Part 4 out of 10
Chapter the Fifteenth.
As when in tumults rise the ignoble crowd,
Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud,
And stones and brands in rattling furies fly,
And all the rustic arms which fury can supply--
Then if some grave and pious man appear,
They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear.
A dreadful shout of vengeance was raised by the revellers, whose sport
was thus so fearfully interrupted; but for an instant, the want of
weapons amongst the multitude, as well as the inflamed features arid
brandished poniard of Roland Graeme, kept them at bay, while the
Abbot, horror-struck at the violence, implored, with uplifted hands,
pardon for blood-shed committed within the sanctuary. Magdalen Graeme
alone expressed triumph in the blow her descendant had dealt to the
scoffer, mixed, however, with a wild and anxious expression of terror
for her grandson's safety. "Let him perish," she said, "in his
blasphemy--let him die on the holy pavement which he has insulted!"
But the rage of the multitude, the grief of the Abbot, the exultation
of the enthusiastic Magdalen, were all mistimed and unnecessary.
Howleglas, mortally wounded as he was supposed to be, sprung alertly
up from the floor, calling aloud, "A miracle, a miracle, my masters!
as brave a miracle as ever was wrought in the kirk of Kennaquhair. And
I charge you, my masters, as your lawfully chosen Abbot, that you
touch no one without my command--You, wolf and bear, will guard this
pragmatic youth, but without hurting him--And you, reverend brother,
will, with your comrades, withdraw to your cells; for our conference
has ended like all conferences, leaving each of his own mind, as
before; and if we fight, both you, and your brethren, and the Kirk,
will have the worst on't--Wherefore, pack up you pipes and begone."
The hubbub was beginning again to awaken, but still Father Ambrose
hesitated, as uncertain to what path his duty called him, whether to
face out the present storm, or to reserve himself for a better moment.
His brother of Unreason observed his difficulty, and said, in a tone
more natural and less affected than that with which he had hitherto
sustained his character, "We came hither, my good sir, more in mirth
than in mischief--our bark is worse than our bite--and, especially, we
mean you no personal harm--wherefore, draw off while the play is good;
for it is ill whistling for a hawk when she is once on the soar, and
worse to snatch the quarry from the ban-dog--Let these fellows once
begin their brawl, and it will be too much for madness itself, let
alone the Abbot of Unreason, to bring them back to the lure."
The brethren crowded around Father Ambrosius, and joined in urging
him to give place to the torrent. The present revel was, they said, an
ancient custom which his predecessors had permitted, and old Father
Nicholas himself had played the dragon in the days of the Abbot
"And we now reap the fruit of the seed which they have so unadvisedly
sown," said Ambrosius; "they taught men to make a mock of what is
holy, what wonder that the descendants of scoffers become robbers and
plunderers? But be it as you list, my brethren--move towards the
dortour--And you, dame, I command you, by the authority which I have
over you, and by your respect for that youth's safety, that you go
with us without farther speech--Yet, stay--what are your intentions
towards that youth whom you detain prisoner?--Wot ye," he continued,
addressing Howleglas in a stern tone of voice, "that he bears the
livery of the House of Avenel? They who fear not the anger of Heaven,
may at least dread the wrath of man."
"Cumber not yourself concerning him," answered Howleglas, "we know
right well who and what he is."
"Let me pray," said the Abbot, in a tone of entreaty, "that you do him
no wrong for the rash deed--which he attempted in his imprudent zeal."
"I say, cumber not yourself about it, father," answered Howleglas,
"but move off with your train, male and female, or I will not
undertake to save yonder she-saint from the ducking-stool--And as for
bearing of malice, my stomach has no room for it; it is," he added,
clapping his hand on his portly belly, "too well bumbasted out with
straw and buckram--gramercy to them both--they kept out that madcap's
dagger as well as a Milan corslet could have done."
In fact, the home-driven poniard of Roland Graeme had lighted upon the
stuffing of the fictitious paunch, which the Abbot of Unreason wore as
a part of his characteristic dress, and it was only the force of the
blow which had prostrated that reverend person on the ground for a
Satisfied in some degree by this man's assurances, and compelled--to
give way to superior force, the Abbot Ambrosius retired from the
Church at the head of the monks, and left the court free for the
revellers to work their will. But, wild and wilful as these rioters
were, they accompanied the retreat of the religionists with none of
those shouts of contempt and derision with which they had at first
hailed them. The Abbot's discourse had affected some of them with
remorse, others with shame, and all with a transient degree of
respect. They remained silent until the last monk had disappeared
through the side-door which communicated with their dwelling-place,
and even then it cost some exhortations on the part of Howleglas, some
caprioles of the hobby-horse, and some wallops of the dragon, to rouse
once more the rebuked spirit of revelry.
"And how now, my masters?" said the Abbot of Unreason; "and wherefore
look on me with such blank Jack-a-Lent visages? Will you lose your old
pastime for an old wife's tale of saints and purgatory? Why, I thought
you would have made all split long since--Come, strike up, tabor and
harp, strike up, fiddle and rebeck--dance and be merry to-day, and let
care come to-morrow. Bear and wolf, look to your prisoner--prance,
hobby--hiss, dragon, and halloo, boys--we grow older every moment we
stand idle, and life is too short to be spent in playing mumchance."
This pithy exhortation was attended with the effect desired. They
fumigated the Church with burnt wool and feathers instead of incense,
put foul water into the holy-water basins, and celebrated a parody on
the Church-service, the mock Abbot officiating at the altar; they sung
ludicrous and indecent parodies, to the tunes of church hymns; they
violated whatever vestments or vessels belonging to the Abbey they
could lay their hands upon; and, playing every freak which the whim of
the moment could suggest to their wild caprice, at length they fell to
more lasting deeds of demolition, pulled down and destroyed some
carved wood-work, dashed out the painted windows which had escaped
former violence, and in their rigorous search after sculpture
dedicated to idolatry, began to destroy what ornaments yet remained
entire upon the tombs, and around the cornices of the pillars.
The spirit of demolition, like other tastes, increases by indulgence;
from these lighter attempts at mischief, the more tumultuous part of
the meeting began to meditate destruction on a more extended
scale--"Let us heave it down altogether, the old crow's nest," became
a general cry among them; "it has served the Pope and his rooks too
long;" and up they struck a ballad which was then popular among the
lower classes. [Footnote: These rude rhymes are taken, with some
trifling alterations, from a ballad called Trim-go-trix. It occurs in
a singular collection, entitled; "A Compendious Book of Godly and
Spiritual Songs, collected out of sundrie parts of the Scripture, with
sundry of other ballatis changed out of prophane sanges for avoyding
of sin and harlotrie, with Augmentation of sundrie Gude and Godly
Ballates. Edinburgh, printed by Andro Hart." This curious collection
has been reprinted in Mr. John. Grahame Dalyell's Scottish Poems of
the 16th century Edin. 1801, 2 vols.]
"The Paip, that pagan full of pride,
Hath blinded us ower lang.
For where the blind the blind doth lead,
No marvel baith gae wrang.
Like prince and king,
He led the ring
Of all iniquity.
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the greenwood tree.
"The Bishop rich, he could not preach
For sporting with the lasses;
The silly friar behoved to fleech
For awmous as he passes:
The curate his creed
He could not read,--
Shame fa' company!
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the greenwood tree."
Thundering out this chorus of a notable hunting song, which had been
pressed into the service of some polemical poet, the followers of the
Abbot of Unreason were turning every moment more tumultuous, and
getting beyond the management even of that reverend prelate himself,
when a knight in full armour, followed by two or three men-at-arms,
entered the church, and in a stern voice commanded them to forbear
their riotous mummery.
His visor was up, but if it had been lowered, the cognizance of the
holly-branch sufficiently distinguished Sir Halbert Glendinning, who,
on his homeward road, was passing through the village of Kennaquhair;
and moved, perhaps, by anxiety for his brother's safety, had come
directly to the church on hearing of the uproar.
"What is the meaning of this," he said, "my masters? are ye Christian
men, and the king's subjects, and yet waste and destroy church and
chancel like so many heathens?"
All stood silent, though doubtless there were several disappointed and
surprised at receiving chiding instead of thanks from so zealous a
The dragon, indeed, did at length take upon him to be spokesman, and
growled from the depth of his painted maw, that they did but sweep
Popery out of the church with the besom of destruction.
"What! my friends," replied Sir Halbert Glendinning, "think you this
mumming and masking has not more of Popery in it than have these stone
walls? Take the leprosy out of your flesh, before you speak of
purifying stone walls--abate your insolent license, which leads but to
idle vanity and sinful excess; and know, that what you now practise,
is one of the profane and unseemly sports introduced by the priests of
Rome themselves, to mislead and to brutify the souls which fell into
"Marry come up--are you there with your bears?" muttered the dragon,
with a draconic sullenness, which was in good keeping with his
character, "we had as good have been Romans still, if we are to have
no freedom in our pastimes!"
"Dost thou reply to me so?" said Halbert Glendinning; "or is there any
pastime in grovelling on the ground there like a gigantic
kail-worm?--Get out of thy painted case, or, by my knighthood, I will
treat you like the beast and reptile you have made yourself."
"Beast and reptile?" retorted the offended dragon, "setting aside your
knighthood, I hold myself as well a born man as thyself."
The Knight made no answer in words, but bestowed two such blows with
the butt of his lance on the petulant dragon, that had not the hoops
which constituted the ribs of the machine been pretty strong, they
would hardly have saved those of the actor from being broken. In all
haste the masker crept out of his disguise, unwilling to abide a third
buffet from the lance of the enraged Knight. And when the ex-dragon
stood on the floor of the church, he presented to Halbert Glendinning
the well-known countenance of Dan of the Howlet-hirst, an ancient
comrade of his own, ere fate had raised him so high above the rank to
which he was born. The clown looked sulkily upon the Knight, as if to
upbraid him for his violence towards an old acquaintance, and
Glendinning's own good-nature reproached him for the violence he had
acted upon him.
"I did wrong to strike thee," he said, "Dan; but in truth, I knew thee
not--thou wert ever a mad fellow--come to Avenel Castle, and we shall
see how my hawks fly."
"And if we show him not falcons that will mount as merrily as
rockets," said the Abbot of Unreason, "I would your honour laid as
hard on my bones as you did on his even now."
"How now, Sir Knave," said the Knight, "and what has brought you
The Abbot, hastily ridding himself of the false nose which mystified
his physiognomy, and the supplementary belly which made up his
disguise, stood before his master in his real character, of Adam
Woodcock, the falconer of Avenel.
"How, varlet!" said the Knight; "hast thou dared to come here and
disturb the very house my brother was dwelling in?"
"And it was even for that reason, craving your honour's pardon, that I
came hither--for I heard the country was to be up to choose an Abbot
of Unreason, and sure, thought I, I that can sing, dance, leap
backwards over a broadsword, and am as good a fool as ever sought
promotion, have all chance of carrying the office; and if I gain my
election, I may stand his honour's brother in some stead, supposing
things fall roughly out at the Kirk of Saint Mary's."
"Thou art but a cogging knave," said Sir Halbert, "and well I wot,
that love of ale and brandy, besides the humour of riot and frolic,
would draw thee a mile, when love of my house would not bring thee a
yard. But, go to--carry thy roisterers elsewhere--to the alehouse if
they list, and there are crowns to pay your charges--make out the
day's madness without doing more mischief, and be wise men
to-morrow--and hereafter learn to serve a good cause better than by
acting like buffoons or ruffians."
Obedient to his master's mandate, the falconer was collecting his
discouraged followers, and whispering into their ears--"Away,
away--_tace_ is Latin for a candle--never mind the good Knight's
puritanism--we will play the frolic out over a stand of double ale in
Dame Martin the Brewster's barn-yard--draw off, harp and
tabor--bagpipe and drum--mum till you are out of the church-yard, then
let the welkin ring again--move on, wolf and bear--keep the hind legs
till you cross the kirk-stile, and then show yourselves beasts of
mettle--what devil sent him here to spoil our holiday!--but anger him
not, my hearts; his lance is no goose-feather, as Dan's ribs can
"By my soul," said Dan, "had it been another than my ancient comrade,
I would have made my father's old fox [Footnote: _Fox_, An
old-fashioned broadsword was often so called.] fly about his ears!"
"Hush! hush! man," replied Adam Woodcock, "not a word that way, as you
value the safety of your bones--what man? we must take a clink as it
passes, so it is not bestowed in downright ill-will."
"But I will take no such thing," said Dan of the Howlet-hirst,
suddenly resisting the efforts of Woodcock, who was dragging him out
of the church; when the quick military eye of Sir Halbert Glendinning
detecting Roland Graeme betwixt his two guards, the Knight exclaimed,
"So ho! falconer,--Woodcock,--knave, hast thou brought my Lady's page
in mine own livery, to assist at this hopeful revel of thine, with
your wolves and bears? Since you were at such mummings, you might, if
you would, have at least saved the credit of my household, by dressing
him up as a jackanapes--bring him hither, fellows!"
Adam Woodcock was too honest and downright, to permit blame to light
upon the youth, when it was undeserved. "I swear," he said, "by Saint
Martin of Bullions--" [Footnote: The Saint Swithin, or weeping Saint
of Scotland. If his festival (fourth July) prove wet, forty days of
rain are expected.]
"And what hast thou to do with Saint Martin?"
"Nay, little enough, sir, unless when he sends such rainy days that we
cannot fly a hawk--but I say to your worshipful knighthood, that as I
am, a true man----"
"As you are a false varlet, had been the better obtestation."
"Nay, if your knighthood allows me not to speak," said Adam, "I can
hold my tongue--but the boy came not hither by my bidding, for all
"But to gratify his own malapert pleasure, I warrant me," said Sir
Halbert Glendinning--"Come hither, young springald, and tell me
whether you have your mistress's license to be so far absent from the
castle, or to dishonour my livery by mingling in such a May-game?"
"Sir Halbert Glendinning," answered Roland Graeme with steadiness, "I
have obtained the permission, or rather the commands, of your lady, to
dispose of my time hereafter according to my own pleasure. I have been
a most unwilling spectator of this May-game, since it is your pleasure
so to call it; and I only wear your livery until I can obtain clothes
which bear no such badge of servitude."
"How am I to understand this, young man?" said Sir Halbert
Glendinning; "speak plainly, for I am no reader of riddles.--That my
lady favoured thee, I know. What hast thou done to disoblige her, and
occasion thy dismissal?"
"Nothing to speak of," said Adam Woodcock, answering for the boy--"a
foolish quarrel with me, which was more foolishly told over again to
my honoured lady, cost the poor boy his place. For my part, I will say
freely, that I was wrong from beginning to end, except about the
washing of the eyas's meat. There I stand to it that I was right."
With that, the good-natured falconer repeated to his master the whole
history of the squabble which had brought Roland Graeme into disgrace
with his mistress, but in a manner so favourable for the page, that
Sir Halbert could not but suspect his generous motive.
"Thou art a good-natured fellow," he said, "Adam Woodcock."
"As ever had falcon upon fist," said Adam; "and, for that matter, so
is Master Roland; but, being half a gentleman by his office, his blood
is soon up, and so is mine."
"Well," said Sir Halbert, "be it as it will, my lady has acted
hastily, for this was no great matter of offence to discard the lad
whom she had trained up for years; but he, I doubt not, made it worse
by his prating--it jumps well with a purpose, however, which I had in
my mind. Draw off these people, Woodcock,--and you, Roland Graeme,
The page followed him in silence into the Abbot's house, where,
stepping into the first apartment which he found open, he commanded
one of his attendants to let his brother, Master Edward Glendinning,
know that he desired to speak with him. The men-at-arms went gladly
off to join their comrade, Adam Woodcock, and the jolly crew whom he
had assembled at Dame Martin's, the hostler's wife, and the Page and
Knight were left alone in the apartment. Sir Halbert Glendinning paced
the floor for a moment in silence and then thus addressed his
"Thou mayest have remarked, stripling, that I have but seldom
distinguished thee by much notice;--I see thy colour rises, but do not
speak till thou nearest me out. I say I have never much distinguished
thee, not because I did not see that in thee which I might well have
praised, but because I saw something blameable, which such praises
might have made worse. Thy mistress, dealing according to her pleasure
in her own household, as no one had better reason or title, had picked
thee from the rest, and treated thee more like a relation than a
domestic; and if thou didst show some vanity and petulance under such
distinction, it were injustice not to say that thou hast profited both
in thy exercises and in thy breeding, and hast shown many sparkles of
a gentle and manly spirit. Moreover, it were ungenerous, having bred
thee up freakish and fiery, to dismiss thee to want or wandering, for
showing that very peevishness and impatience of discipline which arose
from thy too delicate nurture. Therefore, and for the credit of my own
household, I am determined to retain thee in my train, until I can
honourably dispose of thee elsewhere, with a fair prospect of thy
going through the world with credit to the house that brought thee
If there was something in Sir Halbert Glendinning's speech which
flattered Roland's pride, there was also much that, according to his
mode of thinking, was an alloy to the compliment. And yet his
conscience instantly told him that he ought to accept, with grateful
deference, the offer which was made him by the husband of his kind
protectress; and his prudence, however slender, could not but admit he
should enter the world under very different auspices as a retainer of
Sir Halbert Glendinning, so famed for wisdom, courage, and influence,
from those under which he might partake the wanderings, and become an
agent in the visionary schemes, for such they appeared to him, of
Magdalen, his relative. Still, a strong reluctance to re-enter a
service from which he had been dismissed with contempt, almost
counterbalanced these considerations.
Sir Halbert looked on the youth with surprise, and resumed--"You seem
to hesitate, young man. Are your own prospects so inviting, that you
should pause ere you accept those which I should offer to you? or,
must I remind you that, although you have offended your benefactress,
even to the point of her dismissing you, yet I am convinced, the
knowledge that you have gone unguided on your own wild way, into a
world so disturbed as ours of Scotland, cannot, in the upshot, but
give her sorrow and pain; from which it is, in gratitude, your duty to
preserve her, no less than it is in common wisdom your duty to accept
my offered protection, for your own sake, where body and soul are
alike endangered, should you refuse it."
Roland Graeme replied in a respectful tone, but at the same time with
some spirit, "I am not ungrateful for such countenance as has been
afforded me by the Lord of Avenel, and I am glad to learn, for the
first time, that I have not had the misfortune to be utterly beneath
his observation, as I had thought--And it is only needful to show me
how I can testify my duty and my gratitude towards my early and
constant benefactress with my life's hazard, and I will gladly peril
it." He stopped.
"These are but words, young man," answered Glendinning, "large
protestations are often used to supply the place of effectual service.
I know nothing in which the peril of your life can serve the Lady of
Avenel; I can only say, she will be pleased to learn you have adopted
some course which may ensure the safety of your person, and the weal
of your soul--What ails you, that you accept not that safety when it
is offered you?"
"My only relative who is alive," answered Roland, "at least the only
relative whom I have ever seen, has rejoined me since I was dismissed
from the Castle of Avenel, and I must consult with her whether I can
adopt the line to which you now call me, or whether her increasing
infirmities, or the authority which she is entitled to exercise over
me, may not require me to abide with her."
"Where is this relation?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning.
"In this house," answered the page.
"Go then, and seek her out," said the Knight of Avenel; "more than
meet it is that thou shouldst have her approbation, yet worse than
foolish would she show herself in denying it."
Roland left the apartment to seek for his grandmother; and, as he
retreated, the Abbot entered.
The two brothers met as brothers who loved each other fondly, yet meet
rarely together. Such indeed was the case. Their mutual affection
attached them to each other; but in every pursuit, habit or sentiment,
connected with the discords of the times, the friend and counsellor of
Murray stood opposed to the Roman Catholic priest; nor, indeed, could
they have held very much society together, without giving cause of
offence and suspicion to their confederates on each side. After a
close embrace on the part of both, and a welcome on that of the Abbot,
Sir Halbert Glendinning expressed his satisfaction that he had come in
time to appease the riot raised by Howleglas and his tumultuous
"And yet," he said, "when I look on your garments, brother Edward, I
cannot help thinking there still remains an Abbot of Unreason within
the bounds of the Monastery."
"And wherefore carp at my garments, brother Halbert?" said the Abbot;
"it is the spiritual armour of my calling, and, as such, beseems me as
well as breastplate and baldric becomes your own bosom."
"Ay, but there were small wisdom, methinks, in putting on armour where
we have no power to fight; it is but a dangerous temerity to defy the
foe whom we cannot resist."
"For that, my brother, no one can answer," said the Abbot, "until the
battle be fought; and, were it even as you say, methinks a brave man,
though desperate of victory, would rather desire to fight and fall,
than to resign sword and shield on some mean and dishonourable
composition with his insulting antagonist. But, let not you and I make
discord of a theme on which we cannot agree, but rather stay and
partake, though a heretic, of my admission feast. You need not fear,
my brother, that your zeal for restoring the primitive discipline of
the church will, on this occasion, be offended with the rich profusion
of a conventual banquet. The days of our old friend Abbot Boniface are
over; and the Superior of Saint Mary's has neither forests nor
fishings, woods nor pastures, nor corn-fields;--neither flocks nor
herds, bucks nor wild-fowl--granaries of wheat, nor storehouses of oil
and wine, of ale and of mead. The refectioner's office is ended; and
such a meal as a hermit in romance can offer to a wandering knight, is
all we have to set before you. But, if you will share it with us, we
shall eat it with a cheerful heart, and thank you, my brother, for
your timely protection against these rude scoffers."
"My dearest brother," said the Knight, "it grieves me deeply I cannot
abide with you; but it would sound ill for us both were one of the
reformed congregation to sit down at your admission feast; and, if I
can ever have the satisfaction of affording you effectual protection,
it will be much owing to my remaining unsuspected of countenancing or
approving your religious rites and ceremonies. It will demand whatever
consideration I can acquire among my own friends, to shelter the bold
man, who, contrary to law and the edicts of parliament, has dared to
take up the office of Abbot of Saint Mary's."
"Trouble not yourself with the task, my brother," replied Father
Ambrosius. "I would lay down my dearest blood to know that you
defended the church for the church's sake; but, while you remain
unhappily her enemy, I would not that you endangered your own safety,
or diminished your own comforts, for the sake of my individual
protection.--But who comes hither to disturb the few minutes of
fraternal communication which our evil fate allows us?"
The door of the apartment opened as the Abbot spoke, and Dame
"Who is this woman?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning, somewhat sternly,
"and what does she want?"
"That you know me not," said the matron, "signifies little; I come by
your own order, to give my free consent that the stripling, Roland
Graeme, return to your service; and, having said so, I cumber you no
longer with my presence. Peace be with you!" She turned to go away,
but was stopped by inquiries of Sir Halbert Glendinning.
"Who are you?--what are you?--and why do you not await to make
"I was," she replied, "while yet I belonged to the world, a matron of
no vulgar name; now I am Magdalen, a poor pilgrimer, for the sake of
"Yea," said Sir Halbert, "art thou a Catholic? I thought my dame said
that Roland Graeme came of reformed kin.'
"His father," said the matron, "was a heretic, or rather one who
regarded neither orthodoxy or heresy--neither the temple of the church
or of antichrist. I, too, for the sins of the times make sinners,
have seemed to conform to your unhallowed rites--but I had my
dispensation and my absolution."
"You see, brother," said Sir Halbert, with a smile of meaning towards
his brother, "that we accuse you not altogether without grounds of
"My brother, you do us injustice," replied the Abbot; "this woman, as
her bearing may of itself warrant you, is not in her perfect mind.
Thanks, I must needs say, to the persecution of your marauding barons,
and of your latitudinarian clergy."
"I will not dispute the point," said Sir Halbert; "the evils of the
time are unhappily so numerous, that both churches may divide them,
and have enow to spare." So saying, he leaned from the window of the
apartment, and winded his bugle.
"Why do you sound your horn, my brother?" said the Abbot; "we have
spent but few minutes together."
"Alas!" said the elder brother, "and even these few have been sullied
by disagreement. I sound to horse, my brother--the rather that, to
avert the consequences of this day's rashness on your part, requires
hasty efforts on mine.--Dame, you will oblige me by letting your young
relative know that we mount instantly. I intend not that he shall
return to Avenel with me--it would lead to new quarrels betwixt him
and my household; at least to taunts which his proud heart could ill
brook, and my wish is to do him kindness. He shall, therefore, go
forward to Edinburgh with one of my retinue, whom I shall send back to
say what has chanced here.--You seem rejoiced at this?" he added,
fixing his eyes keenly on Magdalen Graeme, who returned his gaze with
"I would rather," she said, "that Roland, a poor and friendless
orphan, were the jest of the world at large, than of the menials at
"Fear not, dame--he shall be scorned by neither," answered the Knight.
"It may be," she replied--"it may well be--but I will trust more to
his own bearing than to your countenance." She left the room as she
The Knight looked after her as she departed, but turned instantly to
his brother, and expressing, in the most affectionate terms, his
wishes for his welfare and happiness, craved his leave to depart. "My
knaves," he said, "are too busy at the ale-stand, to leave their
revelry for the empty breath of a bugle-horn."
"You have freed them from higher restraint, Halbert," answered the
Abbot, "and therein taught them to rebel against your own."
"Fear not that, Edward," exclaimed Halbert, who never gave his brother
his monastic name of Ambrosius; "none obey the command of real duty
so well as those who are free from the observance of slavish bondage."
He was turning to depart, when the Abbot said,--"Let us not yet part,
my brother--here comes some light refreshment. Leave not the house
which I must now call mine, till force expel me from it, until you
have at least broken bread with me."
The poor lay brother, the same who acted as porter, now entered the
apartment, bearing some simple refreshment, and a flask of wine. "He
had found it," he said with officious humility, "by rummaging through
every nook of the cellar."
The Knight filled a small silver cup, and, quaffing it off, asked his
brother to pledge him, observing, the wine was Bacharac, of the first
vintage, and great age.
"Ay," said the poor lay brother, "it came out of the nook which old
brother Nicholas, (may his soul be happy!) was wont to call Abbot
Ingelram's corner; and Abbot Ingelram was bred at the Convent of
Wurtzburg, which I understand to be near where that choice wine
"True, my reverend sir," said Sir Halbert; "and therefore I entreat my
brother and you to pledge me in a cup of this orthodox vintage."
The thin old porter looked with a wishful glance towards the Abbot.
"_Do veniam_," said his Superior; and the old man seized, with a
trembling hand, a beverage to which he had been long unaccustomed;
drained the cup with protracted delight, as if dwelling on the flavour
and perfume, and set it down with a melancholy smile and shake of the
head, as if bidding adieu in future to such delicious potations. The
brothers smiled. But when Sir Halbert motioned to the Abbot to take up
his cup and do him reason, the Abbot, in turn, shook his head, and
replied--"This is no day for the Abbot of Saint Mary's to eat the fat
and drink the sweat. In water from our Lady's well," he added, filling
a cup with the limpid element, "I wish you, brother, all happiness,
and above all, a true sight of your spiritual errors."
"And to you, my beloved Edward," replied Glendinning, "I wish the free
exercise of your own free reason, and the discharge of more important
duties than are connected with the idle name which you have so rashly
The brothers parted with deep regret; and yet, each confident in his
opinion, felt somewhat relieved by the absence of one whom he
respected so much, and with whom he could agree so little.
Soon afterwards the sound of the Knight of Avenel's trumpets was
heard, and the Abbot went to the top of the tower, from whose
dismantled battlements he could soon see the horsemen ascending the
rising ground in the direction of the drawbridge. As he gazed,
Magdalen Graeme came to his side.
"Thou art come," he said, "to catch the last glimpse of thy grandson,
my sister. Yonder he wends, under the charge of the best knight in
Scotland, his faith ever excepted."
"Thou canst bear witness, my father, that it was no wish either of
mine or of Roland's," replied the matron, "which induced the Knight of
Avenel, as he is called, again to entertain my grandson in his
household--Heaven, which confounds the wise with their own wisdom, and
the wicked with their own policy, hath placed him where, for the
services of the Church, I would most wish him to be."
"I know not what you mean, my sister," said the Abbot.
"Reverend father," replied Magdalen, "hast thou never heard that there
are spirits powerful to rend the walls of a castle asunder when once
admitted, which yet cannot enter the house unless they are invited,
nay, dragged over the threshold?
[Footnote: There is a popular belief respecting evil spirits, that
they cannot enter an inhabited house unless invited, nay, dragged over
the threshold. There is an instance of the same superstition in the
Tales of the Genii, where an enchanter is supposed to have intruded
himself into the Divan of the Sultan.
"'Thus,' said the illustrious Misnar, 'let the enemies of Mahomet be
dismayed! but inform me, O ye sages! under the semblance of which of
your brethren did that foul enchanter gain admittance here?'--'May the
lord of my heart,' answered Balihu, the hermit of the faithful from
Queda, 'triumph over all his foes! As I travelled on the mountains
from Queda, and saw neither the footsteps of beasts, nor the flight of
birds, behold, I chanced to pass through a cavern, in whose hollow
sides I found this accursed sage, to whom I unfolded the invitation of
the Sultan of India, and we, joining, journeyed towards the Divan; but
ere we entered, he said unto me. 'Put thy hand forth, and pull me
towards thee into the Divan, calling on the name of Mahomet, for the
evil spirits are on me and vex me.'"
I have understood that many parts of these fine tales, and in
particular that of the Sultan Misnar, were taken from genuine Oriental
sources by the editor, Mr. James Ridley.
But the most picturesque use of this popular belief occurs in
Coleridge's beautiful and tantalizing fragment of Christabel. Has not
our own imaginative poet cause to fear that future ages will desire to
summon him from his place of rest, as Milton longed
"To call him up, who left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold?"
The verses I refer to are when Christabel conducts into her father's
castle a mysterious and malevolent being, under the guise of a
distressed female stranger.
'They cross'd the moat, and Christabel
Took the key that fitted well;
A little door she open'd straight,
All in the middle of the gate;
The gate that was iron'd within and without,
Where an army in battle array had march'd out.
"The lady sank, belike through pain,
And Christabel with might and main
Lifted her up, a weary weight,
Over the threshold of the gate:
Then the lady rose again,
And moved as she were not in pain.
"So free from danger, free from fear,
They cross'd the court;--right glad they were,
And Christabel devoutly cried
To the lady by her side:
'Praise we the Virgin, all divine,
Who hath rescued thee from this distress.'
'Alas, alas!' said Geraldine,
'I cannot speak from weariness.'
So free from danger, free from fear,
They cross'd the court: right glad they were
Twice hath Roland Graeme been thus drawn into the household of Avenel
by those who now hold the title. Let them look to the issue."
So saying she left the turret; and the Abbot, after pausing a moment
on her words, which he imputed to the unsettled state of her mind,
followed down the winding stair to celebrate his admission to his high
office by fast and prayer instead of revelling and thanksgiving.
Chapter the Sixteenth.
Youth! thou wear'st to manhood now,
Darker lip and darker brow,
Statelier step, more pensive mien,
In thy face and gate are seen:
Thou must now brook midnight watches,
Take thy food and sport by snatches;
For the gambol and the jest,
Thou wert wont to love the best,
Graver follies must thou follow,
But as senseless, false, and hollow.
LIFE, A POEM.
Young Roland Graeme now trotted gaily forward in the train of Sir
Halbert Glendinning. He was relieved from his most galling
apprehension,--the encounter of the scorn and taunt which might
possibly hail his immediate return to the Castle of Avenel. "There
will be a change ere they see me again," he thought to himself; "I
shall wear the coat of plate, instead of the green jerkin, and the
steel morion for the bonnet and feather. They will be bold that may
venture to break a gibe on the man-at-arms for the follies of the
page; and I trust, that ere we return I shall have done something more
worthy of note than hallooing a hound after a deer, or scrambling a
crag for a kite's nest." He could not, indeed, help marvelling that
his grandmother, with all her religious prejudices, leaning, it would
seem, to the other side, had consented so readily to his re-entering
the service of the House of Avenel; and yet more, at the mysterious
joy with which she took leave of him at the Abbey.
"Heaven," said the dame, as she kissed her young relation, and bade
him farewell, "works its own work, even by the hands of those of our
enemies who think themselves the strongest and the wisest. Thou, my
child, be ready to act upon the call of thy religion and country; and
remember, each earthly bond which thou canst form is, compared to the
ties which bind thee to them, like the loose flax to the twisted
cable. Thou hast not forgot the face or form of the damsel Catherine
Roland would have replied in the negative, but the word seemed to
stick in his throat and Magdalen continued her exhortations.
"Thou must not forget her, my son; and here I intrust thee with a
token, which I trust thou wilt speedily find an opportunity of
delivering with care and secrecy into her own hand."
She put here into Roland's hand a very small packet, of which she
again enjoined him to take the strictest care, and to suffer it to be
seen by no one save Catherine Seyton, who, she again (very
unnecessarily) reminded him, was the young lady he had met on the
preceding day. She then bestowed on him her solemn benediction, and
bade God speed him.
There was something in her manner and her conduct which implied
mystery; but Roland Graeme was not of an age or temper to waste much
time in endeavoring to decipher her meaning. All that was obvious to
his perception in the present journey, promised pleasure and novelty.
He rejoiced that he was travelling towards Edinburgh, in order to
assume the character of a man, and lay aside that of a boy. He was
delighted to think that he would have an opportunity of rejoining
Catherine Seyton, whose bright eyes and lively manners had made so
favourable an impression on his imagination; and, as an experienced,
yet high-spirited youth, entering for the first time upon active life,
his heart bounded at the thought, that he was about to see all those
scenes of courtly splendour and warlike adventures, of which the
followers of Sir Halbert used to boast on their occasional visits to
Avenel, to the wonderment and envy of those who, like Roland, knew
courts and camps only by hearsay, and were condemned to the solitary
sports and almost monastic seclusion of Avenel, surrounded by its
lonely lake, and embossed among its pathless mountains. "They shall
mention my name," he said to himself, "if the risk of my life can
purchase me opportunities of distinction, and Catherine Seyton's saucy
eye shall rest with more respect on the distinguished soldier, than
that with which she laughed to scorn the raw and inexperienced
page."--There was wanting but one accessary to complete the sense of
rapturous excitation, and he possessed it by being once more mounted
on the back of a fiery and active horse, instead of plodding along on
foot, as had been the case during the preceding days.
Impelled by the liveliness of his own spirits, which so many
circumstances tended naturally to exalt, Roland Graeme's voice and his
laughter were soon distinguished amid the trampling of the horses of
the retinue, and more than once attracted the attention of the leader,
who remarked with satisfaction, that the youth replied with
good-humoured raillery to such of the train as jested with him on his
dismissal and return to the service of the House of Avenel.
"I thought the holly-branch in your bonnet had been blighted, Master
Roland?" said one of the men-at-arms.
"Only pinched with half an hour's frost; you see it flourishes as
green as ever."
"It is too grave a plant to flourish on so hot a soil as that
headpiece of thine, Master Roland Graeme," retorted the other, who was
an old equerry of Sir Halbert Glendinning.
"If it will not flourish alone," said Roland, "I will mix it with the
laurel and the myrtle--and I will carry them so near the sky, that it
shall make amends for their stinted growth."
Thus speaking, he dashed his spurs into his horse's sides, and,
checking him at the same time, compelled him to execute a lofty
caracole. Sir Halbert Glendinning looked at the demeanour of his new
attendant with that sort of melancholy pleasure with which those who
have long followed the pursuits of life, and are sensible of their
vanity, regard the gay, young, and buoyant spirits to whom existence,
as yet, is only hope and promise.
In the meanwhile, Adam Woodcock, the falconer, stripped of his
masquing habit, and attired, according to his rank and calling, in a
green jerkin, with a hawking-bag on the one side, and a short hanger
on the other, a glove on his left hand which reached half way up his
arm, and a bonnet and feather upon his head, came after the party as
fast as his active little galloway-nag could trot, and immediately
entered into parley with Roland Graeme.
"So, my youngster, you are once more under shadow of the
"And in case to repay you, my good friend," answered Roland, "your
ten groats of silver."
"Which, but an hour since," said the falconer, "you had nearly paid me
with ten inches of steel. On my faith, it is written in the book of
our destiny, that I must brook your dagger after all."
"Nay, speak not of that, my good friend," said the youth, "I would
rather have broached my own bosom than yours; but who could have
known you in the mumming dress you wore?"
"Yes," the falconer resumed,--for both as a poet and actor he had his
own professional share of self-conceit,--"I think I was as good a
Howleglas as ever played part at a Shrovetide revelry, and not a much
worse Abbot of Unreason. I defy the Old Enemy to unmask me when I
choose to keep my vizard on. What the devil brought the Knight on us
before we had the game out? You would have heard me hollo my own new
ballad with a voice should have reached to Berwick. But I pray you,
Master Roland, be less free of cold steel on slight occasions; since,
but for the stuffing of my reverend doublet, I had only left the kirk
to take my place in the kirkyard."
"Nay, spare me that feud," said Roland Graeme, "we shall have no time
to fight it out; for, by our lord's command, I am bound for
"I know it," said Adam Woodcock, "and even therefore we shall have
time to solder up this rent by the way, for Sir Halbert has appointed
me your companion and guide."
"Ay? and with what purpose?" said the page.
"That," said the falconer, "is a question I cannot answer; but I know,
that be the food of the eyases washed or unwashed, and, indeed,
whatever becomes of perch and mew, I am to go with you to Edinburgh,
and see you safely delivered to the Regent at Holyrood."
"How, to the Regent?" said Roland, in surprise.
"Ay, by my faith, to the Regent," replied Woodcock; "I promise you,
that if you are not to enter his service, at least you are to wait
upon him in the character of a retainer of our Knight of Avenel."
"I know no right," said the youth, "which the Knight of Avenel hath to
transfer my service, supposing that I owe it to himself."
"Hush, hush!" said the falconer; "that is a question I advise no one
to stir in until he has the mountain or the lake, or the march of
another kingdom, which is better than either, betwixt him and his
"But Sir Halbert Glendinning," said the youth, "is not my feudal
superior; nor has he aught of authority--"
"I pray you, my son, to rein your tongue," answered Adam Woodcock; "my
lord's displeasure, if you provoke it, will be worse to appease than
my lady's. The touch of his least finger were heavier than her hardest
blow. And, by my faith, he is a man of steel, as true and as pure,
but as hard and as pitiless. You remember the Cock of Capperlaw, whom
he hanged over his gate for a mere mistake--a poor yoke of oxen taken
in Scotland, when he thought he was taking them in English land? I
loved the Cock of Capperlaw; the Kerrs had not an honester man in
their clan, and they have had men that might have been a pattern to
the Border--men that would not have lifted under twenty cows at once,
and would have held themselves dishonoured if they had taken a drift
of sheep, or the like, but always managed their raids in full credit
and honour.--But see, his worship halts, and we are close by the
bridge. Ride up--ride up--we must have his last instructions."
It was as Adam Woodcock said. In the hollow way descending towards the
bridge, which was still in the guardianship of Peter Bridgeward, as he
was called, though he was now very old, Sir Halbert Glendinning halted
his retinue, and beckoned to Woodcock and Graeme to advance to the
head of the train.
"Woodcock," said he, "thou knowest to whom thou art to conduct this
youth. And thou, young man, obey discreetly and with diligence the
orders that shall be given thee. Curb thy vain and peevish temper. Be
just, true, and faithful; and there is in thee that which may raise
thee many a degree above thy present station. Neither shalt
thou--always supposing thine efforts to be fair and honest--want the
protection and countenance of Avenel."
Leaving them in front of the bridge, the centre tower of which now
began to cast a prolonged shade upon the river, the Knight of Avenel
turned to the left, without crossing the river, and pursued his way
towards the chain of hills within whose recesses are situated the Lake
and Castle of Avenel. There remained behind, the falconer, Roland
Graeme, and a domestic of the Knight, of inferior rank, who was left
with them to look after their horses while on the road, to carry their
baggage, and to attend to their convenience.
So soon as the more numerous body of riders had turned off to pursue
their journey westward, those whose route lay across the river, and
was directed towards the north, summoned the Bridgeward, and demanded
a free passage.
"I will not lower the bridge," answered Peter, in a voice querulous
with age and ill-humour.--"Come Papist, come Protestant, ye are all
the same. The Papist threatened us with Purgatory, and fleeched us
with pardons--the Protestant mints at us with his sword, and cuttles
us with the liberty of conscience; but never a one of either says,
'Peter, there is your penny.' I am well tired of all this, and for no
man shall the bridge fall that pays me not ready money; and I would
have you know I care as little for Geneva as for Rome--as little for
homilies as for pardons; and the silver pennies are the only passports
I will hear of."
"Here is a proper old chuff!" said Woodcock to his companion; then
raising his voice, he exclaimed, "Hark thee, dog--Bridgeward, villain,
dost thou think we have refused thy namesake Peter's pence to Rome, to
pay thine at the bridge of Kennaquhair? Let thy bridge down instantly
to the followers of the house of Avenel, or by the hand of my father,
and that handled many a bridle rein, for he was a bluff
Yorkshireman--I say, by my father's hand, our Knight will blow thee
out of thy solan-goose's nest there in the middle of the water, with
the light falconet which we are bringing southward from Edinburgh
The Bridgeward heard, and muttered, "A plague on falcon and falconet,
on cannon and demicannon, and all the barking bull-dogs whom they
halloo against stone and lime in these our days! It was a merry time
when there was little besides handy blows, and it may be a flight of
arrows that harmed an ashler wall as little as so many hailstones. But
we must jouk and let the jaw gang by." Comforting himself in his state
of diminished consequence with this pithy old proverb, Peter
Bridgeward lowered the drawbridge, and permitted them to pass over. At
the sight of his white hair, albeit it discovered a visage equally
peevish through age and misfortune, Roland was inclined to give him an
alms, but Adam Woodcock prevented him. "E'en let him pay the penalty
of his former churlishness and greed," he said; "the wolf, when he has
lost his teeth, should be treated no better than a cur."
Leaving the Bridgeward to lament the alteration of times, which sent
domineering soldiers and feudal retainers to his place of passage,
instead of peaceful pilgrims, and reduced him to become the oppressed,
instead of playing the extortioner, the travellers turned them
northward; and Adam Woodcock, well acquainted with that part of the
country, proposed to cut short a considerable portion of the road, by
traversing the little vale of Glendearg, so famous for the adventures
which befell therein during the earlier part of the Benedictine's
manuscript. With these, and with the thousand commentaries,
representations, and misrepresentations, to which they had given rise,
Roland Graeme was, of course, well acquainted; for in the Castle of
Avenel, as well as in other great establishments, the inmates talked
of nothing so often, or with such pleasure, as of the private affairs
of their lord and lady. But while Roland was viewing with interest
these haunted scenes, in which things were said to have passed beyond
the ordinary laws of nature, Adam Woodcock was still regretting in his
secret soul the unfinished revel and the unsung ballad, and kept every
now and then, breaking out with some such verses as these:--
"The Friars of Fail drank berry-brown ale,
The best that e'er was tasted;
The Monks of Melrose made gude kale
On Fridays, when they fasted.
Saint Monance' sister.
The gray priest kist her--
Fiend save the company!
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix.
Under the greenwood tree."
"By my hand, friend Woodcock," said the page, "though I know you for a
hardy gospeller, that fear neither saint nor devil, yet, if I were
you, I would not sing your profane songs in this valley of Glendearg,
considering what has happened here before our time."
"A straw for your wandering spirits!" said Adam Woodcock; "I mind them
no more than an earn cares for a string of wild-geese--they have all
fled since the pulpits were filled with honest men, and the people's
ears with sound doctrine. Nay, I have a touch at them in my ballad, an
I had but had the good luck to have it sung to end;" and again he set
off in the same key:
From haunted spring and grassy ring,
Troop goblin, elf, and fairy;
And the kelpie must flit from the black bog-pit,
And the brownie must not tarry;
Their way they take,
With scarce the pith to flee.
Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the greenwood tree.
"I think," he added, "that could Sir Halbert's patience have stretched
till we came that length, he would have had a hearty laugh, and that
is what he seldom enjoys."
"If it be all true that men tell of his early life," said Roland, "he
has less right to laugh at goblins than most men."
"Ay, _if_ it be all true," answered Adam Woodcock; "but who can
ensure us of that? Moreover, these were but tales the monks used to
gull us simple laymen withal; they knew that fairies and hobgoblins
brought aves and paternosters into repute; but, now we have given up
worship of images in wood and stone, methinks it were no time to be
afraid of bubbles in the water, or shadows in the air."
"However," said Roland Graeme, "as the Catholics say they do not
worship wood or stone, but only as emblems of the holy saints, and not
as things holy in themselves----"
"Pshaw! pshaw!" answered the falconer; "a rush for their prating.
They told us another story when these baptized idols of theirs brought
pike-staves and sandalled shoon from all the four winds, and whillied
the old women out of their corn and their candle ends, and their
butter, bacon, wool, and cheese, and when not so much as a gray groat
Roland Graeme had been long taught, by necessity, to consider his form
of religion as a profound secret, and to say nothing whatever in its
defence when assailed, lest he should draw on himself the suspicion of
belonging to the unpopular and exploded church. He therefore suffered
Adam Woodcock to triumph without farther opposition, marvelling in his
own mind whether any of the goblins, formerly such active agents,
would avenge his rude raillery before they left the valley of
Glendearg. But no such consequences followed. They passed the night
quietly in a cottage in the glen, and the next day resumed their route
Chapter the Seventeenth.
Edina! Scotia's darling seat,
All hail thy palaces and towers,
Where once, beneath a monarch's feet,
Sate legislation's sovereign powers.
"This, then, is Edinburgh?" said the youth, as the fellow-travellers
arrived at one of the heights to the southward, which commanded a view
of the great northern capital--"This is that Edinburgh of which we
have heard so much!"
"Even so," said the falconer; "yonder stands Auld Reekie--you may see
the smoke hover over her at twenty miles' distance, as the gosshawk
hangs over a plump of young wild-ducks--ay, yonder is the heart of
Scotland, and each throb that she gives is felt from the edge of
Solway to Duncan's-bay-head. See, yonder is the old Castle; and see
to the right, on yon rising ground, that is the Castle of Craigmillar,
which I have known a merry place in my time."
"Was it not there," said the page in a low voice, "that the Queen held
"Ay, ay," replied the falconer, "Queen she was then, though you must
not call her so now. Well, they may say what they will--many a true
heart will be sad for Mary Stewart, e'en if all be true men say of
her; for look you, Master Roland--she was the loveliest creature to
look upon that I ever saw with eye, and no lady in the land liked
better the fair flight of a falcon. I was at the great match on Roslin
Moor betwixt Bothwell--he was a black sight to her that Bothwell--and
the Baron of Roslin, who could judge a hawk's flight as well as any
man in Scotland--a butt of Rhenish and a ring of gold was the wager,
and it was flown as fairly for as ever was red gold and bright wine.
And to see her there on her white palfrey, that flew as if it scorned
to touch more than the heather blossom; and to hear her voice, as
clear and sweet as the mavis's whistle, mix among our jolly whooping
and whistling; and to mark all the nobles dashing round her; happiest
he who got a word or a look--tearing through moss and hagg, and
venturing neck and limb to gain the praise of a bold rider, and the
blink of a bonny Queen's bright eye!--she will see little hawking
where she lies now--ay, ay, pomp and pleasure pass away as speedily as
the wap of a falcon's wing."
"And where is this poor Queen now confined?" said Roland Graeme,
interested in the fate of a woman whose beauty and grace had made so
strong an impression even on the blunt and careless character of Adam
"Where is she now imprisoned?" said honest Adam; "why, in some castle
in the north, they say--I know not where, for my part, nor is it worth
while to vex one's sell anent what cannot be mended--An she had guided
her power well whilst she had it, she had not come to so evil a pass.
Men say she must resign her crown to this little baby of a prince, for
that they will trust her with it no longer. Our master has been as
busy as his neighbours in all this work. If the Queen should come to
her own again, Avenel Castle is like to smoke for it, unless he makes
his bargain all the better." "In a castle in the north Queen Mary is
confined?" said the page. "Why, ay--they say so, at least--In a
castle beyond that great river which comes down yonder, and looks like
a river, but it is a branch of the sea, and as bitter as brine."
"And amongst all her subjects," said the page, with some emotion, "is
there none that will adventure anything for her relief?"
"That is a kittle question," said the falconer; "and if you ask it
often, Master Roland, I am fain to tell you that you will be mewed up
yourself in some of those castles, if they do not prefer twisting your
head off, to save farther trouble with you--Adventure any thing? Lord,
why, Murray has the wind in his poop now, man, and flies so high and
strong, that the devil a wing of them can match him--No, no; there she
is, and there she must lie, till Heaven send her deliverance, or till
her son has the management of all--But Murray will never let her loose
again, he knows her too well.--And hark thee, we are now bound for
Holyrood, where thou wilt find plenty of news, and of courtiers to
tell it--But, take my counsel, and keep a calm sough, as the Scots
say--hear every man's counsel, and keep your own. And if you hap to
learn any news you like, leap not up as if you were to put on armour
direct in the cause--Our old Mr. Wingate says--and he knows
court-cattle well--that if you are told old King Coul is come alive
again, you should turn it off with, 'And is he in truth?--I heard not
of it,' and should seem no more moved, than if one told you, by way of
novelty, that old King Coul was dead and buried. Wherefore, look well
to your bearing, Master Roland, for, I promise you, you come among a
generation that are keen as a hungry hawk--And never be dagger out of
sheath at every wry word you hear spoken; for you will find as hot
blades as yourself, and then will be letting of blood without advice
either of leech or almanack."
"You shall see how staid I will be, and how cautious, my good friend,"
said Graeme; "but, blessed Lady, what goodly house is that which is
lying all in ruins so close to the city? Have they been playing at the
Abbot of Unreason here, and ended the gambol by burning the church?"
"There again now," replied his companion, "you go down the wind like a
wild haggard, that minds neither lure nor beck--that is a question you
should have asked in as low a tone as I shall answer it."
"If I stay here long," said Roland Graeme, "it is like I shall lose
the natural use of my voice--but what are the ruins then?"
"The Kirk of Field," said the falconer, in a low and impressive
whisper, laying at the same time his finger on his lip; "ask no more
about it--somebody got foul play, and somebody got the blame of it;
and the game began there which perhaps may not be played out in our
time.--Poor Henry Darnley! to be an ass, he understood somewhat of a
hawk; but they sent him on the wing through the air himself one bright
The memory of this catastrophe was so recent, that the page averted
his eyes with horror from the scathed ruins in which it had taken
place; and the accusations against the Queen, to which it had given
rise, came over his mind with such strength as to balance the
compassion he had begun to entertain for her present forlorn
It was, indeed, with that agitating state of mind which arises partly
from horror, but more from anxious interest and curiosity, that young
Graeme found himself actually traversing the scene of those tremendous
events, the report of which had disturbed the most distant solitudes
in Scotland, like the echoes of distant thunder rolling among the
"Now," he thought, "now or never shall I become a man, and bear my
part in those deeds which the simple inhabitants of our hamlets repeat
to each other, as if they were wrought by beings of a superior order
to their own. I will know now, wherefore the Knight of Avenel carries
his crest so much above those of the neighbouring baronage, and how it
is that men, by valour and wisdom, work their way from the hoddin-gray
coat to the cloak of scarlet and gold. Men say I have not much wisdom
to recommend me; and if that be true, courage must do it; for I will
be a man amongst living men, or a dead corpse amongst the dead."
From these dreams of ambition he turned his thoughts to those of
pleasure, and began to form many conjectures, when and where he should
see Catherine Seyton, and in what manner their acquaintance was to be
renewed. With such conjectures he was amusing himself, when he found
that they had entered the city, and all other feelings were suspended
in the sensation of giddy astonishment with which an inhabitant of the
country is affected, when, for the first time, he finds himself in the
streets of a large and populous city, a unit in the midst of
The principal street of Edinburgh was then, as now, one of the most
spacious in Europe. The extreme height of the houses, and the variety
of Gothic gables and battlements, and balconies, by which the sky-line
on each side was crowned and terminated, together with the width of
the street itself, might have struck with surprise a more practised
eye than that of young Graeme. The population, close packed within the
walls of the city, and at this time increased by the number of the
lords of the King's party who had thronged to Edinburgh to wait upon
the Regent Murray, absolutely swarmed like bees on the wide and
stately street. Instead of the shop-windows, which are now calculated
for the display of goods, the traders had their open booths projecting
on the street, in which, as in the fashion of the modern bazaars, all
was exposed which they had upon sale. And though the commodities were
not of the richest kinds, yet Graeme thought he beheld the wealth of
the whole world in the various bales of Flanders cloths, and the
specimens of tapestry; and, at other places, the display of domestic
utensils and pieces of plate struck him with wonder. The sight of
cutlers' booths, furnished with swords and poniards, which were
manufactured in Scotland, and with pieces of defensive armour,
imported from Flanders, added to his surprise; and, at every step, he
found so much to admire and gaze upon, that Adam Woodcock had no
little difficulty in prevailing on him to advance through such a scene
The sight of the crowds which filled the streets was equally a subject
of wonder. Here a gay lady, in her muffler, or silken veil, traced her
way delicately, a gentleman-usher making way for her, a page bearing
up her train, and a waiting gentlewoman carrying her Bible, thus
intimating that her purpose was towards the church--There he might see
a group of citizens bending the same way, with their short Flemish
cloaks, wide trowsers, and high-caped doublets, a fashion to which, as
well as to their bonnet and feather, the Scots were long faithful.
Then, again, came the clergyman himself, in his black Geneva cloak and
band, lending a grave and attentive ear to the discourse of several
persons who accompanied him, and who were doubtless holding serious
converse on the religious subject he was about to treat of. Nor did
there lack passengers of a different class and appearance.
At every turn, Roland Graeme might see a gallant ruffle along in the
newer or French mode, his doublet slashed, and his points of the same
colours with the lining, his long sword on one side, and his poniard
on the other, behind him a body of stout serving men, proportioned to
his estate and quality, all of whom walked with the air of military
retainers, and were armed with sword and buckler, the latter being a
small round shield, not unlike the Highland target, having a steel
spike in the centre. Two of these parties, each headed by a person of
importance, chanced to meet in the very centre of the street, or, as
it was called, "the crown of the cause-way," a post of honour as
tenaciously asserted in Scotland, as that of giving or taking the wall
used to be in the more southern part of the island. The two leaders
being of equal rank, and, most probably, either animated by political
dislike, or by recollection of some feudal enmity, marched close up to
each other, without yielding an inch to the right or the left; and
neither showing the least purpose of giving way, they stopped for an
instant, and then drew their swords. Their followers imitated their
example; about a score of weapons at once flashed in the sun, and
there was an immediate clatter of swords and bucklers, while the
followers on either side cried their master's name; the one shouting
"Help, a Leslie! a Leslie!" while the others answered with shouts of
"Seyton! Seyton!" with the additional punning slogan, "Set on, set
on--bear the knaves to the ground!"
If the falconer found difficulty in getting the page to go forward
before, it was now perfectly impossible. He reined up his horse,
clapped his hands, and, delighted with the fray, cried and shouted as
fast as any of those who were actually engaged in it.
The noise and cries thus arising on the Highgate, as it was called,
drew into the quarrel two or three other parties of gentlemen and
their servants, besides some single passengers, who, hearing a fray
betwixt these two distinguished names, took part in it, either for
love or hatred.
The combat became now very sharp, and although the sword-and-buckler
men made more clatter and noise than they did real damage, yet several
good cuts were dealt among them; and those who wore rapiers, a more
formidable weapon than the ordinary Scottish swords, gave and received
dangerous wounds. Two men were already stretched on the causeway, and
the party of Seyton began to give ground, being much inferior in
number to the other, with which several of the citizens had united
themselves, when young Roland Graeme, beholding their leader, a noble
gentleman, fighting bravely, and hard pressed with numbers, could
withhold no longer. "Adam Woodcock," he said, "an you be a man, draw,
and let us take part with the Seyton." And, without waiting a reply,
or listening to the falconer's earnest entreaty, that he would leave
alone a strife in which he had no concern, the fiery youth sprung from
his horse, drew his short sword, and shouting like the rest, "A
Seyton! a Seyton! Set on! set on!" thrust forward into the throng, and
struck down one of those who was pressing hardest upon the gentleman
whose cause he espoused. This sudden reinforcement gave spirit to the
weaker party, who began to renew the combat with much alacrity, when
four of the magistrates of the city, distinguished by their velvet
cloaks and gold chains, came up with a guard of halberdiers and
citizens, armed with long weapons, and well accustomed to such
service, thrust boldly forward, and compelled the swordsmen to
separate, who immediately retreated in different directions, leaving
such of the wounded on both sides, as had been disabled in the fray,
lying on the street.
The falconer, who had been tearing his beard for anger at his
comrade's rashness, now rode up to him with the horse which he had
caught by the bridle, and accosted him with "Master Roland--master
goose--master mad-cap--will it please you to get on horse, and budge?
or will you remain here to be carried to prison, and made to answer
for this pretty day's work?"
The page, who had begun his retreat along with the Seytons, just as if
he had been one of their natural allies, was by this unceremonious
application made sensible that he was acting a foolish part; and,
obeying Adam Woodcock with some sense of shame, he sprung actively on
horseback, and upsetting with the shoulder of the animal a
city-officer, who was making towards him, he began to ride smartly
down the street, along with his companion, and was quickly out of the
reach of the hue and cry. In fact, rencounters of the kind were so
common in Edinburgh at that period, that the disturbance seldom
excited much attention after the affray was over, unless some person
of consequence chanced to have fallen, an incident which imposed on
his friends the duty of avenging his death on the first convenient
opportunity. So feeble, indeed, was the arm of the police, that it was
not unusual for such skirmishes to last for hours, where the parties
were numerous and well matched. But at this time the Regent, a man of
great strength of character, aware of the mischief which usually arose
from such acts of violence, had prevailed with the magistrates to keep
a constant guard on foot for preventing or separating such affrays as
had happened in the present case.
The falconer and his young companion were now riding down the
Canongate, and had slackened their pace to avoid attracting attention,
the rather that there seemed to be no appearance of pursuit. Roland
hung his head as one who was conscious his conduct had been none of
the wisest, whilst his companion thus addressed him:
"Will you be pleased to tell me one thing, Master Roland Graeme, and
that is, whether there be a devil incarnate in you or no?"
"Truly, Master Adam Woodcock," answered the page, "I would fain
hope there is not."
"Then," said Adam, "I would fain know by what other influence or
instigation you are perpetually at one end or the other of some bloody
brawl? What, I pray, had you to do with these Seytons and Leslies,
that you never heard the names of in your life before?"
"You are out there, my friend," said Roland Graeme, "I have my own
reasons for being a friend to the Seytons."
"They must have been very secret reasons then," answered Adam
Woodcock, "for I think I could have wagered, you had never known one
of the name; and I am apt to believe still, that it was your
unhallowed passion for that clashing of cold iron, which has as much
charm for you as the clatter of a brass pan hath for a hive of bees,
rather than any care either for Seyton or for Leslie, that persuaded
you to thrust your fool's head into a quarrel that no ways concerned
you. But take this for a warning, my young master, that if you are to
draw sword with every man who draws sword on the Highgate here, it
will be scarce worth your while to sheathe bilbo again for the rest of
your life, since, if I guess rightly, it will scarce endure on such
terms for many hours--all which I leave to your serious
"By my word, Adam, I honour your advice; and I promise you, that I
will practise by it as faithfully as if I were sworn apprentice to
you, to the trade and mystery of bearing myself with all wisdom and
safety through the new paths of life that I am about to be engaged
"And therein you will do well," said the falconer; "and I do not
quarrel with you, Master Roland, for having a grain over much spirit,
because I know one may bring to the hand a wild hawk which one never
can a dung-hill hen--and so betwixt two faults you have the best
on't. But besides your peculiar genius for quarrelling and lugging out
your side companion, my dear Master Roland, you have also the gift of
peering under every woman's muffler and screen, as if you expected to
find an old acquaintance. Though were you to spy one, I should be as
much surprised at it, well wotting how few you have seen of these same
wild-fowl, as I was at your taking so deep an interest even now in the
"Tush, man! nonsense and folly," answered Roland Graeme, "I but
sought to see what eyes these gentle hawks have got under their hood."
"Ay, but it's a dangerous subject of inquiry," said the falconer; "you
had better hold out your bare wrist for an eagle to perch upon.--Look
you, Master Roland, these pretty wild-geese cannot be hawked at
without risk--they have as many divings, boltings, and volleyings, as
the most gamesome quarry that falcon ever flew at--And besides, every
woman of them is manned with her husband, or her kind friend, or her
brother, or her cousin, or her sworn servant at the least--But you
heed me not, Master Roland, though I know the game so well--your eye
is all on that pretty damsel who trips down the gate before us--by my
certes, I will warrant her a blithe dancer either in reel or revel--a
pair of silver morisco bells would become these pretty ankles as well
as the jesses would suit the fairest Norway hawk."
"Thou art a fool, Adam," said the page, "and I care not a button about
the girl or her ankles--But, what the foul fiend, one must look at
"Very true, Master Roland Graeme," said his guide, "but let me pray
you to choose your objects better. Look you, there is scarce a woman
walks this High-gate with a silk screen or a pearlin muffler, but, as
I said before, she has either gentleman-usher before her, or kinsman,
or lover, or husband, at her elbow, or it may be a brace of stout
fellows with sword and buckler, not so far behind but what they can
follow close--But you heed me no more than a goss-hawk minds a yellow
"O yes, I do--I do mind you indeed," said Roland Graeme; "but hold my
nag a bit--I will be with you in the exchange of a whistle." So
saying, and ere Adam Woodcock could finish the sermon which was dying
on his tongue, Roland Graeme, to the falconer's utter astonishment,
threw him the bridle of his jennet, jumped off horseback, and pursued
down one of the closes or narrow lanes, which, opening under a vault,
terminate upon the main-street, the very maiden to whom his friend had
accused him of showing so much attention, and who had turned down the
pass in question.
"Saint Mary, Saint Magdalen, Saint Benedict, Saint Barnabas!" said the
poor falconer, when he found himself thus suddenly brought to a pause
in the midst of the Canongate, and saw his young charge start off like
a madman in quest of a damsel whom he had never, as Adam supposed,
seen in his life before,--"Saint Satan and Saint Beelzebub--for this
would make one swear saint and devil--what can have come over the lad,
with a wanion! And what shall I do the whilst!--he will have his
throat cut, the poor lad, as sure as I was born at the foot of
Roseberry-Topping. Could I find some one to hold the horses! but they
are as sharp here north-away as in canny Yorkshire herself, and quit
bridle, quit titt, as we say. An I could but see one of our folks
now, a holly-sprig were worth a gold tassel; or could I but see one of
the Regent's men--but to leave the horses to a stranger, that I
cannot--and to leave the place while the lad is in jeopardy, that I
We must leave the falconer, however, in the midst of his distress, and
follow the hot-headed youth who was the cause of his perplexity.
The latter part of Adam Woodcock's sage remonstrance had been in a
great measure lost upon Roland, for whose benefit it was intended;
because, in one of the female forms which tripped along the street,
muffled in a veil of striped silk, like the women of Brussels at this
day, his eye had discerned something which closely resembled the
exquisite shape and spirited bearing of Catherine Seyton.--During all
the grave advice which the falconer was dinning in his ears, his eye
continued intent upon so interesting an object of observation; and at
length, as the damsel, just about to dive under one of the arched
passages which afforded an outlet to the Canongate from the houses
beneath, (a passage, graced by a projecting shield of arms, supported
by two huge foxes of stone,) had lifted her veil for the purpose
perhaps of descrying who the horseman was who for some time had eyed
her so closely, young Roland saw, under the shade of the silken plaid,
enough of the bright azure eyes, fair locks, and blithe features, to
induce him, like an inexperienced and rash madcap, whose wilful ways
never had been traversed by contradiction, nor much subjected to
consideration, to throw the bridle of his horse into Adam Woodcock's
hand, and leave him to play the waiting gentleman, while he dashed
down the paved court after Catherine Seyton--all as aforesaid.
Women's wits are proverbially quick, but apparently those of Catherine
suggested no better expedient than fairly to betake herself to speed
of foot, in hopes of baffling the page's vivacity, by getting safely
lodged before he could discover where. But a youth of eighteen, in
pursuit of a mistress, is not so easily outstripped. Catherine fled
across a paved court, decorated with large formal vases of stone, in
which yews, cypresses, and other evergreens, vegetated in sombre
sullenness, and gave a correspondent degree of solemnity to the high
and heavy building in front of which they were placed as ornaments,
aspiring towards a square portion of the blue hemisphere,
corresponding exactly in extent to the quadrangle in which they were
stationed, and all around which rose huge black walls, exhibiting
windows in rows of five stories, with heavy architraves over each,
bearing armorial and religious devices.
Through this court Catherine Seyton flashed like a hunted doe, making
the best use of those pretty legs which had attracted the commendation
even of the reflective and cautious Adam Woodcock. She hastened
towards a large door in the centre of the lower front of the court,
pulled the bobbin till the latch flew up, and ensconced herself in the
ancient mansion. But, if she fled like a doe, Roland Graeme followed
with the speed and ardour of a youthful stag-hound, loosed for the
first time on his prey. He kept her in view in spite of her efforts;
for it is remarkable what an advantage, in such a race, the gallant
who desires to see, possesses over the maiden who wishes not to be
seen--an advantage which I have known counterbalance a great start in
point of distance. In short, he saw the waving of her screen, or veil,
at one corner, heard the tap of her foot, light as that was, as it
crossed the court, and caught a glimpse of her figure just as she
entered the door of the mansion.
Roland Graeme, inconsiderate and headlong as we have described him,
having no knowledge of real life but from the romances which he had
read, and not an idea of checking himself in the midst of any eager
impulse; possessed, besides, of much courage and readiness, never
hesitated for a moment to approach the door through which the object
of his search had disappeared. He, too, pulled the bobbin, and the
latch, though heavy and massive, answered to the summons, and arose.
The page entered with the same precipitation which had marked his
whole proceeding, and found himself in a large hall, or vestibule,
dimly enlightened by latticed casements of painted glass, and rendered
yet dimmer through the exclusion of the sunbeams, owing to the height
of the walls of those buildings by which the court-yard was enclosed.
The walls of the hall were surrounded with suits of ancient and rusted
armour, interchanged with huge and massive stone scutcheons, bearing
double tressures, fleured and counter-fleured, wheat-sheaves,
coronets, and so forth, things to which Roland Graeme gave not a
In fact, he only deigned to observe the figure of Catherine Seyton,
who, deeming herself safe in the hall, had stopped to take breath
after her course, and was reposing herself for a moment on a large
oaken settle which stood at the upper end of the hall. The noise of
Roland's entrance at once disturbed her; she started up with a faint
scream of surprise, and escaped through one of the several
folding-doors which opened into this apartment as a common centre.
This door, which Roland Graeme instantly approached, opened on a large
and well-lighted gallery, at the upper end of which he could hear
several voices, and the noise of hasty steps approaching towards the
hall or vestibule. A little recalled to sober thought by an appearance
of serious danger, he was deliberating whether he should stand fast or
retire, when Catherine Seyton re-entered from a side door, running
towards him with as much speed as a few minutes since she had fled
"Oh, what mischief brought you hither?" she said; "fly--fly, or you
are a dead man,--or stay--they come--flight is impossible--say you
came to ask for Lord Seyton."
She sprung from him and disappeared through the door by which she had
made her second appearance; and, at the same instant, a pair of large
folding-doors at the upper end of the gallery flew open with
vehemence, and six or seven young gentlemen, richly dressed, pressed
forward into the apartment, having, for the greater part, their swords
"Who is it," said one, "dare intrude on us in our own mansion?"
"Cut him to pieces," said another; "let him pay for this day's
insolence and violence--he is some follower of the Rothes."
"No, by Saint Mary," said another; "he is a follower of the arch-fiend
and ennobled clown Halbert Glendinning, who takes the style of
Avenel--once a church-vassal, now a pillager of the church."
"It is so," said a fourth; "I know him by the holly-sprig, which is
their cognizance. Secure the door, he must answer for this insolence."
Two of the gallants, hastily drawing their weapons, passed on to the
door by which Roland had entered the hall, and stationed themselves
there as if to prevent his escape. The others advanced on Graeme, who
had just sense enough to perceive that any attempt at resistance would
be alike fruitless and imprudent. At once, and by various voices, none
of which sounded amicably, the page was required to say who he was,
whence he came, his name, his errand, and who sent him hither. The
number of the questions demanded of him at once, afforded a momentary
apology for his remaining silent, and ere that brief truce had
elapsed, a personage entered the hall, at whose appearance those who
had gathered fiercely around Roland, fell back with respect.
This was a tall man, whose dark hair was already grizzled, though his
high and haughty features retained all the animation of youth. The
upper part of his person was undressed to his Holland shirt, whose
ample folds were stained with blood. But he wore a mantle of crimson,
lined with rich fur, cast around him, which supplied the deficiency of
his dress. On his head he had a crimson velvet bonnet, looped up on
one side with a small golden chain of many links, which, going thrice
around the hat, was fastened by a medal, agreeable to the fashion
amongst the grandees of the time.
"Whom have you here, sons and kinsmen," said he, "around whom you
crowd thus roughly?--Know you not that the shelter of this roof should
secure every one fair treatment, who shall come hither either in fair
peace, or in open and manly hostility?"
"But here, my lord," answered one of the youths, "is a knave who comes
on treacherous espial!"
"I deny the charge!" said Roland Graeme, boldly, "I came to inquire
after my Lord Seyton."
"A likely tale," answered his accusers, "in the mouth of a follower of
"Stay, young men," said the Lord Seyton, for it was that nobleman
himself, "let me look at this youth--By heaven, it is the very same
who came so boldly to my side not very many minutes since, when some
of my own knaves bore themselves with more respect to their own
worshipful safety than to mine! Stand back from him, for he well
deserves honour and a friendly welcome at your hands, instead of this
They fell back on all sides, obedient to Lord Seyton's commands, who,
taking Roland Graeme by the hand, thanked him for his prompt and
gallant assistance, adding, that he nothing doubted, "the same
interest which he had taken in his cause in the affray, brought him
hither to inquire after his hurt."
Roland bowed low in acquiescence.
"Or is there any thing in which I can serve you, to show my sense of
your ready gallantry?"
But the page, thinking it best to abide by the apology for his visit
which the Lord Seyton had so aptly himself suggested, replied, "that
to be assured of his lordship's safety, had been the only cause of his
intrusion. He judged," he added, "he had seen him receive some hurt in
"A trifle," said Lord Seyton; "I had but stripped my doublet, that the
chirurgeon might put some dressing on the paltry scratch, when these
rash boys interrupted us with their clamour."
Roland Graeme, making a low obeisance, was now about to depart, for,
relieved from the danger of being treated as a spy, he began next to
fear, that his companion, Adam Woodcock, whom he had so
unceremoniously quitted, would either bring him into some farther
dilemma, by venturing into the hotel in quest of him, or ride off and
leave him behind altogether. But Lord Seyton did not permit him to
escape so easily. "Tarry," he said, "young man, and let me know thy
rank and name. The Seyton has of late been more wont to see friends
and followers shrink from his side, than to receive aid from
strangers-but a new world may come around, in which he may have the
chance of rewarding his well-wishers."
"My name is Roland Graeme, my lord," answered the youth, "a page,
who, for the present, is in the service of Sir Halbert Glendinning."
"I said so from the first," said one of the young men; "my life I
will wager, that this is a shaft out of the heretic's quiver-a
stratagem from first to last, to injeer into your confidence some
espial of his own. They know how to teach both boys and women to play
"That is false, if it be spoken of me," said Roland; "no man in
Scotland should teach me such a foul part!"
"I believe thee, boy," said Lord Seyton, "for thy strokes were too
fair to be dealt upon an understanding with those that were to receive
them. Credit me, however, I little expected to have help at need from
one of your master's household; and I would know what moved thee in my
quarrel, to thine own endangering?"
"So please you, my lord," said Roland, "I think my master himself
would not have stood by, and seen an honourable man borne to earth by
odds, if his single arm could help him. Such, at least, is the lesson
we were taught in chivalry, at the Castle of Avenel."
"The good seed hath fallen into good ground, young man," said Seyton;
"but, alas! if thou practise such honourable war in these
dishonourable days, when right is every where borne down by mastery,
thy life, my poor boy, will be but a short one."
"Let it be short, so it be honourable," said Roland Graeme; "and
permit me now, my lord, to commend me to your grace, and to take my
leave. A comrade waits with my horse in the street."
"Take this, however, young man," said Lord Seyton,
[Footnote: George, fifth Lord Seton, was immovably faithful to Queen
Mary during all the mutabilities of her fortune. He was grand master
of the household, in which capacity he had a picture painted of
himself, with his official baton, and the following motto:
In adversitate, patiens;
In prosperitate, benevolus.
Hazard, yet forward.
On various parts of his castle he inscribed, as expressing his
religious and political creed, the legend:
Un Dieu, un Foy, un Roy, un Loy.
He declined to be promoted to an earldom, which Queen Mary offered him
at the same time when she advanced her natural brother to be Earl of
Mar, and afterwards of Murray.
On his refusing this honour, Mary wrote, or caused to be written, the
following lines in Latin and French:
Sunt comites, ducesque alii; sunt denique reges;
Sethom dominum sit satis esse mihi.
Il y a des comptes, des roys, des ducs; ainsi
C'est assez pour moy d'estre Seigneur de Seton.
Which may be thus rendered:--
Earl, duke, or king, be thou that list to be:
Seton, thy lordship is enough for me.
This distich reminds us of the "pride which aped humility," in the
motto of the house of Couci:
Je suis ni roy, ni prince aussi;
Je suis le Seigneur de Coucy.
After the battle of Langside, Lord Seton was obliged to retire abroad
for safety, and was an exile for two years, during which he was
reduced to the necessity of driving a waggon in Flanders for his
subsistence. He rose to favour in James VI's reign, and assuming his
paternal property, had himself painted in his waggoner's dress, and in
the act of driving a wain with four horses, on the north end of a
stately gallery at Seton Castle]
undoing from his bonnet the golden chain and medal, "and wear it for
With no little pride Roland Graeme accepted the gift, which he hastily
fastened around his bonnet, as he had seen gallants wear such an
ornament, and renewing his obeisance to the Baron, left the hall,
traversed the court, and appeared in the street, just as Adam
Woodcock, vexed and anxious at his delay, had determined to leave the
horses to their fate, and go in quest of his youthful comrade. "Whose
barn hast thou broken next?" he exclaimed, greatly relieved by his
appearance, although his countenance indicated that he had passed
through an agitating scene.
"Ask me no questions," said Roland, leaping gaily on his horse; "but
see how short time it takes to win a chain of gold," pointing to that
which he now wore.
"Now, God forbid that thou hast either stolen it, or reft it by
violence," said the falconer; "for, otherwise, I wot not how the devil
thou couldst compass it. I have been often here, ay, for months at an
end, and no one gave me either chain or medal."
"Thou seest I have got one on shorter acquaintance with the city,"
answered the page, "but set thine honest heart at rest; that which is
fairly won and freely given, is neither reft nor stolen."
"Marry, hang thee, with thy fanfarona [Footnote: A name given to the
gold chains worn by the military men of the period. It is of Spanish
origin: for the fashion of wearing these costly ornaments was much
followed amongst the conquerors of the New World.] about thy neck!"
said the falconer; "I think water will not drown, nor hemp strangle
thee. Thou hast been discarded as my lady's page, to come in again as
my lord's squire; and for following a noble young damsel into some
great household, thou gettest a chain and medal, where another would
have had the baton across his shoulders, if he missed having the dirk
in his body. But here we come in front of the old Abbey. Bear thy good
luck with you when you cross these paved stones, and, by our Lady, you
may brag Scotland."
As he spoke, they checked their horses, where the huge old vaulted
entrance to the Abbey or Palace of Holyrood crossed the termination of
the street down which they had proceeded. The courtyard of the palace
opened within this gloomy porch, showing the front of an irregular
pile of monastic buildings, one wing of which is still extant, forming
a part of the modern palace, erected in the days of Charles I.
At the gate of the porch the falconer and page resigned their horses
to the serving-man in attendance; the falconer commanding him with an
air of authority, to carry them safely to the stables. "We follow," he
said, "the Knight of Avenel--We must bear ourselves for what we are
here," said he in a whisper to Roland, "for every one here is looked
on as they demean themselves; and he that is too modest must to the
wall, as the proverb says; therefore cock thy bonnet, man, and let us
brook the causeway bravely."
Assuming, therefore, an air of consequence, corresponding to what he
supposed to be his master's importance and quality, Adam Woodcock led
the way into the courtyard of the Palace of Holyrood.
He appears to have been fond of the arts; for there exists a beautiful
family-piece of him in the centre of his family. Mr. Pinkerton, in his
Scottish Iconographia, published an engraving of this curious
portrait. The original is the property of Lord Somerville, nearly
connected with the Seton family, and is at present at his lordship's
fishing villa of the Pavilion, near Melrose.
Chapter the Eighteenth.
--The sky is clouded, Gaspard,
And the vexed ocean sleeps a troubled sleep,
Beneath a lurid gleam of parting sunshine.
Such slumber hangs o'er discontented lands,
While factions doubt, as yet, if they have strength
To front the open battle.
The youthful page paused on the entrance of the court-yard, and
implored his guide to give him a moment's breathing space. "Let me but
look around me, man," said he; "you consider not I have never seen
such a scene as this before.--And this is Holyrood--the resort of the
gallant and gay, and the fair, and the wise, and the powerful!"
"Ay, marry, is it!" said Woodcock; "but I wish I could hood thee as
they do the hawks, for thou starest as wildly as if you sought another
fray or another fanfarona. I would I had thee safely housed, for thou
lookest wild as a goss-hawk."
It was indeed no common sight to Roland, the vestibule of a palace
traversed by its various groups,--some radiant with gaiety--some
pensive, and apparently weighed down by affairs concerning the state,
or concerning themselves. Here the hoary statesman, with his cautious
yet commanding look, his furred cloak and sable pantoufles; there the
soldier in buff and steel, his long sword jarring against the
pavement, and his whiskered upper lip and frowning brow, looking an
habitual defiance of danger, which perhaps was not always made good;
there again passed my lord's serving-man, high of heart, and bloody of
hand, humble to his master and his master's equals, insolent to all
others. To these might be added, the poor suitor, with his anxious
look and depressed mien--the officer, full of his brief authority,
elbowing his betters, and possibly his benefactors, out of the
road--the proud priest, who sought a better benefice--the proud baron,
who sought a grant of church lands--the robber chief, who came to
solicit a pardon for the injuries he had inflicted on his
neighbors--the plundered franklin, who came to seek vengeance for that
which he had himself received. Besides there was the mustering and
disposition of guards and soldiers--the despatching of messengers,
and the receiving them--the trampling and neighing of horses without
the gate--the flashing of arms, and rustling of plumes, and jingling
of spurs, within it. In short, it was that gay and splendid confusion,
in which the eye of youth sees all that is brave and brilliant, and
that of experience much that is doubtful, deceitful, false, and
hollow--hopes that will never be gratified--promises which will never
be fulfilled--pride in the disguise of humility--and insolence in that
of frank and generous bounty.
As, tired of the eager and enraptured attention which the page gave to
a scene so new to him, Adam Woodcock endeavoured to get him to move
forward, before his exuberance of astonishment should attract the
observation of the sharp-witted denizens of the court, the falconer
himself became an object of attention to a gay menial in a dark-green
bonnet and feather, with a cloak of a corresponding colour, laid down,
as the phrase then went, by six broad bars of silver lace, and welted
with violet and silver. The words of recognition burst from both at
once. "What! Adam Woodcock at court!" and "What! Michael
Wing-the-wind--and how runs the hackit greyhound bitch now?"
"The waur for the wear, like ourselves, Adam--eight years this grass
--no four legs will carry a dog forever; but we keep her for the
breed, and so she 'scapes Border doom--But why stand you gazing there?
I promise you my lord has wished for you, and asked for you."
"My Lord of Murray asked for me, and he Regent of the kingdom too!"
said Adam. "I hunger and thirst to pay my duty to my good lord;--but I
fancy his good lordship remembers the day's sport on Carnwath-moor;
and my Drummelzier falcon, that beat the hawks from the Isle of Man,
and won his lordship a hundred crowns from the Southern baron whom
they called Stanley."
"Nay, not to flatter thee, Adam," said his court-friend, "he remembers
nought of thee, or of thy falcon either. He hath flown many a higher
flight since that, and struck his quarry too. But come, come hither
away; I trust we are to be good comrades on the old score."
"What!" said Adam, "you would have me crush a pot with you; but I must
first dispose of my eyas, where he will neither have girl to chase,
nor lad to draw sword upon."
"Is the youngster such a one?" said Michael.
"Ay, by my hood, he flies at all game," replied Woodcock.
"Then had he better come with us," said Michael Wing-the-wind; "for we
cannot have a proper carouse just now, only I would wet my lips, and
so must you. I want to hear the news from Saint Mary's before you see
my lord, and I will let you know how the wind sits up yonder."
While he thus spoke, he led the way to a side door which opened into
the court; and threading several dark passages with the air of one who
knew the most secret recesses of the palace, conducted them to a small
matted chamber, where he placed bread and cheese and a foaming flagon
of ale before the falconer and his young companion, who immediately
did justice to the latter in a hearty draught, which nearly emptied
the measure. Having drawn his breath, and dashed the froth from his
whiskers, he observed, that his anxiety for the boy had made him
"Mend your draught," said his hospitable friend, again supplying the
flagon from a pitcher which stood beside. "I know the way to the
butterybar. And now, mind what I say--this morning the Earl of Morton
came to my lord in a mighty chafe."
"What! they keep the old friendship, then?" said Woodcock.
"Ay, ay, man, what else?" said Michael; "one hand must scratch the
other. But in a mighty chafe was my Lord of Morton, who, to say truth,
looketh on such occasions altogether uncanny, and, as it were,
fiendish; and he says to my lord,--for I was in the chamber taking
orders about a cast of hawks that are to be fetched from
Darnoway--they match your long-winged falcons, friend Adam."
"I will believe that when I see them fly as high a pitch," replied
Woodcock, this professional observation forming a sort of parenthesis.
"However," said Michael, pursuing his tale, "my Lord of Morton, in a
mighty chafe, asked my Lord Regent whether he was well dealt
with--'for my brother,' said he, 'should have had a gift to be
Commendator of Kennaqubair, and to have all the temporalities erected
into a lordship of regality for his benefit; and here,' said he, 'the
false monks have had the insolence to choose a new Abbot to put his
claim in my brother's way; and moreover, the rascality of the
neighbourhood have burnt and plundered all that was left in the Abbey,
so that my brother will not have a house to dwell in, when he hath
ousted the lazy hounds of priests.' And my lord, seeing him chafed,
said mildly to him, 'These are shrewd tidings, Douglas, but I trust
they be not true; for Halbert Glendinning went southward yesterday,
with a band of spears, and assuredly, had either of these chances
happened, that the monks had presumed to choose an Abbot, or that the
Abbey had been burnt, as you say, he had taken order on the spot for
the punishment of such insolence, and had despatched us a messenger.'
And the Earl of Morton replied--now I pray you, Adam, to notice, that
I say this out of love to you and your lord, and also for old
comradeship, and also because Sir Halbert hath done me good, and may
again--and also because I love not the Earl of Morton, as indeed more
fear than like him--so then it were a foul deed in you to betray
me.--'But,' said the Earl to the Regent, 'take heed, my lord, you
trust not this Glendinning too far--he comes of churl's blood, which
was never true to the nobles'--by Saint Andrew, these were his very
words.--'And besides,' he said, 'he hath a brother, a monk in Saint
Mary's, and walks all by his guidance, and is making friends on the
Border with Buccleuch and with Ferniehirst, [Footnote: Both these
Border Chieftains were great friends of Queen Mary.] and will join
hand with them, were there likelihood of a new world.' And my lord
answered, like a free noble lord as he is; 'Tush! my Lord of Morton, I
will be warrant for Glendinning's faith; and for his brother, he is a
dreamer, that thinks of nought but book and breviary--and if such hap
have chanced as you tell of, I look to receive from Glendinning the
cowl of a hanged monk, and the head of a riotous churl, by way of
sharp and sudden justice.'--And my Lord of Morton left the place, and,
as it seemed to me, somewhat malecontent. But since that time, my lord
has asked me more than once whether there has arrived no messenger
from the Knight of Avenel. And all this I have told you, that you may
frame your discourse to the best purpose, for it seems to me that my
lord will not be well-pleased, if aught has happened like what my Lord
of Morton said, and if your lord hath not ta'en strict orders with
There was something in this communication which fairly blanked the
bold visage of Adam Woodcock, in spite of the reinforcement which his
natural hardihood had received from the berry-brown ale of Holyrood.
"What was it he said about a churl's head, that grim Lord of Morton?"
said the discontented falconer to his friend.
"Nay, it was my Lord Regent, who said that he expected, if the Abbey
was injured, your Knight would send him the head of the ringleader
among the rioters."
"Nay, but is this done like a good Protestant," said Adam Woodcock,
"or a true Lord of the Congregation? We used to be their white-boys
and darlings when we pulled down the convents in Fife and Perthshire."
"Ay, but that," said Michael, "was when old mother Rome held her own,
and our great folks were determined she should have no shelter for her
head in Scotland. But, now that the priests are fled in all quarters,
and their houses and lands are given to our grandees, they cannot see
that we are working the work of reformation in destroying the palaces
of zealous Protestants."
"But I tell you Saint Mary's is not destroyed!" said Woodcock, in
increasing agitation; "some trash of painted windows there were
broken--things that no nobleman could have brooked in his house--some
stone saints were brought on their marrow-bones, like old Widdrington
at Chevy-Chase; but as for fire-raising, there was not so much as a
lighted lunt amongst us, save the match which the dragon had to light
the burning tow withal, which he was to spit against Saint George;
nay, I had caution of that."
"How! Adam Woodcock," said his comrade, "I trust thou hadst no hand in
such a fair work? Look you, Adam, I were loth to terrify you, and you
just come from a journey; but I promise you, Earl Morton hath brought
you down a Maiden from Halifax, you never saw the like of her--and
she'll clasp you round the neck, and your head will remain in her
"Pshaw!" answered Adam, "I am too old to have my head turned by any
maiden of them all. I know my Lord of Morton will go as far for a
buxom lass as anyone; but what the devil took him to Halifax all the
way? and if he has got a gamester there, what hath she to do with my
"Much, much!" answered Michael. "Herod's daughter, who did such
execution with her foot and ankle, danced not men's heads off more
cleanly than this maiden of Morton. [Footnote: Maiden of Morton--a
species of Guillotine which the Regent Morton brought down from
Halifax, certainly at a period considerably later than intimated in
the tale. He was himself the first who suffered by the engine.] 'Tis
an axe, man,--an axe which falls of itself like a sash window, and
never gives the headsmen the trouble to wield it."
"By my faith, a shrewd device," said Woodcock; "heaven keep us free