Part 4 out of 5
that my companion, Mr. Jarvie, had accompanied me on the same errand."
"And I wish Mr. Jarvie's boots had been fu' o' boiling water when he drew
them on for sic a purpose," interrupted the Bailie.
"You may read your father," said Helen MacGregor, turning to her sons,
"in what this young Saxon tells us--Wise only when the bonnet is on his
head, and the sword is in his hand, he never exchanges the tartan for the
broad-cloth, but he runs himself into the miserable intrigues of the
Lowlanders, and becomes again, after all he has suffered, their agent--
their tool--their slave."
"Add, madam," said I, "and their benefactor."
"Be it so," she said; "for it is the most empty title of them all, since
he has uniformly sown benefits to reap a harvest of the most foul
ingratitude.--But enough of this. I shall cause you to be guided to the
enemy's outposts. Ask for their commander, and deliver him this message
from me, Helen MacGregor;--that if they injure a hair of MacGregor's
head, and if they do not set him at liberty within the space of twelve
hours, there is not a lady in the Lennox but shall before Christmas cry
the coronach for them she will be loath to lose,--there is not a farmer
but shall sing well-a-wa over a burnt barnyard and an empty byre,--there
is not a laird nor heritor shall lay his head on the pillow at night with
the assurance of being a live man in the morning,--and, to begin as we
are to end, so soon as the term is expired, I will send them this Glasgow
Bailie, and this Saxon Captain, and all the rest of my prisoners, each
bundled in a plaid, and chopped into as many pieces as there are checks
in the tartan."
As she paused in her denunciation, Captain Thornton, who was within
hearing, added, with great coolness, "Present my compliments--Captain
Thornton's of the Royals, compliments--to the commanding officer, and
tell him to do his duty and secure his prisoner, and not waste a thought
upon me. If I have been fool enough to have been led into an ambuscade by
these artful savages, I am wise enough to know how to die for it without
disgracing the service. I am only sorry for my poor fellows," he said,
"that have fallen into such butcherly hands."
"Whist! whist!" exclaimed the Bailie; "are ye weary o' your life?--Ye'll
gie _my_ service to the commanding officer, Mr. Osbaldistone--Bailie
Nicol Jarvie's service, a magistrate o' Glasgow, as his father the deacon
was before him--and tell him, here are a wheen honest men in great
trouble, and like to come to mair; and the best thing he can do for the
common good, will be just to let Rob come his wa's up the glen, and nae
mair about it. There's been some ill dune here already; but as it has
lighted chiefly on the gauger, it winna be muckle worth making a stir
With these very opposite injunctions from the parties chiefly interested
in the success of my embassy, and with the reiterated charge of the wife
of MacGregor to remember and detail every word of her injunctions, I was
at length suffered to depart; and Andrew Fairservice, chiefly, I believe,
to get rid of his clamorous supplications, was permitted to attend me.
Doubtful, however, that I might use my horse as a means of escape from my
guides, or desirous to retain a prize of some value, I was given to
understand that I was to perform my journey on foot, escorted by Hamish
MacGregor, the elder brother, who, with two followers, attended, as well
to show me the way, as to reconnoitre the strength and position of the
enemy. Dougal had been at first ordered on this party, but he contrived
to elude the service, with the purpose, as we afterwards understood, of
watching over Mr. Jarvie, whom, according to his wild principles of
fidelity, he considered as entitled to his good offices, from having once
acted in some measure as his patron or master.
After walking with great rapidity about an hour, we arrived at an
eminence covered with brushwood, which gave us a commanding prospect down
the valley, and a full view of the post which the militia occupied. Being
chiefly cavalry, they had judiciously avoided any attempt to penetrate
the pass which had been so unsuccessfully essayed by Captain Thornton.
They had taken up their situation with some military skill, on a rising
ground in the centre of the little valley of Aberfoil, through which the
river Forth winds its earliest course, and which is formed by two ridges
of hills, faced with barricades of limestone rock, intermixed with huge
masses of breecia, or pebbles imbedded in some softer substance which has
hardened around them like mortar; and surrounded by the more lofty
mountains in the distance. These ridges, however, left the valley of
breadth enough to secure the cavalry from any sudden surprise by the
mountaineers and they had stationed sentinels and outposts at proper
distances from this main body, in every direction, so that they might
secure full time to mount and get under arms upon the least alarm. It was
not, indeed, expected at that time, that Highlanders would attack cavalry
in an open plain, though late events have shown that they may do so with
* The affairs of Prestonpans and Falkirk are probably alluded to, which *
marks the time of writing the Memoirs as subsequent to 1745.
When I first knew the Highlanders, they had almost a superstitious dread
of a mounted trooper, the horse being so much more fierce and imposing in
his appearance than the little shelties of their own hills, and moreover
being trained, as the more ignorant mountaineers believed, to fight with
his feet and his teeth. The appearance of the piequeted horses, feeding
in this little vale--the forms of the soldiers, as they sate, stood, or
walked, in various groups in the vicinity of the beautiful river, and of
the bare yet romantic ranges of rock which hedge in the landscape on
either side,--formed a noble foreground; while far to the eastward the
eye caught a glance of the lake of Menteith; and Stirling Castle, dimly
seen along with the blue and distant line of the Ochil Mountains, closed
After gazing on this landscape with great earnestness, young MacGregor
intimated to me that I was to descend to the station of the militia and
execute my errand to their commander,--enjoining me at the same time,
with a menacing gesture, neither to inform them who had guided me to that
place, nor where I had parted from my escort. Thus tutored, I descended
towards the military post, followed by Andrew, who, only retaining his
breeches and stockings of the English costume, without a hat,
bare-legged, with brogues on his feet, which Dougal had given him out of
compassion, and having a tattered plaid to supply the want of all upper
garments, looked as if he had been playing the part of a Highland
Tom-of-Bedlam. We had not proceeded far before we became visible to one
of the videttes, who, riding towards us, presented his carabine and
commanded me to stand. I obeyed, and when the soldier came up, desired to
be conducted to his commanding-officer. I was immediately brought where a
circle of officers, sitting upon the grass, seemed in attendance upon one
of superior rank. He wore a cuirass of polished steel, over which were
drawn the insignia of the ancient Order of the Thistle. My friend
Garschattachin, and many other gentlemen, some in uniform, others in
their ordinary dress, but all armed and well attended, seemed to receive
their orders from this person of distinction. Many servants in rich
liveries, apparently a part of his household, were also in waiting.
Having paid to this nobleman the respect which his rank appeared to
demand, I acquainted him that I had been an involuntary witness to the
king's soldiers having suffered a defeat from the Highlanders at the pass
of Loch-Ard (such I had learned was the name of the place where Mr.
Thornton was made prisoner), and that the victors threatened every
species of extremity to those who had fallen into their power, as well as
to the Low Country in general, unless their Chief, who had that morning
been made prisoner, were returned to them uninjured. The Duke (for he
whom I addressed was of no lower rank) listened to me with great
composure, and then replied, that he should be extremely sorry to expose
the unfortunate gentlemen who had been made prisoners to the cruelty of
the barbarians into whose hands they had fallen, but that it was folly to
suppose that he would deliver up the very author of all these disorders
and offences, and so encourage his followers in their license. "You may
return to those who sent you," he proceeded, "and inform them, that I
shall certainly cause Rob Roy Campbell, whom they call MacGregor, to be
executed, by break of day, as an outlaw taken in arms, and deserving
death by a thousand acts of violence; that I should be most justly held
unworthy of my situation and commission did I act otherwise; that I shall
know how to protect the country against their insolent threats of
violence; and that if they injure a hair of the head of any of the
unfortunate gentlemen whom an unlucky accident has thrown into their
power, I will take such ample vengeance, that the very stones of their
glens shall sing woe for it this hundred years to come!"
I humbly begged leave to remonstrate respecting the honourable mission
imposed on me, and touched upon the obvious danger attending it, when the
noble commander replied, "that such being the case, I might send my
"The deil be in my feet," said Andrew, without either having respect to
the presence in which he stood, or waiting till I replied--"the deil be
in my feet, if I gang my tae's length. Do the folk think I hae another
thrapple in my pouch after John Highlandman's sneeked this ane wi' his
joctaleg? or that I can dive doun at the tae side of a Highland loch and
rise at the tother, like a shell-drake? Na, na--ilk ane for himsell, and
God for us a'. Folk may just make a page o' their ain age, and serve
themsells till their bairns grow up, and gang their ain errands for
Andrew. Rob Roy never came near the parish of Dreepdaily, to steal either
pippin or pear frae me or mine."
Silencing my follower with some difficulty, I represented to the Duke the
great danger Captain Thornton and Mr. Jarvie would certainly be exposed
to, and entreated he would make me the bearer of such modified terms as
might be the means of saving their lives. I assured him I should decline
no danger if I could be of service; but from what I had heard and seen, I
had little doubt they would be instantly murdered should the chief of the
outlaws suffer death.
The Duke was obviously much affected. "It was a hard case," he said, "and
he felt it as such; but he had a paramount duty to perform to the
country--Rob Roy must die!"
I own it was not without emotion that I heard this threat of instant
death to my acquaintance Campbell, who had so often testified his
good-will towards me. Nor was I singular in the feeling, for many of
those around the Duke ventured to express themselves in his favour. "It
would be more advisable," they said, "to send him to Stirling Castle, and
there detain him a close prisoner, as a pledge for the submission and
dispersion of his gang. It were a great pity to expose the country to be
plundered, which, now that the long nights approached, it would be found
very difficult to prevent, since it was impossible to guard every point,
and the Highlanders were sure to select those that were left exposed."
They added, that there was great hardship in leaving the unfortunate
prisoners to the almost certain doom of massacre denounced against them,
which no one doubted would be executed in the first burst of revenge.
Garschattachin ventured yet farther, confiding in the honour of the
nobleman whom he addressed, although he knew he had particular reasons
for disliking their prisoner. "Rob Roy," he said, "though a kittle
neighbour to the Low Country, and particularly obnoxious to his Grace,
and though he maybe carried the catheran trade farther than ony man o'
his day, was an auld-farrand carle, and there might be some means of
making him hear reason; whereas his wife and sons were reckless fiends,
without either fear or mercy about them, and, at the head of a' his
limmer loons, would be a worse plague to the country than ever he had
"Pooh! pooh!" replied his Grace, "it is the very sense and cunning of
this fellow which has so long maintained his reign--a mere Highland
robber would have been put down in as many weeks as he has flourished
years. His gang, without him, is no more to be dreaded as a permanent
annoyance--it will no longer exist--than a wasp without its head, which
may sting once perhaps, but is instantly crushed into annihilation."
Garschattachin was not so easily silenced. "I am sure, my Lord Duke," he
replied, "I have no favour for Rob, and he as little for me, seeing he
has twice cleaned out my ain byres, beside skaith amang my tenants; but,
"But, however, Garschattachin," said the Duke, with a smile of peculiar
expression, "I fancy you think such a freedom may be pardoned in a
friend's friend, and Rob's supposed to be no enemy to Major Galbraith's
friends over the water."
"If it be so, my lord," said Garschattachin, in the same tone of
jocularity, "it's no the warst thing I have heard of him. But I wish we
heard some news from the clans, that we have waited for sae lang. I vow
to God they'll keep a Hielandman's word wi' us--I never ken'd them
better--it's ill drawing boots upon trews."
"I cannot believe it," said the Duke. "These gentlemen are known to be
men of honour, and I must necessarily suppose they are to keep their
appointment. Send out two more horse-men to look for our friends. We
cannot, till their arrival, pretend to attack the pass where Captain
Thornton has suffered himself to be surprised, and which, to my
knowledge, ten men on foot might make good against a regiment of the best
horse in Europe--Meanwhile let refreshments be given to the men."
I had the benefit of this last order, the more necessary and acceptable,
as I had tasted nothing since our hasty meal at Aberfoil the evening
before. The videttes who had been despatched returned without tidings of
the expected auxiliaries, and sunset was approaching, when a Highlander
belonging to the clans whose co-operation was expected, appeared as the
bearer of a letter, which he delivered to the Duke with a most profound
"Now will I wad a hogshead of claret," said Garschattachin, "that this is
a message to tell us that these cursed Highlandmen, whom we have fetched
here at the expense of so much plague and vexation, are going to draw
off, and leave us to do our own business if we can."
"It is even so, gentlemen," said the Duke, reddening with indignation,
after having perused the letter, which was written upon a very dirty
scrap of paper, but most punctiliously addressed, "For the much-honoured
hands of Ane High and Mighty Prince, the Duke," &c. &c. &c. "Our allies,"
continued the Duke, "have deserted us, gentlemen, and have made a
separate peace with the enemy."
"It's just the fate of all alliances," said Garschattachin, "the Dutch
were gaun to serve us the same gate, if we had not got the start of them
"You are facetious, air," said the Duke, with a frown which showed how
little he liked the pleasantry; "but our business is rather of a grave
cut just now.--I suppose no gentleman would advise our attempting to
penetrate farther into the country, unsupported either by friendly
Highlanders, or by infantry from Inversnaid?"
A general answer announced that the attempt would be perfect madness.
"Nor would there be great wisdom," the Duke added, "in remaining exposed
to a night-attack in this place. I therefore propose that we should
retreat to the house of Duchray and that of Gartartan, and keep safe and
sure watch and ward until morning. But before we separate, I will examine
Rob Roy before you all, and make you sensible, by your own eyes and ears,
of the extreme unfitness of leaving him space for farther outrage." He
gave orders accordingly, and the prisoner was brought before him, his
arms belted down above the elbow, and secured to his body by a
horse-girth buckled tight behind him. Two non-commissioned officers had
hold of him, one on each side, and two file of men with carabines and
fixed bayonets attended for additional security.
I had never seen this man in the dress of his country, which set in a
striking point of view the peculiarities of his form. A shock-head of red
hair, which the hat and periwig of the Lowland costume had in a great
measure concealed, was seen beneath the Highland bonnet, and verified the
epithet of _Roy,_ or Red, by which he was much better known in the Low
Country than by any other, and is still, I suppose, best remembered. The
justice of the appellation was also vindicated by the appearance of that
part of his limbs, from the bottom of his kilt to the top of his short
hose, which the fashion of his country dress left bare, and which was
covered with a fell of thick, short, red hair, especially around his
knees, which resembled in this respect, as well as from their sinewy
appearance of extreme strength, the limbs of a red-coloured Highland
bull. Upon the whole, betwixt the effect produced by the change of dress,
and by my having become acquainted with his real and formidable
character, his appearance had acquired to my eyes something so much
wilder and more striking than it before presented, that I could scarce
recognise him to be the same person.
His manner was bold, unconstrained unless by the actual bonds, haughty,
and even dignified. He bowed to the Duke, nodded to Garschattachin and
others, and showed some surprise at seeing me among the party.
"It is long since we have met, Mr. Campbell," said the Duke.
"It is so, my Lord Duke; I could have wished it had been" (looking at the
fastening on his arms) "when I could have better paid the compliments I
owe to your Grace;--but there's a gude time coming."
"No time like the time present, Mr. Campbell," answered the Duke, "for
the hours are fast flying that must settle your last account with all
mortal affairs. I do not say this to insult your distress; but you must
be aware yourself that you draw near the end of your career. I do not
deny that you may sometimes have done less harm than others of your
unhappy trade, and that you may occasionally have exhibited marks of
talent, and even of a disposition which promised better things. But you
are aware how long you have been the terror and the oppressor of a
peaceful neighbourhood, and by what acts of violence you have maintained
and extended your usurped authority. You know, in short, that you have
deserved death, and that you must prepare for it."
"My Lord," said Rob Roy, "although I may well lay my misfortunes at your
Grace's door, yet I will never say that you yourself have been the wilful
and witting author of them. My Lord, if I had thought sae, your Grace
would not this day have been sitting in judgment on me; for you have been
three times within good rifle distance of me when you were thinking but
of the red deer, and few people have ken'd me miss my aim. But as for
them that have abused your Grace's ear, and set you up against a man that
was ance as peacefu' a man as ony in the land, and made your name the
warrant for driving me to utter extremity,--I have had some amends of
them, and, for a' that your Grace now says, I expect to live to hae
"I know," said the Duke, in rising anger, "that you are a determined and
impudent villain, who will keep his oath if he swears to mischief; but it
shall be my care to prevent you. You have no enemies but your own wicked
"Had I called myself Grahame, instead of Campbell, I might have heard
less about them," answered Rob Roy, with dogged resolution.
"You will do well, sir," said the Duke, "to warn your wife and family and
followers, to beware how they use the gentlemen now in their hands, as I
will requite tenfold on them, and their kin and allies, the slightest
injury done to any of his Majesty's liege subjects."
"My Lord," said Roy in answer, "none of my enemies will allege that I
have been a bloodthirsty man, and were I now wi' my folk, I could rule
four or five hundred wild Hielanders as easy as your Grace those eight or
ten lackeys and foot-boys--But if your Grace is bent to take the head
away from a house, ye may lay your account there will be misrule amang
the members.--However, come o't what like, there's an honest man, a
kinsman o' my ain, maun come by nae skaith. Is there ony body here wad do
a gude deed for MacGregor?--he may repay it, though his hands be now
The Highlander who had delivered the letter to the Duke replied, "I'll do
your will for you, MacGregor; and I'll gang back up the glen on purpose."
He advanced, and received from the prisoner a message to his wife, which,
being in Gaelic, I did not understand, but I had little doubt it related
to some measures to be taken for the safety of Mr. Jarvie.
"Do you hear the fellow's impudence?" said the Duke; "he confides in his
character of a messenger. His conduct is of a piece with his master's,
who invited us to make common cause against these freebooters, and have
deserted us so soon as the MacGregors have agreed to surrender the
Balquhidder lands they were squabbling about.
No truth in plaids, no faith in tartan trews!
Chameleon-like, they change a thousand hues."
"Your great ancestor never said so, my Lord," answered Major Galbraith;--
"and, with submission, neither would your Grace have occasion to say it,
wad ye but be for beginning justice at the well-head--Gie the honest man
his mear again--Let every head wear it's ane bannet, and the distractions
o' the Lennox wad be mended wi' them o' the land."
"Hush! hush! Garschattachin," said the Duke; "this is language dangerous
for you to talk to any one, and especially to me; but I presume you
reckon yourself a privileged person. Please to draw off your party
towards Gartartan; I shall myself see the prisoner escorted to Duchray,
and send you orders tomorrow. You will please grant no leave of absence
to any of your troopers."
"Here's auld ordering and counter-ordering," muttered Garschattachin
between his teeth. "But patience! patience!--we may ae day play at change
seats, the king's coming."
The two troops of cavalry now formed, and prepared to march off the
ground, that they might avail themselves of the remainder of daylight to
get to their evening quarters. I received an intimation, rather than an
invitation, to attend the party; and I perceived, that, though no longer
considered as a prisoner, I was yet under some sort of suspicion. The
times were indeed so dangerous,--the great party questions of Jacobite
and Hanoverian divided the country so effectually,--and the constant
disputes and jealousies between the Highlanders and Lowlanders, besides a
number of inexplicable causes of feud which separated the great leading
families in Scotland from each other, occasioned such general suspicion,
that a solitary and unprotected stranger was almost sure to meet with
something disagreeable in the course of his travels.
I acquiesced, however, in my destination with the best grace I could,
consoling myself with the hope that I might obtain from the captive
freebooter some information concerning Rashleigh and his machinations. I
should do myself injustice did I not add, that my views were not merely
selfish. I was too much interested in my singular acquaintance not to be
desirous of rendering him such services as his unfortunate situation
might demand, or admit of his receiving.
And when he came to broken brigg,
He bent his bow and swam;
And when he came to grass growing,
Set down his feet and ran.
The echoes of the rocks and ravines, on either side, now rang to the
trumpets of the cavalry, which, forming themselves into two distinct
bodies, began to move down the valley at a slow trot. That commanded by
Major Galbraith soon took to the right hand, and crossed the Forth, for
the purpose of taking up the quarters assigned them for the night, when
they were to occupy, as I understood, an old castle in the vicinity. They
formed a lively object while crossing the stream, but were soon lost in
winding up the bank on the opposite side, which was clothed with wood.
We continued our march with considerable good order. To ensure the safe
custody of the prisoner, the Duke had caused him to be placed on
horseback behind one of his retainers, called, as I was informed, Ewan of
Brigglands, one of the largest and strongest men who were present. A
horse-belt, passed round the bodies of both, and buckled before the
yeoman's breast, rendered it impossible for Rob Roy to free himself from
his keeper. I was directed to keep close beside them, and accommodated
for the purpose with a troop-horse. We were as closely surrounded by the
soldiers as the width of the road would permit, and had always at least
one, if not two, on each side, with pistol in hand. Andrew Fairservice,
furnished with a Highland pony, of which they had made prey somewhere or
other, was permitted to ride among the other domestics, of whom a great
number attended the line of march, though without falling into the ranks
of the more regularly trained troopers.
In this manner we travelled for a certain distance, until we arrived at a
place where we also were to cross the river. The Forth, as being the
outlet of a lake, is of considerable depth, even where less important in
point of width, and the descent to the ford was by a broken precipitous
ravine, which only permitted one horseman to descend at once. The rear
and centre of our small body halting on the bank while the front files
passed down in succession, produced a considerable delay, as is usual on
such occasions, and even some confusion; for a number of those riders,
who made no proper part of the squadron, crowded to the ford without
regularity, and made the militia cavalry, although tolerably well
drilled, partake in some degree of their own disorder.
It was while we were thus huddled together on the bank that I heard Rob
Roy whisper to the man behind whom he was placed on horseback, "Your
father, Ewan, wadna hae carried an auld friend to the shambles, like a
calf, for a' the Dukes in Christendom."
Ewan returned no answer, but shrugged, as one who would express by that
sign that what he was doing was none of his own choice.
"And when the MacGregors come down the glen, and ye see toom faulds, a
bluidy hearthstone, and the fire flashing out between the rafters o' your
house, ye may be thinking then, Ewan, that were your friend Rob to the
fore, you would have had that safe which it will make your heart sair to
Ewan of Brigglands again shrugged and groaned, but remained silent.
"It's a sair thing," continued Rob, sliding his insinuations so gently
into Ewan's ear that they reached no other but mine, who certainly saw
myself in no shape called upon to destroy his prospects of escape--"It's
a sair thing, that Ewan of Brigglands, whom Roy MacGregor has helped with
hand, sword, and purse, suld mind a gloom from a great man mair than a
Ewan seemed sorely agitated, but was silent.--We heard the Duke's voice
from the opposite bank call, "Bring over the prisoner."
Ewan put his horse in motion, and just as I heard Roy say, "Never weigh a
MacGregor's bluid against a broken whang o' leather, for there will be
another accounting to gie for it baith here and hereafter," they passed
me hastily, and dashing forward rather precipitately, entered the water.
"Not yet, sir--not yet," said some of the troopers to me, as I was about
to follow, while others pressed forward into the stream.
I saw the Duke on the other side, by the waning light, engaged in
commanding his people to get into order, as they landed dispersedly, some
higher, some lower. Many had crossed, some were in the water, and the
rest were preparing to follow, when a sudden splash warned me that
MacGregor's eloquence had prevailed on Ewan to give him freedom and a
chance for life. The Duke also heard the sound, and instantly guessed its
meaning. "Dog!" he exclaimed to Ewan as he landed, "where is your
prisoner?" and, without waiting to hear the apology which the terrified
vassal began to falter forth, he fired a pistol at his head, whether
fatally I know not, and exclaimed, "Gentlemen, disperse and pursue the
villain--An hundred guineas for him that secures Rob Roy!"
All became an instant scene of the most lively confusion. Rob Roy,
disengaged from his bonds, doubtless by Ewan's slipping the buckle of his
belt, had dropped off at the horse's tail, and instantly dived, passing
under the belly of the troop-horse which was on his left hand. But as he
was obliged to come to the surface an instant for air, the glimpse of his
tartan plaid drew the attention of the troopers, some of whom plunged
into the river, with a total disregard to their own safety, rushing,
according to the expression of their country, through pool and stream,
sometimes swimming their horses, sometimes losing them and struggling for
their own lives. Others, less zealous or more prudent, broke off in
different directions, and galloped up and down the banks, to watch the
places at which the fugitive might possibly land. The hollowing, the
whooping, the calls for aid at different points, where they saw, or
conceived they saw, some vestige of him they were seeking,--the frequent
report of pistols and carabines, fired at every object which excited the
least suspicion,--the sight of so many horsemen riding about, in and out
of the river, and striking with their long broadswords at whatever
excited their attention, joined to the vain exertions used by their
officers to restore order and regularity,--and all this in so wild a
scene, and visible only by the imperfect twilight of an autumn evening,
made the most extraordinary hubbub I had hitherto witnessed. I was indeed
left alone to observe it, for our whole cavalcade had dispersed in
pursuit, or at least to see the event of the search. Indeed, as I partly
suspected at the time, and afterwards learned with certainty, many of
those who seemed most active in their attempts to waylay and recover the
fugitive, were, in actual truth, least desirous that he should be taken,
and only joined in the cry to increase the general confusion, and to give
Rob Roy a better opportunity of escaping.
Escape, indeed, was not difficult for a swimmer so expert as the
freebooter, as soon as he had eluded the first burst of pursuit. At one
time he was closely pressed, and several blows were made which flashed in
the water around him; the scene much resembling one of the otter-hunts
which I had seen at Osbaldistone Hall, where the animal is detected by
the hounds from his being necessitated to put his nose above the stream
to vent or breathe, while he is enabled to elude them by getting under
water again so soon as he has refreshed himself by respiration.
MacGregor, however, had a trick beyond the otter; for he contrived, when
very closely pursued, to disengage himself unobserved from his plaid, and
suffer it to float down the stream, where in its progress it quickly
attracted general attention; many of the horsemen were thus put upon a
false scent, and several shots or stabs were averted from the party for
whom they were designed.
Once fairly out of view, the recovery of the prisoner became almost
impossible, since, in so many places, the river was rendered inaccessible
by the steepness of its banks, or the thickets of alders, poplars, and
birch, which, overhanging its banks, prevented the approach of horsemen.
Errors and accidents had also happened among the pursuers, whose task the
approaching night rendered every moment more hopeless. Some got
themselves involved in the eddies of the stream, and required the
assistance of their companions to save them from drowning. Others, hurt
by shots or blows in the confused mele'e, implored help or threatened
vengeance, and in one or two instances such accidents led to actual
strife. The trumpets, therefore, sounded the retreat, announcing that the
commanding officer, with whatsoever unwillingness, had for the present
relinquished hopes of the important prize which had thus unexpectedly
escaped his grasp, and the troopers began slowly, reluctantly, and
brawling with each other as they returned, again to assume their ranks. I
could see them darkening, as they formed on the southern bank of the
river,--whose murmurs, long drowned by the louder cries of vengeful
pursuit, were now heard hoarsely mingling with the deep, discontented,
and reproachful voices of the disappointed horsemen.
Hitherto I had been as it were a mere spectator, though far from an
uninterested one, of the singular scene which had passed. But now I heard
a voice suddenly exclaim, "Where is the English stranger?--It was he gave
Rob Roy the knife to cut the belt."
"Cleeve the pock-pudding to the chafts!" cried one voice.
"Weize a brace of balls through his harn-pan!" said a second.
"Drive three inches of cauld airn into his brisket!" shouted a third.
And I heard several horses galloping to and fro, with the kind purpose,
doubtless, of executing these denunciations. I was immediately awakened
to the sense of my situation, and to the certainty that armed men, having
no restraint whatever on their irritated and inflamed passions, would
probably begin by shooting or cutting me down, and afterwards investigate
the justice of the action. Impressed by this belief, I leaped from my
horse, and turning him loose, plunged into a bush of alder-trees, where,
considering the advancing obscurity of the night, I thought there was
little chance of my being discovered. Had I been near enough to the Duke
to have invoked his personal protection, I would have done so; but he had
already commenced his retreat, and I saw no officer on the left bank of
the river, of authority sufficient to have afforded protection, in case
of my surrendering myself. I thought there was no point of honour which
could require, in such circumstances, an unnecessary exposure of my life.
My first idea, when the tumult began to be appeased, and the clatter of
the horses' feet was heard less frequently in the immediate vicinity of
my hiding-place, was to seek out the Duke's quarters when all should be
quiet, and give myself up to him, as a liege subject, who had nothing to
fear from his justice, and a stranger, who had every right to expect
protection and hospitality. With this purpose I crept out of my
hiding-place, and looked around me.
The twilight had now melted nearly into darkness; a few or none of the
troopers were left on my side of the Forth, and of those who were already
across it, I only heard the distant trample of the horses' feet, and the
wailing and prolonged sound of their trumpets, which rung through the
woods to recall stragglers, Here, therefore, I was left in a situation of
considerable difficulty. I had no horse, and the deep and wheeling stream
of the river, rendered turbid by the late tumult of which its channel had
been the scene, and seeming yet more so under the doubtful influence of
an imperfect moonlight, had no inviting influence for a pedestrian by no
means accustomed to wade rivers, and who had lately seen horsemen
weltering, in this dangerous passage, up to the very saddle-laps. At the
same time, my prospect, if I remained on the side of the river on which I
then stood, could be no other than of concluding the various fatigues of
this day and the preceding night, by passing that which was now closing
in, _al fresco_ on the side of a Highland hill.
After a moment's reflection, I began to consider that Fairservice, who
had doubtless crossed the river with the other domestics, according to
his forward and impertinent custom of putting himself always among the
foremost, could not fail to satisfy the Duke, or the competent
authorities, respecting my rank and situation; and that, therefore, my
character did not require my immediate appearance, at the risk of being
drowned in the river--of being unable to trace the march of the squadron
in case of my reaching the other side in safety--or, finally, of being
cut down, right or wrong, by some straggler, who might think such a piece
of good service a convenient excuse for not sooner rejoining his ranks. I
therefore resolved to measure my steps back to the little inn, where I
had passed the preceding night. I had nothing to apprehend from Rob Roy.
He was now at liberty, and I was certain, in case of my falling in with
any of his people, the news of his escape would ensure me protection. I
might thus also show, that I had no intention to desert Mr. Jarvie in the
delicate situation in which he had engaged himself chiefly on my account.
And lastly, it was only in this quarter that I could hope to learn
tidings concerning Rashleigh and my father's papers, which had been the
original cause of an expedition so fraught with perilous adventure. I
therefore abandoned all thoughts of crossing the Forth that evening; and,
turning my back on the Fords of Frew, began to retrace my steps towards
the little village of Aberfoil.
A sharp frost-wind, which made itself heard and felt from time to time,
removed the clouds of mist which might otherwise have slumbered till
morning on the valley; and, though it could not totally disperse the
clouds of vapour, yet threw them in confused and changeful masses, now
hovering round the heads of the mountains, now filling, as with a dense
and voluminous stream of smoke, the various deep gullies where masses of
the composite rock, or breccia, tumbling in fragments from the cliffs,
have rushed to the valley, leaving each behind its course a rent and torn
ravine resembling a deserted water-course. The moon, which was now high,
and twinkled with all the vivacity of a frosty atmosphere, silvered the
windings of the river and the peaks and precipices which the mist left
visible, while her beams seemed as it were absorbed by the fleecy
whiteness of the mist, where it lay thick and condensed; and gave to the
more light and vapoury specks, which were elsewhere visible, a sort of
filmy transparency resembling the lightest veil of silver gauze. Despite
the uncertainty of my situation, a view so romantic, joined to the active
and inspiring influence of the frosty atmosphere, elevated my spirits
while it braced my nerves. I felt an inclination to cast care away, and
bid defiance to danger, and involuntarily whistled, by way of cadence to
my steps, which my feeling of the cold led me to accelerate, and I felt
the pulse of existence beat prouder and higher in proportion as I felt
confidence in my own strength, courage, and resources. I was so much lost
in these thoughts, and in the feelings which they excited, that two
horsemen came up behind me without my hearing their approach, until one
was on each side of me, when the left-hand rider, pulling up his horse,
addressed me in the English tongue--"So ho, friend! whither so late?"
"To my supper and bed at Aberfoil," I replied.
"Are the passes open?" he inquired, with the same commanding tone of
"I do not know," I replied; "I shall learn when I get there. But," I
added, the fate of Morris recurring to my recollection, "if you are an
English stranger, I advise you to turn back till daylight; there has been
some disturbance in this neighbourhood, and I should hesitate to say it
is perfectly safe for strangers."
"The soldiers had the worst?--had they not?" was the reply.
"They had indeed; and an officer's party were destroyed or made
"Are you sure of that?" replied the horseman.
"As sure as that I hear you speak," I replied. "I was an unwilling
spectator of the skirmish."
"Unwilling!" continued the interrogator. "Were you not engaged in it
"Certainly no," I replied; "I was detained by the king's officer."
"On what suspicion? and who are you? or what is your name?" he continued.
"I really do not know, sir," said I, "why I should answer so many
questions to an unknown stranger. I have told you enough to convince you
that you are going into a dangerous and distracted country. If you choose
to proceed, it is your own affair; but as I ask you no questions
respecting your name and business, you will oblige me by making no
inquiries after mine."
"Mr. Francis Osbaldistone," said the other rider, in a voice the tones of
which thrilled through every nerve of my body, "should not whistle his
favourite airs when he wishes to remain undiscovered."
And Diana Vernon--for she, wrapped in a horseman's cloak, was the last
speaker--whistled in playful mimicry the second part of the tune which
was on my lips when they came up.
"Good God!" I exclaimed, like one thunderstruck, "can it be you, Miss
Vernon, on such a spot--at such an hour--in such a lawless country--in
"In such a masculine dress, you would say.--But what would you have? The
philosophy of the excellent Corporal Nym is the best after all; things
must be as they may--_pauca verba._"
While she was thus speaking, I eagerly took advantage of an unusually
bright gleam of moonshine, to study the appearance of her companion; for
it may be easily supposed, that finding Miss Vernon in a place so
solitary, engaged in a journey so dangerous, and under the protection of
one gentleman only, were circumstances to excite every feeling of
jealousy, as well as surprise. The rider did not speak with the deep
melody of Rashleigh's voice; his tones were more high and commanding; he
was taller, moreover, as he sate on horseback, than that first-rate
object of my hate and suspicion. Neither did the stranger's address
resemble that of any of my other cousins; it had that indescribable tone
and manner by which we recognise a man of sense and breeding, even in the
first few sentences he speaks.
The object of my anxiety seemed desirous to get rid of my investigation.
"Diana," he said, in a tone of mingled kindness and authority, "give your
cousin his property, and let us not spend time here."
Miss Vernon had in the meantime taken out a small case, and leaning down
from her horse towards me, she said, in a tone in which an effort at her
usual quaint lightness of expression contended with a deeper and more
grave tone of sentiment, "You see, my dear coz, I was born to be your
better angel. Rashleigh has been compelled to yield up his spoil, and had
we reached this same village of Aberfoil last night, as we purposed, I
should have found some Highland sylph to have wafted to you all these
representatives of commercial wealth. But there were giants and dragons
in the way; and errant-knights and damsels of modern times, bold though
they be, must not, as of yore, run into useless danger--Do not you do so
either, my dear coz."
"Diana," said her companion, "let me once more warn you that the evening
waxes late, and we are still distant from our home."
"I am coming, sir, I am coming--Consider," she added, with a sigh, "how
lately I have been subjected to control--besides, I have not yet given my
cousin the packet, and bid him fare-well--for ever. Yes, Frank," she
said, "for ever!--there is a gulf between us--a gulf of absolute
perdition;--where we go, you must not follow--what we do, you must not
share in--Farewell--be happy!"
In the attitude in which she bent from her horse, which was a Highland
pony, her face, not perhaps altogether unwillingly, touched mine. She
pressed my hand, while the tear that trembled in her eye found its way to
my cheek instead of her own. It was a moment never to be forgotten--
inexpressibly bitter, yet mixed with a sensation of pleasure so deeply
soothing and affecting, as at once to unlock all the flood-gates of the
heart. It was _but_ a moment, however; for, instantly recovering from the
feeling to which she had involuntarily given way, she intimated to her
companion she was ready to attend him, and putting their horses to a
brisk pace, they were soon far distant from the place where I stood.
Heaven knows, it was not apathy which loaded my frame and my tongue so
much, that I could neither return Miss Vernon's half embrace, nor even
answer her farewell. The word, though it rose to my tongue, seemed to
choke in my throat like the fatal _guilty,_ which the delinquent who
makes it his plea, knows must be followed by the doom of death. The
surprise--the sorrow, almost stupified me. I remained motionless with the
packet in my hand, gazing after them, as if endeavouring to count the
sparkles which flew from the horses' hoofs. I continued to look after
even these had ceased to be visible, and to listen for their footsteps
long after the last distant trampling had died in my ears. At length,
tears rushed to my eyes, glazed as they were by the exertion of straining
after what was no longer to be seen. I wiped them mechanically, and
almost without being aware that they were flowing--but they came thicker
and thicker; I felt the tightening of the throat and breast--the
_hysterica passio_ of poor Lear; and sitting down by the wayside, I shed
a flood of the first and most bitter tears which had flowed from my eyes
_Dangle._--Egad, I think the interpreter is the harder to be
understood of the two.
I had scarce given vent to my feelings in this paroxysm, ere was ashamed
of my weakness. I remembered that I had been for some time endeavouring
to regard Diana Vernon, when her idea intruded itself on my remembrance,
as a friend, for whose welfare I should indeed always be anxious, but
with whom I could have little further communication. But the almost
unrepressed tenderness of her manner, joined to the romance of our sudden
meeting where it was so little to have been expected, were circumstances
which threw me entirely off my guard. I recovered, however, sooner than
might have been expected, and without giving myself time accurately to
examine my motives. I resumed the path on which I had been travelling
when overtaken by this strange and unexpected apparition.
"I am not," was my reflection, "transgressing her injunction so
pathetically given, since I am but pursuing my own journey by the only
open route.--If I have succeeded in recovering my father's property, it
still remains incumbent on me to see my Glasgow friend delivered from the
situation in which he has involved himself on my account; besides, what
other place of rest can I obtain for the night excepting at the little
inn of Aberfoil? They also must stop there, since it is impossible for
travellers on horseback to go farther--Well, then, we shall meet again--
meet for the last time perhaps--But I shall see and hear her--I shall
learn who this happy man is who exercises over her the authority of a
husband--I shall learn if there remains, in the difficult course in which
she seems engaged, any difficulty which my efforts may remove, or aught
that I can do to express my gratitude for her generosity--for her
As I reasoned thus with myself, colouring with every plausible pretext
which occurred to my ingenuity my passionate desire once more to see and
converse with my cousin, I was suddenly hailed by a touch on the
shoulder; and the deep voice of a Highlander, who, walking still faster
than I, though I was proceeding at a smart pace, accosted me with, "A
braw night, Maister Osbaldistone--we have met at the mirk hour before
There was no mistaking the tone of MacGregor; he had escaped the pursuit
of his enemies, and was in full retreat to his own wilds and to his
adherents. He had also contrived to arm himself, probably at the house of
some secret adherent, for he had a musket on his shoulder, and the usual
Highland weapons by his side. To have found myself alone with such a
character in such a situation, and at this late hour in the evening,
might not have been pleasant to me in any ordinary mood of mind; for,
though habituated to think of Rob Roy in rather a friendly point of view,
I will confess frankly that I never heard him speak but that it seemed to
thrill my blood. The intonation of the mountaineers gives a habitual
depth and hollowness to the sound of their words, owing to the guttural
expression so common in their native language, and they usually speak
with a good deal of emphasis. To these national peculiarities Rob Roy
added a sort of hard indifference of accent and manner, expressive of a
mind neither to be daunted, nor surprised, nor affected by what passed
before him, however dreadful, however sudden, however afflicting.
Habitual danger, with unbounded confidence in his own strength and
sagacity, had rendered him indifferent to fear, and the lawless and
precarious life he led had blunted, though its dangers and errors had not
destroyed, his feelings for others. And it was to be remembered that I
had very lately seen the followers of this man commit a cruel slaughter
on an unarmed and suppliant individual.
Yet such was the state of my mind, that I welcomed the company of the
outlaw leader as a relief to my own overstrained and painful thoughts;
and was not without hopes that through his means I might obtain some clew
of guidance through the maze in which my fate had involved me. I
therefore answered his greeting cordially, and congratulated him on his
late escape in circumstances when escape seemed impossible.
"Ay," he replied, "there is as much between the craig and the woodie* as
there is between the cup and the lip. But my peril was less than you may
think, being a stranger to this country.
* _i.e._ The throat and the withy. Twigs of willow, such as bind faggots,
were often used for halters in Scotland and Ireland, being a sage economy
Of those that were summoned to take me, and to keep me, and to retake me
again, there was a moiety, as cousin Nicol Jarvie calls it, that had nae
will that I suld be either taen, or keepit fast, or retaen; and of tother
moiety, there was as half was feared to stir me; and so I had only like
the fourth part of fifty or sixty men to deal withal."
"And enough, too, I should think," replied I.
"I dinna ken that," said he; "but I ken, that turn every ill-willer that
I had amang them out upon the green before the Clachan of Aberfoil, I wad
find them play with broadsword and target, one down and another come on."
He now inquired into my adventures since we entered his country, and
laughed heartily at my account of the battle we had in the inn, and at
the exploits of the Bailie with the red-hot poker.
"Let Glasgow Flourish!" he exclaimed. "The curse of Cromwell on me, if I
wad hae wished better sport than to see cousin Nicol Jarvie singe
Iverach's plaid, like a sheep's head between a pair of tongs. But my
cousin Jarvie," he added, more gravely, "has some gentleman's bluid in
his veins, although he has been unhappily bred up to a peaceful and
mechanical craft, which could not but blunt any pretty man's spirit.--Ye
may estimate the reason why I could not receive you at the Clachan of
Aberfoil as I purposed. They had made a fine hosenet for me when I was
absent twa or three days at Glasgow, upon the king's business--But I
think I broke up the league about their lugs--they'll no be able to hound
one clan against another as they hae dune. I hope soon to see the day
when a' Hielandmen will stand shouther to shouther. But what chanced
I gave him an account of the arrival of Captain Thornton and his party,
and the arrest of the Bailie and myself under pretext of our being
suspicious persons; and upon his more special inquiry, I recollected the
officer had mentioned that, besides my name sounding suspicious in his
ears, he had orders to secure an old and young person, resembling our
description. This again moved the outlaw's risibility.
"As man lives by bread," he said, "the buzzards have mistaen my friend
the Bailie for his Excellency, and you for Diana Vernon--O, the most
"Miss Vernon?" said I, with hesitation, and trembling for the answer--
"Does she still bear that name? She passed but now, along with a
gentleman who seemed to use a style of authority."
"Ay, ay," answered Rob, "she's under lawfu' authority now; and full time,
for she was a daft hempie--But she's a mettle quean. It's a pity his
Excellency is a thought eldern. The like o' yourself, or my son Hamish,
wad be mair sortable in point of years."
Here, then, was a complete downfall of those castles of cards which my
fancy had, in despite of my reason, so often amused herself with
building. Although in truth I had scarcely anything else to expect, since
I could not suppose that Diana could be travelling in such a country, at
such an hour, with any but one who had a legal title to protect her, I
did not feel the blow less severely when it came; and MacGregor's voice,
urging me to pursue my story, sounded in my ears without conveying any
exact import to my mind.
"You are ill," he said at length, after he had spoken twice without
receiving an answer; "this day's wark has been ower muckle for ane
doubtless unused to sic things."
The tone of kindness in which this was spoken, recalling me to myself,
and to the necessities of my situation, I continued my narrative as well
as I could. Rob Roy expressed great exultation at the successful skirmish
in the pass.
"They say," he observed, "that king's chaff is better than other folk's
corn; but I think that canna be said o' king's soldiers, if they let
themselves be beaten wi' a wheen auld carles that are past fighting, and
bairns that are no come till't, and wives wi' their rocks and distaffs,
the very wally-draigles o' the countryside. And Dougal Gregor, too--wha
wad hae thought there had been as muckle sense in his tatty-pow, that
ne'er had a better covering than his ain shaggy hassock of hair!--But say
away--though I dread what's to come neist--for my Helen's an incarnate
devil when her bluid's up--puir thing, she has ower muckle reason."
I observed as much delicacy as I could in communicating to him the usage
we had received, but I obviously saw the detail gave him great pain.
"I wad rather than a thousand merks," he said, "that I had been at hame!
To misguide strangers, and forbye a', my ain natural cousin, that had
showed me sic kindness--I wad rather they had burned half the Lennox in
their folly! But this comes o' trusting women and their bairns, that have
neither measure nor reason in their dealings. However, it's a' owing to
that dog of a gauger, wha betrayed me by pretending a message from your
cousin Rashleigh, to meet him on the king's affairs, whilk I thought was
very like to be anent Garschattachin and a party of the Lennox declaring
themselves for King James. Faith! but I ken'd I was clean beguiled when I
heard the Duke was there; and when they strapped the horse-girth ower my
arms, I might hae judged what was biding me; for I ken'd your kinsman,
being, wi' pardon, a slippery loon himself, is prone to employ those of
his ain kidney--I wish he mayna hae been at the bottom o' the ploy
himsell--I thought the chield Morris looked devilish queer when I
determined he should remain a wad, or hostage, for my safe back-coming.
But I _am_ come back, nae thanks to him, or them that employed him; and
the question is, how the collector loon is to win back himsell--I promise
him it will not be without a ransom."
"Morris," said I, "has already paid the last ransom which mortal man can
"Eh! What?" exclaimed my companion hastily; "what d'ye say? I trust it
was in the skirmish he was killed?"
"He was slain in cold blood after the fight was over, Mr. Campbell."
"Cold blood?--Damnation!" he said, muttering betwixt his teeth--"How fell
that, sir? Speak out, sir, and do not Maister or Campbell me--my foot is
on my native heath, and my name is MacGregor!"
His passions were obviously irritated; but without noticing the rudeness
of his tone, I gave him a short and distinct account of the death of
Morris. He struck the butt of his gun with great vehemence against the
ground, and broke out--"I vow to God, such a deed might make one forswear
kin, clan, country, wife, and bairns! And yet the villain wrought long
for it. And what is the difference between warsling below the water wi' a
stane about your neck, and wavering in the wind wi' a tether round it?--
it's but choking after a', and he drees the doom he ettled for me. I
could have wished, though, they had rather putten a ball through him, or
a dirk; for the fashion of removing him will give rise to mony idle
clavers--But every wight has his weird, and we maun a' dee when our day
comes--And naebody will deny that Helen MacGregor has deep wrongs to
So saying, he seemed to dismiss the theme altogether from his mind, and
proceeded to inquire how I got free from the party in whose hands he had
My story was soon told; and I added the episode of my having recovered
the papers of my father, though I dared not trust my voice to name the
name of Diana.
"I was sure ye wad get them," said MacGregor;--"the letter ye brought me
contained his Excellency's pleasure to that effect and nae doubt it was
my will to have aided in it. And I asked ye up into this glen on the very
errand. But it's like his Excellency has foregathered wi' Rashleigh
sooner than I expected."
The first part of this answer was what most forcibly struck me.
"Was the letter I brought you, then, from this person you call his
Excellency? Who is he? and what is his rank and proper name?"
"I am thinking," said MacGregor, "that since ye dinna ken them already
they canna be o' muckle consequence to you, and sae I shall say naething
on that score. But weel I wot the letter was frae his ain hand, or,
having a sort of business of my ain on my hands, being, as ye weel may
see, just as much as I can fairly manage, I canna say I would hae fashed
mysell sae muckle about the matter."
I now recollected the lights seen in the library--the various
circumstances which had excited my jealousy--the glove--the agitation of
the tapestry which covered the secret passage from Rashleigh's apartment;
and, above all, I recollected that Diana retired in order to write, as I
then thought, the billet to which I was to have recourse in case of the
last necessity. Her hours, then, were not spent in solitude, but in
listening to the addresses of some desperate agent of Jacobitical
treason, who was a secret resident within the mansion of her uncle! Other
young women have sold themselves for gold, or suffered themselves to be
seduced from their first love from vanity; but Diana had sacrificed my
affections and her own to partake the fortunes of some desperate
adventurer--to seek the haunts of freebooters through midnight deserts,
with no better hopes of rank or fortune than that mimicry of both which
the mock court of the Stuarts at St. Germains had in their power to
"I will see her," I said internally, "if it be possible, once more. I
will argue with her as a friend--as a kinsman--on the risk she is
incurring, and I will facilitate her retreat to France, where she may,
with more comfort and propriety, as well as safety, abide the issue of
the turmoils which the political trepanner, to whom she has united her
fate, is doubtless busied in putting into motion."
"I conclude, then," I said to MacGregor, after about five minutes'
silence on both sides, "that his Excellency, since you give me no other
name for him, was residing in Osbaldistone Hall at the same time with
"To be sure--to be sure--and in the young lady's apartment, as best
reason was." This gratuitous information was adding gall to bitterness.
"But few," added MacGregor, "ken'd he was derned there, save Rashleigh
and Sir Hildebrand; for you were out o' the question; and the young lads
haena wit eneugh to ca' the cat frae the cream--But it's a bra'
auld-fashioned house, and what I specially admire is the abundance o'
holes and bores and concealments--ye could put twenty or thirty men in ae
corner, and a family might live a week without finding them out--whilk,
nae doubt, may on occasion be a special convenience. I wish we had the
like o' Osbaldistone Hall on the braes o' Craig-Royston--But we maun gar
woods and caves serve the like o' us puir Hieland bodies."
"I suppose his Excellency," said I, "was privy to the first accident
I could not help hesitating a moment.
"Ye were going to say Morris," said Rob Roy coolly, for he was too much
accustomed to deeds of violence for the agitation he had at first
expressed to be of long continuance. "I used to laugh heartily at that
reik; but I'll hardly hae the heart to do't again, since the ill-far'd
accident at the Loch. Na, na--his Excellency ken'd nought o' that ploy--
it was a' managed atween Rashleigh and mysell. But the sport that came
after--and Rashleigh's shift o' turning the suspicion aff himself upon
you, that he had nae grit favour to frae the beginning--and then Miss
Die, she maun hae us sweep up a' our spiders' webs again, and set you out
o' the Justice's claws--and then the frightened craven Morris, that was
scared out o' his seven senses by seeing the real man when he was
charging the innocent stranger--and the gowk of a clerk--and the drunken
carle of a justice--Ohon! ohon!--mony a laugh that job's gien me--and
now, a' that I can do for the puir devil is to get some messes said for
"May I ask," said I, "how Miss Vernon came to have so much influence over
Rashleigh and his accomplices as to derange your projected plan?"
"Mine! it was none of mine. No man can say I ever laid my burden on other
folk's shoulders--it was a' Rashleigh's doings. But, undoubtedly, she had
great influence wi' us baith on account of his Excellency's affection, as
weel as that she ken'd far ower mony secrets to be lightlied in a matter
o' that kind.--Deil tak him," he ejaculated, by way of summing up, "that
gies women either secret to keep or power to abuse--fules shouldna hae
We were now within a quarter of a mile from the village, when three
Highlanders, springing upon us with presented arms, commanded us to stand
and tell our business. The single word _Gregaragh,_ in the deep and
commanding voice of my companion, was answered by a shout, or rather
yell, of joyful recognition. One, throwing down his firelock, clasped his
leader so fast round the knees, that he was unable to extricate himself,
muttering, at the same time, a torrent of Gaelic gratulation, which every
now and then rose into a sort of scream of gladness. The two others,
after the first howling was over, set off literally with the speed of
deers, contending which should first carry to the village, which a strong
party of the MacGregors now occupied, the joyful news of Rob Roy's escape
and return. The intelligence excited such shouts of jubilation, that the
very hills rung again, and young and old, men, women, and children,
without distinction of sex or age, came running down the vale to meet us,
with all the tumultuous speed and clamour of a mountain torrent. When I
heard the rushing noise and yells of this joyful multitude approach us, I
thought it a fitting precaution to remind MacGregor that I was a
stranger, and under his protection. He accordingly held me fast by the
hand, while the assemblage crowded around him with such shouts of devoted
attachment, and joy at his return, as were really affecting; nor did he
extend to his followers what all eagerly sought, the grasp, namely, of
his hand, until he had made them understand that I was to be kindly and
The mandate of the Sultan of Delhi could not have been more promptly
obeyed. Indeed, I now sustained nearly as much inconvenience from their
well-meant attentions as formerly from their rudeness. They would hardly
allow the friend of their leader to walk upon his own legs, so earnest
were they in affording me support and assistance upon the way; and at
length, taking advantage of a slight stumble which I made over a stone,
which the press did not permit me to avoid, they fairly seized upon me,
and bore me in their arms in triumph towards Mrs. MacAlpine's.
On arrival before her hospitable wigwam, I found power and popularity had
its inconveniences in the Highlands, as everywhere else; for, before
MacGregor could be permitted to enter the house where he was to obtain
rest and refreshment, he was obliged to relate the story of his escape at
least a dozen times over, as I was told by an officious old man, who
chose to translate it at least as often for my edification, and to whom I
was in policy obliged to seem to pay a decent degree of attention. The
audience being at length satisfied, group after group departed to take
their bed upon the heath, or in the neighbouring huts, some cursing the
Duke and Garschattachin, some lamenting the probable danger of Ewan of
Brigglands, incurred by his friendship to MacGregor, but all agreeing
that the escape of Rob Roy himself lost nothing in comparison with the
exploit of any one of their chiefs since the days of Dougal Ciar, the
founder of his line.
The friendly outlaw, now taking me by the arm, conducted me into the
interior of the hut. My eyes roved round its smoky recesses in quest of
Diana and her companion; but they were nowhere to be seen, and I felt as
if to make inquiries might betray some secret motives, which were best
concealed. The only known countenance upon which my eyes rested was that
of the Bailie, who, seated on a stool by the fireside, received with a
sort of reserved dignity, the welcomes of Rob Roy, the apologies which he
made for his indifferent accommodation, and his inquiries after his
"I am pretty weel, kinsman," said the Bailie--"indifferent weel, I thank
ye; and for accommodations, ane canna expect to carry about the Saut
Market at his tail, as a snail does his caup;--and I am blythe that ye
hae gotten out o' the hands o' your unfreends."
"Weel, weel, then," answered Roy, "what is't ails ye, man--a's weel that
ends weel!--the warld will last our day--Come, take a cup o' brandy--your
father the deacon could take ane at an orra time."
"It might be he might do sae, Robin, after fatigue--whilk has been my lot
mair ways than ane this day. But," he continued, slowly filling up a
little wooden stoup which might hold about three glasses, "he was a
moderate man of his bicker, as I am mysell--Here's wussing health to ye,
Robin" (a sip), "and your weelfare here and hereafter" (another taste),
"and also to my cousin Helen--and to your twa hopefu' lads, of whom mair
So saying, he drank up the contents of the cup with great gravity and
deliberation, while MacGregor winked aside to me, as if in ridicule of
the air of wisdom and superior authority which the Bailie assumed towards
him in their intercourse, and which he exercised when Rob was at the head
of his armed clan, in full as great, or a greater degree, than when he
was at the Bailie's mercy in the Tolbooth of Glasgow. It seemed to me,
that MacGregor wished me, as a stranger, to understand, that if he
submitted to the tone which his kinsman assumed, it was partly out of
deference to the rights of hospitality, but still more for the jest's
As the Bailie set down his cup he recognised me, and giving me a cordial
welcome on my return, he waived farther communication with me for the
present.--"I will speak to your matters anon; I maun begin, as in reason,
wi' those of my kinsman.--I presume, Robin, there's naebody here will
carry aught o' what I am gaun to say, to the town-council or elsewhere,
to my prejudice or to yours?"
"Make yourself easy on that head, cousin Nicol," answered MacGregor; "the
tae half o' the gillies winna ken what ye say, and the tother winna care
--besides that, I wad stow the tongue out o' the head o' any o' them that
suld presume to say ower again ony speech held wi' me in their presence."
"Aweel, cousin, sic being the case, and Mr. Osbaldistone here being a
prudent youth, and a safe friend--I'se plainly tell ye, ye are breeding
up your family to gang an ill gate." Then, clearing his voice with a
preliminary hem, he addressed his kinsman, checking, as Malvolio proposed
to do when seated in his state, his familiar smile with an austere regard
of control.--"Ye ken yourself ye haud light by the law--and for my cousin
Helen, forbye that her reception o' me this blessed day--whilk I excuse
on account of perturbation of mind, was muckle on the north side o'
_friendly,_ I say (outputting this personal reason of complaint) I hae
that to say o' your wife"--
"Say _nothing_ of her, kinsman," said Rob, in a grave and stern tone,
"but what is befitting a friend to say, and her husband to hear. Of me
you are welcome to say your full pleasure."
"Aweel, aweel," said the Bailie, somewhat disconcerted, "we'se let that
be a pass-over--I dinna approve of making mischief in families. But here
are your twa sons, Hamish and Robin, whilk signifies, as I'm gien to
understand, James and Robert--I trust ye will call them sae in future--
there comes nae gude o' Hamishes, and Eachines, and Angusses, except that
they're the names ane aye chances to see in the indictments at the
Western Circuits for cow-lifting, at the instance of his majesty's
advocate for his majesty's interest. Aweel, but the twa lads, as I was
saying, they haena sae muckle as the ordinar grunds, man, of liberal
education--they dinna ken the very multiplication table itself, whilk is
the root of a' usefu' knowledge, and they did naething but laugh and
fleer at me when I tauld them my mind on their ignorance--It's my belief
they can neither read, write, nor cipher, if sic a thing could be
believed o' ane's ain connections in a Christian land."
"If they could, kinsman," said MacGregor, with great indifference, "their
learning must have come o' free will, for whar the deil was I to get them
a teacher?--wad ye hae had me put on the gate o' your Divinity Hall at
Glasgow College, 'Wanted, a tutor for Rob Roy's bairns?'"
"Na, kinsman," replied Mr. Jarvie, "but ye might hae sent the lads whar
they could hae learned the fear o' God, and the usages of civilised
creatures. They are as ignorant as the kyloes ye used to drive to market,
or the very English churls that ye sauld them to, and can do naething
whatever to purpose."
"Umph!" answered Rob; "Hamish can bring doun a black-cock when he's on
the wing wi' a single bullet, and Rob can drive a dirk through a twa-inch
"Sae muckle the waur for them, cousin!--sae muckle the waur for them
baith!" answered the Glasgow merchant in a tone of great decision; "an
they ken naething better than that, they had better no ken that neither.
Tell me yourself, Rob, what has a' this cutting, and stabbing, and
shooting, and driving of dirks, whether through human flesh or fir deals,
dune for yourself?--and werena ye a happier man at the tail o' your
nowte-bestial, when ye were in an honest calling, than ever ye hae been
since, at the head o' your Hieland kernes and gally-glasses?"
I observed that MacGregor, while his well-meaning kinsman spoke to him in
this manner, turned and writhed his body like a man who indeed suffers
pain, but is determined no groan shall escape his lips; and I longed for
an opportunity to interrupt the well-meant, but, as it was obvious to me,
quite mistaken strain, in which Jarvie addressed this extraordinary
person. The dialogue, however, came to an end without my interference.
"And sae," said the Bailie, "I hae been thinking, Rob, that as it may be
ye are ower deep in the black book to win a pardon, and ower auld to mend
yourself, that it wad be a pity to bring up twa hopefu' lads to sic a
godless trade as your ain, and I wad blythely tak them for prentices at
the loom, as I began mysell, and my father the deacon afore me, though,
praise to the Giver, I only trade now as wholesale dealer--And--and"--
He saw a storm gathering on Rob's brow, which probably induced him to
throw in, as a sweetener of an obnoxious proposition, what he had
reserved to crown his own generosity, had it been embraced as an
acceptable one;--"and Robin, lad, ye needna look sae glum, for I'll pay
the prentice-fee, and never plague ye for the thousand merks neither."
"_Ceade millia diaoul,_ hundred thousand devils!" exclaimed Rob, rising
and striding through the hut, "My sons weavers!--_Millia molligheart!_--
but I wad see every loom in Glasgow, beam, traddles, and shuttles, burnt
in hell-fire sooner!"
With some difficulty I made the Bailie, who was preparing a reply,
comprehend the risk and impropriety of pressing our host on this topic,
and in a minute he recovered, or reassumed, his serenity of temper.
"But ye mean weel--ye mean weel," said he; "so gie me your hand, Nicol,
and if ever I put my sons apprentice, I will gie you the refusal o' them.
And, as you say, there's the thousand merks to be settled between us.--
Here, Eachin MacAnaleister, bring me my sporran."
The person he addressed, a tall, strong mountaineer, who seemed to act as
MacGregor's lieutenant, brought from some place of safety a large
leathern pouch, such as Highlanders of rank wear before them when in full
dress, made of the skin of the sea-otter, richly garnished with silver
ornaments and studs.
"I advise no man to attempt opening this sporran till he has my secret,"
said Rob Roy; and then twisting one button in one direction, and another
in another, pulling one stud upward, and pressing another downward, the
mouth of the purse, which was bound with massive silver plate, opened and
gave admittance to his hand. He made me remark, as if to break short the
subject on which Bailie Jarvie had spoken, that a small steel pistol was
concealed within the purse, the trigger of which was connected with the
mounting, and made part of the machinery, so that the weapon would
certainly be discharged, and in all probability its contents lodged in
the person of any one, who, being unacquainted with the secret, should
tamper with the lock which secured his treasure. "This," said he touching
the pistol--"this is the keeper of my privy purse."
The simplicity of the contrivance to secure a furred pouch, which could
have been ripped open without any attempt on the spring, reminded me of
the verses in the Odyssey, where Ulysses, in a yet ruder age, is content
to secure his property by casting a curious and involved complication of
cordage around the sea-chest in which it was deposited.
The Bailie put on his spectacles to examine the mechanism, and when he
had done, returned it with a smile and a sigh, observing--"Ah! Rob, had
ither folk's purses been as weel guarded, I doubt if your sporran wad hae
been as weel filled as it kythes to be by the weight."
"Never mind, kinsman," said Rob, laughing; "it will aye open for a
friend's necessity, or to pay a just due--and here," he added, pulling
out a rouleau of gold, "here is your ten hundred merks--count them, and
see that you are full and justly paid."
Mr. Jarvie took the money in silence, and weighing it in his hand for an
instant, laid it on the table, and replied, "Rob, I canna tak it--I downa
intromit with it--there can nae gude come o't--I hae seen ower weel the
day what sort of a gate your gowd is made in--ill-got gear ne'er
prospered; and, to be plain wi' you, I winna meddle wi't--it looks as
there might be bluid on't."
"Troutsho!" said the outlaw, affecting an indifference which perhaps he
did not altogether feel; "it's gude French gowd, and ne'er was in
Scotchman's pouch before mine. Look at them, man--they are a'
louis-d'ors, bright and bonnie as the day they were coined."
"The waur, the waur--just sae muckle the waur, Robin," replied the
Bailie, averting his eyes from the money, though, like Caesar on the
Lupercal, his fingers seemed to itch for it--"Rebellion is waur than
witchcraft, or robbery either; there's gospel warrant for't."
"Never mind the warrant, kinsman," said the freebooter; "you come by the
gowd honestly, and in payment of a just debt--it came from the one king,
you may gie it to the other, if ye like; and it will just serve for a
weakening of the enemy, and in the point where puir King James is weakest
too, for, God knows, he has hands and hearts eneugh, but I doubt he wants
"He'll no get mony Hielanders then, Robin," said Mr. Jarvie, as, again
replacing his spectacles on his nose, he undid the rouleau, and began to
count its contents.
"Nor Lowlanders neither," said MacGregor, arching his eyebrow, and, as he
looked at me, directing a glance towards Mr. Jarvie, who, all unconscious
of the ridicule, weighed each piece with habitual scrupulosity; and
having told twice over the sum, which amounted to the discharge of his
debt, principal and interest, he returned three pieces to buy his
kinswoman a gown, as he expressed himself, and a brace more for the twa
bairns, as he called them, requesting they might buy anything they liked
with them except gunpowder. The Highlander stared at his kinsman's
unexpected generosity, but courteously accepted his gift, which he
deposited for the time in his well-secured pouch.
The Bailie next produced the original bond for the debt, on the back of
which he had written a formal discharge, which, having subscribed
himself, he requested me to sign as a witness. I did so, and Bailie
Jarvie was looking anxiously around for another, the Scottish law
requiring the subscription of two witnesses to validate either a bond or
acquittance. "You will hardly find a man that can write save ourselves
within these three miles," said Rob, "but I'll settle the matter as
easily;" and, taking the paper from before his kinsman, he threw it in
the fire. Bailie Jarvie stared in his turn, but his kinsman continued,
"That's a Hieland settlement of accounts. The time might come, cousin,
were I to keep a' these charges and discharges, that friends might be
brought into trouble for having dealt with me."
The Bailie attempted no reply to this argument, and our supper now
appeared in a style of abundance, and even delicacy, which, for the
place, might be considered as extraordinary. The greater part of the
provisions were cold, intimating they had been prepared at some distance;
and there were some bottles of good French wine to relish pasties of
various sorts of game, as well as other dishes. I remarked that
MacGregor, while doing the honours of the table with great and anxious
hospitality, prayed us to excuse the circumstance that some particular
dish or pasty had been infringed on before it was presented to us. "You
must know," said he to Mr. Jarvie, but without looking towards me, "you
are not the only guests this night in the MacGregor's country, whilk,
doubtless, ye will believe, since my wife and the twa lads would
otherwise have been maist ready to attend you, as weel beseems them."
Bailie Jarvie looked as if he felt glad at any circumstance which
occasioned their absence; and I should have been entirely of his opinion,
had it not been that the outlaw's apology seemed to imply they were in
attendance on Diana and her companion, whom even in my thoughts I could
not bear to designate as her husband.
While the unpleasant ideas arising from this suggestion counteracted the
good effects of appetite, welcome, and good cheer, I remarked that Rob
Roy's attention had extended itself to providing us better bedding than
we had enjoyed the night before. Two of the least fragile of the
bedsteads, which stood by the wall of the hut, had been stuffed with
heath, then in full flower, so artificially arranged, that, the flowers
being uppermost, afforded a mattress at once elastic and fragrant.
Cloaks, and such bedding as could be collected, stretched over this
vegetable couch, made it both soft and warm. The Bailie seemed exhausted
by fatigue. I resolved to adjourn my communication to him until next
morning; and therefore suffered him to betake himself to bed so soon as
he had finished a plentiful supper. Though tired and harassed, I did not
myself feel the same disposition to sleep, but rather a restless and
feverish anxiety, which led to some farther discourse betwixt me and
A hopeless darkness settles o'er my fate;
I've seen the last look of her heavenly eyes,--
I've heard the last sound of her blessed voice,--
I've seen her fair form from my sight depart;
My doom is closed.
"I ken not what to make of you, Mr. Osbaldistone," said MacGregor, as he
pushed the flask towards me. "You eat not, you show no wish for rest; and
yet you drink not, though that flask of Bourdeaux might have come out of
Sir Hildebrand's ain cellar. Had you been always as abstinent, you would
have escaped the deadly hatred of your cousin Rashleigh."
"Had I been always prudent," said I, blushing at the scene he recalled to
my recollection, "I should have escaped a worse evil--the reproach of my
MacGregor cast a keen and somewhat fierce glance on me, as if to read
whether the reproof, which he evidently felt, had been intentionally
conveyed. He saw that I was thinking of myself, not of him, and turned
his face towards the fire with a deep sigh. I followed his example, and
each remained for a few minutes wrapt in his own painful reverie. All in
the hut were now asleep, or at least silent, excepting ourselves.
MacGregor first broke silence, in the tone of one who takes up his
determination to enter on a painful subject. "My cousin Nicol Jarvie
means well," he said, "but he presses ower hard on the temper and
situation of a man like me, considering what I have been--what I have
been forced to become--and, above all, that which has forced me to become
what I am."
He paused; and, though feeling the delicate nature of the discussion in
which the conversation was likely to engage me, I could not help
replying, that I did not doubt his present situation had much which must
be most unpleasant to his feelings.
"I should be happy to learn," I added, "that there is an honourable
chance of your escaping from it."
"You speak like a boy," returned MacGregor, in a low tone that growled
like distant thunder--"like a boy, who thinks the auld gnarled oak can be
twisted as easily as the young sapling. Can I forget that I have been
branded as an outlaw--stigmatised as a traitor--a price set on my head as
if I had been a wolf--my family treated as the dam and cubs of the
hill-fox, whom all may torment, vilify, degrade, and insult--the very
name which came to me from a long and noble line of martial ancestors,
denounced, as if it were a spell to conjure up the devil with?"
As he went on in this manner, I could plainly see, that, by the
enumeration of his wrongs, he was lashing himself up into a rage, in
order to justify in his own eyes the errors they had led him into. In
this he perfectly succeeded; his light grey eyes contracting alternately
and dilating their pupils, until they seemed actually to flash with
flame, while he thrust forward and drew back his foot, grasped the hilt
of his dirk, extended his arm, clenched his fist, and finally rose from
"And they _shall_ find," he said, in the same muttered but deep tone of
stifled passion, "that the name they have dared to proscribe--that the
name of MacGregor--_is_ a spell to raise the wild devil withal. _They_
shall hear of my vengeance, that would scorn to listen to the story of my
wrongs--The miserable Highland drover, bankrupt, barefooted,--stripped of
all, dishonoured and hunted down, because the avarice of others grasped
at more than that poor all could pay, shall burst on them in an awful
change. They that scoffed at the grovelling worm, and trode upon him, may
cry and howl when they see the stoop of the flying and fiery-mouthed
dragon.--But why do I speak of all this?" he said, sitting down again,
and in a calmer tone--"Only ye may opine it frets my patience, Mr.
Osbaldistone, to be hunted like an otter, or a sealgh, or a salmon upon
the shallows, and that by my very friends and neighbours; and to have as
many sword-cuts made, and pistols flashed at me, as I had this day in the
ford of Avondow, would try a saint's temper, much more a Highlander's,
who are not famous for that gude gift, as ye may hae heard, Mr.
Osbaldistone.--But as thing bides wi' me o' what Nicol said;--I'm vexed
for the bairns--I'm vexed when I think o' Hamish and Robert living their
father's life." And yielding to despondence on account of his sons, which
he felt not upon his own, the father rested his head upon his hand.
I was much affected, Will. All my life long I have been more melted by
the distress under which a strong, proud, and powerful mind is compelled
to give way, than by the more easily excited sorrows of softer
dispositions. The desire of aiding him rushed strongly on my mind,
notwithstanding the apparent difficulty, and even impossibility, of the
"We have extensive connections abroad," said I: "might not your sons,
with some assistance--and they are well entitled to what my father's
house can give--find an honourable resource in foreign service?"
I believe my countenance showed signs of sincere emotion; but my
companion, taking me by the hand, as I was going to speak farther, said--
"I thank--I thank ye--but let us say nae mair o' this. I did not think
the eye of man would again have seen a tear on MacGregor's eye-lash." He
dashed the moisture from his long gray eye-lash and shaggy red eye-brow
with the back of his hand. "To-morrow morning," he said, "we'll talk of
this, and we will talk, too, of your affairs--for we are early starters
in the dawn, even when we have the luck to have good beds to sleep in.
Will ye not pledge me in a grace cup?" I declined the invitation.
"Then, by the soul of St. Maronoch! I must pledge myself," and he poured
out and swallowed at least half-a-quart of wine.
I laid myself down to repose, resolving to delay my own inquiries until
his mind should be in a more composed state. Indeed, so much had this
singular man possessed himself of my imagination, that I felt it
impossible to avoid watching him for some minutes after I had flung
myself on my heath mattress to seeming rest. He walked up and down the
hut, crossed himself from time to time, muttering over some Latin prayer
of the Catholic church; then wrapped himself in his plaid, with his naked
sword on one side, and his pistol on the other, so disposing the folds of
his mantle that he could start up at a moment's warning, with a weapon in
either hand, ready for instant combat. In a few minutes his heavy
breathing announced that he was fast asleep. Overpowered by fatigue, and
stunned by the various unexpected and extraordinary scenes of the day, I,
in my turn, was soon overpowered by a slumber deep and overwhelming, from
which, notwithstanding every cause for watchfulness, I did not awake
until the next morning.
When I opened my eyes, and recollected my situation, I found that
MacGregor had already left the hut. I awakened the Bailie, who, after
many a snort and groan, and some heavy complaints of the soreness of his
bones, in consequence of the unwonted exertions of the preceding day, was
at length able to comprehend the joyful intelligence, that the assets
carried off by Rashleigh Osbaldistone had been safely recovered. The
instant he understood my meaning, he forgot all his grievances, and,
bustling up in a great hurry, proceeded to compare the contents of the
packet which I put into his hands, with Mr. Owen's memorandums,
muttering, as he went on, "Right, right--the real thing--Bailie and
Whittington--where's Bailie and Whittington?--seven hundred, six, and
eight--exact to a fraction--Pollock and Peelman--twenty-eight, seven--
exact--Praise be blest!--Grub and Grinder--better men cannot be--three
hundred and seventy--Gliblad--twenty; I doubt Gliblad's ganging--
Slipprytongue; Slipprytongue's gaen--but they are sma'sums--sma'sums--the
rest's a'right--Praise be blest! we have got the stuff, and may leave
this doleful country. I shall never think on Loch-Ard but the thought
will gar me grew again"
"I am sorry, cousin," said MacGregor, who entered the hut during the last
observation, "I have not been altogether in the circumstances to make
your reception sic as I could have desired--natheless, if you would
condescend to visit my puir dwelling"--
"Muckle obliged, muckle obliged," answered Mr. Jarvie, very hastily--"But
we maun be ganging--we maun be jogging, Mr. Osbaldistone and me--business
"Aweel, kinsman," replied the Highlander, "ye ken our fashion--foster the
guest that comes--further him that maun gang. But ye cannot return by
Drymen--I must set you on Loch Lomond, and boat ye down to the Ferry o'
Balloch, and send your nags round to meet ye there. It's a maxim of a
wise man never to return by the same road he came, providing another's
free to him."
"Ay, ay, Rob," said the Bailie, "that's ane o' the maxims ye learned when
ye were a drover;--ye caredna to face the tenants where your beasts had
been taking a rug of their moorland grass in the by-ganging, and I doubt
your road's waur marked now than it was then."
"The mair need not to travel it ower often, kinsman," replied Rob; "but
I'se send round your nags to the ferry wi' Dougal Gregor, wha is
converted for that purpose into the Bailie's man, coming--not, as ye may
believe, from Aberfoil or Rob Roy's country, but on a quiet jaunt from
Stirling. See, here he is."
"I wadna hae ken'd the creature," said Mr. Jarvie; nor indeed was it easy
to recognise the wild Highlander, when he appeared before the door of the
cottage, attired in a hat, periwig, and riding-coat, which had once
called Andrew Fairservice master, and mounted on the Bailie's horse, and
leading mine. He received his last orders from his master to avoid
certain places where he might be exposed to suspicion--to collect what
intelligence he could in the course of his journey, and to await our
coming at an appointed place, near the Ferry of Balloch.
At the same time, MacGregor invited us to accompany him upon our own
road, assuring us that we must necessarily march a few miles before
breakfast, and recommending a dram of brandy as a proper introduction to
the journey, in which he was pledged by the Bailie, who pronounced it "an
unlawful and perilous habit to begin the day wi' spirituous liquors,
except to defend the stomach (whilk was a tender part) against the
morning mist; in whilk case his father the deacon had recommended a dram,
by precept and example."
"Very true, kinsman," replied Rob, "for which reason we, who are Children
of the Mist, have a right to drink brandy from morning till night."
The Bailie, thus refreshed, was mounted on a small Highland pony; another
was offered for my use, which, however, I declined; and we resumed, under
very different guidance and auspices, our journey of the preceding day.
Our escort consisted of MacGregor, and five or six of the handsomest,
best armed, and most athletic mountaineers of his band, and whom he had
generally in immediate attendance upon his own person.
When we approached the pass, the scene of the skirmish of the preceding
day, and of the still more direful deed which followed it, MacGregor
hastened to speak, as if it were rather to what he knew must be
necessarily passing in my mind, than to any thing I had said--he spoke,
in short, to my thoughts, and not to my words.
"You must think hardly of us, Mr. Osbaldistone, and it is not natural
that it should be otherwise. But remember, at least, we have not been
unprovoked. We are a rude and an ignorant, and it may be a violent and
passionate, but we are not a cruel people. The land might be at peace and
in law for us, did they allow us to enjoy the blessings of peaceful law.
But we have been a persecuted generation."
"And persecution," said the Bailie, "maketh wise men mad."
"What must it do then to men like us, living as our fathers did a
thousand years since, and possessing scarce more lights than they did?
Can we view their bluidy edicts against us--their hanging, heading,
hounding, and hunting down an ancient and honourable name--as deserving
better treatment than that which enemies give to enemies?--Here I stand,
have been in twenty frays, and never hurt man but when I was in het
bluid; and yet they wad betray me and hang me like a masterless dog, at
the gate of ony great man that has an ill will at me."
I replied, "that the proscription of his name and family sounded in
English ears as a very cruel and arbitrary law;" and having thus far
soothed him, I resumed my propositions of obtaining military employment
for himself, if he chose it, and his sons, in foreign parts. MacGregor
shook me very cordially by the hand, and detaining me, so as to permit
Mr. Jarvie to precede us, a manoeuvre for which the narrowness of the
road served as an excuse, he said to me--"You are a kind-hearted and an
honourable youth, and understand, doubtless, that which is due to the
feelings of a man of honour. But the heather that I have trode upon when
living, must bloom ower me when I am dead--my heart would sink, and my
arm would shrink and wither like fern in the frost, were I to lose sight
of my native hills; nor has the world a scene that would console me for
the loss of the rocks and cairns, wild as they are, that you see around
us.--And Helen--what could become of her, were I to leave her the subject
of new insult and atrocity?--or how could she bear to be removed from
these scenes, where the remembrance of her wrongs is aye sweetened by the
recollection of her revenge?--I was once so hard put at by my Great
enemy, as I may well ca' him, that I was forced e'en to gie way to the
tide, and removed myself and my people and family from our dwellings in
our native land, and to withdraw for a time into MacCallum More's
country--and Helen made a Lament on our departure, as weel as MacRimmon*
himsell could hae framed it--and so piteously sad and waesome, that our
hearts amaist broke as we sate and listened to her--it was like the
wailing of one that mourns for the mother that bore him--the tears came
down the rough faces of our gillies as they hearkened; and I wad not have
the same touch of heartbreak again, no, not to have all the lands that
ever were owned by MacGregor."
* The MacRimmons or MacCrimonds were hereditary pipers to the chiefs of
MacLeod, and celebrated for their talents. The pibroch said to have been
composed by Helen MacGregor is still in existence. See the Introduction
to this Novel.
"But your sons," I said--"they are at the age when your countrymen have
usually no objection to see the world?"
"And I should be content," he replied, "that they pushed their fortune in
the French or Spanish service, as is the wont of Scottish cavaliers of
honour; and last night your plan seemed feasible eneugh--But I hae seen
his Excellency this morning before ye were up."
"Did he then quarter so near us?" said I, my bosom throbbing with
"Nearer than ye thought," was MacGregor's reply; "but he seemed rather in
some shape to jalouse your speaking to the young leddy; and so you see"--
"There was no occasion for jealousy," I answered, with some haughtiness;
--"I should not have intruded on his privacy."
"But ye must not be offended, or look out from amang your curls then,
like a wildcat out of an ivy-tod, for ye are to understand that he wishes
most sincere weel to you, and has proved it. And it's partly that whilk
has set the heather on fire e'en now."
"Heather on fire?" said I. "I do not understand you."
"Why," resumed MacGregor, "ye ken weel eneugh that women and gear are at
the bottom of a' the mischief in this warld. I hae been misdoubting your
cousin Rashleigh since ever he saw that he wasna to get Die Vernon for
his marrow, and I think he took grudge at his Excellency mainly on that
account. But then came the splore about the surrendering your papers--and
we hae now gude evidence, that, sae soon as he was compelled to yield
them up, he rade post to Stirling, and tauld the Government all and mair
than all, that was gaun doucely on amang us hill-folk; and, doubtless,
that was the way that the country was laid to take his Excellency and the
leddy, and to make sic an unexpected raid on me. And I hae as little
doubt that the poor deevil Morris, whom he could gar believe onything,
was egged on by him, and some of the Lowland gentry, to trepan me in the
gate he tried to do. But if Rashleigh Osbaldistone were baith the last
and best of his name, and granting that he and I ever forgather again,
the fiend go down my weasand with a bare blade at his belt, if we part
before my dirk and his best blude are weel acquainted thegither!"
He pronounced the last threat with an ominous frown, and the appropriate
gesture of his hand upon his dagger.
"I should almost rejoice at what has happened," said I, "could I hope
that Rashleigh's treachery might prove the means of preventing the
explosion of the rash and desperate intrigues in which I have long
suspected him to be a prime agen."
"Trow ye na that," said Rob Roy; "traitor's word never yet hurt honest
cause. He was ower deep in our secrets, that's true; and had it not been
so, Stirling and Edinburgh Castles would have been baith in our hands by
this time, or briefly hereafter, whilk is now scarce to be hoped for. But
there are ower mony engaged, and far ower gude a cause to be gien up for
the breath of a traitor's tale, and that will be seen and heard of ere it
be lang. And so, as I was about to say, the best of my thanks to you for
your offer anent my sons, whilk last night I had some thoughts to have
embraced in their behalf. But I see that this villain's treason will
convince our great folks that they must instantly draw to a head, and
make a blow for it, or be taen in their houses, coupled up like hounds,
and driven up to London like the honest noblemen and gentlemen in the
year seventeen hundred and seven. Civil war is like a cockatrice;--we
have sitten hatching the egg that held it for ten years, and might hae
sitten on for ten years mair, when in comes Rashleigh, and chips the
shell, and out bangs the wonder amang us, and cries to fire and sword.
Now in sic a matter I'll hae need o' a' the hands I can mak; and, nae
disparagement to the Kings of France and Spain, whom I wish very weel to,
King James is as gude a man as ony o' them, and has the best right to
Hamish and Rob, being his natural-born subjects."
I easily comprehended that these words boded a general national
convulsion; and, as it would have been alike useless and dangerous to
have combated the political opinions of my guide, at such a place and
moment, I contented myself with regretting the promiscuous scene of
confusion and distress likely to arise from any general exertion in
favour of the exiled royal family.
"Let it come, man--let it come," answered MacGregor; "ye never saw dull
weather clear without a shower; and if the world is turned upside down,
why, honest men have the better chance to cut bread out of it."
I again attempted to bring him back to the subject of Diana; but although
on most occasions and subjects he used a freedom of speech which I had no
great delight in listening to, yet upon that alone which was most
interesting to me, he kept a degree of scrupulous reserve, and contented
himself with intimating, "that he hoped the leddy would be soon in a
quieter country than this was like to be for one while." I was obliged to
be content with this answer, and to proceed in the hope that accident
might, as on a former occasion, stand my friend, and allow me at least
the sad gratification of bidding farewell to the object which had
occupied such a share of my affections, so much beyond even what I had
supposed, till I was about to be separated from her for ever.
We pursued the margin of the lake for about six English miles, through a
devious and beautifully variegated path, until we attained a sort of
Highland farm, or assembly of hamlets, near the head of that fine sheet
of water, called, if I mistake not, Lediart, or some such name. Here a
numerous party of MacGregor's men were stationed in order to receive us.
The taste as well as the eloquence of tribes in a savage, or, to speak
more properly, in a rude state, is usually just, because it is unfettered
by system and affectation; and of this I had an example in the choice
these mountaineers had made of a place to receive their guests. It has
been said that a British monarch would judge well to receive the embassy
of a rival power in the cabin of a man-of-war; and a Highland leader
acted with some propriety in choosing a situation where the natural
objects of grandeur proper to his country might have their full effect on
the minds of his guests.
We ascended about two hundred yards from the shores of the lake, guided
by a brawling brook, and left on the right hand four or five Highland
huts, with patches of arable land around them, so small as to show that
they must have been worked with the spade rather than the plough, cut as
it were out of the surrounding copsewood, and waving with crops of barley
and oats. Above this limited space the hill became more steep; and on its
edge we descried the glittering arms and waving drapery of about fifty of
MacGregor's followers. They were stationed on a spot, the recollection of
which yet strikes me with admiration. The brook, hurling its waters
downwards from the mountain, had in this spot encountered a barrier rock,
over which it had made its way by two distinct leaps. The first fall,
across which a magnificent old oak, slanting out from the farther bank,
partly extended itself as if to shroud the dusky stream of the cascade,
might be about twelve feet high; the broken waters were received in a
beautiful stone basin, almost as regular as if hewn by a sculptor; and
after wheeling around its flinty margin, they made a second precipitous
dash, through a dark and narrow chasm, at least fifty feet in depth, and
from thence, in a hurried, but comparatively a more gentle course,
escaped to join the lake.
With the natural taste which belongs to mountaineers, and especially to
the Scottish Highlanders, whose feelings, I have observed, are often
allied with the romantic and poetical, Rob Roy's wife and followers had
prepared our morning repast in a scene well calculated to impress
strangers with some feelings of awe. They are also naturally a grave and
proud people, and, however rude in our estimation, carry their ideas of
form and politeness to an excess that would appear overstrained, except
from the demonstration of superior force which accompanies the display of
it; for it must be granted that the air of punctilious deference and
rigid etiquette which would seem ridiculous in an ordinary peasant, has,
like the salute of a _corps-de-garde,_ a propriety when tendered by a
Highlander completely armed. There was, accordingly, a good deal of
formality in our approach and reception.
The Highlanders, who had been dispersed on the side of the hill, drew
themselves together when we came in view, and, standing firm and
motionless, appeared in close column behind three figures, whom I soon
recognised to be Helen MacGregor and her two sons. MacGregor himself
arranged his attendants in the rear, and, requesting Mr. Jarvie to
dismount where the ascent became steep, advanced slowly, marshalling us
forward at the head of the troop. As we advanced, we heard the wild notes
of the bagpipes, which lost their natural discord from being mingled with
the dashing sound of the cascade. When we came close, the wife of
MacGregor came forward to meet us. Her dress was studiously arranged in a
more feminine taste than it had been on the preceding day, but her
features wore the same lofty, unbending, and resolute character; and as
she folded my friend the Bailie in an unexpected and apparently unwelcome
embrace, I could perceive by the agitation of his wig, his back, and the
calves of his legs, that he felt much like to one who feels himself
suddenly in the gripe of a she-bear, without being able to distinguish
whether the animal is in kindness or in wrath.
"Kinsman," she said, "you are welcome--and you, too, stranger," she
added, releasing my alarmed companion, who instinctively drew back and
settled his wig, and addressing herself to me--"you also are welcome. You
came," she added, "to our unhappy country, when our bloods were chafed,
and our hands were red. Excuse the rudeness that gave you a rough
welcome, and lay it upon the evil times, and not upon us." All this was
said with the manners of a princess, and in the tone and style of a
court. Nor was there the least tincture of that vulgarity, which we
naturally attach to the Lowland Scottish. There was a strong provincial
accentuation, but, otherwise, the language rendered by Helen MacGregor,
out of the native and poetical Gaelic, into English, which she had
acquired as we do learned tongues, but had probably never heard applied
to the mean purposes of ordinary life, was graceful, flowing, and
declamatory. Her husband, who had in his time played many parts, used a
much less elevated and emphatic dialect;--but even _his_ language rose in
purity of expression, as you may have remarked, if I have been accurate
in recording it, when the affairs which he discussed were of an agitating
and important nature; and it appears to me in his case, and in that of
some other Highlanders whom I have known, that, when familiar and
facetious, they used the Lowland Scottish dialect,--when serious and
impassioned, their thoughts arranged themselves in the idiom of their
native language; and in the latter case, as they uttered the
corresponding ideas in English, the expressions sounded wild, elevated,
and poetical. In fact, the language of passion is almost always pure as
well as vehement, and it is no uncommon thing to hear a Scotchman, when
overwhelmed by a countryman with a tone of bitter and fluent upbraiding,
reply by way of taunt to his adversary, "You have gotten to your
Be this as it may, the wife of MacGregor invited us to a refreshment
spread out on the grass, which abounded with all the good things their
mountains could offer, but was clouded by the dark and undisturbed
gravity which sat on the brow of our hostess, as well as by our deep and
anxious recollection of what had taken place on the preceding day. It was
in vain that the leader exerted himself to excite mirth;--a chill hung
over our minds, as if the feast had been funereal; and every bosom felt
light when it was ended.
"Adieu, cousin," she said to Mr. Jarvie, as we rose from the
entertainment; "the best wish Helen MacGregor can give to a friend is,
that he may see her no more."
The Bailie struggled to answer, probably with some commonplace maxim of
morality;--but the calm and melancholy sternness of her countenance bore
down and disconcerted the mechanical and formal importance of the
magistrate. He coughed,--hemmed,--bowed,--and was silent.
"For you, stranger," she said, "I have a token, from one whom you can
"Helen!" interrupted MacGregor, in a loud and stern voice, "what means
this?--have you forgotten the charge?"
"MacGregor," she replied, "I have forgotten nought that is fitting for me
to remember. It is not such hands as these," and she stretched forth her
long, sinewy, and bare arm, "that are fitting to convey love-tokens, were
the gift connected with aught but misery. Young man," she said,
presenting me with a ring, which I well remembered as one of the few
ornaments that Miss Vernon sometimes wore, "this comes from one whom you
will never see more. If it is a joyless token, it is well fitted to pass
through the hands of one to whom joy can never be known. Her last words
were--Let him forget me for ever."
"And can she," I said, almost without being conscious that I spoke,
"suppose that is possible?"
"All may be forgotten," said the extraordinary female who addressed me,--
"all--but the sense of dishonour, and the desire of vengeance."
"_Seid suas!_"* cried the MacGregor, stamping with impatience.
* "Strike up."
The bagpipes sounded, and with their thrilling and jarring tones cut
short our conference. Our leave of our hostess was taken by silent
gestures; and we resumed our journey with an additional proof on my part,
that I was beloved by Diana, and was separated from her for ever.
Farewell to the land where the clouds love to rest,
Like the shroud of the dead, on the mountain's cold breast
To the cataract's roar where the eagles reply,
And the lake her lone bosom expands to the sky.
Our route lay through a dreary, yet romantic country, which the distress
of my own mind prevented me from remarking particularly, and which,
therefore, I will not attempt to describe. The lofty peak of Ben Lomond,
here the predominant monarch of the mountains, lay on our right hand, and
served as a striking landmark. I was not awakened from my apathy, until,
after a long and toilsome walk, we emerged through a pass in the hills,
and Loch Lomond opened before us. I will spare you the attempt to
describe what you would hardly comprehend without going to see it. But
certainly this noble lake, boasting innumerable beautiful islands, of
every varying form and outline which fancy can frame,--its northern
extremity narrowing until it is lost among dusky and retreating
mountains,--while, gradually widening as it extends to the southward, it
spreads its base around the indentures and promontories of a fair and
fertile land, affords one of the most surprising, beautiful, and sublime
spectacles in nature. The eastern side, peculiarly rough and rugged, was
at this time the chief seat of MacGregor and his clan,--to curb whom, a
small garrison had been stationed in a central position betwixt Loch
Lomond and another lake. The extreme strength of the country, however,
with the numerous passes, marshes, caverns, and other places of
concealment or defence, made the establishment of this little fort seem
rather an acknowledgment of the danger, than an effectual means of
securing against it.
On more than one occasion, as well as on that which I witnessed, the
garrison suffered from the adventurous spirit of the outlaw and his
followers. These advantages were never sullied by ferocity when he
himself was in command; for, equally good-tempered and sagacious, he
understood well the danger of incurring unnecessary odium. I learned with
pleasure that he had caused the captives of the preceding day to be
liberated in safety; and many traits of mercy, and even of generosity,
are recorded of this remarkable man on similar occasions.
A boat waited for us in a creek beneath a huge rock, manned by four lusty
Highland rowers; and our host took leave of us with great cordiality, and
even affection. Betwixt him and Mr. Jarvie, indeed, there seemed to exist
a degree of mutual regard, which formed a strong contrast to their
different occupations and habits. After kissing each other very lovingly,
and when they were just in the act of parting, the Bailie, in the fulness
of his heart, and with a faltering voice, assured his kinsman, "that if
ever an hundred pund, or even twa hundred, would put him or his family in
a settled way, he need but just send a line to the Saut-Market;" and Rob,
grasping his basket-hilt with one hand, and shaking Mr. Jarvie's heartily
with the other, protested, "that if ever anybody should affront his
kinsman, an he would but let him ken, he would stow his lugs out of his
head, were he the best man in Glasgow."
With these assurances of mutual aid and continued good-will, we bore away
from the shore, and took our course for the south-western angle of the
lake, where it gives birth to the river Leven. Rob Roy remained for some
time standing on the rock from beneath which we had departed, conspicuous
by his long gun, waving tartans, and the single plume in his cap, which
in those days denoted the Highland gentleman and soldier; although I
observe that the present military taste has decorated the Highland bonnet
with a quantity of black plumage resembling that which is borne before
funerals. At length, as the distance increased between us, we saw him
turn and go slowly up the side of the hill, followed by his immediate
attendants or bodyguard.
We performed our voyage for a long time in silence, interrupted only by
the Gaelic chant which one of the rowers sung in low irregular measure,
rising occasionally into a wild chorus, in which the others joined.
My own thoughts were sad enough;--yet I felt something soothing in the
magnificent scenery with which I was surrounded; and thought, in the
enthusiasm of the moment, that had my faith been that of Rome, I could
have consented to live and die a lonely hermit in one of the romantic and
beautiful islands amongst which our boat glided.
The Bailie had also his speculations, but they were of somewhat a
different complexion; as I found when, after about an hour's silence,
during which he had been mentally engaged in the calculations necessary,
he undertook to prove the possibility of draining the lake, and "giving
to plough and harrow many hundred, ay, many a thousand acres, from whilk
no man could get earthly gude e'enow, unless it were a gedd,* or a dish
of perch now and then."
* A pike.
Amidst a long discussion, which he "crammed into mine ear against the
stomach of my sense," I only remember, that it was part of his project to
preserve a portion of the lake just deep enough and broad enough for the
purposes of water-carriage, so that coal-barges and gabbards should pass
as easily between Dumbarton and Glenfalloch as between Glasgow and
At length we neared our distant place of landing, adjoining to the ruins
of an ancient castle, and just where the lake discharges its superfluous
waters into the Leven. There we found Dougal with the horses. The Bailie
had formed a plan with respect to "the creature," as well as upon the
draining of the lake; and, perhaps in both cases, with more regard to the
utility than to the practical possibility of his scheme. "Dougal," he
said, "ye are a kindly creature, and hae the sense and feeling o' what is
due to your betters--and I'm e'en wae for you, Dougal, for it canna be
but that in the life ye lead you suld get a Jeddart cast* ae day suner or
later. I trust, considering my services as a magistrate, and my father
the deacon's afore me, I hae interest eneugh in the council to gar them
wink a wee at a waur faut than yours.