Part 6 out of 7
departure and the term of Whitsunday (24th May) short enough for the
purpose of bringing forward those various debtors of old David Deans, out
of whose purses a considerable part of the price of his new purchase was
to be made good.
Jeanie was thus in the unwonted situation of inhabiting a lonely house,
and she felt yet more solitary from the death of the good old man who
used to divide her cares with her husband. Her children were her
principal resource, and to them she paid constant attention.
It happened a day or two after Butler's departure that, while she was
engaged in some domestic duties, she heard a dispute among the young
folk, which, being maintained with obstinacy, appeared to call for her
interference. All came to their natural umpire with their complaints.
Femie, not yet ten years old, charged Davie and Reubie with an attempt to
take away her book by force; and David and Reuben replied, the elder,
"That it was not a book for Femie to read," and Reuben, "That it was
about a bad woman."
"Where did you get the book, ye little hempie?" said Mrs. Butler. "How
dare ye touch papa's books when he is away?" But the little lady, holding
fast a sheet of crumpled paper, declared "It was nane o' papa's books,
and May Hettly had taken it off the muckle cheese which came from
Inverara;" for, as was very natural to suppose, a friendly intercourse,
with interchange of mutual civilities, was kept up from time to time
between Mrs. Dolly Dutton, now Mrs. MacCorkindale, and her former
Jeanie took the subject of contention out of the child's hand, to satisfy
herself of the propriety of her studies; but how much was she struck when
she read upon the title of the broadside-sheet, "The Last Speech,
Confession, and Dying Words of Margaret MacCraw, or Murdockson, executed
on Harabee Hill, near Carlisle, the day of 1737." It was, indeed, one
of those papers which Archibald had bought at Longtown, when he
monopolised the pedlar's stock, which Dolly had thrust into her trunk out
of sheer economy. One or two copies, it seems, had remained in her
repositories at Inverary, till she chanced to need them in packing a
cheese, which, as a very superior production, was sent, in the way of
civil challenge, to the dairy at Knocktarlitie.
The title of this paper, so strangely fallen into the very hands from
which, in well-meant respect to her feelings, it had been so long
detained, was of itself sufficiently startling; but the narrative itself
was so interesting, that Jeanie, shaking herself loose from the children,
ran upstairs to her own apartment, and bolted the door, to peruse it
The narrative, which appeared to have been drawn up, or at least
corrected, by the clergyman who attended this unhappy woman, stated the
crime for which she suffered to have been "her active part in that
atrocious robbery and murder, committed near two years since near
Haltwhistle, for which the notorious Frank Levitt was committed for trial
at Lancaster assizes. It was supposed the evidence of the accomplice
Thomas Tuck, commonly called Tyburn Tom, upon which the woman had been
convicted, would weigh equally heavy against him; although many were
inclined to think it was Tuck himself who had struck the fatal blow,
according to the dying statement of Meg Murdockson."
After a circumstantial account of the crime for which she suffered, there
was a brief sketch of Margaret's life. It was stated that she was a
Scotchwoman by birth, and married a soldier in the Cameronian regiment--
that she long followed the camp, and had doubtless acquired in fields of
battle, and similar scenes, that ferocity and love of plunder for which
she had been afterwards distinguished--that her husband, having obtained
his discharge, became servant to a beneficed clergyman of high situation
and character in Lincolnshire, and that she acquired the confidence and
esteem of that honourable family. She had lost this many years after her
husband's death, it was stated, in consequence of conniving at the
irregularities of her daughter with the heir of the family, added to the
suspicious circumstances attending the birth of a child, which was
strongly suspected to have met with foul play, in order to preserve, if
possible, the girl's reputation. After this she had led a wandering life
both in England and Scotland, under colour sometimes of telling fortunes,
sometimes of driving a trade in smuggled wares, but, in fact, receiving
stolen goods, and occasionally actively joining in the exploits by which
they were obtained. Many of her crimes she had boasted of after
conviction, and there was one circumstance for which she seemed to feel a
mixture of joy and occasional compunction. When she was residing in the
suburbs of Edinburgh during the preceding summer, a girl, who had been
seduced by one of her confederates, was intrusted to her charge, and in
her house delivered of a male infant. Her daughter, whose mind was in a
state of derangement ever since she had lost her own child, according to
the criminal's account, carried off the poor girl's infant, taking it for
her own, of the reality of whose death she at times could not be
Margaret Murdockson stated that she, for some time, believed her daughter
had actually destroyed the infant in her mad fits, and that she gave the
father to understand so, but afterwards learned that a female stroller
had got it from her. She showed some compunction at having separated
mother and child, especially as the mother had nearly suffered death,
being condemned, on the Scotch law, for the supposed murder of her
infant. When it was asked what possible interest she could have had in
exposing the unfortunate girl to suffer for a crime she had not
committed, she asked, if they thought she was going to put her own
daughter into trouble to save another? She did not know what the Scotch
law would have done to her for carrying the child away. This answer was
by no means satisfactory to the clergyman, and he discovered, by close
examination, that she had a deep and revengeful hatred against the young
person whom she had thus injured. But the paper intimated, that, whatever
besides she had communicated upon this subject was confided by her in
private to the worthy and reverend Archdeacon who had bestowed such
particular pains in affording her spiritual assistance. The broadside
went on to intimate, that, after her execution, of which the particulars
were given, her daughter, the insane person mentioned more than once, and
who was generally known by the name of Madge Wildfire, had been very
ill-used by the populace, under the belief that she was a sorceress, and
an accomplice in her mother's crimes, and had been with difficulty
rescued by the prompt interference of the police.
Such (for we omit moral reflections, and all that may seem unnecessary to
the explanation of our story) was the tenor of the broadside. To Mrs.
Butler it contained intelligence of the highest importance, since it
seemed to afford the most unequivocal proof of her sister's innocence
respecting the crime for which she had so nearly suffered. It is true,
neither she nor her husband, nor even her father, had ever believed her
capable of touching her infant with an unkind hand when in possession of
her reason; but there was a darkness on the subject, and what might have
happened in a moment of insanity was dreadful to think upon. Besides,
whatever was their own conviction, they had no means of establishing
Effie's innocence to the world, which, according to the tenor of this
fugitive publication, was now at length completely manifested by the
dying confession of the person chiefly interested in concealing it.
After thanking God for a discovery so dear to her feelings, Mrs. Butler
began to consider what use she should make of it. To have shown it to her
husband would have been her first impulse; but, besides that he was
absent from home, and the matter too delicate to be the subject of
correspondence by an indifferent penwoman, Mrs. Butler recollected that
he was not possessed of the information necessary to form a judgment upon
the occasion; and that, adhering to the rule which she had considered as
most advisable, she had best transmit the information immediately to her
sister, and leave her to adjust with her husband the mode in which they
should avail themselves of it. Accordingly, she despatched a special
messenger to Glasgow with a packet, enclosing the Confession of Margaret
Murdockson, addressed, as usual, under cover, to Mr. Whiterose of York.
She expected, with anxiety, an answer, but none arrived in the usual
course of post, and she was left to imagine how many various causes might
account for Lady Staunton's silence. She began to be half sorry that she
had parted with the printed paper, both for fear of its having fallen
into bad hands, and from the desire of regaining the document which might
be essential to establish her sister's innocence. She was even doubting
whether she had not better commit the whole matter to her husband's
consideration, when other incidents occurred to divert her purpose.
Jeanie (she is a favourite, and we beg her pardon for still using the
familiar title) had walked down to the sea-side with her children one
morning after breakfast, when the boys, whose sight was more
discriminating than hers, exclaimed, that "the Captain's coach and six
was coming right for the shore, with ladies in it." Jeanie instinctively
bent her eyes on the approaching boat, and became soon sensible that
there were two females in the stern, seated beside the gracious Duncan,
who acted as pilot. It was a point of politeness to walk towards the
landing-place, in order to receive them, especially as she saw that the
Captain of Knockdunder was upon honour and ceremony. His piper was in the
bow of the boat, sending forth music, of which one half sounded the
better that the other was drowned by the waves and the breeze. Moreover,
he himself had his brigadier wig newly frizzed, his bonnet (he had
abjured the cocked-hat) decorated with Saint George's red cross, his
uniform mounted as a captain of militia, the Duke's flag with the boar's
head displayed--all intimated parade and gala.
As Mrs. Butler approached the landing-place, she observed the Captain
hand the ladies ashore with marks of great attention, and the parties
advanced towards her, the Captain a few steps before the two ladies, of
whom the taller and elder leaned on the shoulder of the other, who seemed
to be an attendant or servant.
As they met, Duncan, in his best, most important, and deepest tone of
Highland civility, "pegged leave to introduce to Mrs. Putler, Lady--eh--
eh--I hae forgotten your leddyship's name!"
"Never mind my name, sir," said the lady; "I trust Mrs. Butler will be at
no loss. The Duke's letter"--And, as she observed Mrs. Butler look
confused, she said again to Duncan somethin sharply, "Did you not send
the letter last night, sir?"
"In troth and I didna, and I crave your leddyship's pardon; but you see,
matam, I thought it would do as weel to-tay, pecause Mrs. Putler is never
taen out o'sorts--never--and the coach was out fishing--and the gig was
gane to Greenock for a cag of prandy--and--Put here's his Grace's
"Give it me, sir," said the lady, taking it out of his hand; "since you
have not found it convenient to do me the favour to send it before me, I
will deliver it myself."
Mrs. Butler looked with great attention, and a certain dubious feeling of
deep interest, on the lady, who thus expressed herself with authority
over the man of authority, and to whose mandates he seemed to submit,
resigning the letter with a "Just as your leddyship is pleased to order
The lady was rather above the middle size, beautifully made, though
something /embonpoint,/ with a hand and arm exquisitely formed. Her
manner was easy, dignified, and commanding, and seemed to evince high
birth and the habits of elevated society. She wore a travelling dress--a
grey beaver hat, and a veil of Flanders lace. Two footmen, in rich
liveries, who got out of the barge, and lifted out a trunk and
portmanteau, appeared to belong to her suite.
"As you did not receive the letter, madam, which should have served for
my introduction--for I presume you are Mrs. Butler--I will not present it
to you till you are so good as to admit me into your house without it."
"To pe sure, matam," said Knockdunder, "ye canna doubt Mrs. Putler will
do that.--Mrs. Putler, this is Lady--Lady--these tamned Southern names
rin out o' my head like a stane trowling down hill--put I believe she is
a Scottish woman porn--the mair our credit--and I presume her leddyship
is of the house of"
"The Duke of Argyle knows my family very well, sir," said the lady, in a
tone which seemed designed to silence Duncan, or, at any rate, which had
that effect completely.
There was something about the whole of this stranger's address, and tone,
and manner, which acted upon Jeanie's feelings like the illusions of a
dream, that tease us with a puzzling approach to reality. Something there
was of her sister in the gait and manner of the stranger, as well as in
the sound of her voice, and something also, when, lifting her veil, she
showed features, to which, changed as they were in expression and
complexion, she could not but attach many remembrances.
The stranger was turned of thirty certainly; but so well were her
personal charms assisted by the power of dress, and arrangement of
ornament, that she might well have passed for one-and-twenty. And her
behaviour was so steady and so composed, that, as often as Mrs. Butler
perceived anew some point of resemblance to her unfortunate sister, so
often the sustained self-command and absolute composure of the stranger
destroyed the ideas which began to arise in her imagination. She led the
way silently towards the Manse, lost in a confusion of reflections, and
trusting the letter with which she was to be there intrusted, would
afford her satisfactory explanation of what was a most puzzling and
The lady maintained in the meanwhile the manners of a stranger of rank.
She admired the various points of view like one who has studied nature,
and the best representations of art. At length she took notice of the
"These are two fine young mountaineers--Yours, madam, I presume?"
Jeanie replied in the affirmative. The stranger sighed, and sighed once
more as they were presented to her by name.
"Come here, Femie," said Mrs. Butler, "and hold your head up."
"What is your daughter's name, madam?" said the lady.
"Euphemia, madam," answered Mrs. Butler.
"I thought the ordinary Scottish contraction of the name had been Effie;"
replied the stranger, in a tone which went to Jeanie's heart; for in that
single word there was more of her sister--more of /lang syne/ ideas--than
in all the reminiscences which her own heart had anticipated, or the
features and manner of the stranger had suggested.
When they reached the Manse, the lady gave Mrs. Butler the letter which
she had taken out of the hands of Knockdunder; and as she gave it she
pressed her hand, adding aloud, "Perhaps, madam, you will have the
goodness to get me a little milk!"
"And me a drap of the grey-peard, if you please, Mrs. Putler," added
Mrs. Butler withdrew; but, deputing to May Hettly and to David the supply
of the strangers' wants, she hastened into her own room to read the
letter. The envelope was addressed in the Duke of Argyle's hand, and
requested Mrs. Butler's attentions and civility to a lady of rank, a
particular friend of his late brother, Lady Staunton of Willingham, who,
being recommended to drink goats' whey by the physicians, was to honour
the Lodge at Roseneath with her residence, while her husband made a short
tour in Scotland. But within the same cover, which had been given to Lady
Staunton unsealed, was a letter from that lady, intended to prepare her
sister for meeting her, and which, but for the Captain's negligence, she
ought to have received on the preceding evening. It stated that the news
in Jeanie's last letter had been so interesting to her husband, that he
was determined to inquire farther into the confession made at Carlisle,
and the fate of that poor innocent, and that, as he had been in some
degree successful, she had, by the most earnest entreaties, extorted
rather than obtained his permission, under promise of observing the most
strict incognito, to spend a week or two with her sister, or in her
neighbourhood, while he was prosecuting researches, to which (though it
appeared to her very vainly) he seemed to attach some hopes of success.
There was a postscript, desiring that Jeanie would trust to Lady S. the
management of their intercourse, and be content with assenting to what
she should propose. After reading and again reading the letter, Mrs.
Butler hurried down stairs, divided betwixt the fear of betraying her
secret, and the desire to throw herself upon her sister's neck. Effie
received her with a glance at once affectionate and cautionary, and
immediately proceeded to speak.
"I have been telling Mr. ------, Captain , this gentleman, Mrs. Butler,
that if you could accommodate me with an apartment in your house, and a
place for Ellis to sleep, and for the two men, it would suit me better
than the Lodge, which his Grace has so kindly placed at my disposal. I am
advised I should reside as near where the goats feed as possible."
"I have peen assuring my leddy, Mrs. Putler," said Duncan, "that though
it could not discommode you to receive any of his Grace's visitors or
mine, yet she had mooch petter stay at the Lodge; and for the gaits, the
creatures can be fetched there, in respect it is mair fitting they suld
wait upon her Leddyship, than she upon the like o' them."
"By no means derange the goats for me," said Lady Staunton; "I am certain
the milk must be much better here." And this she said with languid
negligence, as one whose slightest intimation of humour is to bear down
Mrs. Butler hastened to intimate, that her house, such as it was, was
heartily at the disposal of Lady Staunton; but the Captain continued to
"The Duke," he said, "had written"
"I will settle all that with his Grace"
"And there were the things had been sent down frae Glasco"
"Anything necessary might be sent over to the Parsonage--She would beg
the favour of Mrs. Butler to show her an apartment, and of the Captain to
have her trunks, etc., sent over from Roseneath."
So she courtesied off poor Duncan, who departed, saying in his secret
soul, "Cot tamn her English impudence!--she takes possession of the
minister's house as an it were her ain--and speaks to shentlemens as if
they were pounden servants, and per tamned to her!--And there's the deer
that was shot too--but we will send it ower to the Manse, whilk will pe
put civil, seeing I hae prought worthy Mrs. Putler sic a fliskmahoy."--
And with these kind intentions, he went to the shore to give his orders
In the meantime, the meeting of the sisters was as affectionate as it was
extraordinary, and each evinced her feelings in the way proper to her
character. Jeanie was so much overcome by wonder, and even by awe, that
her feelings were deep, stunning, and almost overpowering. Effie, on the
other hand, wept, laughed, sobbed, screamed, and clapped her hands for
joy, all in the space of five minutes, giving way at once, and without
reserve, to a natural excessive vivacity of temper, which no one,
however, knew better how to restrain under the rules of artificial
After an hour had passed like a moment in their expressions of mutual
affection, Lady Staunton observed the Captain walking with impatient
steps below the window. "That tiresome Highland fool has returned upon
our hands," she said. "I will pray him to grace us with his absence."
"Hout no! hout no!" said Mrs. Butler, in a tone of entreaty; "ye maunna
affront the Captain."
"Affront?" said Lady Staunton; "nobody is ever affronted at what I do or
say, my dear. However, I will endure him, since you think it proper."
The Captain was accordingly graciously requested by Lady Staunton to
remain during dinner. During this visit his studious and punctilious
complaisance towards the lady of rank was happily contrasted by the
cavalier air of civil familiarity in which he indulged towards the
"I have not been able to persuade Mrs. Butler," said Lady Staunton to the
Captain, during the interval when Jeanie had left the parlour, "to let me
talk of making any recompense for storming her house, and garrisoning it
in the way I have done."
"Doubtless, matam," said the Captain, "it wad ill pecome Mrs. Putler, wha
is a very decent pody, to make any such sharge to a lady who comes from
my house, or his Grace's, which is the same thing.--And speaking of
garrisons, in the year forty-five, I was poot with a garrison of twenty
of my lads in the house of Inver-Garry, whilk had near been unhappily,
"I beg your pardon, sir--But I wish I could think of some way of
indemnifying this good lady."
"O, no need of intemnifying at all--no trouble for her, nothing at all--
So, peing in the house of Inver-Garry, and the people about it being
uncanny, I doubted the warst, and"
"Do you happen to know, sir," said Lady Staunton, "if any of these two
lads, these young Butlers, I mean, show any turn for the army?"
"Could not say, indeed, my leddy," replied Knockdunder--"So, I knowing
the people to pe unchancy, and not to lippen to, and hearing a pibroch in
the wood, I pegan to pid my lads look to their flints, and then"
"For," said Lady Staunton, with the most ruthless disregard to the
narrative which she mangled by these interruptions, "if that should be
the case, it should cost Sir George but the asking a pair of colours for
one of them at the War-Office, since we have always supported Government,
and never had occasion to trouble ministers."
"And if you please, my leddy," said Duncan, who began to find some savour
in this proposal, "as I hae a braw weel-grown lad of a nevoy, ca'd Duncan
MacGilligan, that is as pig as paith the Putler pairns putten thegither,
Sir George could ask a pair for him at the same time, and it wad pe put
ae asking for a'."
Lady Staunton only answered this hint with a well-bred stare, which gave
no sort of encouragement.
Jeanie, who now returned, was lost in amazement at the wonderful
difference betwixt the helpless and despairing girl, whom she had seen
stretched on a flock-bed in a dungeon, expecting a violent and
disgraceful death, and last as a forlorn exile upon the midnight beach,
with the elegant, well-bred, beautiful woman before her. The features,
now that her sister's veil was laid aside, did not appear so extremely
different, as the whole manner, expression, look, and bearing. In outside
show, Lady Staunton seemed completely a creature too soft and fair for
sorrow to have touched; so much accustomed to have all her whims complied
with by those around her, that she seemed to expect she should even be
saved the trouble of forming them; and so totally unacquainted with
contradiction, that she did not even use the tone of self-will, since to
breathe a wish was to have it fulfilled. She made no ceremony of ridding
herself of Duncan as soon as the evening approached; but complimented him
out of the house under pretext of fatigue, with the utmost /nonchalance./
When they were alone, her sister could not help expressing her wonder at
the self-possession with which Lady Staunton sustained her part.
"I daresay you are surprised at it," said Lady Staunton composedly; "for
you, my dear Jeanie, have been truth itself from your cradle upwards; but
you must remember that I am a liar of fifteen years' standing, and
therefore must by this time be used to my character."
In fact, during the feverish tumult of feelings excited during the two or
three first days, Mrs. Butler thought her sister's manner was completely
contradictory of the desponding tone which pervaded her correspondence.
She was moved to tears, indeed, by the sight of her father's grave,
marked by a modest stone recording his piety and integrity; but lighter
impressions and associations had also power over her. She amused herself
with visiting the dairy, in which she had so long been assistant, and was
so near discovering herself to May Hettly, by betraying her acquaintance
with the celebrated receipt for Dunlop cheese, that she compared herself
to Bedreddin Hassan, whom the vizier, his father-in-law, discovered by
his superlative skill in composing cream-tarts with pepper in them. But
when the novelty of such avocations ceased to amuse her, she showed to
her sister but too plainly, that the gaudy colouring with which she
veiled her unhappiness afforded as little real comfort, as the gay
uniform of the soldier when it is drawn over his mortal wound. There were
moods and moments, in which her despondence seemed to exceed even that
which she herself had described in her letters, and which too well
convinced Mrs. Butler how little her sister's lot, which in appearance
was so brilliant, was in reality to be envied.
There was one source, however, from which Lady Staunton derived a pure
degree of pleasure. Gifted in every particular with a higher degree of
imagination than that of her sister, she was an admirer of the beauties
of nature, a taste which compensates many evils to those who happen to
enjoy it. Here her character of a fine lady stopped short, where she
ought to have
Scream'd at ilk cleugh, and screech'd at ilka how,
As loud as she had seen the worrie-cow.
On the contrary, with the two boys for her guides, she undertook long and
fatiguing walks among the neighbouring mountains, to visit glens, lakes,
waterfalls, or whatever scenes of natural wonder or beauty lay concealed
among their recesses. It is Wordsworth, I think, who, talking of an old
man under difficulties, remarks, with a singular attention to nature,
Whether it was care that spurr'd him,
God only knows; but to the very last,
He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale.
In the same manner, languid, listless, and unhappy, within doors, at
times even indicating something which approached near to contempt of the
homely accommodations of her sister's house, although she instantly
endeavoured, by a thousand kindnesses, to atone for such ebullitions of
spleen, Lady Staunton appeared to feel interest and energy while in the
open air, and traversing the mountain landscapes in society with the two
boys, whose ears she delighted with stories of what she had seen in other
countries, and what she had to show them at Willingham Manor. And they,
on the other hand, exerted themselves in doing the honours of
Dumbartonshire to the lady who seemed so kind, insomuch that there was
scarce a glen in the neighbouring hills to which they did not introduce
Upon one of these excursions, while Reuben was otherwise employed, David
alone acted as Lady Staunton's guide, and promised to show her a cascade
in the hills, grander and higher than any they had yet visited. It was a
walk of five long miles, and over rough ground, varied, however, and
cheered, by mountain views, and peeps now of the firth and its islands,
now of distant lakes, now of rocks and precipices. The scene itself, too,
when they reached it, amply rewarded the labour of the walk. A single
shoot carried a considerable stream over the face of a black rock, which
contrasted strongly in colour with the white foam of the cascade, and, at
the depth of about twenty feet, another rock intercepted the view of the
bottom of the fall. The water, wheeling out far beneath, swept round the
crag, which thus bounded their view, and tumbled down the rocky glen in a
torrent of foam. Those who love nature always desire to penetrate into
its utmost recesses, and Lady Staunton asked David whether there was not
some mode of gaining a view of the abyss at the foot of the fall. He said
that he knew a station on a shelf on the farther side of the intercepting
rock, from which the whole waterfall was visible, but that the road to it
was steep and slippery and dangerous. Bent, however, on gratifying her
curiosity, she desired him to lead the way; and accordingly he did so
over crag and stone, anxiously pointing out to her the resting-places
where she ought to step, for their mode of advancing soon ceased to be
walking, and became scrambling.
In this manner, clinging like sea-birds to the face of the rock, they
were enabled at length to turn round it, and came full in front of the
fall, which here had a most tremendous aspect, boiling, roaring, and
thundering with unceasing din, into a black cauldron, a hundred feet at
least below them, which resembled the crater of a volcano. The noise, the
dashing of the waters, which gave an unsteady appearance to all around
them, the trembling even of the huge crag on which they stood, the
precariousness of their footing, for there was scarce room for them to
stand on the shelf of rock which they had thus attained, had so powerful
an effect on the senses and imagination of Lady Staunton, that she called
out to David she was falling, and would in fact have dropped from the
crag had he not caught hold of her. The boy was bold and stout of his
age--still he was but fourteen years old, and as his assistance gave no
confidence to Lady Staunton, she felt her situation become really
perilous. The chance was, that, in the appalling novelty of the
circumstances, he might have caught the infection of her panic, in which
case it is likely that both must have perished. She now screamed with
terror, though without hope of calling any one to her assistance. To her
amazement, the scream was answered by a whistle from above, of a tone so
clear and shrill, that it was heard even amid the noise of the waterfall.
In this moment of terror and perplexity, a human face, black, and having
grizzled hair hanging down over the forehead and cheeks, and mixing with
mustaches and a beard of the same colour, and as much matted and tangled,
looked down on them from a broken part of the rock above.
"It is the Enemy!" said the boy, who had very nearly become incapable of
supporting Lady Staunton.
"No, no," she exclaimed, inaccessible to supernatural terrors, and
restored to the presence of mind of which she had been deprived by the
danger of her situation, "it is a man--For God's sake, my friend, help
The face glared at them, but made no answer; in a second or two
afterwards, another, that of a young lad, appeared beside the first,
equally swart and begrimed, but having tangled black hair, descending in
elf-locks, which gave an air of wildness and ferocity to the whole
expression of the countenance. Lady Staunton repeated her entreaties,
clinging to the rock with more energy, as she found that, from the
superstitious terror of her guide, he became incapable of supporting her.
Her words were probably drowned in the roar of the falling stream, for,
though she observed the lips of the young being whom she supplicated move
as he spoke in reply, not a word reached her ear.
A moment afterwards it appeared he had not mistaken the nature of her
supplication, which, indeed, was easy to be understood from her situation
and gestures. The younger apparition disappeared, and immediately after
lowered a ladder of twisted osiers, about eight feet in length, and made
signs to David to hold it fast while the lady ascended. Despair gives
courage, and finding herself in this fearful predicament, Lady Staunton
did not hesitate to risk the ascent by the precarious means which this
accommodation afforded; and, carefully assisted by the person who had
thus providentially come to her aid, she reached the summit in safety.
She did not, however, even look around her until she saw her nephew
lightly and actively follow her examples although there was now no one to
hold the ladder fast. When she saw him safe she looked round, and could
not help shuddering at the place and company in which she found herself.
They were on a sort of platform of rock, surrounded on every side by
precipices, or overhanging cliffs, and which it would have been scarce
possible for any research to have discovered, as it did not seem to be
commanded by any accessible position. It was partly covered by a huge
fragment of stone, which, having fallen from the cliffs above, had been
intercepted by others in its descent, and jammed so as to serve for a
sloping roof to the farther part of the broad shelf or platform on which
they stood. A quantity of withered moss and leaves, strewed beneath this
rude and wretched shelter, showed the lairs,--they could not be termed
the beds,--of those who dwelt in this eyrie, for it deserved no other
name. Of these, two were before Lady Staunton. One, the same who had
afforded such timely assistance, stood upright before them, a tall,
lathy, young savage; his dress a tattered plaid and philabeg, no shoes,
no stockings, no hat or bonnet, the place of the last being supplied by
his hair, twisted and matted like the /glibbe/ of the ancient wild Irish,
and, like theirs, forming a natural thick-set stout enough to bear off
the cut of a sword. Yet the eyes of the lad were keen and sparkling; his
gesture free and noble, like that of all savages. He took little notice
of David Butler, but gazed with wonder on Lady Staunton, as a being
different probably in dress, and superior in beauty, to anything he had
ever beheld. The old man, whose face they had first seen, remained
recumbent in the same posture as when he had first looked down on them,
only his face was turned towards them as he lay and looked up with a lazy
and listless apathy, which belied the general expression of his dark and
rugged features. He seemed a very tall man, but was scarce better clad
than the younger. He had on a loose Lowland greatcoat, and ragged tartan
trews or pantaloons. All around looked singularly wild and unpropitious.
Beneath the brow of the incumbent rock was a charcoal fire, on which
there was a still working, with bellows, pincers, hammers, a movable
anvil, and other smith's tools; three guns, with two or three sacks and
barrels, were disposed against the wall of rock, under shelter of the
superincumbent crag; a dirk and two swords, and a Lochaber axe, lay
scattered around the fire, of which the red glare cast a ruddy tinge on
the precipitous foam and mist of the cascade. The lad, when he had
satisfied his curiosity with staring at Lady Staunton, fetched an earthen
jar and a horn-cup, into which he poured some spirits, apparently hot
from the still, and offered them successively to the lady and to the boy.
Both declined, and the young savage quaffed off the draught, which could
not amount to less than three ordinary glasses. He then fetched another
ladder from the corner of the cavern, if it could be termed so, adjusted
it against the transverse rock, which served as a roof, and made signs
for the lady to ascend it, while he held it fast below. She did so, and
found herself on the top of a broad rock, near the brink of the chasm
into which the brook precipitates itself. She could see the crest of the
torrent flung loose down the rock, like the mane of a wild horse, but
without having any view of the lower platform from which she had
David was not suffered to mount so easily; the lad, from sport or love of
mischief, shook the ladder a good deal as he ascended, and seemed to
enjoy the terror of young Butler, so that, when they had both come up,
they looked on each other with no friendly eyes. Neither, however, spoke.
The young caird, or tinker, or gipsy, with a good deal of attention,
assisted Lady Staunton up a very perilous ascent which she had still to
encounter, and they were followed by David Butler, until all three stood
clear of the ravine on the side of a mountain, whose sides were covered
with heather and sheets of loose shingle. So narrow was the chasm out of
which they ascended, that, unless when they were on the very verge, the
eye passed to the other side without perceiving the existence of a rent
so fearful, and nothing was seen of the cataract, though its deep hoarse
voice was still heard.
Lady Staunton, freed from the danger of rock and river, had now a new
subject of anxiety. Her two guides confronted each other with angry
countenances; for David, though younger by two years at least, and much
shorter, was a stout, well-set, and very bold boy.
"You are the black-coat's son of Knocktarlitie," said the young caird;
"if you come here again, I'll pitch you down the linn like a foot-ball."
"Ay, lad, ye are very short to be sae lang," retorted young Butler
undauntedly, and measuring his opponent's height with an undismayed eye;
"I am thinking you are a gillie of Black Donacha; if you come down the
glen, we'll shoot you like a wild buck."
"You may tell your father," said the lad, "that the leaf on the timber is
the last he shall see--we will hae amends for the mischief he has done to
"I hope he will live to see mony simmers, and do ye muckle mair,"
More might have passed, but Lady Staunton stepped between them with her
purse in her hand, and taking out a guinea, of which it contained
several, visible through the net-work, as well as some silver in the
opposite end, offered it to the caird.
"The white siller, lady--the white siller," said the young savage, to
whom the value of gold was probably unknown. Lady Staunton poured what
silver she had into his hand, and the juvenile savage snatched it
greedily, and made a sort of half inclination of acknowledgment and
"Let us make haste now, Lady Staunton," said David, "for there will be
little peace with them since they hae seen your purse."
They hurried on as fast as they could; but they had not descended the
hill a hundred yards or two before they heard a halloo behind them, and
looking back, saw both the old man and the young one pursuing them with
great speed, the former with a gun on his shoulder. Very fortunately, at
this moment a sportsman, a gamekeeper of the Duke, who was engaged in
stalking deer, appeared on the face of the hill. The bandits stopped on
seeing him, and Lady Staunton hastened to put herself under his
protection. He readily gave them his escort home, and it required his
athletic form and loaded rifle to restore to the lady her usual
confidence and courage.
Donald listened with much gravity to the account of their adventure; and
answered with great composure to David's repeated inquiries, whether he
could have suspected that the cairds had been lurking there,--"Inteed,
Master Tavie, I might hae had some guess that they were there, or
thereabout, though maybe I had nane. But I am aften on the hill; and they
are like wasps--they stang only them that fashes them; sae, for my part,
I make a point not to see them, unless I were ordered out on the preceese
errand by MacCallummore or Knockdunder, whilk is a clean different case."
They reached the Manse late; and Lady Staunton, who had suffered much
both from fright and fatigue, never again permitted her love of the
picturesque to carry her so far among the mountains without a stronger
escort than David, though she acknowledged he had won the stand of
colours by the intrepidity he had displayed, so soon as assured he had to
do with an earthly antagonist. "I couldna maybe hae made muckle o' a
bargain wi' yon lang callant," said David, when thus complimented on his
valour; "but when ye deal wi' thae folk, it's tyne heart tyne a'."
What see you there,
That hath so cowarded and chased your blood
Out of appearance?
Henry the Fifth.
We are under the necessity of returning to Edinburgh, where the General
Assembly was now sitting. It is well known, that some Scottish nobleman
is usually deputed as High Commissioner, to represent the person of the
King in this convocation; that he has allowances for the purpose of
maintaining a certain outward show and solemnity, and supporting the
hospitality of the representative of Majesty. Whoever are distinguished
by rank, or office, in or near the capital, usually attend the morning
levees of the Lord Commissioner, and walk with him in procession to the
place where the Assembly meets.
The nobleman who held this office chanced to be particularly connected
with Sir George Staunton, and it was in his train that he ventured to
tread the High Street of Edinburgh for the first time since the fatal
night of Porteous's execution. Walking at the right hand of the
representative of Sovereignty, covered with lace and embroidery, and with
all the paraphernalia of wealth and rank, the handsome though wasted
figure of the English stranger attracted all eyes. Who could have
recognised in a form so aristocratic the plebeian convict, that,
disguised in the rags of Madge Wildfire, had led the formidable rioters
to their destined revenge? There was no possibility that this could
happen, even if any of his ancient acquaintances, a race of men whose
lives are so brief, had happened to survive the span commonly allotted to
evil-doers. Besides, the whole affair had long fallen asleep, with the
angry passions in which it originated. Nothing is more certain than that
persons known to have had a share in that formidable riot, and to have
fled from Scotland on that account, had made money abroad, returned to
enjoy it in their native country, and lived and died undisturbed by the
* See Arnot's /Criminal Trials,/ 4to ed. p. 235.
The forbearance of the magistrate was, in these instances, wise,
certainly, and just; for what good impression could be made on the public
mind by punishment, when the memory of the offence was obliterated, and
all that was remembered was the recent inoffensive, or perhaps exemplary
conduct of the offender?
Sir George Staunton might, therefore, tread the scene of his former
audacious exploits, free from the apprehension of the law, or even of
discovery or suspicion. But with what feelings his heart that day
throbbed, must be left to those of the reader to imagine. It was an
object of no common interest which had brought him to encounter so many
In consequence of Jeanie's letter to Lady Staunton, transmitting the
confession, he had visited the town of Carlisle, and had found Archdeacon
Fleming still alive, by whom that confession had been received. This
reverend gentleman, whose character stood deservedly very high, he so far
admitted into his confidence, as to own himself the father of the
unfortunate infant which had been spirited away by Madge Wildfire,
representing the intrigue as a matter of juvenile extravagance on his own
part, for which he was now anxious to atone, by tracing, if possible,
what had become of the child. After some recollection of the
circumstances, the clergyman was able to call to memory, that the unhappy
woman had written a letter to George Staunton, Esq., younger, Rectory,
Willingham, by Grantham; that he had forwarded it to the address
accordingly, and that it had been returned, with a note from the Reverend
Mr. Staunton, Rector of Willingham, saying, he knew no such person as him
to whom the letter was addressed. As this had happened just at the time
when George had, for the last time, absconded from his father's house to
carry off Effie, he was at no loss to account for the cause of the
resentment, under the influence of which his father had disowned him.
This was another instance in which his ungovernable temper had occasioned
his misfortune; had he remained at Willingham but a few days longer, he
would have received Margaret Murdockson's letter, in which were exactly
described the person and haunts of the woman, Annaple Bailzou, to whom
she had parted with the infant. It appeared that Meg Murdockson had been
induced to make this confession, less from any feelings of contrition,
than from the desire of obtaining, through George Staunton or his
father's means, protection and support for her daughter Madge. Her letter
to George Staunton said, "That while the writer lived, her daughter would
have needed nought from any body, and that she would never have meddled
in these affairs, except to pay back the ill that George had done to her
and hers. But she was to die, and her daughter would be destitute, and
without reason to guide her. She had lived in the world long enough to
know that people did nothing for nothing;--so she had told George
Staunton all he could wish to know about his wean, in hopes he would not
see the demented young creature he had ruined perish for want. As for her
motives for not telling them sooner, she had a long account to reckon for
in the next world, and she would reckon for that too."
The clergyman said that Meg had died in the same desperate state of mind,
occasionally expressing some regret about the child which was lost, but
oftener sorrow that the mother had not been hanged--her mind at once a
chaos of guilt, rage, and apprehension for her daughter's future safety;
that instinctive feeling of parental anxiety which she had in common with
the she-wolf and lioness, being the last shade of kindly affection that
occupied a breast equally savage.
The melancholy catastrophe of Madge Wildfire was occasioned by her taking
the confusion of her mother's execution, as affording an opportunity of
leaving the workhouse to which the clergyman had sent her, and presenting
herself to the mob in their fury, to perish in the way we have already
seen. When Dr. Fleming found the convict's letter was returned from
Lincolnshire, he wrote to a friend in Edinburgh, to inquire into the fate
of the unfortunate girl whose child had been stolen, and was informed by
his correspondent, that she had been pardoned, and that, with all her
family, she had retired to some distant part of Scotland, or left the
kingdom entirely. And here the matter rested, until, at Sir George
Staunton's application, the clergyman looked out, and produced Margaret
Murdockson's returned letter, and the other memoranda which he had kept
concerning the affair.
Whatever might be Sir George Staunton's feelings in ripping up this
miserable history, and listening to the tragical fate of the unhappy girl
whom he had ruined, he had so much of his ancient wilfulness of
disposition left, as to shut his eyes on everything, save the prospect
which seemed to open itself of recovering his son. It was true, it would
be difficult to produce him, without telling much more of the history of
his birth, and the misfortunes of his parents, than it was prudent to
make known. But let him once be found, and, being found, let him but
prove worthy of his father's protection, and many ways might be fallen
upon to avoid such risk. Sir George Staunton was at liberty to adopt him
as his heir, if he pleased, without communicating the secret of his
birth; or an Act of Parliament might be obtained, declaring him
legitimate, and allowing him the name and arms of his father. He was
indeed already a legitimate child according to the law of Scotland, by
the subsequent marriage of his parents. Wilful in everything, Sir
George's sole desire now was to see this son, even should his recovery
bring with it a new series of misfortunes, as dreadful as those which
followed on his being lost.
But where was the youth who might eventually be called to the honours and
estates of this ancient family? On what heath was he wandering, and
shrouded by what mean disguise? Did he gain his precarious bread by some
petty trade, by menial toil, by violence, or by theft? These were
questions on which Sir George's anxious investigations could obtain no
light. Many remembered that Annaple Bailzou wandered through the country
as a beggar and fortune-teller, or spae-wife--some remembered that she
had been seen with an infant in 1737 or 1738,--but for more than ten
years she had not travelled that district; and that she had been heard to
say she was going to a distant part of Scotland, of which country she was
a native. To Scotland, therefore, came Sir George Staunton, having parted
with his lady at Glasgow; and his arrival at Edinburg happening to
coincide with the sitting of the General Assembly of the Kirk, his
acquaintance with the nobleman who held the office of Lord High
Commissioner forced him more into public than suited either his views or
At the public table of this nobleman, Sir George Staunton was placed next
to a clergyman of respectable appearance, and well-bred, though plain
demeanour, whose name he discovered to be Butler. It had been no part of
Sir George's plan to take his brother-in-law into his confidence, and he
had rejoiced exceedingly in the assurances he received from his wife,
that Mrs. Butler, the very soul of integrity and honour, had never
suffered the account he had given of himself at Willingham Rectory to
transpire, even to her husband. But he was not sorry to have an
opportunity to converse with so near a connection without being known to
him, and to form a judgment of his character and understanding. He saw
much, and heard more, to raise Butler very high in his opinion. He found
he was generally respected by those of his own profession, as well as by
the laity who had seats in the Assembly. He had made several public
appearances in the Assembly, distinguished by good sense, candour, and
ability; and he was followed and admired as a sound, and, at the same
time, an eloquent preacher.
This was all very satisfactory to Sir George Staunton's pride, which had
revolted at the idea of his wife's sister being obscurely married. He now
began, on the contrary, to think the connection so much better than he
expected, that, if it should be necessary to acknowledge it, in
consequence of the recovery of his son, it would sound well enough that
Lady Staunton had a sister, who, in the decayed state of the family, had
married a Scottish clergyman, high in the opinion of his countrymen, and
a leader in the church.
It was with these feelings, that, when the Lord High Commissioner's
company broke up, Sir George Staunton, under pretence of prolonging some
inquiries concerning the constitution of the Church of Scotland,
requested Butler to go home to his lodgings in the Lawnmarket, and drink
a cup of coffee. Butler agreed to wait upon him, providing Sir George
would permit him, in passing, to call at a friend's house where he
resided, and make his apology for not coming to partake her tea. They
proceeded up the High Street, entered the Krames, and passed the
begging-box, placed to remind those at liberty of the distresses of the
poor prisoners. Sir George paused there one instant, and next day a L20
note was found in that receptacle for public charity.
When he came up to Butler again, he found him with his eyes fixed on the
entrance of the Tolbooth, and apparently in deep thought.
"That seems a very strong door," said Sir George, by way of saying
"It is so, sir," said Butler, turning off and beginning to walk forward,
"but it was my misfortune at one time to see it prove greatly too weak."
At this moment, looking at his companion, he asked him whether he felt
himself ill? and Sir George Staunton admitted, that he had been so
foolish as to eat ice, which sometimes disagreed with him. With kind
officiousness, that would not be gainsaid, and ere he could find out
where he was going, Butler hurried Sir George into the friend's house,
near to the prison, in which he himself had lived since he came to town,
being, indeed, no other than that of our old friend Bartoline Saddletree,
in which Lady Staunton had served a short noviciate as a shop-maid. This
recollection rushed on her husband's mind, and the blush of shame which
it excited overpowered the sensation of fear which had produced his
former paleness. Good Mrs. Saddletree, however, bustled about to receive
the rich English baronet as the friend of Mr. Butler, and requested an
elderly female in a black gown to sit still, in a way which seemed to
imply a wish, that she would clear the way for her betters. In the
meanwhile, understanding the state of the case, she ran to get some
cordial waters, sovereign, of course, in all cases of faintishness
whatsoever. During her absence, her visitor, the female in black, made
some progress out of the room, and might have left it altogether without
particular observation, had she not stumbled at the threshold, so near
Sir George Staunton, that he, in point of civility, raised her and
assisted her to the door.
"Mrs. Porteous is turned very doited now, puir body," said Mrs.
Saddletree, as she returned with her bottle in her hand--"She is no sae
auld, but she got a sair back-cast wi' the slaughter o' her husband--Ye
had some trouble about that job, Mr. Butler.--I think, sir," to Sir
George, "ye had better drink out the haill glass, for to my een ye look
waur than when ye came in."
And, indeed, he grew as pale as a corpse, on recollecting who it was that
his arm had so lately supported--the widow whom he had so large a share
in making such.
"It is a prescribed job that case of Porteous now," said old Saddletree,
who was confined to his chair by the gout--"clean prescribed and out of
"I am not clear of that, neighbour," said Plumdamas, "for I have heard
them say twenty years should rin, and this is but the fifty-ane--
Porteous's mob was in thretty-seven."
"Ye'll no teach me law, I think, neighbour--me that has four gaun pleas,
and might hae had fourteen, an it hadna been the gudewife? I tell ye, if
the foremost of the Porteous mob were standing there where that gentleman
stands, the King's Advocate wadna meddle wi' him--it fa's under the
"Haud your din, carles," said Mrs. Saddletree, "and let the gentleman sit
down and get a dish of comfortable tea."
But Sir George had had quite enough of their conversation; and Butler, at
his request, made an apology to Mrs. Saddletree, and accompanied him to
his lodgings. Here they found another guest waiting Sir George Staunton's
return. This was no other than our reader's old acquaintance, Ratcliffe.
This man had exercised the office of turnkey with so much vigilance,
acuteness, and fidelity, that he gradually rose to be governor, or
captain of the Tolbooth. And it is yet to be remembered in tradition,
that young men, who rather sought amusing than select society in their
merry-meetings, used sometimes to request Ratcliffe's company, in order
that he might regale them with legends of his extraordinary feats in the
way of robbery and escape.*
* There seems an anachronism in the history of this person. Ratcliffe,
among other escapes from justice, was released by the Porteous mob when
under sentence of death; and he was again under the same predicament,
when the Highlanders made a similar jail-delivery in 1745. He was too
sincere a whig to embrace liberation at the hands of the Jacobites, and
in reward was made one of the keepers of the Tolbooth. So at least runs
But he lived and died without resuming his original vocation, otherwise
than in his narratives over a bottle.
Under these circumstances, he had been recommended to Sir George Staunton
by a man of the law in Edinburgh, as a person likely to answer any
questions he might have to ask about Annaple Bailzou, who, according to
the colour which Sir George Staunton gave to his cause of inquiry, was
supposed to have stolen a child in the west of England, belonging to a
family in which he was interested. The gentleman had not mentioned his
name, but only his official title; so that Sir George Staunton, when told
that the captain of the Tolbooth was waiting for him in his parlour, had
no idea of meeting his former acquaintance, Jem Ratcliffe.
This, therefore, was another new and most unpleasant surprise, for he had
no difficulty in recollecting this man's remarkable features. The change,
however, from George Robertson to Sir George Staunton, baffled even the
penetration of Ratcliffe, and he bowed very low to the baronet and his
guest, hoping Mr. Butler would excuse his recollecting that he was an old
"And once rendered my wife a piece of great service," said Mr. Butler,
"for which she sent you a token of grateful acknowledgment, which I hope
came safe and was welcome."
"Deil a doubt on't," said Ratcliffe, with a knowing nod; "but ye are
muckle changed for the better since I saw ye, Maister Butler."
"So much so, that I wonder you knew me."
"Aha, then!--Deil a face I see I ever forget," said Ratcliffe while Sir
George Staunton, tied to the stake, and incapable of escaping, internally
cursed the accuracy of his memory. "And yet, sometimes," continued
Ratcliffe, "the sharpest hand will be ta'en in. There is a face in this
very room, if I might presume to be sae bauld, that, if I didna ken the
honourable person it belangs to, I might think it had some cut of an auld
"I should not be much flattered," answered the Baronet, sternly, and
roused by the risk in which he saw himself placed, "if it is to me you
mean to apply that compliment."
"By no manner of means, sir," said Ratcliffe, bowing very low; "I am come
to receive your honour's commands, and no to trouble your honour wi' my
"Well, sir," said Sir George, "I am told you understand police matters--
So do I.--To convince you of which, here are ten guineas of retaining
fee--I make them fifty when you can find me certain notice of a person,
living or dead, whom you will find described in that paper. I shall leave
town presently--you may send your written answer to me to the care of Mr.
" (naming his highly respectable agent), "or of his Grace the Lord High
Commissioner." Rateliffe bowed and withdrew.
"I have angered the proud peat now," he said to himself, "by finding out
a likeness; but if George Robertson's father had lived within a mile of
his mother, d--n me if I should not know what to think, for as high as he
carries his head."
When he was left alone with Butler, Sir George Staunton ordered tea and
coffee, which were brought by his valet, and then, after considering with
himself for a minute, asked his guest whether he had lately heard from
his wife and family. Butler, with some surprise at the question, replied,
"that he had received no letter for some time; his wife was a poor
"Then," said Sir George Staunton, "I am the first to inform you there has
been an invasion of your quiet premises since you left home. My wife,
whom the Duke of Argyle had the goodness to permit to use Roseneath
Lodge, while she was spending some weeks in your country, has sallied
across and taken up her quarters in the Manse, as she says, to be nearer
the goats, whose milk she is using; but, I believe, in reality, because
she prefers Mrs. Butler's company to that of the respectable gentleman
who acts as seneschal on the Duke's domains."
Mr. Butler said, "He had often heard the late Duke and the present speak
with high respect of Lady Staunton, and was happy if his house could
accommodate any friend of theirs--it would be but a very slight
acknowledgment of the many favours he owed them."
"That does not make Lady Staunton and myself the less obliged to your
hospitality, sir," said Sir George. "May I inquire if you think of
returning home soon?"
"In the course of two days," Mr. Butler answered, "his duty in the
Assembly would be ended; and the other matters he had in town being all
finished, he was desirous of returning to Dumbartonshire as soon as he
could; but he was under the necessity of transporting a considerable sum
in bills and money with him, and therefore wished to travel in company
with one or two of his brethren of the clergy."
"My escort will be more safe," said Sir George Staunton, "and I think of
setting off to-morrow or next day. If you will give me the pleasure of
your company, I will undertake to deliver you and your charge safe at the
Manse, provided you will admit me along with you."
Mr. Butler gratefully accepted of this proposal; the appointment was made
accordingly, and, by despatches with one of Sir George's servants, who
was sent forward for the purpose, the inhabitants of the manse of
Knocktarlitie were made acquainted with the intended journey; and the
news rung through the whole vicinity, "that the minister was coming back
wi' a braw English gentleman and a' the siller that was to pay for the
estate of Craigsture."
This sudden resolution of going to Knocktarlitie had been adopted by Sir
George Staunton in consequence of the incidents of the evening. In spite
of his present consequence, he felt he had presumed too far in venturing
so near the scene of his former audacious acts of violence, and he knew
too well, from past experience, the acuteness of a man like Ratcliffe,
again to encounter him. The next two days he kept his lodgings, under
pretence of indisposition, and took leave by writing of his noble friend
the High Commissioner, alleging the opportunity of Mr. Butler's company
as a reason for leaving Edinburgh sooner than he had proposed. He had a
long conference with his agent on the subject of Annaple Bailzou; and the
professional gentleman, who was the agent also of the Argyle family, had
directions to collect all the information which Ratcliffe or others might
be able to obtain concerning the fate of that woman and the unfortunate
child, and so soon as anything transpired which had the least appearance
of being important, that he should send an express with it instantly to
Knocktarlitie. These instructions were backed with a deposit of money,
and a request that no expense might be spared; so that Sir George
Staunton had little reason to apprehend negligence on the part of the
persons intrusted with the commission.
The journey, which the brothers made in company, was attended with more
pleasure, even to Sir George Staunton, than he had ventured to expect.
His heart lightened in spite of himself when they lost sight of
Edinburgh; and the easy, sensible conversation of Butler was well
calculated to withdraw his thoughts from painful reflections. He even
began to think whether there could be much difficulty in removing his
wife's connections to the rectory of Willingham; it was only on his part
procuring some still better preferment for the present incumbent, and on
Butler's, that he should take orders according to the English Church, to
which he could not conceive a possibility of his making objection, and
then he had them residing under his wing. No doubt there was pain in
seeing Mrs. Butler, acquainted, as he knew her to be, with the full truth
of his evil history; but then her silence, though he had no reason to
complain of her indiscretion hitherto, was still more absolutely ensured.
It would keep his lady, also, both in good temper and in more subjection;
for she was sometimes troublesome to him by insisting on remaining in
town when he desired to retire to the country, alleging the total want of
society at Willingham. "Madam, your sister is there," would, he thought,
be a sufficient answer to this ready argument.
He sounded Butler on this subject, asking what he would think of an
English living of twelve hundred pounds yearly, with the burden of
affording his company now and then to a neighbour, whose health was not
strong or his spirits equal. "He might meet," he said, "occasionally, a
very learned and accomplished gentleman, who was in orders as a Catholic
priest, but he hoped that would be no insurmountable objection to a man
of his liberality of sentiment. What," he said, "would Mr. Butler think
of as an answer, if the offer should be made to him?"
"Simply that I could not accept of it," said Mr. Butler. "I have no mind
to enter into the various debates between the churches; but I was brought
up in mine own, have received her ordination, am satisfied of the truth
of her doctrines, and will die under the banner I have enlisted to."
"What may be the value of your preferment?" said Sir George Staunton,
"unless I am asking an indiscreet question."
"Probably one hundred a-year, one year with another, besides my glebe and
"And you scruple to exchange that for twelve hundred a-year, without
alleging any damning difference of doctrine betwixt the two churches of
England and Scotland?"
"On that, sir, I have reserved my judgment; there may be much good, and
there are certainly saving means in both; but every man must act
according to his own lights. I hope I have done, and am in the course of
doing, my Master's work in this Highland parish; and it would ill become
me, for the sake of lucre, to leave my sheep in the wilderness. But, even
in the temporal view which you have taken of the matter, Sir George, this
hundred pounds a-year of stipend hath fed and clothed us, and left us
nothing to wish for; my father-in-law's succession, and other
circumstances, have added a small estate of about twice as much more, and
how we are to dispose of it I do not know--So I leave it to you, sir, to
think if I were wise, not having the wish or opportunity of spending
three hundred a-year, to covet the possession of four times that sum."
"This is philosophy," said Sir George; "I have heard of it, but I never
saw it before."
"It is common sense," replied Butler, "which accords with philosophy and
religion more frequently than pedants or zealots are apt to admit."
Sir George turned the subject, and did not again resume it. Although they
travelled in Sir George's chariot, he seemed so much fatigued with the
motion, that it was necessary for him to remain for a day at a small town
called Mid-Calder, which was their first stage from Edinburgh. Glasgow
occupied another day, so slow were their motions.
They travelled on to Dumbarton, where they had resolved to leave the
equipage and to hire a boat to take them to the shores near the manse, as
the Gare-Loch lay betwixt them and that point, besides the impossibility
of travelling in that district with wheel-carriages. Sir George's valet,
a man of trust, accompanied them, as also a footman; the grooms were left
with the carriage. Just as this arrangement was completed, which was
about four o'clock in the afternoon, an express arrived from Sir George's
agent in Edinburgh, with a packet, which he opened and read with great
attention, appearing much interested and agitated by the contents. The
packet had been despatched very soon after their leaving Edinburgh, but
the messenger had missed the travellers by passing through Mid-Calder in
the night, and overshot his errand by getting to Roseneath before them.
He was now on his return, after having waited more than four-and-twenty
hours. Sir George Staunton instantly wrote back an answer, and rewarding
the messenger liberally, desired him not to sleep till he placed it in
his agent's hands.
At length they embarked in the boat, which had waited for them some time.
During their voyage, which was slow, for they were obliged to row the
whole way, and often against the tide, Sir George Staunton's inquiries
ran chiefly on the subject of the Highland banditti who had infested that
country since the year 1745. Butler informed him that many of them were
not native Highlanders, but gipsies, tinkers, and other men of desperate
fortunes, who had taken advantage of the confusion introduced by the
civil war, the general discontent of the mountaineers, and the unsettled
state of police, to practise their plundering trade with more audacity.
Sir George next inquired into their lives, their habits, whether the
violences which they committed were not sometimes atoned for by acts of
generosity, and whether they did not possess the virtues as well as the
vices of savage tribes?
Butler answered, that certainly they did sometimes show sparks of
generosity, of which even the worst class of malefactors are seldom
utterly divested; but that their evil propensities were certain and
regular principles of action, while any occasional burst of virtuous
feeling was only a transient impulse not to be reckoned upon, and excited
probably by some singular and unusual concatenation of circumstances. In
discussing these inquiries, which Sir George pursued with an apparent
eagerness that rather surprised Butler, the latter chanced to mention the
name of Donacha dhu na Dunaigh, with which the reader is already
acquainted. Sir George caught the sound up eagerly, and as if it conveyed
particular interest to his ear. He made the most minute inquiries
concerning the man whom he mentioned, the number of his gang, and even
the appearance of those who belonged to it. Upon these points Butler
could give little answer. The man had a name among the lower class, but
his exploits were considerably exaggerated; he had always one or two
fellows with him, but never aspired to the command of above three or
four. In short, he knew little about him, and the small acquaintance he
had had by no means inclined him to desire more.
"Nevertheless, I should like to see him some of these days."
"That would be a dangerous meeting, Sir George, unless you mean we are to
see him receive his deserts from the law, and then it were a melancholy
"Use every man according to his deserts, Mr. Butler, and who shall escape
whipping? But I am talking riddles to you. I will explain them more fully
to you when I have spoken over the subject with Lady Staunton.--Pull
away, my lads," he added, addressing himself to the rowers; "the clouds
threaten us with a storm."
In fact, the dead and heavy closeness of the air, the huge piles of
clouds which assembled in the western horizon, and glowed like a furnace
under the influence of the setting sun--that awful stillness in which
nature seems to expect the thunder-burst, as a condemned soldier waits
for the platoon fire which is to stretch him on the earth, all betokened
a speedy storm. Large broad drops fell from time to time, and induced the
gentlemen to assume the boat-cloaks; but the rain again ceased, and the
oppressive heat, so unusual in Scotland in the end of May, inclined them
to throw them aside. "There is something solemn in this delay of the
storm," said Sir George; "it seems as if it suspended its peal till it
solemnised some important event in the world below."
"Alas!" replied Butler, "what are we that the laws of nature should
correspond in their march with our ephemeral deeds or sufferings! The
clouds will burst when surcharged with the electric fluid, whether a goat
is falling at that instant from the cliffs of Arran, or a hero expiring
on the field of battle he has won."
"The mind delights to deem it otherwise," said Sir George Staunton; "and
to dwell on the fate of humanity as on that which is the prime central
movement of the mighty machine. We love not to think that we shall mix
with the ages that have gone before us, as these broad black raindrops
mingle with the waste of waters, making a trifling and momentary eddy,
and are then lost for ever."
"/For ever!/--we are not--we cannot be lost for ever," said Butler,
looking upward; "death is to us change, not consummation; and the
commencement of a new existence, corresponding in character to the deeds
which we have done in the body."
While they agitated these grave subjects, to which the solemnity of the
approaching storm naturally led them, their voyage threatened to be more
tedious than they expected, for gusts of wind, which rose and fell with
sudden impetuosity, swept the bosom of the firth, and impeded the efforts
of the rowers. They had now only to double a small headland, in order to
get to the proper landing-place in the mouth of the little river; but in
the state of the weather, and the boat being heavy, this was like to be a
work of time, and in the meanwhile they must necessarily be exposed to
"Could we not land on this side of the headland," asked Sir George, "and
so gain some shelter?"
Butler knew of no landing-place, at least none affording a convenient or
even practicable passage up the rocks which surrounded the shore.
"Think again," said Sir George Staunton; "the storm will soon be
"Hout, ay," said one of the boatmen, "there's the Caird's Cove; but we
dinna tell the minister about it, and I am no sure if I can steer the
boat to it, the bay is sae fa' o' shoals and sunk rocks."
"Try," said Sir George, "and I will give you half-a-guinea."
The old fellow took the helm, and observed, "That, if they could get in,
there was a steep path up from the beach, and half-an-hour's walk from
thence to the Manse."
"Are you sure you know the way?" said Butler to the old man.
"I maybe kend it a wee better fifteen years syne, when Dandie Wilson was
in the firth wi' his clean-ganging lugger. I mind Dandie had a wild young
Englisher wi' him, that they ca'd"
"If you chatter so much," said Sir George Staunton, "you will have the
boat on the Grindstone--bring that white rock in a line with the
"By G--," said the veteran, staring, "I think your honour kens the bay as
weel as me.--Your honour's nose has been on the Grindstone ere now, I'm
As they spoke thus, they approached the little cove, which, concealed
behind crags, and defended on every point by shallows and sunken rocks,
could scarce be discovered or approached, except by those intimate with
the navigation. An old shattered boat was already drawn up on the beach
within the cove, close beneath the trees, and with precautions for
Upon observing this vessel, Butler remarked to his companion, "It is
impossible for you to conceive, Sir George, the difficulty I have had
with my poor people, in teaching them the guilt and the danger of this
contraband trade--yet they have perpetually before their eyes all its
dangerous consequences. I do not know anything that more effectually
depraves and ruins their moral and religious principles."
Sir George forced himself to say something in a low voice about the
spirit of adventure natural to youth, and that unquestionably many would
become wiser as they grew older.
"Too seldom, sir," replied Butler. "If they have been deeply engaged, and
especially if they, have mingled in the scenes of violence and blood to
which their occupation naturally leads, I have observed, that, sooner or
later, they come to an evil end. Experience, as well as Scripture,
teaches us, Sir George, that mischief shall hunt the violent man, and
that the bloodthirsty man shall not live half his days--But take my arm
to help you ashore."
Sir George needed assistance, for he was contrasting in his altered
thought the different feelings of mind and frame with which he had
formerly frequented the same place. As they landed, a low growl of
thunder was heard at a distance.
"That is ominous, Mr. Butler," said Sir George.
"/Intonuit laevum/--it is ominous of good, then," answered Butler,
The boatmen were ordered to make the best of their way round the headland
to the ordinary landing-place; the two gentlemen, followed by their
servant, sought their way by a blind and tangled path, through a close
copsewood, to the Manse of Knocktarlitie, where their arrival was
The sisters in vain had expected their husbands' return on the preceding
day, which was that appointed by Sir George's letter. The delay of the
travellers at Calder had occasioned this breach of appointment. The
inhabitants of the Manse began even to doubt whether they would arrive on
the present day. Lady Staunton felt this hope of delay as a brief
reprieve, for she dreaded the pangs which her husband's pride must
undergo at meeting with a sister-in-law, to whom the whole of his unhappy
and dishonourable history was too well known. She knew, whatever force or
constraint he might put upon his feelings in public, that she herself
must be doomed to see them display themselves in full vehemence in
secret,--consume his health, destroy his temper, and render him at once
an object of dread and compassion. Again and again she cautioned Jeanie
to display no tokens of recognition, but to receive him as a perfect
stranger,--and again and again Jeanie renewed her promise to comply with
Jeanie herself could not fail to bestow an anxious thought on the
awkwardness of the approaching meeting; but her conscience was ungalled--
and then she was cumbered with many household cares of an unusual nature,
which, joined to the anxious wish once more to see Butler, after an
absence of unusual length, made her extremely desirous that the
travellers should arrive as soon as possible. And--why should I disguise
the truth?--ever and anon a thought stole across her mind that her gala
dinner had now been postponed for two days; and how few of the dishes,
after every art of her simple cuisine had been exerted to dress them,
could with any credit or propriety appear again upon the third; and what
was she to do with the rest?--Upon this last subject she was saved the
trouble of farther deliberation, by the sudden appearance of the Captain
at the head of half-a-dozen stout fellows, dressed and armed in the
"Goot-morrow morning to ye, Leddy Staunton, and I hope I hae the pleasure
to see you weel--And goot-morrow to you, goot Mrs. Putler--I do peg you
will order some victuals and ale and prandy for the lads, for we hae peen
out on firth and moor since afore daylight, and a' to no purpose neither
So saying, he sate down, pushed back his brigadier wig, and wiped his
head with an air of easy importance; totally regardless of the look of
well-bred astonishment by which Lady Staunton endeavoured to make him
comprehend that he was assuming too great a liberty.
"It is some comfort, when one has had a sair tussel," continued the
Captain, addressing Lady Staunton, with an air of gallantry, "that it is
in a fair leddy's service, or in the service of a gentleman whilk has a
fair leddy, whilk is the same thing, since serving the husband is serving
the wife, as Mrs. Putler does very weel know."
"Really, sir," said Lady Staunton, "as you seem to intend this compliment
for me, I am at a loss to know what interest Sir George or I can have in
your movements this morning."
"O, Cot tam!--this is too cruel, my leddy--as if it was not py special
express from his Grace's honourable agent and commissioner at Edinburgh,
with a warrant conform, that I was to seek for and apprehend Donacha dhu
na Dunaigh, and pring him pefore myself and Sir George Staunton, that he
may have his deserts, that is to say, the gallows, whilk he has doubtless
deserved, py peing the means of frightening your leddyship, as weel as
for something of less importance."
"Frightening me!" said her ladyship; "why, I never wrote to Sir George
about my alarm at the waterfall."
"Then he must have heard it otherwise; for what else can give him sic an
earnest tesire to see this rapscallion, that I maun ripe the haill mosses
and muirs in the country for him, as if I were to get something for
finding him, when the pest o't might pe a pall through my prains?"
"Can it be really true, that it is on Sir George's account that you have
been attempting to apprehend this fellow?"
"Py Cot, it is for no other cause that I know than his honour's pleasure;
for the creature might hae gone on in a decent quiet way for me, sae lang
as he respectit the Duke's pounds--put reason goot he suld be taen, and
hangit to poet, if it may pleasure ony honourable shentleman that is the
Duke's friend--Sae I got the express over night, and I caused warn half a
score of pretty lads, and was up in the morning pefore the sun, and I
garr'd the lads take their kilts and short coats."
"I wonder you did that, Captain," said Mrs. Butler, "when you know the
act of Parliament against wearing the Highland dress."
"Hout, tout, ne'er fash your thumb, Mrs. Putler. The law is put twa-three
years auld yet, and is ower young to hae come our length; and pesides,
how is the lads to climb the praes wi' thae tamn'd breekens on them? It
makes me sick to see them. Put ony how, I thought I kend Donacha's haunt
gey and weel, and I was at the place where he had rested yestreen; for I
saw the leaves the limmers had lain on, and the ashes of them; by the
same token, there was a pit greeshoch purning yet. I am thinking they got
some word oat o' the island what was intended--I sought every glen and
clench, as if I had been deer-stalking, but teil a want of his coat-tail
could I see--Cot tam!"
"He'll be away down the Firth to Cowal," said David; and Reuben, who had
been out early that morning a-nutting, observed, "That he had seen a boat
making for the Caird's Cove;" a place well known to the boys, though
their less adventurous father was ignorant of its existence.
"Py Cot," said Duncan, "then I will stay here no longer than to trink
this very horn of prandy and water, for it's very possible they will pe
in the wood. Donacha's a clever fellow, and maype thinks it pest to sit
next the chimley when the lum reeks. He thought naebody would look for
him sae near hand! I peg your leddyship will excuse my aprupt departure,
as I will return forthwith, and I will either pring you Donacha in life,
or else his head, whilk I dare to say will be as satisfactory. And I hope
to pass a pleasant evening with your leddyship; and I hope to have mine
revenges on Mr. Putler at backgammon, for the four pennies whilk he won,
for he will pe surely at home soon, or else he will have a wet journey,
seeing it is apout to pe a scud."
Thus saying, with many scrapes and bows, and apologies for leaving them,
which were very readily received, and reiterated assurances of his speedy
return (of the sincerity whereof Mrs. Butler entertained no doubt, so
long as her best greybeard of brandy was upon duty), Duncan left the
Manse, collected his followers, and began to scour the close and
entangled wood which lay between the little glen and the Caird's Cove.
David, who was a favourite with the Captain, on account of his spirit and
courage, took the opportunity of escaping, to attend the investigations
of that great man.
I did send for thee,
That Talbot's name might be in thee revived,
When sapless age and weak, unable limbs,
Should bring thy father to his drooping chair.
But--O malignant and ill-boding stars!--
First part of Henry the Sixth.
Duncan and his party had not proceeded very far in the direction of the
Caird's Cove before they heard a shot, which was quickly followed by one
or two others. "Some tamn'd villains among the roe-deer," said Duncan;
"look sharp out, lads."
The clash of swords was next heard, and Duncan and his myrmidons,
hastening to the spot, found Butler and Sir George Staunton's servant in
the hands of four ruffians. Sir George himself lay stretched on the
ground, with his drawn sword in his hand. Duncan, who was as brave as a
lion, instantly fired his pistol at the leader of the band, unsheathed
his sword, cried out to his men, /Claymore!/ and run his weapon through
the body of the fellow whom he had previously wounded, who was no other
thau Donacha dhu na Dunaigh himself. The other banditti were speedily
overpowered, excepting one young lad, who made wonderful resistance for
his years, and was at length secured with difficulty.
Butler, so soon as he was liberated from the ruffians, ran to raise Sir
George Staunton, but life had wholly left him.
"A creat misfortune," said Duncan; "I think it will pe pest that I go
forward to intimate it to the coot lady.--Tavie, my dear, you hae smelled
pouther for the first time this day--take my sword and hack off Donacha's
head, whilk will pe coot practice for you against the time you may wish
to do the same kindness to a living shentleman--or hould! as your father
does not approve, you may leave it alone, as he will pe a greater object
of satisfaction to Leddy Staunton to see him entire; and I hope she will
do me the credit to pelieve that I can afenge a shentleman's plood fery
speedily and well."
Such was the observation of a man too much accustomed to the ancient
state of manners in the Highlands, to look upon the issue of such a
skirmish as anything worthy of wonder or emotion.
We will not attempt to describe the very contrary effect which the
unexpected disaster produced upon Lady Staunton, when the bloody corpse
of her husband was brought to the house, where she expected to meet him
alive and well. All was forgotten, but that he was the lover of her
youth; and whatever were his faults to the world, that he had towards her
exhibited only those that arose from the inequality of spirits and
temper, incident to a situation of unparalleled difficulty. In the
vivacity of her grief she gave way to all the natural irritability of her
temper; shriek followed shriek, and swoon succeeded to swoon. It required
all Jeanie's watchful affection to prevent her from making known, in
these paroxysms of affliction, much which it was of the highest
importance that she should keep secret.
At length silence and exhaustion succeeded to frenzy, and Jeanie stole
out to take counsel with her husband, and to exhort him to anticipate the
Captain's interference, by taking possession, in Lady Staunton's name, of
the private papers of her deceased husband. To the utter astonishment of
Butler, she now, for the first time, explained the relation betwixt
herself and Lady Staunton, which authorised, nay, demanded, that he
should prevent any stranger from being unnecessarily made acquainted with
her family affairs. It was in such a crisis that Jeanie's active and
undaunted habits of virtuous exertion were most conspicuous. While the
Captain's attention was still engaged by a prolonged refreshment, and a
very tedious examination, in Gaelic and English, of all the prisoners,
and every other witness of the fatal transaction, she had the body of her
brother-in-law undressed and properly disposed. It then appeared, from
the crucifix, the beads, and the shirt of hair which he wore next his
person, that his sense of guilt had induced him to receive the dogmata of
a religion, which pretends, by the maceration of the body, to expiate the
crimes of the soul. In the packet of papers which the express had brought
to Sir George Staunton from Edinburgh, and which Butler, authorised by
his connection with the deceased, did not scruple to examine, he found
new and astonishing intelligence, which gave him reason to thank God he
had taken that measure.
Ratcliffe, to whom all sorts of misdeeds and misdoers were familiar,
instigated by the promised reward, soon found himself in a condition to
trace the infant of these unhappy parents. The woman to whom Meg
Murdockson had sold that most unfortunate child, had made it the
companion of her wanderings and her beggary, until he was about seven or
eight years old, when, as Ratcliffe learned from a companion of hers,
then in the Correction House of Edinburgh, she sold him in her turn to
Donacha dhu na Dunaigh. This man, to whom no act of mischief was unknown,
was occasionally an agent in a horrible trade then carried on betwixt
Scotland and America, for supplying the plantations with servants, by
means of /kidnapping,/ as it was termed, both men and women, but
especially children under age. Here Ratcliffe lost sight of the boy, but
had no doubt but Donacha Dhu could give an account of him. The gentleman
of the law, so often mentioned, despatched therefore an express, with a
letter to Sir George Staunton, and another covering a warrant for
apprehension of Donacha, with instructions to the Captain of Knockdunder
to exert his utmost energy for that purpose.
Possessed of this information, and with a mind agitated by the most
gloomy apprehensions, Butler now joined the Captain, and obtained from
him with some difficulty a sight of the examinations. These, with a few
questions to the elder of the prisoners, soon confirmed the most dreadful
of Butler's anticipations. We give the heads of the information, without
descending into minute details.
Donacha Dhu had indeed purchased Effie's unhappy child, with the purpose
of selling it to the American traders, whom he had been in the habit of
supplying with human flesh. But no opportunity occurred for some time;
and the boy, who was known by the name of "The Whistler," made some
impression on the heart and affections even of this rude savage, perhaps
because he saw in him flashes of a spirit as fierce and vindictive as his
own. When Donacha struck or threatened him--a very common occurrence--he
did not answer with complaints and entreaties like other children, but
with oaths and efforts at revenge--he had all the wild merit, too, by
which Woggarwolfe's arrow-bearing page won the hard heart of his master:
Like a wild cub, rear'd at the ruffian's feet,
He could say biting jests, bold ditties sing,
And quaff his foaming bumper at the board,
With all the mockery of a little man.*
In short, as Donacha Dhu said, the Whistler was a born imp of Satan, and
/therefore/ he should never leave him. Accordingly, from his eleventh
year forward, he was one of the band, and often engaged in acts of
violence. The last of these was more immediately occasioned by the
researches which the Whistler's real father made after him whom he had
been taught to consider as such. Donacha Dhu's fears had been for some
time excited by the strength of the means which began now to be employed
against persons of his description. He was sensible he existed only by
the precarious indulgence of his namesake, Duncan of Knockdunder, who was
used to boast that he could put him down or string him up when he had a
mind. He resolved to leave the kingdom by means of one of those sloops
which were engaged in the traffic of his old kidnapping friends, and
which was about to sail for America; but he was desirous first to strike
a bold stroke.
The ruffian's cupidity was excited by the intelligence, that a wealthy
Englishman was coming to the Manse--he had neither forgotten the
Whistler's report of the gold he had seen in Lady Staunton's purse, nor
his old vow of revenge against the minister; and, to bring the whole to a
point, he conceived the hope of appropriating the money, which, according
to the general report of the country, the minister was to bring from
Edinburgh to pay for his pew purchase. While he was considering how he
might best accomplish his purpose, he received the intelligence from one
quarter, that the vessel in which he proposed to sail was to sail
immediately from Greenock; from another, that the minister and a rich
English lord, with a great many thousand pounds, were expected the next
evening at the Manse; and from a third, that he must consult his safety
by leaving his ordinary haunts as soon as possible, for that the Captain
had ordered out a party to scour the glens for him at break of day.
Donacha laid his plans with promptitude and decision. He embarked with
the Whistler and two others of his band (whom, by the by, he meant to
sell to the kidnappers), and set sail for the Caird's Cove. He intended
to lurk till nightfall in the wood adjoining to this place, which he
thought was too near the habitation of men to excite the suspicion of
Duncan Knock, then break into Butler's peaceful habitation, and flesh at
once his appetite for plunder and revenge. When his villany was
accomplished, his boat was to convey him to the vessel, which, according
to previous agreement with the master, was instantly to set sail.
This desperate design would probably have succeeded, but for the ruffians
being discovered in their lurking-place by Sir George Staunton and
Butler, in their accidental walk from the Caird's Cove towards the Manse.
Finding himself detected, and at the same time observing that the servant
carried a casket, or strong-box, Donacha conceived that both his prize
and his victims were within his power, and attacked the travellers
without hesitation. Shots were fired and swords drawn on both sides; Sir
George Staunton offered the bravest resistance till he fell, as there was
too much reason to believe, by the hand of a son, so long sought, and now
at length so unhappily met.
While Butler was half-stunned with this intelligence, the hoarse voice of
Knockdunder added to his consternation.
"I will take the liperty to take down the pell-ropes, Mr. Putler, as I
must pe taking order to hang these idle people up to-morrow morning, to
teach them more consideration in their doings in future."
Butler entreated him to remember the act abolishing the heritable
jurisdictions, and that he ought to send them to Glasgow or Inverary, to
be tried by the Circuit. Duncan scorned the proposal.
"The Jurisdiction Act," he said, "had nothing to do put with the rebels,
and specially not with Argyle's country; and he would hang the men up all
three in one row before coot Leddy Staunton's windows, which would be a
great comfort to her in the morning to see that the coot gentleman, her
husband, had been suitably afenged."
And the utmost length that Butler's most earnest entreaties could prevail
was, that he would, reserve "the twa pig carles for the Circuit, but as
for him they ca'd the Fustler, he should try how he could fustle in a
swinging tow, for it suldna be said that a shentleman, friend to the
Duke, was killed in his country, and his people didna take at least twa
lives for ane."
Butler entreated him to spare the victim for his soul's sake. But
Knockdunder answered, "that the soul of such a scum had been long the
tefil's property, and that, Cot tam! he was determined to gif the tefil
All persuasion was in vain, and Duncan issued his mandate for execution
on the succeeding morning. The child of guilt and misery was separated
from his companions, strongly pinioned, and committed to a separate room,
of which the Captain kept the key.
In the silence of the night, however, Mrs. Butler arose, resolved, if
possible, to avert, at least to delay, the fate which hung over her
nephew, especially if, upon conversing with him, she should see any hope
of his being brought to better temper. She had a master-key that opened
every lock in the house; and at midnight, when all was still, she stood
before the eyes of the astonished young savage, as, hard bound with
cords, he lay, like a sheep designed for slaughter, upon a quantity of
the refuse of flax which filled a corner in the apartment. Amid features
sunburnt, tawny, grimed with dirt, and obscured by his shaggy hair of a
rusted black colour, Jeanie tried in vain to trace the likeness of either
of his very handsome parents. Yet how could she refuse compassion to a
creature so young and so wretched,--so much more wretched than even he
himself could be aware of, since the murder he had too probably committed
with his own hand, but in which he had at any rate participated, was in
fact a parricide? She placed food on a table near him, raised him, and
slacked the cords on his arms, so as to permit him to feed himself. He
stretched out his hands, still smeared with blood perhaps that of his
father, and he ate voraciously and in silence.
"What is your first name?" said Jeanie, by way of opening the
"But your Christian name, by which you were baptized?"
"I never was baptized that I know of--I have no other name than the
"Poor unhappy abandoned lad!" said Jeanie. "What would ye do if you could
escape from this place, and the death you are to die to-morrow morning?"
"Join wi' Rob Roy, or wi' Sergeant More Cameron" (noted freebooters at
that time), "and revenge Donacha's death on all and sundry."
"O ye unhappy boy," said Jeanie, "do ye ken what will come o' ye when ye
"I shall neither feel cauld nor hunger more," said the youth doggedly.
"To let him be execute in this dreadful state of mind would be to destroy
baith body and soul--and to let him gang I dare not--what will be done?--
But he is my sister's son--my own nephew--our flesh and blood--and his
hands and feet are yerked as tight as cords can be drawn.--Whistler, do
the cords hurt you?"
"But, if I were to slacken them, you would harm me?"
"No, I would not--you never harmed me or mine."
There may be good in him yet, thought Jeanie; I will try fair play with
She cut his bonds--he stood upright, looked round with a laugh of wild
exultation, clapped his hands together, and sprung from the ground, as if
in transport on finding himself at liberty. He looked so wild, that
Jeanie trembled at what she had done.
"Let me out," said the young savage.
"I wunna, unless you promise"
"Then I'll make you glad to let us both out."
He seized the lighted candle and threw it among the flax, which was
instantly in a flame. Jeanie screamed, and ran out of the room; the
prisoner rushed past her, threw open a window in the passage, jumped into
the garden, sprung over its enclosure, bounded through the woods like a
deer, and gained the seashore. Meantime, the fire was extinguished, but
the prisoner was sought in vain. As Jeanie kept her own secret, the share
she had in his escape was not discovered: but they learned his fate some
time afterwards--it was as wild as his life had hitherto been.
The anxious inquiries of Butler at length learned, that the youth had
gained the ship in which his master, Donacha, had designed to embark. But
the avaricious shipmaster, inured by his evil trade to every species of
treachery, and disappointed of the rich booty which Donacha had proposed
to bring aboard, secured the person of the fugitive, and having
transported him to America, sold him as a slave, or indented servant, to
a Virginian planter, far up the country. When these tidings reached
Butler, he sent over to America a sufficient sum to redeem the lad from
slavery, with instructions that measures should be taken for improving
his mind, restraining his evil propensities, and encouraging whatever
good might appear in his character. But this aid came too late. The young
man had headed a conspiracy in which his inhuman master was put to death,
and had then fled to the next tribe of wild Indians. He was never more
heard of; and it may therefore be presumed that he lived and died after
the manner of that savage people, with whom his previous habits had well
fitted him to associate.
All hopes of the young man's reformation being now ended, Mr. and Mrs.
Butler thought it could serve no purpose to explain to Lady Staunton a
history so full of horror. She remained their guest more than a year,
during the greater part of which period her grief was excessive. In the
latter months, it assumed the appearance of listlessness and low spirits,
which the monotony of her sister's quiet establishment afforded no means
of dissipating. Effie, from her earliest youth, was never formed for a
quiet low content. Far different from her sister, she required the
dissipation of society to divert her sorrow, or enhance her joy. She left
the seclusion of Knocktarlitie with tears of sincere affection, and after
heaping its inmates with all she could think of that might be valuable in
their eyes. But she /did/ leave it; and, when the anguish of the parting
was over, her departure was a relief to both sisters.
The family at the Manse of Knocktarlitie, in their own quiet happiness,
heard of the well-dowered and beautiful Lady Staunton resuming her place
in the fashionable world. They learned it by more substantial proofs, for
David received a commission; and as the military spirit of Bible Butler
seemed to have revived in him, his good behaviour qualified the envy of
five hundred young Highland cadets, "come of good houses," who were
astonished at the rapidity of his promotion. Reuben followed the law, and
rose more slowly, yet surely. Euphemia Butler, whose fortune, augmented
by her aunt's generosity, and added to her own beauty, rendered her no
small prize, married a Highland laird, who never asked the name of her
grand-father, and was loaded on the occasion with presents from Lady
Staunton, which made her the envy of all the beauties in Dumbarton and
After blazing nearly ten years in the fashionable world, and hiding, like
many of her compeers, an aching heart with a gay demeanour--after
declining repeated offers of the most respectable kind for a second
matrimonial engagement, Lady Staunton betrayed the inward wound by
retiring to the Continent, and taking up her abode in the convent where
she had received her education. She never took the veil, but lived and
died in severe seclusion, and in the practice of the Roman Catholic
religion, in all its formal observances, vigils, and austerities.
Jeanie had so much of her father's spirit as to sorrow bitterly for this
apostasy, and Butler joined in her regret. "Yet any religion, however
imperfect," he said, "was better than cold scepticism, or the hurrying
din of dissipation, which fills the ears of worldlings, until they care
for none of these things."
Meanwhile, happy in each other, in the prosperity of their family, and
the love and honour of all who knew them, this simple pair lived beloved,
and died lamented.
THIS TALE WILL NOT BE TOLD IN VAIN, IF IT SHALL BE FOUND TO
ILLUSTRATE THE GREAT TRUTH, THAT GUILT, THOUGH IT MAY ATTAIN
TEMPORAL SPLENDOUR, CAN NEVER CONFER REAL HAPPINESS; THAT THE
EVIL CONSEQUENCES OF OUR CRIMES LONG SURVIVE THEIR COMMISSION,
AND, LIKE THE GHOSTS OF THE MURDERED, FOR EVER HAUNT THE STEPS
OF THE MALEFACTOR; AND THAT THE PATHS OF VIRTUE, THOUGH SELDOM
THOSE OF WORLDLY GREATNESS, ARE ALWAYS THOSE OF PLEASANTNESS
BY JEDEDIAH CLEISHBOTHAM.
Thus concludeth the Tale of "The Heart of Mid-Lothian," which hath filled
more pages than I opined. The Heart of Mid-Lothian is now no more, or
rather it is transferred to the extreme side of the city, even as the
Sieur Jean Baptiste Poquelin hath it, in his pleasant comedy called /Le
Me'decin Malgre' Lui,/ where the simulated doctor wittily replieth to a
charge, that he had placed the heart on the right side, instead of the
left, "/Cela e'tait autrefois ainsi, mais nous avons change' tout cela./"
Of which witty speech if any reader shall demand the purport, I have only
to respond, that I teach the French as well as the Classical tongues, at
the easy rate of five shillings per quarter, as my advertisements are
periodically making known to the public.
NOTES TO THE HEART OF MID-LOTHIAN.
NOTE A--Author's connection with Quakerism.
It is an old proverb, that "many a true word is spoken in jest." The
existence of Walter Scott, third son of Sir William Scott of Harden, is
instructed, as it is called, by a charter under the great seal, Domino
Willielmo Scott de Harden Militi, et Waltero Scott suo filio legitimo
tertio genito, terrarum de Roberton.*
* See Douglas's /Baronage,/ page 215.
The munificent old gentleman left all his four sons considerable estates.
and settled those of Eilrig and Raeburn, together with valuable
possessions around Lessuden, upon Walter, his third son, who is ancestor
of the Scotts of Raeburn, and of the Author of Waverley. He appears to
have become a convert to the doctrine of the Quakers, or Friends, and a
great assertor of their peculiar tenets. This was probably at the time
when George Fox, the celebrated apostle of the sect, made an expedition
into the south of Scotland about 1657, on which occasion, he boasts, that
"as he first set his horse's feet upon Scottish ground, he felt the seed
of grace to sparkle about him like innumerable sparks of fire." Upon the
same occasion, probably, Sir Gideon Scott of Highchester, second son of
Sir William, immediate elder brother of Walter, and ancestor of the
author's friend and kinsman, the present representative of the family of
Harden, also embraced the tenets of Quakerism. This last convert, Gideon,
entered into a controversy with the Rev. James Kirkton, author of the
/Secret and True History of the Church of Scotland,/ which is noticed by
my ingenious friend Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, in his valuable and
curious edition of that work, 4to, 1817. Sir William Scott, eldest of the
brothers, remained, amid the defection of his two younger brethren, an
orthodox member of the Presbyterian Church, and used such means for
reclaiming Walter of Raeburn from his heresy, as savoured far more of
persecution than persuasion. In this he was assisted by MacDougal of
Makerston, brother to Isabella MacDougal, the wife of the said Walter,
and who, like her husband, had conformed to the Quaker tenets.
The interest possessed by Sir William Scott and Makerston was powerful
enough to procure the two following acts of the Privy Council of
Scotland, directed against Walter of Raeburn as an heretic and convert to
Quakerism, appointing him to be imprisoned first in Edinburgh jail, and
then in that of Jedburgh; and his children to be taken by force from the
society and direction of their parents, and educated at a distance from
them, besides the assignment of a sum for their maintenance, sufficient
in those times to be burdensome to a moderate Scottish estate.
"Apud Edin., vigesimo Junii 1665.
"The Lords of his Magesty's Privy Council having receaved information
that Scott of Raeburn, and Isobel Mackdougall, his wife, being infected
with the error of Quakerism, doe endeavour to breid and trains up
William, Walter, and Isobel Scotts, their children, in the same
profession, doe therefore give order and command to Sir William Scott of
Harden, the said Raeburn's brother, to seperat and take away the saids
children from the custody and society of the saids parents, and to cause
educat and bring them up in his owne house, or any other convenient
place, and ordaines letters to be direct at the said Sir William's
instance against Raeburn, for a maintenance to the saids children, and
that the said Sir Wm. give ane account of his diligence with all
"Edinburgh, 5th July 1666.
"Anent a petition presented be Sir Wm. Scott of Harden, for himself and
in name and behalf of the three children of Walter Scott of Raeburn, his
brother, showing that the Lords of Councill, by ane act of the 22d day of
Junii 1665, did grant power and warrand to the petitioner, to separat and
take away Raeburn's children, from his family and education, and to breed
them in some convenient place, where they might be free from all
infection in their younger years, from the principalls of Quakerism, and,
for maintenance of the saids children, did ordain letters to be direct
against Raeburn; and, seeing the Petitioner, in obedience to the said
order, did take away the saids children, being two sonnes and a daughter,
and after some paines taken upon them in his owne family, hes sent them
to the city of Glasgow, to be bread at schooles, and there to be
principled with the knowledge of the true religion, and that it is
necessary the Councill determine what shall be the maintenance for which
Raeburn's three children may be charged, as likewise that Raeburn
himself, being now in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, where he dayley
converses with all the Quakers who are prisoners there, and others who
daily resort to them, whereby he is hardened in his pernitious opinions
and principles, without all hope of recovery, unlesse he be separat from
such pernitious company, humbly therefore, desyring that the Councell
might determine upon the soume of money to be payed be Raeburn, for the
education of his children, to the petitioner, who will be countable
therefor; and that, in order to his conversion, the place of his
imprisonment may be changed. The Lords of his Maj. Privy Councell having
at length heard and considered the foresaid petition, doe modifie the
soume of two thousand pounds Scots, to be payed yearly at the terms of
Whitsunday be the said Walter Scott of Raeburn, furth of his estate to
the petitioner, for the entertainment and education of the said children,
beginning the first termes payment therof at Whitsunday last for the half
year preceding, and so furth yearly, at the said terme of Whitsunday in
tym comeing till furder orders; and ordaines the said Walter Scott of
Raeburn to be transported from the tolbooth of Edinburgh to the prison of
Jedburgh, where his friends and others may have occasion to convert him.
And to the effect he may be secured from the practice of other Quakers,
the said Lords doe hereby discharge the magistrates of Jedburgh to suffer
any persons suspect of these principles to have access to him; and in
case any contraveen, that they secure ther persons till they be therfore
puneist; and ordaines letters to be direct heirupon in form, as effeirs."
Both the sons, thus harshly separated from their father, proved good
scholars. The eldest, William, who carried on the line of Raeburn, was,
like his father, a deep Orientalist; the younger, Walter, became a good
classical scholar, a great friend and correspondent of the celebrated Dr.
Pitcairn, and a Jacobite so distinguished for zeal, that he made a vow
never to shave his beard till the restoration of the exiled family. This
last Walter Scott was the author's great-grandfather.
There is yet another link betwixt the author and the simple-minded and
excellent Society of Friends, through a proselyte of much more importance
than Walter Scott of Raeburn. The celebrated John Swinton, of Swinton,
nineteenth baron in descent of that ancient and once powerful family,
was, with Sir William Lockhart of Lee, the person whom Cromwell chiefly
trusted in the management of the Scottish affairs during his usurpation.
After the Restoration, Swinton was devoted as a victim to the new order
of things, and was brought down in the same vessel which conveyed the
Marquis of Argyle to Edinburgh, where that nobleman was tried and
executed. Swinton was destined to the same fate. He had assumed the
habit, and entered into the Society of the Quakers, and appeared as one
of their number before the Parliament of Scotland. He renounced all legal
defence, though several pleas were open to him, and answered, in
conformity to the principles of his sect, that at the time these crimes
were imputed to him, he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of
iniquity; but that God Almighty having since called him to the light, he
saw and acknowledged these errors, and did not refuse to pay the forfeit
of them, even though, in the judgment of the Parliament, it should extend
to life itself.
Respect to fallen greatness, and to the patience and calm resignation
with which a man once in high power expressed himself under such a change
of fortune, found Swinton friends; family connections, and some
interested considerations of Middleton the Commissioner, joined to
procure his safety, and he was dismissed, but after a long imprisonment,
and much dilapidation of his estates. It is said that Swinton's
admonitions, while confined in the Castle of Edinburgh, had a
considerable share in converting to the tenets of the Friends Colonel
David Barclay, then lying there in the garrison. This was the father of
Robert Barclay, author of the celebrated /Apology for the Quakers./ It
may be observed among the inconsistencies of human nature, that Kirkton,
Wodrow, and other Presbyterian authors, who have detailed the sufferings
of their own sect for nonconformity with the established church, censure
the government of the time for not exerting the civil power against the
peaceful enthusiasts we have treated of, and some express particular
chagrin at the escape of Swinton. Whatever might be his motives for
assuming the tenets of the Friends, the old man retained them faithfully
till the close of his life.
Jean Swinton, grand-daughter of Sir John Swinton, son of Judge Swinton,
as the Quaker was usually termed, was mother of Anne Rutherford, the
And thus, as in the play of the Anti-Jacobin, the ghost of the author's
grandmother having arisen to speak the Epilogue, it is full time to
conclude, lest the reader should remonstrate that his desire to know the
Author of Waverley never included a wish to be acquainted with his whole
NOTE B.--TOMBSTONE TO HELEN WALKER.
On Helen Walker's tombstone in Irongray churchyard, Dumfriesshire, there
is engraved the following epitaph, written by Sir Walter Scott:
THIS STONE WAS ERECTED
BY THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY
TO THE MEMORY
WHO DIED IN THE YEAR OF GOD 1791.