild that year--
(and a gude mason he was himself, made him the keener to keep up the auld
bigging)--and the trades assembled, and offered downright battle to the
commons, rather than their kirk should coup the crans as others had done
elsewhere. It wasna for luve o' Paperie--na, na!--nane could ever say
that o' the trades o' Glasgow--Sae they sune came to an agreement to take
a' the idolatrous statues of sants (sorrow be on them) out o' their
neuks--and sae the bits o' stane idols were broken in pieces by Scripture
warrant, and flung into the Molendinar burn, and the auld kirk stood as
crouse as a cat when the flaes are kaimed aff her, and a' body was alike
pleased. And I hae heard wise folk say, that if the same had been done in
ilka kirk in Scotland, the Reform wad just hae been as pure as it is e'en
now, and we wad hae mair Christian-like kirks; for I hae been sae lang in
England, that naething will drived out o' my head, that the dog-kennel at
Osbaldistone Hall is better than mony a house o' God in Scotland."
Thus saying, Andrew led the way into the place of worship.
--It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to the trembling heart.
Notwithstanding the impatience of my conductor, I could not forbear to
pause and gaze for some minutes on the exterior of the building, rendered
more impressively dignified by the solitude which ensued when its
hitherto open gates were closed, after having, as it were, devoured the
multitude which had lately crowded the churchyard, but now, enclosed
within the building, were engaged, as the choral swell of voices from
within announced to us, in the solemn exercises of devotion. The sound of
so many voices united by the distance into one harmony, and freed from
those harsh discordances which jar the ear when heard more near,
combining with the murmuring brook, and the wind which sung among the old
firs, affected me with a sense of sublimity. All nature, as invoked by
the Psalmist whose verses they chanted, seemed united in offering that
solemn praise in which trembling is mixed with joy as she addressed her
Maker. I had heard the service of high mass in France, celebrated with
all the _e'clat_ which the choicest music, the richest dresses, the most
imposing ceremonies, could confer on it; yet it fell short in effect of
the simplicity of the Presbyterian worship. The devotion in which every
one took a share seemed so superior to that which was recited by
musicians as a lesson which they had learned by rote, that it gave the
Scottish worship all the advantage of reality over acting.
As I lingered to catch more of the solemn sound, Andrew, whose impatience
became ungovernable, pulled me by the sleeve--"Come awa', sir--come awa';
we maunna be late o' gaun in to disturb the worship; if we bide here the
searchers will be on us, and carry us to the guard-house for being idlers
Thus admonished, I followed my guide, but not, as I had supposed, into
the body of the cathedral. "This gate--this gate, sir," he exclaimed,
dragging me off as I made towards the main entrance of the building--
"There's but cauldrife law-work gaun on yonder--carnal morality, as dow'd
and as fusionless as rue leaves at Yule--Here's the real savour of
So saying, we entered a small low-arched door, secured by a wicket, which
a grave-looking person seemed on the point of closing, and descended
several steps as if into the funeral vaults beneath the church. It was
even so; for in these subterranean precincts,--why chosen for such a
purpose I knew not,--was established a very singular place of worship.
Conceive, Tresham, an extensive range of low-browed, dark, and twilight
vaults, such as are used for sepulchres in other countries, and had long
been dedicated to the same purpose in this, a portion of which was seated
with pews, and used as a church. The part of the vaults thus occupied,
though capable of containing a congregation of many hundreds, bore a
small proportion to the darker and more extensive caverns which yawned
around what may be termed the inhabited space. In those waste regions of
oblivion, dusky banners and tattered escutcheons indicated the graves of
those who were once, doubtless, "princes in Israel." Inscriptions, which
could only be read by the painful antiquary, in language as obsolete as
the act of devotional charity which they employed, invited the passengers
to pray for the souls of those whose bodies rested beneath. Surrounded by
these receptacles of the last remains of mortality, I found a numerous
congregation engaged in the act of prayer. The Scotch perform this duty
in a standing instead of a kneeling posture--more, perhaps, to take as
broad a distinction as possible from the ritual of Rome than for any
better reason; since I have observed, that in their family worship, as
doubtless in their private devotions, they adopt, in their immediate
address to the Deity, that posture which other Christians use as the
humblest and most reverential. Standing, therefore, the men being
uncovered, a crowd of several hundreds of both sexes, and all ages,
listened with great reverence and attention to the extempore, at least
the unwritten, prayer of an aged clergyman,* who was very popular in the
* I have in vain laboured to discover this gentleman's name, and the
period of his incumbency. I do not, however, despair to see these points,
with some others which may elude my sagacity, satisfactorily elucidated
by one or other of the periodical publications which have devoted their
pages to explanatory commentaries on my former volumes; and whose
research and ingenuity claim my peculiar gratitude, for having discovered
many persons and circumstances connected with my narratives, of which I
myself never so much as dreamed.
Educated in the same religious persuasion, I seriously bent my mind to
join in the devotion of the day; and it was not till the congregation
resumed their seats, that my attention was diverted to the consideration
of the appearance of all around me.
At the conclusion of the prayer, most of the men put on their hats or
bonnets, and all who had the happiness to have seats sate down. Andrew
and I were not of this number, having been too late of entering the
church to secure such accommodation. We stood among a number of other
persons in the same situation, forming a sort of ring around the seated
part of the congregation. Behind and around us were the vaults I have
already described; before us the devout audience, dimly shown by the
light which streamed on their faces through one or two low Gothic
windows, such as give air and light to charnel-houses. By this were seen
the usual variety of countenances which are generally turned towards a
Scotch pastor on such occasions, almost all composed to attention, unless
where a father or mother here and there recalls the wandering eyes of a
lively child, or disturbs the slumbers of a dull one. The high-boned and
harsh countenance of the nation, with the expression of intelligence and
shrewdness which it frequently exhibits, is seen to more advantage in the
act of devotion, or in the ranks of war, than on lighter and more
cheerful occasions of assemblage. The discourse of the preacher was well
qualified to call forth the various feelings and faculties of his
Age and infirmities had impaired the powers of a voice originally strong
and sonorous. He read his text with a pronunciation somewhat
inarticulate; but when he closed the Bible, and commenced his sermon, his
tones gradually strengthened, as he entered with vehemence into the
arguments which he maintained. They related chiefly to the abstract
points of the Christian faith,--subjects grave, deep, and fathomless by
mere human reason, but for which, with equal ingenuity and propriety, he
sought a key in liberal quotations from the inspired writings. My mind
was unprepared to coincide in all his reasoning, nor was I sure that in
some instances I rightly comprehended his positions. But nothing could be
more impressive than the eager enthusiastic manner of the good old man,
and nothing more ingenious than his mode of reasoning. The Scotch, it is
well known, are more remarkable for the exercise of their intellectual
powers, than for the keenness of their feelings; they are, therefore,
more moved by logic than by rhetoric, and more attracted by acute and
argumentative reasoning on doctrinal points, than influenced by the
enthusiastic appeals to the heart and to the passions, by which popular
preachers in other countries win the favour of their hearers.
Among the attentive group which I now saw, might be distinguished various
expressions similar to those of the audience in the famous cartoon of
Paul preaching at Athens. Here sat a zealous and intelligent Calvinist,
with brows bent just as much as to indicate profound attention; lips
slightly compressed; eyes fixed on the minister with an expression of
decent pride, as if sharing the triumph of his argument; the forefinger
of the right hand touching successively those of the left, as the
preacher, from argument to argument, ascended towards his conclusion.
Another, with fiercer and sterner look, intimated at once his contempt of
all who doubted the creed of his pastor, and his joy at the appropriate
punishment denounced against them. A third, perhaps belonging to a
different congregation, and present only by accident or curiosity, had
the appearance of internally impeaching some link of the reasoning; and
you might plainly read, in the slight motion of his head, his doubts as
to the soundness of the preacher's argument. The greater part listened
with a calm, satisfied countenance, expressive of a conscious merit in
being present, and in listening to such an ingenious discourse, although
perhaps unable entirely to comprehend it. The women in general belonged
to this last division of the audience; the old, however, seeming more
grimly intent upon the abstract doctrines laid before them; while the
younger females permitted their eyes occasionally to make a modest
circuit around the congregation; and some of them, Tresham (if my vanity
did not greatly deceive me), contrived to distinguish your friend and
servant, as a handsome young stranger and an Englishman. As to the rest
of the congregation, the stupid gaped, yawned, or slept, till awakened by
the application of their more zealous neighbours' heels to their shins;
and the idle indicated their inattention by the wandering of their eyes,
but dared give no more decided token of weariness. Amid the Lowland
costume of coat and cloak, I could here and there discern a Highland
plaid, the wearer of which, resting on his basket-hilt, sent his eyes
among the audience with the unrestrained curiosity of savage wonder; and
who, in all probability, was inattentive to the sermon for a very
pardonable reason--because he did not understand the language in which it
was delivered. The martial and wild look, however, of these stragglers,
added a kind of character which the congregation could not have exhibited
without them. They were more numerous, Andrew afterwards observed, owing
to some cattle-fair in the neighbourhood.
Such was the group of countenances, rising tier on tier, discovered to my
critical inspection by such sunbeams as forced their way through the
narrow Gothic lattices of the Laigh Kirk of Glasgow; and, having
illuminated the attentive congregation, lost themselves in the vacuity of
the vaults behind, giving to the nearer part of their labyrinth a sort of
imperfect twilight, and leaving their recesses in an utter darkness,
which gave them the appearance of being interminable.
I have already said that I stood with others in the exterior circle, with
my face to the preacher, and my back to those vaults which I have so
often mentioned. My position rendered me particularly obnoxious to any
interruption which arose from any slight noise occurring amongst these
retiring arches, where the least sound was multiplied by a thousand
echoes. The occasional sound of rain-drops, which, admitted through some
cranny in the ruined roof, fell successively, and splashed upon the
pavement beneath, caused me to turn my head more than once to the place
from whence it seemed to proceed, and when my eyes took that direction, I
found it difficult to withdraw them; such is the pleasure our imagination
receives from the attempt to penetrate as far as possible into an
intricate labyrinth, imperfectly lighted, and exhibiting objects which
irritate our curiosity, only because they acquire a mysterious interest
from being undefined and dubious. My eyes became habituated to the gloomy
atmosphere to which I directed them, and insensibly my mind became more
interested in their discoveries than in the metaphysical subtleties which
the preacher was enforcing.
My father had often checked me for this wandering mood of mind, arising
perhaps from an excitability of imagination to which he was a stranger;
and the finding myself at present solicited by these temptations to
inattention, recalled the time when I used to walk, led by his hand, to
Mr. Shower's chapel, and the earnest injunctions which he then laid on me
to redeem the time, because the days were evil. At present, the picture
which my thoughts suggested, far from fixing my attention, destroyed the
portion I had yet left, by conjuring up to my recollection the peril in
which his affairs now stood. I endeavoured, in the lowest whisper I could
frame, to request Andrew to obtain information, whether any of the
gentlemen of the firm of MacVittie & Co. were at present in the
congregation. But Andrew, wrapped in profound attention to the sermon,
only replied to my suggestion by hard punches with his elbow, as signals
to me to remain silent. I next strained my eyes, with equally bad
success, to see if, among the sea of up-turned faces which bent their
eyes on the pulpit as a common centre, I could discover the sober and
business-like physiognomy of Owen. But not among the broad beavers of the
Glasgow citizens, or the yet broader brimmed Lowland bonnets of the
peasants of Lanarkshire, could I see anything resembling the decent
periwig, starched ruffles, or the uniform suit of light-brown garments
appertaining to the head-clerk of the establishment of Osbaldistone and
Tresham. My anxiety now returned on me with such violence as to overpower
not only the novelty of the scene around me, by which it had hitherto
been diverted, but moreover my sense of decorum. I pulled Andrew hard by
the sleeve, and intimated my wish to leave the church, and pursue my
investigation as I could. Andrew, obdurate in the Laigh Kirk of Glasgow
as on the mountains of Cheviot, for some time deigned me no answer; and
it was only when he found I could not otherwise be kept quiet, that he
condescended to inform me, that, being once in the church, we could not
leave it till service was over, because the doors were locked so soon as
the prayers began. Having thus spoken in a brief and peevish whisper,
Andrew again assumed the air of intelligent and critical importance, and
attention to the preacher's discourse.
While I endeavoured to make a virtue of necessity, and recall my
attention to the sermon, I was again disturbed by a singular
interruption. A voice from behind whispered distinctly in my ear, "You
are in danger in this city."--I turned round, as if mechanically.
One or two starched and ordinary-looking mechanics stood beside and
behind me,--stragglers, who, like ourselves, had been too late in
obtaining entrance. But a glance at their faces satisfied me, though I
could hardly say why, that none of these was the person who had spoken to
me. Their countenances seemed all composed to attention to the sermon,
and not one of them returned any glance of intelligence to the
inquisitive and startled look with which I surveyed them. A massive round
pillar, which was close behind us, might have concealed the speaker the
instant he uttered his mysterious caution; but wherefore it was given in
such a place, or to what species of danger it directed my attention, or
by whom the warning was uttered, were points on which my imagination lost
itself in conjecture. It would, however, I concluded, be repeated, and I
resolved to keep my countenance turned towards the clergyman, that the
whisperer might be tempted to renew his communication under the idea that
the first had passed unobserved.
My plan succeeded. I had not resumed the appearance of attention to the
preacher for five minutes, when the same voice whispered, "Listen, but do
not look back." I kept my face in the same direction. "You are in danger
in this place," the voice proceeded; "so am I--meet me to-night on the
Brigg, at twelve preceesely--keep at home till the gloaming, and avoid
Here the voice ceased, and I instantly turned my head. But the speaker
had, with still greater promptitude, glided behind the pillar, and
escaped my observation. I was determined to catch a sight of him, if
possible, and extricating myself from the outer circle of hearers, I also
stepped behind the column. All there was empty; and I could only see a
figure wrapped in a mantle, whether a Lowland cloak, or Highland plaid, I
could not distinguish, which traversed, like a phantom, the dreary
vacuity of vaults which I have described.
I made a mechanical attempt to pursue the mysterious form, which glided
away and vanished in the vaulted cemetery, like the spectre of one of the
numerous dead who rested within its precincts. I had little chance of
arresting the course of one obviously determined not to be spoken with;
but that little chance was lost by my stumbling and falling before I had
made three steps from the column. The obscurity which occasioned my
misfortune, covered my disgrace; which I accounted rather lucky, for the
preacher, with that stern authority which the Scottish ministers assume
for the purpose of keeping order in their congregations, interrupted his
discourse, to desire the "proper officer" to take into custody the causer
of this disturbance in the place of worship. As the noise, however, was
not repeated, the beadle, or whatever else he was called, did not think
it necessary to be rigorous in searching out the offender, so that I was
enabled, without attracting farther observation, to place myself by
Andrew's side in my original position. The service proceeded, and closed
without the occurrence of anything else worthy of notice.
As the congregation departed and dispersed, my friend Andrew exclaimed,
"See, yonder is worthy Mr. MacVittie, and Mrs. MacVittie, and Miss Alison
MacVittie, and Mr. Thamas MacFin, that they say is to marry Miss Alison,
if a' bowls row right--she'll hae a hantle siller, if she's no that
My eyes took the direction he pointed out. Mr. MacVittie was a tall,
thin, elderly man, with hard features, thick grey eyebrows, light eyes,
and, as I imagined, a sinister expression of countenance, from which my
heart recoiled. I remembered the warning I had received in the church,
and hesitated to address this person, though I could not allege to myself
any rational ground of dislike or suspicion.
I was yet in suspense, when Andrew, who mistook my hesitation for
bashfulness, proceeded to exhort me to lay it aside. "Speak till him--
speak till him, Mr. Francis--he's no provost yet, though they say he'll
be my lord neist year. Speak till him, then--he'll gie ye a decent answer
for as rich as he is, unless ye were wanting siller frae him--they say
he's dour to draw his purse."
It immediately occurred to me, that if this merchant were really of the
churlish and avaricious disposition which Andrew intimated, there might
be some caution necessary in making myself known, as I could not tell how
accounts might stand between my father and him. This consideration came
in aid of the mysterious hint which I had received, and the dislike which
I had conceived at the man's countenance. Instead of addressing myself
directly to him, as I had designed to have done, I contented myself with
desiring Andrew to inquire at Mr. MacVittie's house the address of Mr.
Owen, an English gentleman; and I charged him not to mention the person
from whom he received the commission, but to bring me the result to the
small inn where we lodged. This Andrew promised to do. He said something
of the duty of my attending the evening service; but added with a
causticity natural to him, that "in troth, if folk couldna keep their
legs still, but wad needs be couping the creels ower through-stanes, as
if they wad raise the very dead folk wi' the clatter, a kirk wi' a
chimley in't was fittest for them."
On the Rialto, every night at twelve,
I take my evening's walk of meditation:
There we two will meet.
Full of sinister augury, for which, however, I could assign no
satisfactory cause, I shut myself up in my apartment at the inn, and
having dismissed Andrew, after resisting his importunity to accompany him
to St. Enoch's Kirk,* where, he said,"a soul-searching divine was to haud
forth," I set myself seriously to consider what were best to be done.
* This I believe to be an anachronism, as Saint Enoch's Church was not
built at the date of the story. [It was founded in 1780, and has since
I never was what is properly called superstitious; but I suppose that all
men, in situations of peculiar doubt and difficulty, when they have
exercised their reason to little purpose, are apt, in a sort of despair,
to abandon the reins to their imagination, and be guided altogether by
chance, or by those whimsical impressions which take possession of the
mind, and to which we give way as if to involuntary impulses. There was
something so singularly repulsive in the hard features of the Scotch
trader, that I could not resolve to put myself into his hands without
transgressing every caution which could be derived from the rules of
physiognomy; while, at the same time, the warning voice, the form which
flitted away like a vanishing shadow through those vaults, which might be
termed "the valley of the shadow of death," had something captivating for
the imagination of a young man, who, you will farther please to remember,
was also a young poet.
If danger was around me, as the mysterious communication intimated, how
could I learn its nature, or the means of averting it, but by meeting my
unknown counsellor, to whom I could see no reason for imputing any other
than kind intentions. Rashleigh and his machinations occurred more than
once to my remembrance;--but so rapid had my journey been, that I could
not suppose him apprised of my arrival in Glasgow, much less prepared to
play off any stratagem against my person. In my temper also I was bold
and confident, strong and active in person, and in some measure
accustomed to the use of arms, in which the French youth of all kinds
were then initiated. I did not fear any single opponent; assassination
was neither the vice of the age nor of the country; the place selected
for our meeting was too public to admit any suspicion of meditated
violence. In a word, I resolved to meet my mysterious counsellor on the
bridge, as he had requested, and to be afterwards guided by
circumstances. Let me not conceal from you, Tresham, what at the time I
endeavoured to conceal from myself--the subdued, yet secretly-cherished
hope, that Diana Vernon might--by what chance I knew not--through what
means I could not guess--have some connection with this strange and
dubious intimation conveyed at a time and place, and in a manner so
surprising. She alone--whispered this insidious thought--she alone knew
of my journey; from her own account, she possessed friends and influence
in Scotland; she had furnished me with a talisman, whose power I was to
invoke when all other aid failed me; who then but Diana Vernon possessed
either means, knowledge, or inclination, for averting the dangers, by
which, as it seemed, my steps were surrounded? This flattering view of my
very doubtful case pressed itself upon me again and again. It insinuated
itself into my thoughts, though very bashfully, before the hour of
dinner; it displayed its attractions more boldly during the course of my
frugal meal, and became so courageously intrusive during the succeeding
half-hour (aided perhaps by the flavour of a few glasses of most
excellent claret), that, with a sort of desperate attempt to escape from
a delusive seduction, to which I felt the danger of yielding, I pushed my
glass from me, threw aside my dinner, seized my hat, and rushed into the
open air with the feeling of one who would fly from his own thoughts. Yet
perhaps I yielded to the very feelings from which I seemed to fly, since
my steps insensibly led me to the bridge over the Clyde, the place
assigned for the rendezvous by my mysterious monitor.
Although I had not partaken of my repast until the hours of evening
church-service were over,--in which, by the way, I complied with the
religious scruples of my landlady, who hesitated to dress a hot dinner
between sermons, and also with the admonition of my unknown friend, to
keep my apartment till twilight,--several hours had still to pass away
betwixt the time of my appointment and that at which I reached the
assigned place of meeting. The interval, as you will readily credit, was
wearisome enough; and I can hardly explain to you how it passed away.
Various groups of persons, all of whom, young and old, seemed impressed
with a reverential feeling of the sanctity of the day, passed along the
large open meadow which lies on the northern bank of the Clyde, and
serves at once as a bleaching-field and pleasure-walk for the
inhabitants, or paced with slow steps the long bridge which communicates
with the southern district of the county. All that I remember of them was
the general, yet not unpleasing, intimation of a devotional character
impressed on each little party--formally assumed perhaps by some, but
sincerely characterising the greater number--which hushed the petulant
gaiety of the young into a tone of more quiet, yet more interesting,
interchange of sentiments, and suppressed the vehement argument and
protracted disputes of those of more advanced age. Notwithstanding the
numbers who passed me, no general sound of the human voice was heard; few
turned again to take some minutes' voluntary exercise, to which the
leisure of the evening, and the beauty of the surrounding scenery, seemed
to invite them: all hurried to their homes and resting-places. To one
accustomed to the mode of spending Sunday evenings abroad, even among the
French Calvinists, there seemed something Judaical, yet, at the same time
striking and affecting, in this mode of keeping the Sabbath holy.
Insensibly I felt my mode of sauntering by the side of the river, and
crossing successively the various persons who were passing homeward, and
without tarrying or delay, must expose me to observation at least, if not
to censure; and I slunk out of the frequented path, and found a trivial
occupation for my mind in marshalling my revolving walk in such a manner
as should least render me obnoxious to observation. The different alleys
lined out through this extensive meadow, and which are planted with
trees, like the Park of St. James's in London, gave me facilities for
carrying into effect these childish manoeuvres.
As I walked down one of these avenues, I heard, to my surprise, the sharp
and conceited voice of Andrew Fairservice, raised by a sense of
self-consequence to a pitch somewhat higher than others seemed to think
consistent with the solemnity of the day. To slip behind the row of trees
under which I walked was perhaps no very dignified proceeding; but it was
the easiest mode of escaping his observation, and perhaps his impertinent
assiduity, and still more intrusive curiosity. As he passed, I heard him
communicate to a grave-looking man, in a black coat, a slouched hat, and
Geneva cloak, the following sketch of a character, which my self-love,
while revolting against it as a caricature, could not, nevertheless,
refuse to recognise as a likeness.
"Ay, ay, Mr. Hammorgaw, it's e'en as I tell ye. He's no a'thegither sae
void o' sense neither; he has a gloaming sight o' what's reasonable--that
is anes and awa'--a glisk and nae mair; but he's crack-brained and
cockle-headed about his nipperty-tipperty poetry nonsense--He'll glowr at
an auld-warld barkit aik-snag as if it were a queezmaddam in full
bearing; and a naked craig, wi' a bum jawing ower't, is unto him as a
garden garnisht with flowering knots and choice pot-herbs. Then he wad
rather claver wi' a daft quean they ca' Diana Vernon (weel I wet they
might ca' her Diana of the Ephesians, for she's little better than a
heathen--better? she's waur--a Roman, a mere Roman)--he'll claver wi'
her, or any ither idle slut, rather than hear what might do him gude a'
the days of his life, frae you or me, Mr. Hammorgaw, or ony ither sober
and sponsible person. Reason, sir, is what he canna endure--he's a' for
your vanities and volubilities; and he ance tell'd me (puir blinded
creature!) that the Psalms of David were excellent poetry! as if the holy
Psalmist thought o' rattling rhymes in a blether, like his ain silly
clinkum-clankum things that he ca's verse. Gude help him!--twa lines o'
Davie Lindsay would ding a' he ever clerkit."
While listening to this perverted account of my temper and studies, you
will not be surprised if I meditated for Mr. Fairservice the unpleasant
surprise of a broken pate on the first decent opportunity. His friend
only intimated his attention by "Ay, ay!" and "Is't e'en sae?" and
suchlike expressions of interest, at the proper breaks in Mr.
Fairservice's harangue, until at length, in answer to some observation of
greater length, the import of which I only collected from my trusty
guide's reply, honest Andrew answered, "Tell him a bit o'my mind, quoth
ye? Wha wad be fule then but Andrew? He's a red-wad deevil, man--He's
like Giles Heathertap's auld boar;--ye need but shake a clout at him to
make him turn and gore. Bide wi' him, say ye?--Troth, I kenna what for I
bide wi' him mysell. But the lad's no a bad lad after a'; and he needs
some carefu' body to look after him. He hasna the right grip o' his hand
--the gowd slips through't like water, man; and it's no that ill a thing
to be near him when his purse is in his hand, and it's seldom out o't.
And then he's come o' guid kith and kin--My heart warms to the poor
thoughtless callant, Mr. Hammorgaw--and then the penny fee"--
In the latter part of this instructive communication, Mr. Fairservice
lowered his voice to a tone better beseeming the conversation in a place
of public resort on a Sabbath evening, and his companion and he were soon
beyond my hearing. My feelings of hasty resentment soon subsided, under
the conviction that, as Andrew himself might have said, "A harkener
always hears a bad tale of himself," and that whoever should happen to
overhear their character discussed in their own servants'-hall, must
prepare to undergo the scalpel of some such anatomist as Mr. Fairservice.
The incident was so far useful, as, including the feelings to which it
gave rise, it sped away a part of the time which hung so heavily on my
Evening had now closed, and the growing darkness gave to the broad,
still, and deep expanse of the brimful river, first a hue sombre and
uniform--then a dismal and turbid appearance, partially lighted by a
waning and pallid moon. The massive and ancient bridge which stretches
across the Clyde was now but dimly visible, and resembled that which
Mirza, in his unequalled vision, has described as traversing the valley
of Bagdad. The low-browed arches, seen as imperfectly as the dusky
current which they bestrode, seemed rather caverns which swallowed up the
gloomy waters of the river, than apertures contrived for their passage.
With the advancing night the stillness of the scene increased. There was
yet a twinkling light occasionally seen to glide along by the stream,
which conducted home one or two of the small parties, who, after the
abstinence and religious duties of the day, had partaken of a social
supper--the only meal at which the rigid Presbyterians made some advance
to sociality on the Sabbath. Occasionally, also, the hoofs of a horse
were heard, whose rider, after spending the Sunday in Glasgow, was
directing his steps towards his residence in the country. These sounds
and sights became gradually of more rare occurrence; at length they
altogether ceased, and I was left to enjoy my solitary walk on the shores
of the Clyde in solemn silence, broken only by the tolling of the
successive hours from the steeples of the churches.
But as the night advanced my impatience at the uncertainty of the
situation in which I was placed increased every moment, and became nearly
ungovernable. I began to question whether I had been imposed upon by the
trick of a fool, the raving of a madman, or the studied machinations of a
villain, and paced the little quay or pier adjoining the entrance to the
bridge, in a state of incredible anxiety and vexation. At length the hour
of twelve o'clock swung its summons over the city from the belfry of the
metropolitan church of St. Mungo, and was answered and vouched by all the
others like dutiful diocesans. The echoes had scarcely ceased to repeat
the last sound, when a human form--the first I had seen for two hours--
appeared passing along the bridge from the southern shore of the river. I
advanced to meet him with a feeling as if my fate depended on the result
of the interview, so much had my anxiety been wound up by protracted
expectation. All that I could remark of the passenger as we advanced
towards each other, was that his frame was rather beneath than above the
middle size, but apparently strong, thick-set, and muscular; his dress a
horseman's wrapping coat. I slackened my pace, and almost paused as I
advanced in expectation that he would address me. But to my inexpressible
disappointment he passed without speaking, and I had no pretence for
being the first to address one who, notwithstanding his appearance at the
very hour of appointment, might nevertheless be an absolute stranger. I
stopped when he had passed me, and looked after him, uncertain whether I
ought not to follow him. The stranger walked on till near the northern
end of the bridge, then paused, looked back, and turning round, again
advanced towards me. I resolved that this time he should not have the
apology for silence proper to apparitions, who, it is vulgarly supposed,
cannot speak until they are spoken to. "You walk late, sir," said I, as
we met a second time.
"I bide tryste," was the reply; "and so I think do you, Mr.
"You are then the person who requested to meet me here at this unusual
"I am," he replied. "Follow me, and you shall know my reasons."
"Before following you, I must know your name and purpose," I answered.
"I am a man," was the reply; "and my purpose is friendly to you."
"A man!" I repeated;--"that is a very brief description."
"It will serve for one who has no other to give," said the stranger. "He
that is without name, without friends, without coin, without country, is
still at least a man; and he that has all these is no more."
"Yet this is still too general an account of yourself, to say the least
of it, to establish your credit with a stranger."
"It is all I mean to give, howsoe'er; you may choose to follow me, or to
remain without the information I desire to afford you."
"Can you not give me that information here?" I demanded.
"You must receive it from your eyes, not from my tongue--you must follow
me, or remain in ignorance of the information which I have to give you."
There was something short, determined, and even stern, in the man's
manner, not certainly well calculated to conciliate undoubting
"What is it you fear?" he said impatiently. "To whom, think ye, is your
life of such consequence, that they should seek to bereave ye of it?"
"I fear nothing," I replied firmly, though somewhat hastily. "Walk on--I
We proceeded, contrary to my expectation, to re-enter the town, and
glided like mute spectres, side by side, up its empty and silent streets.
The high and gloomy stone fronts, with the variegated ornaments and
pediments of the windows, looked yet taller and more sable by the
imperfect moonshine. Our walk was for some minutes in perfect silence. At
length my conductor spoke.
"Are you afraid?"
"I retort your own words," I replied: "wherefore should I fear?"
"Because you are with a stranger--perhaps an enemy, in a place where you
have no friends and many enemies."
"I neither fear you nor them; I am young, active, and armed."
"I am not armed," replied my conductor: "but no matter, a willing hand
never lacked weapon. You say you fear nothing; but if you knew who was by
your side, perhaps you might underlie a tremor."
"And why should I?" replied I. "I again repeat, I fear nought that you
"Nought that I can do?--Be it so. But do you not fear the consequences of
being found with one whose very name whispered in this lonely street
would make the stones themselves rise up to apprehend him--on whose head
half the men in Glasgow would build their fortune as on a found treasure,
had they the luck to grip him by the collar--the sound of whose
apprehension were as welcome at the Cross of Edinburgh as ever the news
of a field stricken and won in Flanders?"
"And who then are you, whose name should create so deep a feeling of
terror?" I replied.
"No enemy of yours, since I am conveying you to a place, where, were I
myself recognised and identified, iron to the heels and hemp to the craig
would be my brief dooming."
I paused and stood still on the pavement, drawing back so as to have the
most perfect view of my companion which the light afforded me, and which
was sufficient to guard against any sudden motion of assault.
"You have said," I answered, "either too much or too little--too much to
induce me to confide in you as a mere stranger, since you avow yourself a
person amenable to the laws of the country in which we are--and too
little, unless you could show that you are unjustly subjected to their
As I ceased to speak, he made a step towards me. I drew back
instinctively, and laid my hand on the hilt of my sword.
"What!" said he--"on an unarmed man, and your friend?"
"I am yet ignorant if you are either the one or the other," I replied;
"and to say the truth, your language and manner might well entitle me to
"It is manfully spoken," replied my conductor; "and I respect him whose
hand can keep his head.--I will be frank and free with you--I am
conveying you to prison."
"To prison!" I exclaimed--"by what warrant or for what offence?--You
shall have my life sooner than my liberty--I defy you, and I will not
follow you a step farther."
"I do not," he said, "carry you there as a prisoner; I am," he added,
drawing himself haughtily up, "neither a messenger nor sheriff's officer.
I carry you to see a prisoner from whose lips you will learn the risk in
which you presently stand. Your liberty is little risked by the visit;
mine is in some peril; but that I readily encounter on your account, for
I care not for risk, and I love a free young blood, that kens no
protector but the cross o' the sword."
While he spoke thus, we had reached the principal street, and were
pausing before a large building of hewn stone, garnished, as I thought I
could perceive, with gratings of iron before the windows.
"Muckle," said the stranger, whose language became more broadly national
as he assumed a tone of colloquial freedom--"Muckle wad the provost and
bailies o' Glasgow gie to hae him sitting with iron garters to his hose
within their tolbooth that now stands wi' his legs as free as the
red-deer's on the outside on't. And little wad it avail them; for an if
they had me there wi' a stane's weight o' iron at every ankle, I would
show them a toom room and a lost lodger before to-morrow--But come on,
what stint ye for?"
As he spoke thus, he tapped at a low wicket, and was answered by a sharp
voice, as of one awakened from a dream or reverie,--"Fa's tat?--Wha's
that, I wad say?--and fat a deil want ye at this hour at e'en?--Clean
again rules--clean again rules, as they ca' them."
The protracted tone in which the last words were uttered, betokened that
the speaker was again composing himself to slumber. But my guide spoke in
a loud whisper--"Dougal, man! hae ye forgotten Ha nun Gregarach?"
"Deil a bit, deil a bit," was the ready and lively response, and I heard
the internal guardian of the prison-gate bustle up with great alacrity. A
few words were exchanged between my conductor and the turnkey in a
language to which I was an absolute stranger. The bolts revolved, but
with a caution which marked the apprehension that the noise might be
overheard, and we stood within the vestibule of the prison of Glasgow,--a
small, but strong guard-room, from which a narrow staircase led upwards,
and one or two low entrances conducted to apartments on the same level
with the outward gate, all secured with the jealous strength of wickets,
bolts, and bars. The walls, otherwise naked, were not unsuitably
garnished with iron fetters, and other uncouth implements, which might be
designed for purposes still more inhuman, interspersed with partisans,
guns, pistols of antique manufacture, and other weapons of defence and
At finding myself so unexpectedly, fortuitously, and, as it were, by
stealth, introduced within one of the legal fortresses of Scotland, I
could not help recollecting my adventure in Northumberland, and fretting
at the strange incidents which again, without any demerits of my own,
threatened to place me in a dangerous and disagreeable collision with the
laws of a country which I visited only in the capacity of a stranger.
Look round thee, young Astolpho: Here's the place
Which men (for being poor) are sent to starve in;
Rude remedy, I trow, for sore disease.
Within these walls, stifled by damp and stench,
Doth Hope's fair torch expire; and at the snuff,
Ere yet 'tis quite extinct, rude, wild, and way-ward,
The desperate revelries of wild despair,
Kindling their hell-born cressets, light to deeds
That the poor captive would have died ere practised,
Till bondage sunk his soul to his condition.
The Prison, _Scene III. Act I._
At my first entrance I turned an eager glance towards my conductor; but
the lamp in the vestibule was too low in flame to give my curiosity any
satisfaction by affording a distinct perusal of his features. As the
turnkey held the light in his hand, the beams fell more full on his own
scarce less interesting figure. He was a wild shock-headed looking
animal, whose profusion of red hair covered and obscured his features,
which were otherwise only characterised by the extravagant joy that
affected him at the sight of my guide. In my experience I have met
nothing so absolutely resembling my idea of a very uncouth, wild, and
ugly savage, adoring the idol of his tribe. He grinned, he shivered, he
laughed, he was near crying, if he did not actually cry. He had a "Where
shall I go?--What can I do for you?" expression of face; the complete,
surrendered, and anxious subservience and devotion of which it is
difficult to describe, otherwise than by the awkward combination which I
have attempted. The fellow's voice seemed choking in his ecstasy, and
only could express itself in such interjections as "Oigh! oigh!--Ay! ay!
--it's lang since she's seen ye!" and other exclamations equally brief,
expressed in the same unknown tongue in which he had communicated with my
conductor while we were on the outside of the jail door. My guide
received all this excess of joyful gratulation much like a prince too
early accustomed to the homage of those around him to be much moved by
it, yet willing to requite it by the usual forms of royal courtesy. He
extended his hand graciously towards the turnkey, with a civil inquiry of
"How's a' wi' you, Dougal?"
"Oigh! oigh!" exclaimed Dougal, softening the sharp exclamations of his
surprise as he looked around with an eye of watchful alarm--"Oigh! to see
you here--to see you here!--Oigh!--what will come o' ye gin the bailies
suld come to get witting--ta filthy, gutty hallions, tat they are?"
My guide placed his finger on his lip, and said, "Fear nothing, Dougal;
your hands shall never draw a bolt on me."
"Tat sall they no," said Dougal; "she suld--she wad--that is, she wishes
them hacked aff by the elbows first--But when are ye gaun yonder again?
and ye'll no forget to let her ken--she's your puir cousin, God kens,
only seven times removed."
"I will let you ken, Dougal, as soon as my plans are settled."
"And, by her sooth, when you do, an it were twal o' the Sunday at e'en,
she'll fling her keys at the provost's head or she gie them anither turn,
and that or ever Monday morning begins--see if she winna."
My mysterious stranger cut his acquaintance's ecstasies short by again
addressing him, in what I afterwards understood to be the Irish, Earse,
or Gaelic, explaining, probably, the services which he required at his
hand. The answer, "Wi' a' her heart--wi' a' her soul," with a good deal
of indistinct muttering in a similar tone, intimated the turnkey's
acquiescence in what he proposed. The fellow trimmed his dying lamp, and
made a sign to me to follow him.
"Do you not go with us?" said I, looking to my conductor.
"It is unnecessary," he replied; "my company may be inconvenient for you,
and I had better remain to secure our retreat."
"I do not suppose you mean to betray me to danger," said I.
"To none but what I partake in doubly," answered the stranger, with a
voice of assurance which it was impossible to mistrust.
I followed the turnkey, who, leaving the inner wicket unlocked behind
him, led me up a _turnpike_ (so the Scotch call a winding stair), then
along a narrow gallery--then opening one of several doors which led into
the passage, he ushered me into a small apartment, and casting his eye on
the pallet-bed which occupied one corner, said with an under voice, as he
placed the lamp on a little deal table, "She's sleeping."
"She!--who?--can it be Diana Vernon in this abode of misery?"
I turned my eye to the bed, and it was with a mixture of disappointment
oddly mingled with pleasure, that I saw my first suspicion had deceived
me. I saw a head neither young nor beautiful, garnished with a grey beard
of two days' growth, and accommodated with a red nightcap. The first
glance put me at ease on the score of Diana Vernon; the second, as the
slumberer awoke from a heavy sleep, yawned, and rubbed his eyes,
presented me with features very different indeed--even those of my poor
friend Owen. I drew back out of view an instant, that he might have time
to recover himself; fortunately recollecting that I was but an intruder
on these cells of sorrow, and that any alarm might be attended with
Meantime, the unfortunate formalist, raising himself from the pallet-bed
with the assistance of one hand, and scratching his cap with the other,
exclaimed in a voice in which as much peevishness as he was capable of
feeling, contended with drowsiness, "I'll tell you what, Mr. Dug-well, or
whatever your name may be, the sum-total of the matter is, that if my
natural rest is to be broken in this manner, I must complain to the lord
"Shentlemans to speak wi' her," replied Dougal, resuming the true dogged
sullen tone of a turnkey, in exchange for the shrill clang of Highland
congratulation with which he had welcomed my mysterious guide; and,
turning on his heel, he left the apartment.
It was some time before I could prevail upon the unfortunate sleeper
awakening to recognise me; and when he did so, the distress of the worthy
creature was extreme, at supposing, which he naturally did, that I had
been sent thither as a partner of his captivity.
"O, Mr. Frank, what have you brought yourself and the house to?--I think
nothing of myself, that am a mere cipher, so to speak; but you, that was
your father's sum-total--his omnium,--you that might have been the first
man in the first house in the first city, to be shut up in a nasty Scotch
jail, where one cannot even get the dirt brushed off their clothes!"
He rubbed, with an air of peevish irritation, the once stainless brown
coat, which had now shared some of the impurities of the floor of his
prison-house,--his habits of extreme punctilious neatness acting
mechanically to increase his distress.--"O Heaven be gracious to us!" he
continued. "What news this will be on 'Change! There has not the like
come there since the battle of Almanza, where the total of the British
loss was summed up to five thousand men killed and wounded, besides a
floating balance of missing--but what will that be to the news that
Osbaldistone and Tresham have stopped!"
I broke in on his lamentations to acquaint him that I was no prisoner,
though scarce able to account for my being in that place at such an hour.
I could only silence his inquiries by persisting in those which his own
situation suggested; and at length obtained from him such information as
he was able to give me. It was none of the most distinct; for, however
clear-headed in his own routine of commercial business, Owen, you are
well aware, was not very acute in comprehending what lay beyond that
The sum of his information was, that of two correspondents of my father's
firm at Glasgow, where, owing to engagements in Scotland formerly alluded
to, he transacted a great deal of business, both my father and Owen had
found the house of MacVittie, MacFin, and Company, the most obliging and
accommodating. They had deferred to the great English house on every
possible occasion; and in their bargains and transactions acted, without
repining, the part of the jackall, who only claims what the lion is
pleased to leave him. However small the share of profit allotted to them,
it was always, as they expressed it, "enough for the like of them;"
however large the portion of trouble, "they were sensible they could not
do too much to deserve the continued patronage and good opinion of their
honoured friends in Crane Alley."
The dictates of my father were to MacVittie and MacFin the laws of the
Medes and Persians, not to be altered, innovated, or even discussed; and
the punctilios exacted by Owen in their business transactions, for he was
a great lover of form, more especially when he could dictate it _ex
cathedra,_ seemed scarce less sanctimonious in their eyes. This tone of
deep and respectful observance went all currently down with Owen; but my
father looked a little closer into men's bosoms, and whether suspicious
of this excess of deference, or, as a lover of brevity and simplicity in
business, tired with these gentlemen's long-winded professions of regard,
he had uniformly resisted their desire to become his sole agents in
Scotland. On the contrary, he transacted many affairs through a
correspondent of a character perfectly different--a man whose good
opinion of himself amounted to self-conceit, and who, disliking the
English in general as much as my father did the Scotch, would hold no
communication but on a footing of absolute equality; jealous, moreover;
captious occasionally; as tenacious of his own opinions in point of form
as Owen could be of his; and totally indifferent though the authority of
all Lombard Street had stood against his own private opinion.
As these peculiarities of temper rendered it difficult to transact
business with Mr. Nicol Jarvie,--as they occasioned at times disputes and
coldness between the English house and their correspondent, which were
only got over by a sense of mutual interest,--as, moreover, Owen's
personal vanity sometimes suffered a little in the discussions to which
they gave rise, you cannot be surprised, Tresham, that our old friend
threw at all times the weight of his influence in favour of the civil,
discreet, accommodating concern of MacVittie and MacFin, and spoke of
Jarvie as a petulant, conceited Scotch pedlar, with whom there was no
It was also not surprising, that in these circumstances, which I only
learned in detail some time afterwards, Owen, in the difficulties to
which the house was reduced by the absence of my father, and the
disappearance of Rashleigh, should, on his arrival in Scotland, which
took place two days before mine, have recourse to the friendship of those
correspondents, who had always professed themselves obliged, gratified,
and devoted to the service of his principal. He was received at Messrs.
MacVittie and MacFin's counting-house in the Gallowgate, with something
like the devotion a Catholic would pay to his tutelar saint. But, alas!
this sunshine was soon overclouded, when, encouraged by the fair hopes
which it inspired, he opened the difficulties of the house to his
friendly correspondents, and requested their counsel and assistance.
MacVittie was almost stunned by the communication; and MacFin, ere it was
completed, was already at the ledger of their firm, and deeply engaged in
the very bowels of the multitudinous accounts between their house and
that of Osbaldistone and Tresham, for the purpose of discovering on which
side the balance lay. Alas! the scale depressed considerably against the
English firm; and the faces of MacVittie and MacFin, hitherto only blank
and doubtful, became now ominous, grim, and lowering. They met Mr. Owen's
request of countenance and assistance with a counter-demand of instant
security against imminent hazard of eventual loss; and at length,
speaking more plainly, required that a deposit of assets, destined for
other purposes, should be placed in their hands for that purpose. Owen
repelled this demand with great indignation, as dishonourable to his
constituents, unjust to the other creditors of Osbaldistone and Tresham,
and very ungrateful on the part of those by whom it was made.
The Scotch partners gained, in the course of this controversy, what is
very convenient to persons who are in the wrong, an opportunity and
pretext for putting themselves in a violent passion, and for taking,
under the pretext of the provocation they had received, measures to which
some sense of decency, if not of conscience, might otherwise have
deterred them from resorting.
Owen had a small share, as I believe is usual, in the house to which he
acted as head-clerk, and was therefore personally liable for all its
obligations. This was known to Messrs. MacVittie and MacFin; and, with a
view of making him feel their power, or rather in order to force him, at
this emergency, into those measures in their favour, to which he had
expressed himself so repugnant, they had recourse to a summary process of
arrest and imprisonment,--which it seems the law of Scotland (therein
surely liable to much abuse) allows to a creditor, who finds his
conscience at liberty to make oath that the debtor meditates departing
from the realm. Under such a warrant had poor Owen been confined to
durance on the day preceding that when I was so strangely guided to his
Thus possessed of the alarming outline of facts, the question remained,
what was to be done and it was not of easy determination. I plainly
perceived the perils with which we were surrounded, but it was more
difficult to suggest any remedy. The warning which I had already received
seemed to intimate, that my own personal liberty might be endangered by
an open appearance in Owen's behalf. Owen entertained the same
apprehension, and, in the exaggeration of his terror, assured me that a
Scotchman, rather than run the risk of losing a farthing by an
Englishman, would find law for arresting his wife, children, man-servant,
maidservant, and stranger within his household. The laws concerning debt,
in most countries, are so unmercifully severe, that I could not
altogether disbelieve his statement; and my arrest, in the present
circumstances, would have been a _coup-de-grace_ to my father's affairs.
In this dilemma, I asked Owen if he had not thought of having recourse to
my father's other correspondent in Glasgow, Mr. Nicol Jarvie?
"He had sent him a letter," he replied, "that morning; but if the
smooth-tongued and civil house in the Gallowgate* had used him thus, what
was to be expected from the cross-grained crab-stock in the Salt-Market?
* [A street in the old town of Glasgow.]
You might as well ask a broker to give up his percentage, as expect a
favour from him without the _per contra._ He had not even," Owen said,
"answered his letter though it was put into his hand that morning as he
went to church." And here the despairing man-of-figures threw himself
down on his pallet, exclaiming,--"My poor dear master! My poor dear
master! O Mr. Frank, Mr. Frank, this is all your obstinacy!--But God
forgive me for saying so to you in your distress! It's God's disposing,
and man must submit."
My philosophy, Tresham, could not prevent my sharing in the honest
creature's distress, and we mingled our tears,--the more bitter on my
part, as the perverse opposition to my father's will, with which the
kind-hearted Owen forbore to upbraid me, rose up to my conscience as the
cause of all this affliction.
In the midst of our mingled sorrow, we were disturbed and surprised by a
loud knocking at the outward door of the prison. I ran to the top of the
staircase to listen, but could only hear the voice of the turnkey,
alternately in a high tone, answering to some person without, and in a
whisper, addressed to the person who had guided me hither--"She's coming
--she's coming," aloud; then in a low key, "O hon-a-ri! O hon-a-ri!
what'll she do now?--Gang up ta stair, and hide yourself ahint ta
Sassenach shentleman's ped.--She's coming as fast as she can.--Ahellanay!
it's my lord provosts, and ta pailies, and ta guard--and ta captain's
coming toon stairs too--Got press her! gang up or he meets her.--She's
coming--she's coming--ta lock's sair roosted."
While Dougal, unwillingly, and with as much delay as possible, undid the
various fastenings to give admittance to those without, whose impatience
became clamorous, my guide ascended the winding stair, and sprang into
Owen's apartment, into which I followed him. He cast his eyes hastily
round, as if looking for a place of concealment; then said to me, "Lend
me your pistols--yet it's no matter, I can do without them--Whatever you
see, take no heed, and do not mix your hand in another man's feud--This
gear's mine, and I must manage it as I dow; but I have been as hard
bested, and worse, than I am even now."
As the stranger spoke these words, he stripped from his person the
cumbrous upper coat in which he was wrapt, confronted the door of the
apartment, on which he fixed a keen and determined glance, drawing his
person a little back to concentrate his force, like a fine horse brought
up to the leaping-bar. I had not a moment's doubt that he meant to
extricate himself from his embarrassment, whatever might be the cause of
it, by springing full upon those who should appear when the doors opened,
and forcing his way through all opposition into the street;--and such was
the appearance of strength and agility displayed in his frame, and of
determination in his look and manner, that I did not doubt a moment but
that he might get clear through his opponents, unless they employed fatal
means to stop his purpose. It was a period of awful suspense betwixt the
opening of the outward gate and that of the door of the apartment, when
there appeared--no guard with bayonets fixed, or watch with clubs, bills,
or partisans, but a good-looking young woman, with grogram petticoats,
tucked up for trudging through the streets, and holding a lantern in her
hand. This female ushered in a more important personage, in form, stout,
short, and somewhat corpulent; and by dignity, as it soon appeared, a
magistrate, bob-wigged, bustling, and breathless with peevish impatience.
My conductor, at his appearance, drew back as if to escape observation;
but he could not elude the penetrating twinkle with which this dignitary
reconnoitered the whole apartment.
"A bonny thing it is, and a beseeming, that I should be kept at the door
half an hour, Captain Stanchells," said he, addressing the principal
jailor, who now showed himself at the door as if in attendance on the
great man, "knocking as hard to get into the tolbooth as onybody else wad
to get out of it, could that avail them, poor fallen creatures!--And
how's this?--how's this?--strangers in the jail after lock-up hours, and
on the Sabbath evening!--I shall look after this, Stanchells, you may
depend on't--Keep the door locked, and I'll speak to these gentlemen in a
gliffing--But first I maun hae a crack wi' an auld acquaintance here.--
Mr. Owen, Mr. Owen, how's a' wi' ye, man?"
"Pretty well in body, I thank you, Mr. Jarvie," drawled out poor Owen,
"but sore afflicted in spirit."
"Nae doubt, nae doubt--ay, ay--it's an awfu' whummle--and for ane that
held his head sae high too--human nature, human nature--Ay ay, we're a'
subject to a downcome. Mr. Osbaldistone is a gude honest gentleman; but I
aye said he was ane o' them wad make a spune or spoil a horn, as my
father the worthy deacon used to say. The deacon used to say to me,
'Nick--young Nick' (his name was Nicol as weel as mine; sae folk ca'd us
in their daffin', young Nick and auld Nick)--'Nick,' said he, 'never put
out your arm farther than ye can draw it easily back again.' I hae said
sae to Mr. Osbaldistone, and he didna seem to take it a'thegither sae
kind as I wished--but it was weel meant--weel meant."
This discourse, delivered with prodigious volubility, and a great
appearance of self-complacency, as he recollected his own advice and
predictions, gave little promise of assistance at the hands of Mr.
Jarvie. Yet it soon appeared rather to proceed from a total want of
delicacy than any deficiency of real kindness; for when Owen expressed
himself somewhat hurt that these things should be recalled to memory in
his present situation, the Glaswegian took him by the hand, and bade him
"Cheer up a gliff! D'ye think I wad hae comed out at twal o'clock at
night, and amaist broken the Lord's day, just to tell a fa'en man o' his
backslidings? Na, na, that's no Bailie Jarvie's gate, nor was't his
worthy father's the deacon afore him. Why, man! it's my rule never to
think on warldly business on the Sabbath, and though I did a' I could to
keep your note that I gat this morning out o' my head, yet I thought mair
on it a' day, than on the preaching--And it's my rule to gang to my bed
wi' the yellow curtains preceesely at ten o'clock--unless I were eating a
haddock wi' a neighbour, or a neighbour wi' me--ask the lass-quean there,
if it isna a fundamental rule in my household; and here hae I sitten up
reading gude books, and gaping as if I wad swallow St. Enox Kirk, till it
chappit twal, whilk was a lawfu' hour to gie a look at my ledger, just to
see how things stood between us; and then, as time and tide wait for no
man, I made the lass get the lantern, and came slipping my ways here to
see what can be dune anent your affairs. Bailie Jarvie can command
entrance into the tolbooth at ony hour, day or night;--sae could my
father the deacon in his time, honest man, praise to his memory."
Although Owen groaned at the mention of the ledger, leading me grievously
to fear that here also the balance stood in the wrong column; and
although the worthy magistrate's speech expressed much self-complacency,
and some ominous triumph in his own superior judgment, yet it was blended
with a sort of frank and blunt good-nature, from which I could not help
deriving some hopes. He requested to see some papers he mentioned,
snatched them hastily from Owen's hand, and sitting on the bed, to "rest
his shanks," as he was pleased to express the accommodation which that
posture afforded him, his servant girl held up the lantern to him, while,
pshawing, muttering, and sputtering, now at the imperfect light, now at
the contents of the packet, he ran over the writings it contained.
Seeing him fairly engaged in this course of study, the guide who had
brought me hither seemed disposed to take an unceremonious leave. He made
a sign to me to say nothing, and intimated, by his change of posture, an
intention to glide towards the door in such a manner as to attract the
least possible observation. But the alert magistrate (very different from
my old acquaintance, Mr. Justice Inglewood) instantly detected and
interrupted his purposes. "I say, look to the door, Stanchells--shut and
lock it, and keep watch on the outside."
The stranger's brow darkened, and he seemed for an instant again to
meditate the effecting his retreat by violence; but ere he had
determined, the door closed, and the ponderous bolt revolved. He muttered
an exclamation in Gaelic, strode across the floor, and then, with an air
of dogged resolution, as if fixed and prepared to see the scene to an
end, sate himself down on the oak table, and whistled a strathspey.
Mr. Jarvie, who seemed very alert and expeditious in going through
business, soon showed himself master of that which he had been
considering, and addressed himself to Mr. Owen in the following strain:--
"Weel, Mr. Owen, weel--your house are awin' certain sums to Messrs.
MacVittie and MacFin (shame fa' their souple snouts! they made that and
mair out o' a bargain about the aik-woods at Glen-Cailziechat, that they
took out atween my teeth--wi' help o' your gude word, I maun needs say,
Mr. Owen--but that makes nae odds now)--Weel, sir, your house awes them
this siller; and for this, and relief of other engagements they stand in
for you, they hae putten a double turn o' Stanchells' muckle key on ye.--
Weel, sir, ye awe this siller--and maybe ye awe some mair to some other
body too--maybe ye awe some to myself, Bailie Nicol Jarvie."
"I cannot deny, sir, but the balance may of this date be brought out
against us, Mr. Jarvie," said Owen; "but you'll please to consider"--
"I hae nae time to consider e'enow, Mr. Owen--Sae near Sabbath at e'en,
and out o' ane's warm bed at this time o' night, and a sort o' drow in
the air besides--there's nae time for considering--But, sir, as I was
saying, ye awe me money--it winna deny--ye awe me money, less or mair,
I'll stand by it. But then, Mr. Owen, I canna see how you, an active man
that understands business, can redd out the business ye're come down
about, and clear us a' aff--as I have gritt hope ye will--if ye're keepit
lying here in the tolbooth of Glasgow. Now, sir, if you can find caution
_judicio sisti,_--that is, that ye winna flee the country, but appear and
relieve your caution when ca'd for in our legal courts, ye may be set at
liberty this very morning."
"Mr. Jarvie," said Owen, "if any friend would become surety for me to
that effect, my liberty might be usefully employed, doubtless, both for
the house and all connected with it."
"Aweel, sir," continued Jarvie, "and doubtless such a friend wad expect
ye to appear when ca'd on, and relieve him o' his engagement."
"And I should do so as certainly, bating sickness or death, as that two
and two make four."
"Aweel, Mr. Owen," resumed the citizen of Glasgow, "I dinna misdoubt ye,
and I'll prove it, sir--I'll prove it. I am a carefu' man, as is weel
ken'd, and industrious, as the hale town can testify; and I can win my
crowns, and keep my crowns, and count my crowns, wi' onybody in the Saut
Market, or it may be in the Gallowgate. And I'm a prudent man, as my
father the deacon was before me;--but rather than an honest civil
gentleman, that understands business, and is willing to do justice to all
men, should lie by the heels this gate, unable to help himsell or onybody
else--why, conscience, man! I'll be your bail myself--But ye'll mind it's
a bail _judicio sisti,_ as our town-clerk says, not _judicatum solvi;_
ye'll mind that, for there's muckle difference."
Mr. Owen assured him, that as matters then stood, he could not expect any
one to become surety for the actual payment of the debt, but that there
was not the most distant cause for apprehending loss from his failing to
present himself when lawfully called upon.
"I believe ye--I believe ye. Eneugh said--eneugh said. We'se hae your
legs loose by breakfast-time.--And now let's hear what thir chamber
chiels o' yours hae to say for themselves, or how, in the name of unrule,
they got here at this time o' night."
Hame came our gudeman at e'en,
And hame came he,
And there he saw a man
Where a man suldna be.
"How's this now, kimmer?
How's this?" quo he,--
"How came this carle here
Without the leave o' me?"
The magistrate took the light out of the servant-maid's hand, and
advanced to his scrutiny, like Diogenes in the street of Athens,
lantern-in-hand, and probably with as little expectation as that of the
cynic, that he was likely to encounter any especial treasure in the
course of his researches. The first whom he approached was my mysterious
guide, who, seated on a table as I have already described him, with his
eyes firmly fixed on the wall, his features arranged into the utmost
inflexibility of expression, his hands folded on his breast with an air
betwixt carelessness and defiance, his heel patting against the foot of
the table, to keep time with the tune which he continued to whistle,
submitted to Mr. Jarvie's investigation with an air of absolute
confidence and assurance which, for a moment, placed at fault the memory
and sagacity of the acute investigator.
"Ah!--Eh!--Oh!" exclaimed the Bailie. "My conscience!--it's impossible!--
and yet--no!--Conscience!--it canna be!--and yet again--Deil hae me, that
I suld say sae!--Ye robber--ye cateran--ye born deevil that ye are, to a'
bad ends and nae gude ane!--can this be you?"
"E'en as ye see, Bailie," was the laconic answer.
"Conscience! if I am na clean bumbaized--_you_, ye cheat-the-wuddy rogue
--_you_ here on your venture in the tolbooth o' Glasgow?--What d'ye
think's the value o' your head?"
"Umph!--why, fairly weighed, and Dutch weight, it might weigh down one
provost's, four bailies', a town-clerk's, six deacons', besides
"Ah, ye reiving villain!" interrupted Mr. Jarvie. "But tell ower your
sins, and prepare ye, for if I say the word"--
"True, Bailie," said he who was thus addressed, folding his hands behind
him with the utmost _nonchalance,_ "but ye will never say that word."
"And why suld I not, sir?" exclaimed the magistrate--"Why suld I not?
Answer me that--why suld I not?"
"For three sufficient reasons, Bailie Jarvie.--First, for auld langsyne;
second, for the sake of the auld wife ayont the fire at Stuckavrallachan,
that made some mixture of our bluids, to my own proper shame be it
spoken! that has a cousin wi' accounts, and yarn winnles, and looms and
shuttles, like a mere mechanical person; and lastly, Bailie, because if I
saw a sign o' your betraying me, I would plaster that wa' with your harns
ere the hand of man could rescue you!"
"Ye're a bauld desperate villain, sir," retorted the undaunted Bailie;
"and ye ken that I ken ye to be sae, and that I wadna stand a moment for
my ain risk."
"I ken weel," said the other, "ye hae gentle bluid in your veins, and I
wad be laith to hurt my ain kinsman. But I'll gang out here as free as I
came in, or the very wa's o' Glasgow tolbooth shall tell o't these ten
years to come."
"Weel, weel," said Mr. Jarvie, "bluid's thicker than water; and it liesna
in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilka other's een if other een see
them no. It wad be sair news to the auld wife below the Ben of
Stuckavrallachan, that you, ye Hieland limmer, had knockit out my harns,
or that I had kilted you up in a tow. But ye'll own, ye dour deevil, that
were it no your very sell, I wad hae grippit the best man in the
"Ye wad hae tried, cousin," answered my guide, "that I wot weel; but I
doubt ye wad hae come aff wi' the short measure; for we gang-there-out
Hieland bodies are an unchancy generation when you speak to us o'
bondage. We downa bide the coercion of gude braid-claith about our
hinderlans, let a be breeks o' free-stone, and garters o' iron."
"Ye'll find the stane breeks and the airn garters--ay, and the hemp
cravat, for a' that, neighbour," replied the Bailie.
"Nae man in a civilised country ever played the pliskies ye hae done--but
e'en pickle in your ain pock-neuk--I hae gi'en ye wanting."
"Well, cousin," said the other, "ye'll wear black at my burial."
"Deil a black cloak will be there, Robin, but the corbies and the
hoodie-craws, I'se gie ye my hand on that. But whar's the gude thousand
pund Scots that I lent ye, man, and when am I to see it again?"
"Where it is," replied my guide, after the affectation of considering for
a moment, "I cannot justly tell--probably where last year's snaw is."
"And that's on the tap of Schehallion, ye Hieland dog," said Mr. Jarvie;
"and I look for payment frae you where ye stand."
"Ay," replied the Highlander, "but I keep neither snaw nor dollars in my
sporran. And as to when you'll see it--why, just when the king enjoys his
ain again, as the auld sang says."
"Warst of a', Robin," retorted the Glaswegian,--"I mean, ye disloyal
traitor--Warst of a'!--Wad ye bring popery in on us, and arbitrary power,
and a foist and a warming-pan, and the set forms, and the curates, and
the auld enormities o' surplices and cerements? Ye had better stick to
your auld trade o' theft-boot, black-mail, spreaghs, and gillravaging--
better stealing nowte than ruining nations."
"Hout, man--whisht wi' your whiggery," answered the Celt; "we hae ken'd
ane anither mony a lang day. I'se take care your counting-room is no
cleaned out when the Gillon-a-naillie* come to redd up the Glasgow
buiths, and clear them o' their auld shop-wares.
* The lads with the kilts or petticoats.
And, unless it just fa' in the preceese way o' your duty, ye maunna see
me oftener, Nicol, than I am disposed to be seen."
"Ye are a dauring villain, Rob," answered the Bailie; "and ye will be
hanged, that will be seen and heard tell o'; but I'se ne'er be the ill
bird and foul my nest, set apart strong necessity and the skreigh of
duty, which no man should hear and be inobedient. And wha the deevil's
this?" he continued, turning to me--"Some gillravager that ye hae listed,
I daur say. He looks as if he had a bauld heart to the highway, and a
lang craig for the gibbet."
"This, good Mr. Jarvie," said Owen, who, like myself, had been struck
dumb during this strange recognition, and no less strange dialogue, which
took place betwixt these extraordinary kinsmen--"This, good Mr. Jarvie,
is young Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, only child of the head of our house, who
should have been taken into our firm at the time Mr. Rashleigh
Osbaldistone, his cousin, had the luck to be taken into it"--(Here Owen
could not suppress a groan)--"But howsoever"--
"Oh, I have heard of that smaik," said the Scotch merchant, interrupting
him; "it is he whom your principal, like an obstinate auld fule, wad make
a merchant o', wad he or wad he no,--and the lad turned a strolling
stage-player, in pure dislike to the labour an honest man should live by.
Weel, sir, what say you to your handiwork? Will Hamlet the Dane, or
Hamlet's ghost, be good security for Mr. Owen, sir?"
"I don't deserve your taunt," I replied, "though I respect your motive,
and am too grateful for the assistance you have afforded Mr. Owen, to