Part 10 out of 13
horrible recollection pressed on Jeanie as she looked on this unfortunate
creature; and the reminiscence was mutual, for by a sudden exertion of
great strength and agility, Madge Wildfire broke out of the noisy circle
of tormentors who surrounded her, and clinging fast to the door of the
calash, uttered, in a sound betwixt laughter and screaming, "Eh, d'ye
ken, Jeanie Deans, they hae hangit our mother?" Then suddenly changing
her tone to that of the most piteous entreaty, she added, "O gar them let
me gang to cut her down!--let me but cut her down!--she is my mother, if
she was waur than the deil, and she'll be nae mair kenspeckle than
half-hangit Maggie Dickson,* that cried saut mony a day after she had
been hangit; her voice was roupit and hoarse, and her neck was a wee
agee, or ye wad hae kend nae odds on her frae ony other saut-wife."
* Note Q. Half-hanged Maggie Dickson.
Mr. Archibald, embarrassed by the madwoman's clinging to the carriage,
and detaining around them her noisy and mischievous attendants, was all
this while looking out for a constable or beadle, to whom he might commit
the unfortunate creature. But seeing no such person of authority, he
endeavoured to loosen her hold from the carriage, that they might escape
from her by driving on. This, however, could hardly be achieved without
some degree of violence; Madge held fast, and renewed her frantic
entreaties to be permitted to cut down her mother. "It was but a tenpenny
tow lost," she said, "and what was that to a woman's life?" There came
up, however, a parcel of savage-looking fellows, butchers and graziers
chiefly, among whose cattle there had been of late a very general and
fatal distemper, which their wisdom imputed to witchcraft. They laid
violent hands on Madge, and tore her from the carriage, exclaiming--
"What, doest stop folk o' king's high-way? Hast no done mischief enow
already, wi' thy murders and thy witcherings?"
"Oh, Jeanie Deans--Jeanie Deans!" exclaimed the poor maniac, "save my
mother, and I will take ye to the Interpreter's house again,--and I will
teach ye a' my bonny sangs,--and I will tell ye what came o' the." The
rest of her entreaties were drowned in the shouts of the rabble.
"Save her, for God's sake!--save her from those people!" exclaimed Jeanie
"She is mad, but quite innocent; she is mad, gentlemen," said Archibald;
"do not use her ill, take her before the Mayor."
"Ay, ay, we'se hae care enow on her," answered one of the fellows; "gang
thou thy gate, man, and mind thine own matters."
"He's a Scot by his tongue," said another; "and an he will come out o'
his whirligig there, I'se gie him his tartan plaid fu' o' broken banes."
It was clear nothing could be done to rescue Madge; and Archibald, who
was a man of humanity, could only bid the postilions hurry on to
Carlisle, that he might obtain some assistance to the unfortunate woman.
As they drove off, they heard the hoarse roar with which the mob preface
acts of riot or cruelty, yet even above that deep and dire note, they
could discern the screams of the unfortunate victim. They were soon out
of hearing of the cries, but had no sooner entered the streets of
Carlisle, than Archibald, at Jeanie's earnest and urgent entreaty, went
to a magistrate, to state the cruelty which was likely to be exercised on
this unhappy creature.
In about an hour and a half he returned, and reported to Jeanie, that the
magistrate had very readily gone in person, with some assistance, to the
rescue of the unfortunate woman, and that he had himself accompanied him;
that when they came to the muddy pool, in which the mob were ducking her,
according to their favourite mode of punishment, the magistrate succeeded
in rescuing her from their hands, but in a state of insensibility, owing
to the cruel treatment which she had received. He added, that he had seen
her carried to the workhouse, and understood that she had been brought to
herself, and was expected to do well.
This last averment was a slight alteration in point of fact, for Madge
Wildfire was not expected to survive the treatment she had received; but
Jeanie seemed so much agitated, that Mr. Archibald did not think it
prudent to tell her the worst at once. Indeed, she appeared so fluttered
and disordered by this alarming accident, that, although it had been
their intention to proceed to Longtown that evening, her companions
judged it most advisable to pass the night at Carlisle.
This was particularly agreeable to Jeanie, who resolved, if possible, to
procure an interview with Madge Wildfire. Connecting some of her wild
flights with the narrative of George Staunton, she was unwilling to omit
the opportunity of extracting from her, if possible, some information
concerning the fate of that unfortunate infant which had cost her sister
so dear. Her acquaintance with the disordered state of poor Madge's mind
did not permit her to cherish much hope that she could acquire from her
any useful intelligence; but then, since Madge's mother had suffered her
deserts, and was silent for ever, it was her only chance of obtaining any
kind of information, and she was loath to lose the opportunity.
She coloured her wish to Mr. Archibald by saying that she had seen Madge
formerly, and wished to know, as a matter of humanity, how she was
attended to under her present misfortunes. That complaisant person
immediately went to the workhouse, or hospital, in which he had seen the
sufferer lodged, and brought back for reply, that the medical attendants
positively forbade her seeing any one. When the application for
admittance was repeated next day, Mr. Archibald was informed that she had
been very quiet and composed, insomuch that the clergyman who acted as
chaplain to the establishment thought it expedient to read prayers beside
her bed, but that her wandering fit of mind had returned soon after his
departure; however, her countrywoman might see her if she chose it. She
was not expected to live above an hour or two.
Jeanie had no sooner received this information than she hastened to the
hospital, her companions attending her. They found the dying person in a
large ward, where there were ten beds, of which the patient's was the
only one occupied.
Madge was singing when they entered--singing her own wild snatches of
songs and obsolete airs, with a voice no longer overstrained by false
spirits, but softened, saddened, and subdued by bodily exhaustion. She
was still insane, but was no longer able to express her wandering ideas
in the wild notes of her former state of exalted imagination. There was
death in the plaintive tones of her voice, which yet, in this moderated
and melancholy mood, had something of the lulling sound with which a
mother sings her infant asleep. As Jeanie entered she heard first the
air, and then a part of the chorus and words, of what had been, perhaps,
the song of a jolly harvest-home.
"Our work is over--over now,
The goodman wipes his weary brow,
The last long wain wends slow away,
And we are free to sport and play.
"The night comes on when sets the sun,
And labour ends when day is done.
When Autumn's gone and Winter's come,
We hold our jovial harvest-home."
Jeanie advanced to the bedside when the strain was finished, and
addressed Madge by her name. But it produced no symptoms of recollection.
On the contrary, the patient, like one provoked by interruption, changed
her posture, and called out with an impatient tone, "Nurse--nurse, turn
my face to the wa', that I may never answer to that name ony mair, and
never see mair of a wicked world."
The attendant on the hospital arranged her in her bed as she desired,
with her face to the wall and her back to the light. So soon as she was
quiet in this new position, she began again to sing in the same low and
modulated strains, as if she was recovering the state of abstraction
which the interruption of her visitants had disturbed. The strain,
however, was different, and rather resembled the music of the Methodist
hymns, though the measure of the song was similar to that of the former:
"When the fight of grace is fought--
When the marriage vest is wrought--
When Faith hath chased cold Doubt away,
And Hope but sickens at delay--
"When Charity, imprisoned here,
Longs for a more expanded sphere,
Doff thy robes of sin and clay;
Christian, rise, and come away."
The strain was solemn and affecting, sustained as it was by the pathetic
warble of a voice which had naturally been a fine one, and which
weakness, if it diminished its power, had improved in softness.
Archibald, though a follower of the court, and a pococurante by
profession, was confused, if not affected; the dairy-maid blubbered; and
Jeanie felt the tears rise spontaneously to her eyes. Even the nurse,
accustomed to all modes in which the spirit can pass, seemed considerably
The patient was evidently growing weaker, as was intimated by an apparent
difficulty of breathing, which seized her from time to time, and by the
utterance of low listless moans, intimating that nature was succumbing in
the last conflict. But the spirit of melody, which must originally have
so strongly possessed this unfortunate young woman, seemed, at every
interval of ease, to triumph over her pain and weakness. And it was
remarkable that there could always be traced in her songs something
appropriate, though perhaps only obliquely or collaterally so, to her
present situation. Her next seemed the fragment of some old ballad:
"Cauld is my bed, Lord Archibald,
And sad my sleep of sorrow;
But thine sall be as sad and cauld,
My fause true-love! to-morrow.
"And weep ye not, my maidens free,
Though death your mistress borrow;
For he for whom I die to-day
Shall die for me to-morrow."
Again she changed the tune to one wilder, less monotonous, and less
regular. But of the words, only a fragment or two could be collected by
those who listened to this singular scene
"Proud Maisie is in the wood,
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,
Singing so rarely.
"'Tell me, thou bonny bird.
When shall I marry me?'
'When six braw gentlemen
Kirkward shall carry ye.'
"'Who makes the bridal bed,
Birdie, say truly?'--
'The grey-headed sexton,
That delves the grave duly.
"The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
Shall light thee steady;
The owl from the steeple sing,
'Welcome, proud lady.'"
Her voice died away with the last notes, and she fell into a slumber,
from which the experienced attendant assured them that she never would
awake at all, or only in the death agony.
The nurse's prophecy proved true. The poor maniac parted with existence,
without again uttering a sound of any kind. But our travellers did not
witness this catastrophe. They left the hospital as soon as Jeanie had
satisfied herself that no elucidation of her sister's misfortunes was to
be hoped from the dying person.*
* Note R. Madge Wildfire.
Wilt thou go on with me?
The moon is bright, the sea is calm,
And I know well the ocean paths . . .
Thou wilt go on with me!
The fatigue and agitation of these various scenes had agitated Jeanie so
much, notwithstanding her robust strength of constitution, that Archibald
judged it necessary that she should have a day's repose at the village of
Longtown. It was in vain that Jeanie protested against any delay. The
Duke of Argyle's man of confidence was of course consequential; and as he
had been bred to the medical profession in his youth (at least he used
this expression to describe his having, thirty years before, pounded for
six months in the mortar of old Mungo Mangleman, the surgeon at
Greenock), he was obstinate whenever a matter of health was in question.
In this case he discovered febrile symptoms, and having once made a happy
application of that learned phrase to Jeanie's case, all farther
resistance became in vain; and she was glad to acquiesce, and even to go
to bed, and drink water-gruel, in order that she might possess her soul
in quiet and without interruption.
Mr. Archibald was equally attentive in another particular. He observed
that the execution of the old woman, and the miserable fate of her
daughter, seemed to have had a more powerful effect upon Jeanie's mind,
than the usual feelings of humanity might naturally have been expected to
occasion. Yet she was obviously a strong-minded, sensible young woman,
and in no respect subject to nervous affections; and therefore Archibald,
being ignorant of any special connection between his master's prote'ge'e
and these unfortunate persons, excepting that she had seen Madge formerly
in Scotland, naturally imputed the strong impression these events had
made upon her, to her associating them with the unhappy circumstances in
which her sister had so lately stood. He became anxious, therefore, to
prevent anything occurring which might recall these associations to
Archibald had speedily an opportunity of exercising this precaution. A
pedlar brought to Longtown that evening, amongst other wares, a large
broad-side sheet, giving an account of the "Last Speech and Execution of
Margaret Murdockson, and of the barbarous Murder of her Daughter,
Magdalene or Madge Murdockson, called Madge Wildfire; and of her pious
conversation with his Reverence Archdeacon Fleming;" which authentic
publication had apparently taken place on the day they left Carlisle, and
being an article of a nature peculiarly acceptable to such country-folk
as were within hearing of the transaction, the itinerant bibliopolist had
forthwith added them to his stock in trade. He found a merchant sooner
than he expected; for Archibald, much applauding his own prudence,
purchased the whole lot for two shillings and ninepence; and the pedlar,
delighted with the profit of such a wholesale transaction, instantly
returned to Carlisle to supply himself with more.
The considerate Mr. Archibald was about to commit his whole purchase to
the flames, but it was rescued by the yet more considerate dairy-damsel,
who said, very prudently, it was a pity to waste so much paper, which
might crepe hair, pin up bonnets, and serve many other useful purposes;
and who promised to put the parcel into her own trunk, and keep it
carefully out of the sight of Mrs. Jeanie Deans: "Though, by-the-bye, she
had no great notion of folk being so very nice. Mrs. Deans might have had
enough to think about the gallows all this time to endure a sight of it,
without all this to-do about it."
Archibald reminded the dame of the dairy of the Duke's particular charge,
that they should be attentive and civil to Jeanie as also that they were
to part company soon, and consequently would not be doomed to observing
any one's health or temper during the rest of the journey. With which
answer Mrs. Dolly Dutton was obliged to hold herself satisfied. On the
morning they resumed their journey, and prosecuted it successfully,
travelling through Dumfriesshire and part of Lanarkshire, until they
arrived at the small town of Rutherglen, within about four miles of
Glasgow. Here an express brought letters to Archibald from the principal
agent of the Duke of Argyle in Edinburgh.
He said nothing of their contents that evening; but when they were seated
in the carriage the next day, the faithful squire informed Jeanie, that
he had received directions from the Duke's factor, to whom his Grace had
recommended him to carry her, if she had no objection, for a stage or two
beyond Glasgow. Some temporary causes of discontent had occasioned
tumults in that city and the neighbourhood, which would render it
unadvisable for Mrs. Jeanie Deans to travel alone and unprotected betwixt
that city and Edinburgh; whereas, by going forward a little farther, they
would meet one of his Grace's subfactors, who was coming down from the
Highlands to Edinburgh with his wife, and under whose charge she might
journey with comfort and in safety.
Jeanie remonstrated against this arrangement. "She had been lang," she
said, "frae hame--her father and her sister behoved to be very anxious to
see her--there were other friends she had that werena weel in health. She
was willing to pay for man and horse at Glasgow, and surely naebody wad
meddle wi' sae harmless and feckless a creature as she was.--She was
muckle obliged by the offer; but never hunted deer langed for its
resting-place as I do to find myself at Saint Leonard's."
The groom of the chambers exchanged a look with his female companion,
which seemed so full of meaning, that Jeanie screamed aloud--"O Mr.
Archibald--Mrs. Dutton, if ye ken of onything that has happened at Saint
Leonard's, for God's sake--for pity's sake, tell me, and dinna keep me in
"I really know nothing, Mrs. Deans," said the groom of the chambers.
"And I--I--I am sure, I knows as little," said the dame of the dairy,
while some communication seemed to tremble on her lips, which, at a
glance of Archibald's eye, she appeared to swallow down, and compressed
her lips thereafter into a state of extreme and vigilant firmness, as if
she had been afraid of its bolting out before she was aware.
Jeanie saw there was to be something concealed from her, and it was only
the repeated assurances of Archibald that her father--her sister--all her
friends were, as far as he knew, well and happy, that at all pacified her
alarm. From such respectable people as those with whom she travelled she
could apprehend no harm, and yet her distress was so obvious, that
Archibald, as a last resource, pulled out, and put into her hand, a slip
of paper, on which these words were written:--
"Jeanie Deans--You will do me a favour by going with Archibald and my
female domestic a day's journey beyond Glasgow, and asking them no
questions, which will greatly oblige your friend, 'Argyle & Greenwich.'"
Although this laconic epistle, from a nobleman to whom she was bound by
such inestimable obligations, silenced all Jeanie's objections to the
proposed route, it rather added to than diminished the eagerness of her
curiosity. The proceeding to Glasgow seemed now no longer to be an object
with her fellow-travellers. On the contrary, they kept the left-hand side
of the river Clyde, and travelled through a thousand beautiful and
changing views down the side of that noble stream, till, ceasing to hold
its inland character, it began to assume that of a navigable river.
"You are not for gaun intill Glasgow then?" said Jeanie, as she observed
that the drivers made no motion for inclining their horses' heads towards
the ancient bridge, which was then the only mode of access to St. Mungo's
"No," replied Archibald; "there is some popular commotion, and as our
Duke is in opposition to the court, perhaps we might be too well
received; or they might take it in their heads to remember that the
Captain of Carrick came down upon them with his Highlandmen in the time
of Shawfield's mob in 1725, and then we would be too ill received.* And,
at any rate, it is best for us, and for me in particular, who may be
supposed to possess his Grace's mind upon many particulars, to leave the
good people of the Gorbals to act according to their own imaginations,
without either provoking or encouraging them by my presence."
* In 1725, there was a great riot in Glasgow on account of the malt-tax.
Among the troops brought in to restore order, was one of the independent
companies of Highlanders levied in Argyleshire, and distinguished, in a
lampoon of the period, as "Campbell of Carrick and his Highland thieves."
It was called Shawfield's Mob, because much of the popular violence was
directed against Daniel Campbell, Esq. of Shawfield, M. P., Provost of
To reasoning of such tone and consequence Jeanie had nothing to reply,
although it seemed to her to contain fully as much self-importance as
The carriage meantime rolled on; the river expanded itself, and gradually
assumed the dignity of an estuary or arm of the sea. The influence of the
advancing and retiring tides became more and more evident, and in the
beautiful words of him of the laurel wreath, the river waxed--
A broader and yet broader stream.
The cormorant stands upon its shoals,
His black and dripping wings
Half open'd to the wind.
[From Southey's /Thalaba,/ Book xi. stanza 36.]
"Which way lies Inverary?" said Jeanie, gazing on the dusky ocean of
Highland hills, which now, piled above each other, and intersected by
many a lake, stretched away on the opposite side of the river to the
northward. "Is yon high castle the Duke's hoose?"
"That, Mrs. Deans?--Lud help thee," replied Archibald, "that's the old
castle of Dumbarton, the strongest place in Europe, be the other what it
may. Sir William Wallace was governor of it in the old war with the
English, and his Grace is governor just now. It is always entrusted to
the best man in Scotland."
"And does the Duke live on that high rock, then?" demanded Jeanie.
"No, no, he has his deputy-governor, who commands in his absence; he
lives in the white house you see at the bottom of the rock--His Grace
does not reside there himself."
"I think not, indeed," said the dairy-woman, upon whose mind the road,
since they had left Dumfries, had made no very favourable impression,
"for if he did, he might go whistle for a dairy-woman, an he were the
only duke in England. I did not leave my place and my friends to come
down to see cows starve to death upon hills as they be at that pig-stye
of Elfinfoot, as you call it, Mr. Archibald, or to be perched upon the
top of a rock, like a squirrel in his cage, hung out of a three pair of
Inwardly chuckling that these symptoms of recalcitration had not taken
place until the fair malcontent was, as he mentally termed it, under his
thumb, Archibald coolly replied, "That the hills were none of his making,
nor did he know how to mend them; but as to lodging, they would soon be
in a house of the Duke's in a very pleasant island called Roseneath,
where they went to wait for shipping to take them to Inverary, and would
meet the company with whom Jeanie was to return to Edinburgh."
"An island?" said Jeanie, who, in the course of her various and
adventurous travels, had never quitted terra firma, "then I am doubting
we maun gang in ane of these boats; they look unco sma', and the waves
are something rough, and"
"Mr. Archibald," said Mrs. Dutton, "I will not consent to it; I was never
engaed to leave the country, and I desire you will bid the boys drive
round the other way to the Duke's house."
"There is a safe pinnace belonging to his Grace, ma'am, close by,"
replied Archibald, "and you need be under no apprehensions whatsoever."
"But I am under apprehensions," said the damsel; "and I insist upon going
round by land, Mr. Archibald, were it ten miles about."
"I am sorry I cannot oblige you, madam, as Roseneath happens to be an
"If it were ten islands," said the incensed dame, "that's no reason why I
should be drowned in going over the seas to it."
"No reason why you should be drowned certainly, ma'am," answered the
unmoved groom of the chambers, "but an admirable good one why you cannot
proceed to it by land." And, fixed his master's mandates to perform, he
pointed with his hand, and the drivers, turning off the high-road,
proceeded towards a small hamlet of fishing huts, where a shallop,
somewhat more gaily decorated than any which they had yet seen, having a
flag which displayed a boar's head, crested with a ducal coronet, waited
with two or three seamen, and as many Highlanders.
The carriage stopped, and the men began to unyoke their horses, while Mr.
Archibald gravely superintended the removal of the baggage from the
carriage to the little vessel. "Has the Caroline been long arrived?" said
Archibald to one of the seamen.
"She has been here in five days from Liverpool, and she's lying down at
Greenock," answered the fellow.
"Let the horses and carriage go down to Greenock then," said Archibald,
"and be embarked there for Inverary when I send notice--they may stand in
my cousin's, Duncan Archibald the stabler's.--Ladies," he added, "I hope
you will get yourselves ready; we must not lose the tide."
"Mrs. Deans," said the Cowslip of Inverary, "you may do as you please--
but I will sit here all night, rather than go into that there painted
egg-shell.--Fellow--fellow!" (this was addressed to a Highlander who was
lifting a travelling trunk), "that trunk is /mine,/ and that there
band-box, and that pillion mail, and those seven bundles, and the
paper-bag; and if you venture to touch one of them, it shall be at your
The Celt kept his eye fixed on the speaker, then turned his head towards
Archibald, and receiving no countervailing signal, he shouldered the
portmanteau, and without farther notice of the distressed damsel, or
paying any attention to remonstrances, which probably he did not
understand, and would certainly have equally disregarded whether he
understood them or not, moved off with Mrs. Dutton's wearables, and
deposited the trunk containing them safely in the boat.
The baggage being stowed in safety, Mr. Archibald handed Jeanie out of
the carriage, and, not without some tremor on her part, she was
transported through the surf and placed in the boat. He then offered the
same civility to his fellow-servant, but she was resolute in her refusal
to quit the carriage, in which she now remained in solitary state,
threatening all concerned or unconcerned with actions for wages and
board-wages, damages and expenses, and numbering on her fingers the gowns
and other habiliments, from which she seemed in the act of being
separated for ever. Mr. Archibald did not give himself the trouble of
making many remonstrances, which, indeed, seemed only to aggravate the
damsel's indignation, but spoke two or three words to the Highlanders in
Gaelic; and the wily mountaineers, approaching the carriage cautiously,
and without giving the slightest intimation of their intention, at once
seized the recusant so effectually fast that she could neither resist nor
struggle, and hoisting her on their shoulders in nearly a horizontal
posture, rushed down with her to the beach, and through the surf, and
with no other inconvenience than ruffling her garments a little,
deposited her in the boat; but in a state of surprise, mortification, and
terror, at her sudden transportation, which rendered her absolutely mute
for two or three minutes. The men jumped in themselves; one tall fellow
remained till he had pushed off the boat, and then tumbled in upon his
companions. They took their oars and began to pull from the shore, then
spread their sail, and drove merrily across the firth.
"You Scotch villain!" said the infuriated damsel to Archibald, "how dare
you use a person like me in this way?"
"Madam," said Archibald, with infinite composure, "it's high time you
should know you are in the Duke's country, and that there is not one of
these fellows but would throw you out of the boat as readily as into it,
if such were his Grace's pleasure."
"Then the Lord have mercy on me!" said Mrs. Dutton. "If I had had any on
myself, I would never have engaged with you."
"It's something of the latest to think of that now, Mrs. Dutton," said
Archibald; "but I assure you, you will find the Highlands have their
pleasures. You will have a dozen of cow-milkers under your own authority
at Inverary, and you may throw any of them into the lake, if you have a
mind, for the Duke's head people are almost as great as himself."
"This is a strange business, to be sure, Mr. Archibald," said the lady;
"but I suppose I must make the best on't.--Are you sure the boat will not
sink? it leans terribly to one side, in my poor mind."
"Fear nothing," said Mr. Archibald, taking a most important pinch of
snuff; "this same ferry on Clyde knows us very well, or we know it, which
is all the same; no fear of any of our people meeting with any accident.
We should have crossed from the opposite shore, but for the disturbances
at Glasgow, which made it improper for his Grace's people to pass through
"Are you not afeard, Mrs. Deans," said the dairy-vestal, addressing
Jeanie, who sat, not in the most comfortable state of mind, by the side
of Archibald, who himself managed the helm.--"are you not afeard of these
wild men with their naked knees, and of this nut-shell of a thing, that
seems bobbing up and down like a skimming-dish in a milk-pail?"
"No--no--madam," answered Jeanie with some hesitation, "I am not feared;
for I hae seen Hielandmen before, though never was sae near them; and for
the danger of the deep waters, I trust there is a Providence by sea as
well as by land."
"Well," said Mrs. Dutton, "it is a beautiful thing to have learned to
write and read, for one can always say such fine words whatever should
Archibald, rejoicing in the impression which his vigorous measures had
made upon the intractable dairymaid, now applied himself, as a sensible
and good-natured man, to secure by fair means the ascendency which he had
obtained by some wholesome violence; and he succeeded so well in
representing to her the idle nature of her fears, and the impossibility
of leaving her upon the beach enthroned in an empty carriage, that the
good understanding of the party was completely revived ere they landed at
Did Fortune guide,
Or rather Destiny, our bark, to which
We could appoint no port, to this best place?
The islands in the Firth of Clyde, which the daily passage of so many
smoke-pennoned steamboats now renders so easily accessible, were in our
fathers' times secluded spots, frequented by no travellers, and few
visitants of any kind. They are of exquisite, yet varied beauty. Arran, a
mountainous region, or Alpine island, abounds with the grandest and most
romantic scenery. Bute is of a softer and more woodland character. The
Cumbrays, as if to exhibit a contrast to both, are green, level, and
bare, forming the links of a sort of natural bar which is drawn along the
mouth of the firth, leaving large intervals, however, of ocean.
Roseneath, a smaller isle, lies much higher up the firth, and towards its
western shore, near the opening of the lake called the Gare Loch, and not
far from Loch Long and Loch Scant, or the Holy Loch, which wind from the
mountains of the Western Highlands to join the estuary of the Clyde.
In these isles the severe frost winds which tyrannise over the vegetable
creation during a Scottish spring, are comparatively little felt; nor,
excepting the gigantic strength of Arran, are they much exposed to the
Atlantic storms, lying landlocked and protected to the westward by the
shores of Ayrshire. Accordingly, the weeping-willow, the weeping-birch,
and other trees of early and pendulous shoots, flourish in these favoured
recesses in a degree unknown in our eastern districts; and the air is
also said to possess that mildness which is favourable to consumptive
The picturesque beauty of the island of Roseneath, in particular, had
such recommendations, that the Earls and Dukes of Argyle, from an early
period, made it their occasional residence, and had their temporary
accommodation in a fishing or hunting-lodge, which succeeding
improvements have since transformed into a palace. It was in its original
simplicity when the little bark which we left traversing the firth at the
end of last chapter approached the shores of the isle.
When they touched the landing-place, which was partly shrouded by some
old low but wide-spreading oak-trees, intermixed with hazel-bushes, two
or three figures were seen as if awaiting their arrival. To these Jeanie
paid little attention, so that it was with a shock of surprise almost
electrical, that, upon being carried by the rowers out of the boat to the
shore, she was received in the arms of her father!
It was too wonderful to be believed--too much like a happy dream to have
the stable feeling of reality--She extricated herself from his close and
affectionate embrace, and held him at arm's length, to satisfy her mind
that it was no illusion. But the form was indisputable--Douce David Deans
himself, in his best light-blue Sunday's coat, with broad metal buttons,
and waistcoat and breeches of the same, his strong gramashes or leggins
of thick grey cloth--the very copper buckles--the broad Lowland blue
bonnet, thrown back as he lifted his eyes to Heaven in speechless
gratitude--the grey locks that straggled from beneath it down his
weather-beaten "haffets"--the bald and furrowed forehead--the clear blue
eye, that, undimmed by years, gleamed bright and pale from under its
shaggy grey pent-house--the features, usually so stern and stoical, now
melted into the unwonted expression of rapturous joy, affection, and
gratitude--were all those of David Deans; and so happily did they assort
together, that, should I ever again see my friends Wilkie or Allan, I
will try to borrow or steal from them a sketch of this very scene.
"Jeanie--my ain Jeanie--my best--my maist dutiful bairn--the Lord of
Israel be thy father, for I am hardly worthy of thee! Thou hast redeemed
our captivity--brought back the honour of our house--Bless thee, my
bairn, with mercies promised and purchased! But He /has/ blessed thee, in
the good of which He has made thee the instrument."
These words broke from him not without tears, though David was of no
melting mood. Archibald had, with delicate attention, withdrawn the
spectators from the interview, so that the wood and setting sun alone
were witnesses of the expansion of their feelings.
"And Effie?--and Effie, dear father?" was an eager interjectional
question which Jeanie repeatedly threw in among her expressions of joyful
"Ye will hear--Ye will hear," said David hastily, and over and anon
renewed his grateful acknowledgments to Heaven for sending Jeanie safe
down from the land of prelatic deadness and schismatic heresy; and had
delivered her from the dangers of the way, and the lions that were in the
"And Effie?" repeated her affectionate sister again and again. "And--and"
(fain would she have said Butler, but she modified the direct inquiry)--
"and Mr. and Mrs. Saddletree--and Dumbiedikes--and a' friends?"
"A' weel--a' weel, praise to His name!"
"And--Mr. Butler--he wasna weel when I gaed awa?"
"He is quite mended--quite weel," replied her father.
"Thank God--but O, dear father, Effie?--Effie?"
"You will never see her mair, my bairn," answered Deans in a solemn tone
--"You are the ae and only leaf left now on the auld tree--hale be your
"She is dead!--She is slain!--It has come ower late!" exclaimed Jeanie,
wringing her hands.
"No, Jeanie," returned Deans, in the same grave melancholy tone. "She
lives in the flesh, and is at freedom from earthly restraint, if she were
as much alive in faith, and as free from the bonds of Satan."
"The Lord protect us!" said Jeanie.--"Can the unhappy bairn hae left you
for that villain?"
"It is ower truly spoken," said Deans--"She has left her auld father,
that has wept and prayed for her--She has left her sister, that travailed
and toiled for her like a mother--She has left the bones of her mother,
and the land of her people, and she is ower the march wi' that son of
Belial--She has made a moonlight flitting of it." He paused, for a
feeling betwixt sorrow and strong resentment choked his utterance.
"And wi' that man?--that fearfu' man?" said Jeanie. "And she has left us
to gang aff wi' him?--O Effie, Effie, wha could hae thought it, after sic
a deliverance as you had been gifted wi'!"
"She went out from us, my bairn, because she was not of us," replied
David. "She is a withered branch will never bear fruit of grace--a
scapegoat gone forth into the wilderness of the world, to carry wi' her,
as I trust, the sins of our little congregation. The peace of the warld
gang wi' her, and a better peace when she has the grace to turn to it! If
she is of His elected, His ain hour will come. What would her mother have
said, that famous and memorable matron, Rebecca MacNaught, whose memory
is like a flower of sweet savour in Newbattle, and a pot of frankincense
in Lugton? But be it sae--let her part--let her gang her gate--let her
bite on her ain bridle--The Lord kens his time--She was the bairn of
prayers, and may not prove an utter castaway. But never, Jeanie, never
more let her name be spoken between you and me--She hath passed from us
like the brook which vanisheth when the summer waxeth warm, as patient
Job saith--let her pass, and be forgotten."
There was a melancholy pause which followed these expressions. Jeanie
would fain have asked more circumstances relating to her sister's
departure, but the tone of her father's prohibition was positive. She was
about to mention her interview with Staunton at his father's rectory;
but, on hastily running over the particulars in her memory, she thought
that, on the whole, they were more likely to aggravate than diminish his
distress of mind. She turned, therefore, the discourse from this painful
subject, resolving to suspend farther inquiry until she should see
Butler, from whom she expected to learn the particulars of her sister's
But when was she to see Butler? was a question she could not forbear
asking herself, especially while her father, as if eager to escape from
the subject of his youngest daughter, pointed to the opposite shore of
Dumbartonshire, and asking Jeanie "if it werena a pleasant abode?"
declared to her his intention of removing his earthly tabernacle to that
country, "in respect he was solicited by his Grace the Duke of Argyle, as
one well skilled in country labour, and a' that appertained to flocks and
herds, to superintend a store-farm, whilk his Grace had taen into his ain
hand for the improvement of stock."
Jeanie's heart sunk within her at this declaration. "She allowed it was a
goodly and pleasant land, and sloped bonnily to the western sun; and she
doubtedna that the pasture might be very gude, for the grass looked
green, for as drouthy as the weather had been. But it was far frae hame,
and she thought she wad be often thinking on the bonny spots of turf, sae
fu' of gowans and yellow king-cups, amang the Crags at St. Leonard's."
"Dinna speak on't, Jeanie," said her father; "I wish never to hear it
named mair--that is, after the rouping is ower, and the bills paid. But I
brought a' the beasts owerby that I thought ye wad like best. There is
Gowans, and there's your ain brockit cow, and the wee hawkit ane, that ye
ca'd--I needna tell ye how ye ca'd it--but I couldna bid them sell the
petted creature, though the sight o' it may sometimes gie us a sair
heart--it's no the poor dumb creature's fault--And ane or twa beasts mair
I hae reserved, and I caused them to be driven before the other beasts,
that men might say, as when the son of Jesse returned from battle, 'This
is David's spoil.'"
Upon more particular inquiry, Jeanie found new occasion to admire the
active beneficence of her friend the Duke of Argyle. While establishing a
sort of experimental farm on the skirts of his immense Highland estates,
he had been somewhat at a loss to find a proper person in whom to vest
the charge of it. The conversation his Grace had upon country matters
with Jeanie Deans during their return from Richmond, had impressed him
with a belief that the father, whose experience and success she so
frequently quoted, must be exactly the sort of person whom he wanted.
When the condition annexed to Effie's pardon rendered it highly probable
that David Deans would choose to change his place of residence, this idea
again occurred to the Duke more strongly, and as he was an enthusiast
equally in agriculture and in benevolence, he imagined he was serving the
purposes of both, when he wrote to the gentleman in Edinburgh entrusted
with his affairs, to inquire into the character of David Deans,
cowfeeder, and so forth, at St. Leonard's Crags; and if he found him such
as he had been represented, to engage him without delay, and on the most
liberal terms, to superintend his fancy-farm in Dumbartonshire.
The proposal was made to old David by the gentleman so commissioned, on
the second day after his daughter's pardon had reached Edinburgh. His
resolution to leave St. Leonard's had been already formed; the honour of
an express invitation from the Duke of Argyle to superintend a department
where so much skill and diligence was required, was in itself extremely
flattering; and the more so, because honest David, who was not without an
exeellent opinion of his own talents, persuaded himself that, by
accepting this charge, he would in some sort repay the great favour he
had received at the hands of the Argyle family. The appointments,
including the right of sufficient grazing for a small stock of his own,
were amply liberal; and David's keen eye saw that the situation was
convenient for trafficking to advantage in Highland cattle. There was
risk of "her'ship"* from the neighbouring mountains, indeed, but the
awful name of the Duke of Argyle would be a great security, and a trifle
of /black-mail/ would, David was aware, assure his safety.
* Her'ship, a Scottish word which may be said to be now obsolete;
because, fortunately, the practice of "plundering by armed force," which
is its meaning, does not require to be commonly spoken of.
Still however, there were two points on which he haggled. The first was
the character of the clergyman with whose worship he was to join; and on
this delicate point he received, as we will presently show the reader,
perfect satisfaction. The next obstacle was the condition of his youngest
daughter, obliged as she was to leave Scotland for so many years.
The gentleman of the law smiled, and said, "There was no occasion to
interpret that clause very strictly--that if the young woman left
Scotland for a few months, or even weeks, and came to her father's new
residence by sea from the western side of England, nobody would know of
her arrival, or at least nobody who had either the right or inclination
to give her disturbance. The extensive heritable jurisdictions of his
Grace excluded the interference of other magistrates with those living on
his estates, and they who were in immediate dependence on him would
receive orders to give the young woman no disturbance. Living on the
verge of the Highlands, she might, indeed, be said to be out of Scotland,
that is, beyond the bounds of ordinary law and civilisation."
Old Deans was not quite satisfied with this reasoning; but the elopement
of Effie, which took place on the third night after her liberation,
rendered his residence at St. Leonard's so detestable to him, that he
closed at once with the proposal which had been made him, and entered
with pleasure into the idea of surprising Jeanie, as had been proposed by
the Duke, to render the change of residence more striking to her. The
Duke had apprised Archibald of these circumstances, with orders to act
according to the instructions he should receive from Edinburgh, and by
which accordingly he was directed to bring Jeanie to Roseneath.
The father and daughter communicated these matters to each other, now
stopping, now walking slowly towards the Lodge, which showed itself among
the trees, at about half-a-mile's distance from the little bay in which
they had landed. As they approached the house, David Deans informed his
daughter, with somewhat like a grim smile, which was the utmost advance
he ever made towards a mirthful expression of visage, that "there was
baith a worshipful gentleman, and ane reverend gentleman, residing
therein. The worshipful gentleman was his honour the Laird of
Knocktarlitie, who was bailie of the lordship under the Duke of Argyle,
ane Highland gentleman, tarr'd wi' the same stick," David doubted, "as
mony of them, namely, a hasty and choleric temper, and a neglect of the
higher things that belong to salvation, and also a gripping unto the
things of this world, without muckle distinction of property; but,
however, ane gude hospitable gentleman, with whom it would be a part of
wisdom to live on a gude understanding (for Hielandmen were hasty, ower
hasty). As for the reverend person of whom he had spoken, he was
candidate by favour of the Duke of Argyle (for David would not for the
universe have called him presentee) for the kirk of the parish in which
their farm was situated, and he was likely to be highly acceptable unto
the Christian souls of the parish, who were hungering for spiritual
manna, having been fed but upon sour Hieland sowens by Mr. Duncan
MacDonought, the last minister, who began the morning duly, Sunday and
Saturday, with a mutchkin of usquebaugh. But I need say the less about
the present lad," said David, again grimly grimacing, "as I think ye may
hae seen him afore; and here he is come to meet us."
She had indeed seen him before, for it was no other than Reuben Butler
No more shalt thou behold thy sister's face;
Thou hast already had her last embrace.
Elegy on Mrs. Anne Killigrew.
This second surprise had been accomplished for Jeanie Deans by the rod of
the same benevolent enchanter, whose power had transplanted her father
from the Crags of St. Leonard's to the banks of the Gare Loch. The Duke
of Argyle was not a person to forget the hereditary debt of gratitude,
which had been bequeathed to him by his grandfather, in favour of the
grandson of old Bible Butler. He had internally resolved to provide for
Reuben Butler in this kirk of Knocktarlitie, of which the incumbent had
just departed this life. Accordingly, his agent received the necessary
instructions for that purpose, under the qualifying condition always,
that the learning and character of Mr. Butler should be found proper for
the charge. Upon inquiry, these were found as highly satisfactory as had
been reported in the case of David Deans himself.
By this preferment, the Duke of Argyle more essentially benefited his
friend and /protegee/, Jeanie, than he himself was aware of, since he
contributed to remove objections in her father's mind to the match, which
he had no idea had been in existence.
We have already noticed that Deans had something of a prejudice against
Butler, which was, perhaps, in some degree owing to his possessing a sort
of consciousness that the poor usher looked with eyes of affection upon
his eldest daughter. This, in David's eyes, was a sin of presumption,
even although it should not be followed by any overt act, or actual
proposal. But the lively interest which Butler had displayed in his
distresses, since Jeanie set forth on her London expedition, and which,
therefore, he ascribed to personal respect for himself individually, had
greatly softened the feelings of irritability with which David had
sometimes regarded him. And, while he was in this good disposition
towards Butler, another incident took place which had great influence on
the old man's mind. So soon as the shock of Effie's second elopement was
over, it was Deans's early care to collect and refund to the Laird of
Dumbiedikes the money which he had lent for Effie's trial, and for
Jeanie's travelling expenses. The Laird, the pony, the cocked hat, and
the tabacco-pipe, had not been seen at St. Leonard's Crags for many a
day; so that, in order to pay this debt, David was under the necessity of
repairing in person to the mansion of Dumbiedikes.
He found it in a state of unexpected bustle. There were workmen pulling
down some of the old hangings, and replacing them with others, altering,
repairing, scrubbing, painting, and white-washing. There was no knowing
the old house, which had been so long the mansion of sloth and silence.
The Laird himself seemed in some confusion, and his reception, though
kind, lacked something of the reverential cordiality, with which he used
to greet David Deans. There was a change also, David did not very well
know of what nature, about the exterior of this landed proprietor--an
improvement in the shape of his garments, a spruceness in the air with
which they were put on, that were both novelties. Even the old hat looked
smarter; the cock had been newly pointed, the lace had been refreshed,
and instead of slouching backward or forward on the Laird's head, as it
happened to be thrown on, it was adjusted with a knowing inclination over
David Deans opened his business, and told down the cash. Dumbiedikes
steadily inclined his ear to the one, and counted the other with great
accuracy, interrupting David, while he was talking of the redemption of
the captivity of Judah, to ask him whether he did not think one or two of
the guineas looked rather light. When he was satisfied on this point, had
pocketed his money, and had signed a receipt, he addressed David with
some little hesitation,--"Jeanie wad be writing ye something, gudeman?"
"About the siller?" replied David--"Nae doubt, she did."
"And did she say nae mair about me?" asked the Laird.
"Nae mair but kind and Christian wishes--what suld she hae said?" replied
David, fully expecting that the Laird's long courtship (if his dangling
after Jeanie deserves so active a name) was now coming to a point. And so
indeed it was, but not to that point which he wished or expected.
"Aweel, she kens her ain mind best, gudeman. I hae made a clean house o'
Jenny Balchristie, and her niece. They were a bad pack--steal'd meat and
mault, and loot the carters magg the coals--I'm to be married the morn,
and kirkit on Sunday."
Whatever David felt, he was too proud and too steady-minded to show any
unpleasant surprise in his countenance and manner.
"I wuss ye happy, sir, through Him that gies happiness--marriage is an
"And I am wedding into an honourable house, David--the Laird of
Lickpelf's youngest daughter--she sits next us in the kirk, and that's
the way I came to think on't."
There was no more to be said but again to wish the Laird joy, to taste a
cup of his liquor, and to walk back again to St. Leonard's, musing on the
mutability of human affairs and human resolutions. The expectation that
one day or other Jeanie would be Lady Dumbiedikes, had, in spite of
himself, kept a more absolute possession of David's mind than he himself
was aware of. At least, it had hitherto seemed a union at all times
within his daughter's reach, whenever she might choose to give her silent
lover any degree of encouragement, and now it was vanished for ever.
David returned, therefore, in no very gracious humour for so good a man.
He was angry with Jeanie for not having encouraged the Laird--he was
angry with the Laird for requiring encouragement--and he was angry with
himself for being angry at all on the occasion.
On his return he found the gentleman who managed the Duke of Argyle's
affairs was desirous of seeing him, with a view to completing the
arrangement between them. Thus, after a brief repose, he was obliged to
set off anew for Edinburgh, so that old May Hettly declared, "That a'
this was to end with the master just walking himself aff his feet."
When the business respecting the farm had been talked over and arranged,
the professional gentleman acquainted David Deans, in answer to his
inquiries concerning the state of public worship, that it was the
pleasure of the Duke to put an excellent young clergyman, called Reuben
Butler, into the parish, which was to be his future residence.
"Reuben Butler!" exclaimed David--"Reuben Butler, the usher at Liberton?"
"The very same," said the Duke's commissioner; "his Grace has heard an
excellent character of him, and has some hereditary obligations to him
besides--few ministers will be so comfortable as I am directed to make
"Obligations?--The Duke?--Obligations to Reuben Butler--Reuben Butler a
placed minister of the Kirk of Scotland?" exclaimed David, in
interminable astonishment, for somehow he had been led by the bad success
which Butler had hitherto met with in all his undertakings, to consider
him as one of those step-sons of Fortune, whom she treats with unceasing
rigour, and ends with disinheriting altogether.
There is, perhaps, no time at which we are disposed to think so highly of
a friend, as when we find him standing higher than we expected in the
esteem of others. When assured of the reality of Butler's change of
prospects, David expressed his great satisfaction at his success in life,
which, he observed, was entirely owing to himself (David). "I advised his
puir grand-mother, who was but a silly woman, to breed him up to the
ministry; and I prophesied that, with a blessing on his endeavours, he
would become a polished shaft in the temple. He may be something ower
proud o' his carnal learning, but a gude lad, and has the root of the
matter--as ministers gang now, where yell find ane better, ye'll find ten
waur, than Reuben Butler."
He took leave of the man of business, and walked homeward, forgetting his
weariness in the various speculations to which this wonderful piece of
intelligence gave rise. Honest David had now, like other great men, to go
to work to reconcile his speculative principles with existing
circumstances; and, like other great men, when they set seriously about
that task, he was tolerably successful.
Ought Reuben Butler in conscience to accept of this preferment in the
Kirk of Scotland, subject as David at present thought that establishment
was to the Erastian encroachments of the civil power? This was the
leading question, and he considered it carefully. "The Kirk of Scotland
was shorn of its beams, and deprived of its full artillery and banners of
authority; but still it contained zealous and fructifying pastors,
attentive congregations, and, with all her spots and blemishes, the like
of this Kirk was nowhere else to be seen upon earth."
David's doubts had been too many and too critical to permit him ever
unequivocally to unite himself with any of the dissenters, who upon
various accounts absolutely seceded from the national church. He had
often joined in communion with such of the established clergy as
approached nearest to the old Presbyterian model and principles of 1640.
And although there were many things to be amended in that system, yet he
remembered that he, David Deans, had himself ever been an humble pleader
for the good old cause in a legal way, but without rushing into
right-hand excesses, divisions and separations. But, as an enemy to
separation, he might join the right-hand of fellowship with a minister of
the Kirk of Scotland in its present model. /Ergo,/ Reuben Butler might
take possession of the parish of Knocktarlitie, without forfeiting his
friendship or favour--Q. E. D. But, secondly, came the trying point of
lay-patronage, which David Deans had ever maintained to be a coming in by
the window, and over the wall, a cheating and starving the souls of a
whole parish, for the purpose of clothing the back and filling the belly
of the incumbent.
This presentation, therefore, from the Duke of Argyle, whatever was the
worth and high character of that nobleman, was a limb of the brazen
image, a portion of the evil thing, and with no kind of consistency could
David bend his mind to favour such a transaction. But if the parishioners
themselves joined in a general call to Reuben Butler to be their pastor,
it did not seem quite so evident that the existence of this unhappy
presentation was a reason for his refusing them the comforts of his
doctrine. If the Presbytery admitted him to the kirk, in virtue rather of
that act of patronage than of the general call of the congregation, that
might be their error, and David allowed it was a heavy one. But if Reuben
Butler accepted of the cure as tendered to him by those whom he was
called to teach, and who had expressed themselves desirous to learn,
David, after considering and reconsidering the matter, came, through the
great virtue of if, to be of opinion that he might safely so act in that
There remained a third stumbling-block--the oaths to Government exacted
from the established clergymen, in which they acknowledge an Erastian
king and parliament, and homologate the incorporating Union between
England and Scotland, through which the latter kingdom had become part
and portion of the former, wherein Prelacy, the sister of Popery, had
made fast her throne, and elevated the horns of her mitre. These were
symptoms of defection which had often made David cry out, "My bowels--my
bowels!--I am pained at the very heart!" And he remembered that a godly
Bow-head matron had been carried out of the Tolbooth church in a swoon,
beyond the reach of brandy and burnt feathers, merely on hearing these
fearful words, "It is enacted by the Lords /spiritual/ and temporal,"
pronounced from a Scottish pulpit, in the proem to the Porteous
Proclamation. These oaths were, therefore, a deep compliance and dire
abomination--a sin and a snare, and a danger and a defection. But this
shibboleth was not always exacted. Ministers had respect to their own
tender consciences, and those of their brethren; and it was not till a
later period that the reins of discipline were taken up tight by the
General Assemblies and Presbyteries. The peacemaking particle came again
to David's assistance. /If/ an incumbent was not called upon to make such
compliances, and /if/ he got a right entry into the church without
intrusion, and by orderly appointment, why, upon the whole, David Deans
came to be of opinion, that the said incumbent might lawfully enjoy the
spirituality and temporality of the cure of souls at Knocktarlitie, with
stipend, manse, glebe, and all thereunto appertaining.
The best and most upright-minded men are so strongly influenced by
existing circumstances, that it would be somewhat cruel to inquire too
nearly what weight parental affection gave to these ingenious trains of
reasoning. Let David Deans's situation be considered. He was just
deprived of one daughter, and his eldest, to whom he owed so much, was
cut off, by the sudden resolution of Dumbiedikes, from the high hope
which David had entertained, that she might one day be mistress of that
fair lordship. Just while this disappointment was bearing heavy on his
spirits, Butler comes before his imagination--no longer the half-starved
threadbare usher, but fat and sleek and fair, the beneficed minister of
Knocktarlitie, beloved by his congregation--exemplary in his life--
powerful in his doctrine--doing the duty of the kirk as never Highland
minister did before--turning sinners as a colley dog turns sheep--a
favourite of the Duke of Argyle, and drawing a stipend of eight hundred
punds Scots, and four chalders of victual. Here was a match, making up in
David's mind, in a tenfold degree, the disappointment in the case of
Dumbiedikes, in so far as the goodman of St. Leonard's held a powerful
minister in much greater admiration than a mere landed proprietor. It did
not occur to him, as an additional reason in favour of the match, that
Jeanie might herself have some choice in the matter; for the idea of
consulting her feelings never once entered into the honest man's head,
any more than the possibility that her inclination might perhaps differ
from his own.
The result of his meditations was, that he was called upon to take the
management of the whole affair into his own hand, and give, if it should
be found possible without sinful compliance, or backsliding, or defection
of any kind, a worthy pastor to the kirk of Knocktarlitie. Accordingly,
by the intervention of the honest dealer in butter-milk who dwelt in
Liberton, David summoned to his presence Reuben Butler. Even from this
worthy messenger he was unable to conceal certain swelling emotions of
dignity, insomuch, that, when the carter had communicated his message to
the usher, he added, that "Certainly the Gudeman of St. Leonard's had
some grand news to tell him, for he was as uplifted as a midden-cock upon
Butler, it may readily be conceived, immediately obeyed the summons. He
was a plain character, in which worth and good sense and simplicity were
the principal ingredients; but love, on this occasion, gave him a certain
degree of address. He had received an intimation of the favour designed
him by the Duke of Argyle, with what feelings those only can conceive who
have experienced a sudden prospect of being raised to independence and
respect from penury and toil. He resolved, however, that the old man
should retain all the consequence of being, in his own opinion, the first
to communicate the important intelligence. At the same time, he also
determined that in the expected conference he would permit David Deans to
expatiate at length upon the proposal, in all its bearings, without
irritating him either by interruption or contradiction. This last was the
most prudent plan he could have adopted; because, although there were
many doubts which David Deans could himself clear up to his own
satisfaction, yet he might have been by no means disposed to accept the
solution of any other person; and to engage him in an argument would have
been certain to confirm him at once and for ever in the opinion which
Butler chanced to impugn.
He received his friend with an appearance of important gravity, which
real misfortune had long compelled him to lay aside, and which belonged
to those days of awful authority in which he predominated over Widow
Butler, and dictated the mode of cultivating the crofts of Beersheba. He
made known to Reuben, with great prolixity, the prospect of his changing
his present residence for the charge of the Duke of Argyle's stock-farm
in Dumbartonshire, and enumerated the various advantages of the situation
with obvious self-congratulation; but assured the patient hearer, that
nothing had so much moved him to acceptance, as the sense that, by his
skill in bestial, he could render the most important services to his
Grace the Duke of Argyle, to whom, "in the late unhappy circumstance"
(here a tear dimmed the sparkle of pride in the old man's eye), "he had
been sae muckle obliged."
"To put a rude Hielandman into sic a charge," he continued, "what could
be expected but that he suld be sic a chiefest herdsman, as wicked Doeg
the Edomite? whereas, while this grey head is to the fore, not a clute o'
them but sall be as weel cared for as if they were the fatted kine of
Pharaoh.--And now, Reuben, lad, seeing we maun remove our tent to a
strange country, ye will be casting a dolefu' look after us, and thinking
with whom ye are to hold counsel anent your government in thae slippery
and backsliding times; and nae doubt remembering, that the auld man,
David Deans, was made the instrument to bring you out of the mire of
schism and heresy, wherein your father's house delighted to wallow; aften
also, nae doubt, when ye are pressed wi' ensnaring trials and tentations
and heart-plagues, you, that are like a recruit that is marching for the
first time to the touk of drum, will miss the auld, bauld, and
experienced veteran soldier that has felt the brunt of mony a foul day,
and heard the bullets whistle as aften as he has hairs left on his auld
It is very possible that Butler might internally be of opinion, that the
reflection on his ancestor's peculiar tenets might have been spared, or
that he might be presumptuous enough even to think, that, at his years,
and with his own lights, he might be able to hold his course without the
pilotage of honest David. But he only replied, by expressing his regret,
that anything should separate him from an ancient, tried, and
"But how can it be helped, man?" said David, twisting his features into a
sort of smile--"How can we help it?--I trow, ye canna tell me that--Ye
maun leave that to ither folk--to the Duke of Argyle and me, Reuben. It's
a gude thing to hae friends in this warld--how muckle better to hae an
interest beyond it!"
And David, whose piety, though not always quite rational, was as sincere
as it was habitual and fervent, looked reverentially upward and paused.
Mr. Butler intimated the pleasure with which he would receive his
friend's advice on a subject so important, and David resumed.
"What think ye now, Reuben, of a kirk--a regular kirk under the present
establishment?--Were sic offered to ye, wad ye be free to accept it, and
under whilk provisions?--I am speaking but by way of query."
Butler replied, "That if such a prospect were held out to him, he would
probably first consult whether he was likely to be useful to the parish
he should be called to; and if there appeared a fair prospect of his
proving so, his friend must be aware, that in every other point of view,
it would be highly advantageous for him."
"Right, Reuben, very right, lad," answered the monitor, "your ain
conscience is the first thing to be satisfied--for how sall he teach
others that has himself sae ill learned the Scriptures, as to grip for
the lucre of foul earthly preferment, sic as gear and manse, money and
victual, that which is not his in a spiritual sense--or wha makes his
kirk a stalking-horse, from behind which he may tak aim at his stipend?
But I look for better things of you--and specially ye maun be minded not
to act altogether on your ain judgment, for therethrough comes sair
mistakes, backslidings and defections, on the left and on the right. If
there were sic a day of trial put to you, Reuben. you, who are a young
lad, although it may be ye are gifted wi' the carnal tongues, and those
whilk were spoken at Rome, whilk is now the seat of the scarlet
abomination, and by the Greeks, to whom the Gospel was as foolishness,
yet nae-the-less ye may be entreated by your weel-wisher to take the
counsel of those prudent and resolved and weather-withstanding
professors, wha hae kend what it was to lurk on banks and in mosses, in
bogs and in caverns, and to risk the peril of the head rather than
renounce the honesty of the heart."
Butler replied, "That certainly, possessing such a friend as he hoped and
trusted he had in the goodman himself, who had seen so many changes in
the preceding century, he should be much to blame if he did not avail
himself of his experience and friendly counsel."
"Eneugh said--eneugh said, Reuben," said David Deans, with internal
exultation; "and say that ye were in the predicament whereof I hae
spoken, of a surety I would deem it my duty to gang to the root o' the
matter, and lay bare to you the ulcers and imposthumes, and the sores and
the leprosies, of this our time, crying aloud and sparing not."
David Deans was now in his element. He commenced his examination of the
doctrines and belief of the Christian Church with the very Culdees, from
whom he passed to John Knox,--from John Knox to the recusants in James
the Sixth's time--Bruce, Black, Blair, Livingstone,--from them to the
brief, and at length triumphant period of the Presbyterian Church's
splendour, until it was overrun by the English Independents. Then
followed the dismal times of prelacy, the indulgences, seven in number,
with all their shades and bearings, until he arrived at the reign of King
James the Second, in which he himself had been, in his own mind, neither
an obscure actor nor an obscure sufferer. Then was Butler doomed to hear
the most detailed and annotated edition of what he had so often heard
before,--David Deans's confinement, namely, in the iron cage in the
Canongate Tolbooth, and the cause thereof.
We should be very unjust to our friend David Deans, if we should
"pretermit"--to use his own expression--a narrative which he held
essential to his fame. A drunken trooper of the Royal Guards, Francis
Gordon by name, had chased five or six of the skulking Whigs, among whom
was our friend David; and after he had compelled them to stand, and was
in the act of brawling with them, one of their number fired a
pocket-pistol, and shot him dead. David used to sneer and shake his head
when any one asked him whether /he/ had been the instrument of removing
this wicked persecutor from the face of the earth. In fact the merit of
the deed lay between him and his friend, Patrick Walker, the pedlar,
whose words he was so fond of quoting. Neither of them cared directly to
claim the merit of silencing Mr. Francis Gordon of the Life-Guards, there
being some wild cousins of his about Edinburgh, who might have been even
yet addicted to revenge, but yet neither of them chose to disown or yield
to the other the merit of this active defence of their religious rights.
David said, that if he had fired a pistol then, it was what he never did
after or before. And as for Mr. Patrick Walker, he has left it upon
record, that his great surprise was, that so small a pistol could kill so
big a man. These are the words of that venerable biographer, whose trade
had not taught him by experience, that an inch was as good as an ell.
"He," (Francis Gordon) "got a shot in his head out of a pocket-pistol,
rather fit for diverting a boy than killing such a furious, mad, brisk
man, which notwithstanding killed him dead!"*
* Note S. Death of Francis Gordon.
Upon the extensive foundation which the history of the kirk afforded,
during its short-lived triumph and long tribulation, David, with length
of breath and of narrative, which would have astounded any one but a
lover of his daughter, proceeded to lay down his own rules for guiding
the conscience of his friend, as an aspirant to serve in the ministry.
Upon this subject, the good man went through such a variety of nice and
casuistical problems, supposed so many extreme cases, made the
distinctions so critical and nice betwixt the right hand and the left
hand--betwixt compliance and defection--holding back and stepping aside--
slipping and stumbling--snares and errors--that at length, after having
limited the path of truth to a mathematical line, he was brought to the
broad admission, that each man's conscience, after he had gained a
certain view of the difficult navigation which he was to encounter, would
be the best guide for his pilotage. He stated the examples and arguments
for and against the acceptance of a kirk on the present revolution model,
with much more impartiality to Butler than he had been able to place them
before his own view. And he concluded, that his young friend ought to
think upon these things, and be guided by the voice of his own
conscience, whether he could take such an awful trust as the charge of
souls without doing injury to his own internal conviction of what is
right or wrong.
When David had finished his very long harangue, which was only
interrupted by monosyllables, or little more, on the part of Butler, the
orator himself was greatly astonished to find that the conclusion, at
which he very naturally wished to arrive, seemed much less decisively
attained than when he had argued the case in his own mind.
In this particular, David's current of thinking and speaking only
illustrated the very important and general proposition, concerning the
excellence of the publicity of debate. For, under the influence of any
partial feeling, it is certain, that most men can more easily reconcile
themselves to any favourite measure, when agitating it in their own mind,
than when obliged to expose its merits to a third party, when the
necessity of seeming impartial procures for the opposite arguments a much
more fair statement than that which he affords it in tacit meditation.
Having finished what he had to say, David thought himself obliged to be
more explicit in point of fact, and to explain that this was no
hypothetical case, but one on which (by his own influence and that of the
Duke of Argyle) Reuben Butler would soon be called to decide.
It was even with something like apprehension that David Deans heard
Butler announce, in return to this communication, that he would take that
night to consider on what he had said with such kind intentions, and
return him an answer the next morning. The feelings of the father
mastered David on this occasion. He pressed Butler to spend the evening
with him--He produced, most unusual at his meals, one, nay, two bottles
of aged strong ale.--He spoke of his daughter--of her merits--her
housewifery--her thrift--her affection. He led Butler so decidedly up to
a declaration of his feelings towards Jeanie, that, before nightfall, it
was distinctly understood she was to be the bride of Reuben Butler; and
if they thought it indelicate to abridge the period of deliberation which
Reuben had stipulated, it seemed to be sufficiently understood betwixt
them, that there was a strong probability of his becoming minister of
Knocktarlitie, providing the congregation were as willing to accept of
him, as the Duke to grant him the presentation. The matter of the oaths,
they agreed, it was time enough to dispute about, whenever the shibboleth
should be tendered.
Many arrangements were adopted that evening, which were afterwards
ripened by correspondence with the Duke of Argyle's man of business, who
intrusted Deans and Butler with the benevolent wish of his principal,
that they should all meet with Jeanie, on her return from England, at the
Duke's hunting-lodge in Roseneath.
This retrospect, so far as the placid loves of Jeanie Deans and Reuben
Butler are concerned, forms a full explanation of the preceding narrative
up to their meeting on the island, as already mentioned.
"I come," he said, "my love, my life,
And--nature's dearest name--my wife:
Thy father's house and friends resign,
My home, my friends, my sire, are thine."
The meeting of Jeanie and Butler, under circumstances promising to crown
an affection so long delayed, was rather affecting, from its simple
sincerity than from its uncommon vehemence of feeling. David Deans, whose
practice was sometimes a little different from his theory, appalled them
at first, by giving them the opinion of sundry of the suffering preachers
and champions of his younger days, that marriage, though honourable by
the laws of Scripture, was yet a state over-rashly coveted by professors,
and specially by young ministers, whose desire, he said, was at whiles
too inordinate for kirks, stipends, and wives, which had frequently
occasioned over-ready compliance with the general defections of the
times. He endeavoured to make them aware also, that hasty wedlock had
been the bane of many a savoury professor--that the unbelieving wife had
too often reversed the text and perverted the believing husband--that
when the famous Donald Cargill, being then hiding in Lee-Wood, in
Lanarkshire, it being killing-time, did, upon importunity, marry Robert
Marshal of Starry Shaw, he had thus expressed himself: "What hath induced
Robert to marry this woman? her ill will overcome his good--he will not
keep the way long--his thriving days are done." To the sad accomplishment
of which prophecy David said he was himself a living witness, for Robert
Marshal, having fallen into foul compliances with the enemy, went home,
and heard the curates, declined into other steps of defection, and became
lightly esteemed. Indeed, he observed, that the great upholders of the
standard, Cargill, Peden, Cameron, and Renwick, had less delight in tying
the bonds of matrimony than in any other piece of their ministerial work;
and although they would neither dissuade the parties, nor refuse their
office, they considered the being called to it as an evidence of
indifference, on the part of those between whom it was solemnised, to the
many grievous things of the day. Notwithstanding, however, that marriage
was a snare unto many, David was of opinion (as, indeed, he had showed in
his practice) that it was in itself honourable, especially if times were
such that honest men could be secure against being shot, hanged, or
banished, and had ane competent livelihood to maintain themselves, and
those that might come after them. "And, therefore," as he concluded
something abruptly, addressing Jeanie and Butler, who, with faces as
high-coloured as crimson, had been listening to his lengthened argument
for and against the holy state of matrimony, "I will leave you to your
As their private conversation, however interesting to themselves, might
probably be very little so to the reader, so far as it respected their
present feelings and future prospects, we shall pass it over, and only
mention the information which Jeanie received from Butler concerning her
sister's elopement, which contained many particulars that she had been
unable to extract from her father.
Jeanie learned, therefore, that, for three days after her pardon had
arrived, Effie had been the inmate of her father's house at St.
Leonard's--that the interviews betwixt David and his erring child, which
had taken place before she was liberated from prison, had been touching
in the extreme; but Butler could not suppress his opinion, that, when he
was freed from the apprehension of losing her in a manner so horrible,
her father had tightened the bands of discipline, so as, in some degree,
to gall the feelings, and aggravate the irritability of a spirit
naturally impatient and petulant, and now doubly so from the sense of
On the third night, Effie disappeared from St. Leonard's, leaving no
intimation whatever of the route she had taken. Butler, however, set out
in pursuit of her, and with much trouble traced her towards a little
landing-place, formed by a small brook which enters the sea betwixt
Musselburgh and Edinburgh. This place, which has been since made into a
small harbour, surrounded by many villas and lodging-houses, is now
termed Portobello. At this time it was surrounded by a waste common,
covered with furze, and unfrequented, save by fishing-boats, and now and
then a smuggling lugger. A vessel of this description had been hovering
in the firth at the time of Effie's elopement, and, as Butler
ascertained, a boat had come ashore in the evening on which the fugitive
had disappeared, and had carried on board a female. As the vessel made
sail immediately, and landed no part of their cargo, there seemed little
doubt that they were accomplices of the notorious Robertson, and that the
vessel had only come into the firth to carry off his paramour.
This was made clear by a letter which Butler himself soon afterwards
received by post, signed E. D., but without bearing any date of place or
time. It was miserably ill written and spelt; sea-sickness having
apparently aided the derangement of Effie's very irregular orthography
and mode of expression. In this epistle, however, as in all that
unfortunate girl said or did, there was something to praise as well as to
blame. She said in her letter, "That she could not endure that her father
and her sister should go into banishment, or be partakers of her shame,--
that if her burden was a heavy one, it was of her own binding, and she
had the more right to bear it alone,--that in future they could not be a
comfort to her, or she to them, since every look and word of her father
put her in mind of her transgression, and was like to drive her mad,--
that she had nearly lost her judgment during the three days she was at
St. Leonard's--her father meant weel by her, and all men, but he did not
know the dreadful pain he gave her in casting up her sins. If Jeanie had
been at hame, it might hae dune better--Jeanie was ane, like the angels
in heaven, that rather weep for sinners, than reckon their
transgressions. But she should never see Jeanie ony mair, and that was
the thought that gave her the sairest heart of a' that had come and gane
yet. On her bended knees would she pray for Jeanie night and day, baith
for what she had done, and what she had scorned to do, in her behalf; for
what a thought would it have been to her at that moment o' time, if that
upright creature had made a fault to save her! She desired her father
would give Jeanie a' the gear--her ain (/i.e./ Effie's) mother's and a'--
She had made a deed, giving up her right, and it was in Mr. Novit's hand
--Warld's gear was henceforward the least of her care, nor was it likely
to be muckle her mister--She hoped this would make it easy for her sister
to settle;" and immediately after this expression, she wished Butler
himself all good things, in return for his kindness to her. "For
herself," she said, "she kend her lot would be a waesome ane, but it was
of her own framing, sae she desired the less pity. But, for her friends'
satisfaction, she wished them to know that she was gaun nae ill gate--
that they who had done her maist wrong were now willing to do her what
justice was in their power; and she would, in some warldly respects, be
far better off than she deserved. But she desired her family to remain
satisfied with this assurance, and give themselves no trouble in making
farther inquiries after her."
To David Deans and to Butler this letter gave very little comfort; for
what was to be expected from this unfortunate girl's uniting her fate to
that of a character so notorious as Robertson, who they readily guessed
was alluded to in the last sentence, excepting that she should become the
partner and victim of his future crimes? Jeanie, who knew George
Staunton's character and real rank, saw her sister's situation under a
ray of better hope. She augured well of the haste he had shown to reclaim
his interest in Effie, and she trusted he had made her his wife. If so,
it seemed improbable that, with his expected fortune, and high
connections, he should again resume the life of criminal adventure which
he had led, especially since, as matters stood, his life depended upon
his keeping his own secret, which could only be done by an entire change
of his habits, and particularly by avoiding all those who had known the
heir of Willingham under the character of the audacious, criminal, and
She thought it most likely that the couple would go abroad for a few
years, and not return to England until the affair of Porteous was totally
forgotten. Jeanie, therefore, saw more hopes for her sister than Butler
or her father had been able to perceive; but she was not at liberty to
impart the comfort which she felt in believing that she would be secure
from the pressure of poverty, and in little risk of being seduced into
the paths of guilt. She could not have explained this without making
public what it was essentially necessary for Effie's chance of comfort to
conceal, the identity, namely, of George Staunton and George Robertson.
After all, it was dreadful to think that Effie had united herself to a
man condemned for felony, and liable to trial for murder, whatever might
be his rank in life, and the degree of his repentance. Besides, it was
melancholy to reflect, that, she herself being in possession of the whole
dreadful secret, it was most probable he would, out of regard to his own
feelings, and fear for his safety, never again permit her to see poor
Effie. After perusing and re-perusing her sister's valedictory letter,
she gave ease to her feelings in a flood of tears, which Butler in vain
endeavoured to check by every soothing attention in his power. She was
obliged, however, at length to look up and wipe her eyes, for her father,
thinking he had allowed the lovers time enough for conference, was now
advancing towards them from the Lodge, accompanied by the Captain of
Knockdunder, or, as his friends called him for brevity's sake, Duncan
Knock, a title which some youthful exploits had rendered peculiarly
This Duncan of Knockdunder was a person of first-rate importance in the
island of Roseneath,* and the continental parishes of Knocktarlitie,
Kilmun, and so forth; nay, his influence extended as far as Cowal, where,
however, it was obscured by that of another factor.
* [This is, more correctly speaking, a peninsula.]
The Tower of Knockdunder still occupies, with its remains, a cliff
overhanging the Holy Loch. Duncan swore it had been a royal castle; if
so, it was one of the smallest, the space within only forming a square of
sixteen feet, and bearing therefore a ridiculous proportion to the
thickness of the walls, which was ten feet at least. Such as it was,
however, it had long given the title of Captain, equivalent to that of
Chatellain, to the ancestors of Duncan, who were retainers of the house
of Argyle, and held a hereditary jurisdiction under them, of little
extent indeed, but which had great consequence in their own eyes, and was
usually administered with a vigour somewhat beyond the law.
The present representative of that ancient family was a stout short man
about fifty, whose pleasure it was to unite in his own person the dress
of the Highlands and Lowlands, wearing on his head a black tie-wig,
surmounted by a fierce cocked-hat, deeply guarded with gold lace, while
the rest of his dress consisted of the plaid and philabeg. Duncan
superintended a district which was partly Highland, partly Lowland, and
therefore might be supposed to combine their national habits, in order to
show his impartiality to Trojan or Tyrian. The incongruity, however, had
a whimsical and ludicrous effect, as it made his head and body look as if
belonging to different individuals; or, as some one said who had seen the
executions of the insurgent prisoners in 1715, it seemed as if some
Jacobite enchanter, having recalled the sufferers to life, had clapped,
in his haste, an Englishman's head on a Highlander's body. To finish the
portrait, the bearing of the gracious Duncan was brief, bluff, and
consequential, and the upward turn of his short copper-coloured nose
indicated that he was somewhat addicted to wrath and usquebaugh.
When this dignitary had advanced up to Butler and to Jeanie, "I take the
freedom, Mr. Deans," he said in a very consequential manner, "to salute
your daughter, whilk I presume this young lass to be--I kiss every pretty
girl that comes to Roseneath, in virtue of my office." Having made this
gallant speech, he took out his quid, saluted Jeanie with a hearty smack,
and bade her welcome to Argyle's country. Then addressing Butler, he
said, "Ye maun gang ower and meet the carle ministers yonder the Morn,
for they will want to do your job, and synd it down with usquebaugh
doubtless--they seldom make dry wark in this kintra."
"And the Laird"--said David Deans, addressing Butler in farther
"The Captain, man," interrupted Duncan; "folk winna ken wha ye are
speaking aboot, unless ye gie shentlemens their proper title."
"The Captain, then," said David, "assures me that the call is unanimous
on the part of the parishioners--a real harmonious call, Reuben."
"I pelieve," said Duncan, "it was as harmonious as could pe expected,
when the tae half o' the bodies were clavering Sassenach, and the t'other
skirting Gaelic, like sea-maws and clackgeese before a storm. Ane wad hae
needed the gift of tongues to ken preceesely what they said--but I
pelieve the best end of it was, 'Long live MacCallummore and
Knockdunder!'--And as to its being an unanimous call, I wad be glad to
ken fat business the carles have to call ony thing or ony body but what
the Duke and mysell likes!"
"Nevertheless," said Mr. Butler, "if any of the parishioners have any
scruples, which sometimes happen in the mind of sincere professors, I
should be happy of an opportunity of trying to remove"
"Never fash your peard about it, man," interrupted Duncan Knock--"Leave
it a' to me.--Scruple! deil ane o' them has been bred up to scruple
onything that they're bidden to do. And if sic a thing suld happen as ye
speak o', ye sall see the sincere professor, as ye ca' him, towed at the
stern of my boat for a few furlongs. I'll try if the water of the Haly
Loch winna wash off scruples as weel as fleas--Cot tam!"
The rest of Duncan's threat was lost in a growling gargling sort of
sound, which he made in his throat, and which menaced recusants with no
gentle means of conversion. David Deans would certainly have given battle
in defence of the right of the Christian congregation to be consulted in
the choice of their own pastor, which, in his estimation, was one of the
choicest and most inalienable of their privileges; but he had again
engaged in close conversation with Jeanie, and, with more interest than
he was in use to take in affairs foreign alike to his occupation and to
his religious tenets, was inquiring into the particulars of her London
journey. This was, perhaps, fortunate for the newformed friendship
betwixt him and the Captain of Knockdunder, which rested, in David's
estimation, upon the proofs he had given of his skill in managing stock;
but, in reality, upon the special charge transmitted to Duncan from the
Duke and his agent, to behave with the utmost attention to Deans and his
"And now, sirs," said Duncan, in a commanding tone, "I am to pray ye a'
to come in to your supper, for yonder is Mr. Archibald half famished, and
a Saxon woman, that looks as if her een were fleeing out o' her head wi'
fear and wonder, as if she had never seen a shentleman in a philabeg
"And Reuben Butler," said David, "will doubtless desire instantly to
retire, that he may prepare his mind for the exercise of to-morrow, that
his work may suit the day, and be an offering of a sweet savour in the
nostrils of the reverend Presbytery!"
"Hout tout, man, it's but little ye ken about them," interrupted the
Captain. "Teil a ane o' them wad gie the savour of the hot venison pasty
which I smell" (turning his squab nose up in the air) "a' the way frae
the Lodge, for a' that Mr. Putler, or you either, can say to them."
David groaned; but judging he had to do with a Gallio, as he said, did
not think it worth his while to give battle. They followed the Captain to
the house, and arranged themselves with great ceremony round a
well-loaded supper-table. The only other circumstance of the evening
worthy to be recorded is, that Butler pronounced the blessing; that
Knockdunder found it too long, and David Deans censured it as too short,
from which the charitable reader may conclude it was exactly the proper
Now turn the Psalms of David ower,
And lilt wi' holy clangor;
Of double verse come gie us four,
And skirl up the Bangor.
The next was the important day, when, according to the forms and ritual
of the Scottish Kirk, Reuben Butler was to be ordained minister of
Knocktarlitie, by the Presbytery of ------. And so eager were the whole
party, that all, excepting Mrs. Dutton, the destined Cowslip of Inverary,
were stirring at an early hour.
Their host, whose appetite was as quick and keen as his temper, was not
long in summoning them to a substantial breakfast, where there were at
least a dozen of different preparations of milk, plenty of cold meat,
scores boiled and roasted eggs, a huge cag of butter, half-a-firkin
herrings boiled and broiled, fresh and salt, and tea and coffee for them
that liked it, which, as their landlord assured them, with a nod and a
wink, pointing, at the same time, to a little cutter which seemed dodging
under the lee of the island, cost them little beside the fetching ashore.
"Is the contraband trade permitted here so openly?" said Butler. "I
should think it very unfavourable to the people's morals."
"The Duke, Mr. Putler, has gien nae orders concerning the putting of it
down," said the magistrate, and seemed to think that he had said all that
was necessary to justify his connivance. Butler was a man of prudence,
and aware that real good can only be obtained by remonstrance when
remonstrance is well-timed; so for the present he said nothing more on
When breakfast was half over, in flounced Mrs. Dolly, as fine as a blue
sacque and cherry-coloured ribands could make her.
"Good morrow to you, madam," said the master of ceremonies; "I trust your
early rising will not skaith ye."
The dame apologised to Captain Knockunder, as she was pleased to term
their entertainer; "but, as we say in Cheshire," she added, "I was like
the Mayor of Altringham, who lies in bed while his breeches are mending,
for the girl did not bring up the right bundle to my room, till she had
brought up all the others by mistake one after t'other--Well, I suppose
we are all for church to-day, as I understand--Pray may I be so bold as
to ask, if it is the fashion for your North country gentlemen to go to
church in your petticoats, Captain Knockunder?"
"Captain of Knockdunder, madam, if you please, for I knock under to no
man; and in respect of my garb, I shall go to church as I am, at your
service, madam; for if I were to lie in bed like your Major
What-d'ye-callum, till my preeches were mended, I might be there all my
life, seeing I never had a pair of them on my person but twice in my
life, which I am pound to remember, it peing when the Duke brought his
Duchess here, when her Grace pehoved to be pleasured; so I e'en porrowed
the minister's trews for the twa days his Grace was pleased to stay--but
I will put myself under sic confinement again for no man on earth, or
woman either, but her Grace being always excepted, as in duty pound."
The mistress of the milking-pail stared but, making no answer to this
round declaration, immediately proceeded to show, that the alarm of the
preceding evening had in no degree injured her appetite.
When the meal was finished, the Captain proposed to them to take boat, in
order that Mrs. Jeanie might see her new place of residence, and that he
himself might inquire whether the necessary preparations had been made
there, and at the Manse, for receiving the future inmates of these
The morning was delightful, and the huge mountain-shadows slept upon the
mirrored wave of the firth, almost as little disturbed as if it had been
an inland lake. Even Mrs. Dutton's fears no longer annoyed her. She had
been informed by Archibald, that there was to be some sort of junketting
after the sermon, and that was what she loved dearly; and as for the
water, it was so still that it would look quite like a pleasuring on the
The whole party being embarked, therefore, in a large boat, which the
captain called his coach and six, and attended by a smaller one termed
his gig, the gallant Duncan steered straight upon the little tower of the
old-fashioned church of Knocktarlitie, and the exertions of six stout
rowers sped them rapidly on their voyage. As they neared the land, the
hills appeared to recede from them, and a little valley, formed by the
descent of a small river from the mountains, evolved itself as it were
upon their approach. The style of the country on each side was simply
pastoral, and resembled, in appearance and character, the description of
a forgotten Scottish poet, which runs nearly thus:--
The water gently down a level slid,
With little din, but couthy what it made;
On ilka side the trees grew thick and lang,
And wi' the wild birds' notes were a' in sang;
On either side, a full bow-shot and mair,
The green was even, gowany, and fair;
With easy slope on every hand the braes
To the hills' feet with scatter'd bushes raise;
With goats and sheep aboon, and kye below,
The bonny banks all in a swarm did go.*
* Ross's /Fortunate Shepherdess./ Edit. 1778, p. 23.
They landed in this Highland Arcadia, at the mouth of the small stream
which watered the delightful and peaceable valley. Inhabitants of several
descriptions came to pay their respects to the Captain of Knockdunder, a
homage which he was very peremptory in exacting, and to see the new
settlers. Some of these were men after David Deans's own heart, elders of
the kirk-session, zealous professors, from the Lennox, Lanarkshire, and
Ayrshire, to whom the preceding Duke of Argyle had given /rooms/ in this
corner of his estate, because they had suffered for joining his father,
the unfortunate Earl, during his ill-fated attempt in 1686. These were
cakes of the right leaven for David regaling himself with; and, had it
not been for this circumstance, he has been heard to say, "that the
Captain of Knockdunder would have swore him out of the country in
twenty-four hours, sae awsome it was to ony thinking soul to hear his
imprecations, upon the slightest temptation that crossed his humour."
Besides these, there were a wilder set of parishioners, mountaineers from
the upper glen and adjacent hill, who spoke Gaelic, went about armed, and
wore the Highland dress. But the strict commands of the Duke had
established such good order in this part of his territories, that the
Gael and Saxons lived upon the best possible terms of good neighbourhood.
They first visited the Manse, as the parsonage is termed in Scotland. It
was old, but in good repair, and stood snugly embosomed in a grove of
sycamore, with a well-stocked garden in front, bounded by the small
river, which was partly visible from the windows, partly concealed by the
bushes, trees, and bounding hedge. Within, the house looked less
comfortable than it might have been, for it had been neglected by the
late incumbent; but workmen had been labouring, under the directions of
the Captain of Knockdunder, and at the expense of the Duke of Argyle, to
put it into some order. The old "plenishing" had been removed, and neat,
but plain household furniture had been sent down by the Duke in a brig of
his own called the Caroline, and was now ready to be placed in order in
The gracious Duncan, finding matters were at a stand among the workmen,
summoned before him the delinquents, and impressed all who heard him with
a sense of his authority, by the penalties with which he threatened them
for their delay. Mulcting them in half their charge, he assured them,
would be the least of it; for, if they were to neglect his pleasure and
the Duke's, "he would be tamn'd if he paid them the t'other half either,
and they might seek law for it where they could get it." The work-people
humbled themselves before the offended dignitary, and spake him soft and
fair; and at length, upon Mr. Butler recalling to his mind that it was
the ordination-day, and that the workmen were probably thinking of going
to church, Knockdunder agreed to forgive them, out of respect to their
"But an I catch them neglecking my duty again, Mr. Putler, the teil pe in
me if the kirk shall be an excuse; for what has the like o' them
rapparees to do at the kirk ony day put Sundays, or then either, if the
Duke and I has the necessitous uses for them?"
It may be guessed with what feelings of quiet satisfaction and delight
Butler looked forward to spending his days, honoured and useful as he
trusted to be, in this sequestered valley, and how often an intelligent
glance was exchanged betwixt him and Jeanie, whose good-humoured face
looked positively handsome, from the expression of modesty, and, at the
same time, of satisfaction, which she wore when visiting the apartments
of which she was soon to call herself mistress. She was left at liberty
to give more open indulgence to her feelings of delight and admiration,
when, leaving the Manse, the company proceeded to examine the destined
habitation of David Deans.
Jeanie found with pleasure that it was not above a musket-shot from the
Manse; for it had been a bar to her happiness to think she might be
obliged to reside at a distance from her father, and she was aware that
there were strong objections to his actually living in the same house
with Butler. But this brief distance was the very thing which she could
The farmhouse was on the plan of an improved cottage, and contrived with
great regard to convenience; an excellent little garden, an orchard, and
a set of offices complete, according to the best ideas of the time,
combined to render it a most desirable habitation for the practical
farmer, and far superior to the hovel at Woodend, and the small house at
Saint Leonard's Crags. The situation was considerably higher than that of
the Manse, and fronted to the west. The windows commanded an enchanting
view of the little vale over which the mansion seemed to preside, the
windings of the stream, and the firth, with its associated lakes and
romantic islands. The hills of Dumbartonshire, once possessed by the
fierce clan of MacFarlanes, formed a crescent behind the valley, and far
to the right were seen the dusky and more gigantic mountains of
Argyleshire, with a seaward view of the shattered and thunder-splitten
peaks of Arran.
But to Jeanie, whose taste for the picturesque, if she had any by nature,
had never been awakened or cultivated, the sight of the faithful old May
Hettly, as she opened the door to receive them in her clean toy, Sunday's
russet-gown, and blue apron, nicely smoothed down before her, was worth
the whole varied landscape. The raptures of the faithful old creature at
seeing Jeanie were equal to her own, as she hastened to assure her, "that
baith the gudeman and the beasts had been as weel seen after as she
possibly could contrive." Separating her from the rest of the company,
May then hurried her young mistress to the offices, that she might
receive the compliments she expected for her care of the cows. Jeanie
rejoiced, in the simplicity of her heart, to see her charge once more;
and the mute favourites of our heroine, Gowans, and the others,
acknowledged her presence by lowing, turning round their broad and decent
brows when they heard her well-known "Pruh, my leddy--pruh, my woman,"
and, by various indications, known only to those who have studied the
habits of the milky mothers, showing sensible pleasure as she approached
to caress them in their turn.
"The very brute beasts are glad to see ye again," said May; "but nae
wonder, Jeanie, for ye were aye kind to beast and body. And I maun learn
to ca' ye /mistress/ now, Jeanie, since ye hae been up to Lunnon, and
seen the Duke, and the King, and a' the braw folk. But wha kens," added
the old dame slily, "what I'll hae to ca' ye forby mistress, for I am
thinking it wunna lang be Deans."
"Ca' me your ain Jeanie, May, and then ye can never gang wrang."
In the cow-house which they examined, there was one animal which Jeanie
looked at till the tears gushed from her eyes. May, who had watched her
with a sympathising expression, immediately observed, in an under-tone,
"The gudeman aye sorts that beast himself, and is kinder to it than ony
beast in the byre; and I noticed he was that way e'en when he was
angriest, and had maist cause to be angry.--Eh, sirs! a parent's heart's
a queer thing!--Mony a warsle he has had for that puir lassie--I am
thinking he petitions mair for her than for yoursell, hinny; for what can
he plead for you but just to wish you the blessing ye deserve? And when I
sleepit ayont the hallan, when we came first here, he was often earnest
a' night, and I could hear him come ower and ower again wi', 'Effie--puir
blinded misguided thing!' it was aye 'Effie! Effie!'--If that puir
wandering lamb comena into the sheepfauld in the Shepherd's ain time, it
will be an unco wonder, for I wot she has been a child of prayers. Oh, if
the puir prodigal wad return, sae blithely as the goodman wad kill the
fatted calf!--though Brockie's calf will no be fit for killing this three
And then, with the discursive talent of persons of her description, she
got once more afloat in her account of domestic affairs, and left this
delicate and affecting topic.
Having looked at every thing in the offices and the dairy, and expressed
her satisfaction with the manner in which matters had been managed in her
absence, Jeanie rejoined the rest of the party, who were surveying the
interior of the house, all excepting David Deans and Butler, who had gone
down to the church to meet the kirk-session and the clergymen of the
Presbytery, and arrange matters for the duty of the day.
In the interior of the cottage all was clean, neat, and suitable to the
exterior. It had been originally built and furnished by the Duke, as a
retreat for a favourite domestic of the higher class, who did not long
enjoy it, and had been dead only a few months, so that every thing was in
excellent taste and good order. But in Jeanie's bedroom was a neat trunk,
which had greatly excited Mrs. Dutton's curiosity, for she was sure that
the direction, "For Mrs. Jean Deans, at Auchingower, parish of
Knocktarlitie," was the writing of Mrs. Semple, the Duchess's own woman.
May Hettly produced the key in a sealed parcel, which bore the same
address, and attached to the key was a label, intimating that the trunk
and its contents were "a token of remembrance to Jeanie Deans, from her
friends the Duchess of Argyle and the young ladies." The trunk, hastily
opened, as the reader will not doubt, was found to be full of wearing
apparel of the best quality, suited to Jeanie's rank in life; and to most
of the articles the names of the particular donors were attached, as if
to make Jeanie sensible not only of the general, but of the individual
interest she had excited in the noble family. To name the various
articles by their appropriate names, would be to attempt things
unattempted yet in prose or rhyme; besides that the old-fashioned terms
of manteaus, sacques, kissing-strings, and so forth, would convey but
little information even to the milliners of the present day. I shall
deposit, however, an accurate inventory of the contents of the trunk with
my kind friend, Miss Martha Buskbody, who has promised, should the public
curiosity seem interested in the subject, to supply me with a
professional glossary and commentary. Suffice it to say, that the gift
was such as became the donors, and was suited to the situation of the
receiver; that every thing was handsome and appropriate, and nothing
forgotten which belonged to the wardrobe of a young person in Jeanie's
situation in life, the destined bride of a respectable clergyman.
Article after article was displayed, commented upon, and admired, to the
wonder of May, who declared, "she didna think the queen had mair or
better claise," and somewhat to the envy of the northern Cowslip. This
unamiable, but not very unnatural, disposition of mind, broke forth in
sundry unfounded criticisms to the disparagement of the articles, as they
were severally exhibited. But it assumed a more direct character, when,
at the bottom of all, was found a dress of white silk, very plainly made,
but still of white silk, and French silk to boot, with a paper pinned to
it, bearing that it was a present from the Duke of Argyle to his
travelling companion, to be worn on the day when she should change her
Mrs. Dutton could forbear no longer, but whispered into Mr. Archibald's
ear, that it was a clever thing to be a Scotchwoman: "She supposed all
/her/ sisters, and she had half-a-dozen, might have been hanged, without
any one sending her a present of a pocket handkerchief."
"Or without your making any exertion to save them, Mrs. Dolly," answered
Archibald drily.--"But I am surprised we do not hear the bell yet," said
he, looking at his watch.
"Fat ta deil, Mr. Archibald," answered the Captain of Knockdunder, "wad
ye hae them ring the bell before I am ready to gang to kirk?--I wad gar
the bedral eat the bell-rope, if he took ony sic freedom. But if ye want
to hear the bell, I will just show mysell on the knowe-head, and it will
begin jowing forthwith."
Accordingly, so soon as they sallied out, and that the gold-laced hat of
the Captain was seen rising like Hesper above the dewy verge of the
rising ground, the clash (for it was rather a clash than a clang) of the
bell was heard from the old moss-grown tower, and the clapper continued
to thump its cracked sides all the while they advanced towards the kirk,
Duncan exhorting them to take their own time, "for teil ony sport wad be
till he came."*
* Note T. Tolling to service in Scotland.
Accordingly, the bell only changed to the final and impatient chime when
they crossed the stile; and "rang in," that is, concluded its mistuned
summons, when they had entered the Duke's seat, in the little kirk, where
the whole party arranged themselves, with Duncan at their head, excepting
David Deans, who already occupied a seat among the elders.
The business of the day, with a particular detail of which it is
unnecessary to trouble the reader, was gone through according to the
established form, and the sermon pronounced upon the occasion had the
good fortune to please even the critical David Deans, though it was only
an hour and a quarter long, which David termed a short allowance of
The preacher, who was a divine that held many of David's opinions,
privately apologised for his brevity by saying, "That he observed the
Captain was gaunting grievously, and that if he had detained him longer,
there was no knowing how long he might be in paying the next term's
David groaned to find that such carnal motives could have influence upon
the mind of a powerful preacher. He had, indeed, been scandalised by
another circumstance during the service.
So soon as the congregation were seated after prayers, and the clergyman
had read his text, the gracious Duncan, after rummaging the leathern
purse which hung in front of his petticoat, produced a short tobacco-pipe
made of iron, and observed, almost aloud, "I hae forgotten my spleuchan--
Lachlan, gang down to the clachan, and bring me up a pennyworth of
twist." Six arms, the nearest within reach, presented, with an obedient
start, as many tobacco-pouches to the man of office. He made choice of
one with an nod of acknowledgment, filled his pipe, lighted it with the
assistance of his pistol-flint, and smoked with infinite composure during
the whole time of the sermon. When the discourse was finished, he knocked
the ashes out of his pipe, replaced it in his sporran, returned the
tobacco-pouch or spleuchan to its owner, and joined in the prayer with
decency and attention.
At the end of the service, when Butler had been admitted minister of the
kirk of Knocktarlitie, with all its spiritual immunities and privileges,
David, who had frowned, groaned, and murmured at Knockdunder's irreverent
demeanour, communicated his plain thoughts of the matter to Isaac
Meiklehose, one of the elders, with whom a reverential aspect and huge
grizzle wig had especially disposed him to seek fraternisation. "It didna
become a wild Indian," David said, "much less a Christian, and a
gentleman, to sit in the kirk puffing tobacco-reek, as if he were in a
Meiklehose shook his head, and allowed it was "far frae beseeming--But
what will ye say? The Captain's a queer hand, and to speak to him about
that or onything else that crosses the maggot, wad be to set the kiln
a-low. He keeps a high hand ower the country, and we couldna deal wi' the
Hielandmen without his protection, sin' a' the keys o' the kintray hings
at his belt; and he's no an ill body in the main, and maistry, ye ken,
maws the meadows doun."
"That may be very true, neighbour," said David; "but Reuben Butler isna
the man I take him to be, if he disna learn the Captain to fuff his pipe
some other gate than in God's house, or the quarter be ower."
"Fair and softly gangs far," said Meiklehose; "and if a fule may gie a
wise man a counsel, I wad hae him think twice or he mells with
Knockdunder--He auld hae a lang-shankit spune that wad sup kail wi' the
deil. But they are a' away to their dinner to the change-house, and if we
dinna mend our pace, we'll come short at meal-time."
David accompanied his friend without answer; but began to feel from
experience, that the glen of Knocktarlitie, like the rest of the world,
was haunted by its own special subjects of regret and discontent. His
mind was, so much occupied by considering the best means of converting
Duncan of Knock to a sense of reverend decency during public worship,
that he altogether forgot to inquire whether Butler was called upon to
subscribe the oaths to Government.
Some have insinuated, that his neglect on this head was, in some degree,
intentional; but I think this explanation inconsistent with the
simplicity of my friend David's character. Neither have I ever been able,
by the most minute inquiries, to know whether the /formula,/ at which he
so much scrupled, had been exacted from Butler, ay or no. The books of
the kirk-session might have thrown some light on this matter; but
unfortunately they were destroyed in the year 1746, by one Donacha Dhu na
Dunaigh, at the instance, it was said, or at least by the connivance, of
the gracious Duncan of Knock, who had a desire to obliterate the recorded
foibles of a certain Kate Finlayson.
Now butt and ben the change-house fills
Wi' yill-caup commentators,
Here's crying out for bakes and gills,
And there the pint-stoup clatters.
Wi' thick and thrang, and loud and lang,--
Wi' logic and wi' scripture,
They raise a din that in the end
Is like to breed a rupture,
O' wrath that day.
A plentiful entertainment, at the Duke of Argyle's cost, regaled the
reverend gentlemen who had assisted at the ordination of Reuben Butler,
and almost all the respectable part of the parish. The feast was, indeed,
such as the country itself furnished; for plenty of all the requisites
for "a rough and round dinner" were always at Duncan of Knock's command.
There was the beef and mutton on the braes, the fresh and salt-water fish
in the lochs, the brooks, and firth; game of every kind, from the deer to
the leveret, were to be had for the killing, in the Duke's forests,
moors, heaths, and mosses; and for liquor, home-brewed ale flowed as
freely as water; brandy and usquebaugh both were had in those happy times