Part 2 out of 5
unnatural master. Alas, I have no cause of offence! I have
wronged you; and justice must take its course. Will you forgive
me before we part?"
Mrs. Logan hesitated, for her mind ran on something else. On
which the other subjoined: "No, you will not forgive me, I see.
But you will pray to God to forgive me? I know you will do that."
Mrs. Logan heard not this jeer, but, looking at the prisoner with
an absent and stupid stare, she said: "Did you know my late
"Ay, that I did, and never for any good," said she. "I knew the
old and the young spark both, and was by when the latter was
This careless sentence affected Mrs. Logan in a most peculiar
manner. A shower of tears burst from her eyes ere it was done,
and, when it was, she appeared like one bereaved of her mind.
She first turned one way and then another, as if looking for
something she had dropped. She seemed to think she had lost her
eyes, instead of her tears, and at length, as by instinct, she tottered
close up to the prisoner's face, and, looking wistfully and joyfully
in it, said, with breathless earnestness: "Pray, mistress, what is
"My name is Arabella Calvert," said the other. "Miss, mistress,
or widow, as you choose, for I have been all the three, and that
not once nor twice only. Ay, and something beyond all these.
But, as for you, you have never been anything!"
"Ay, ay! and so you are Bell Calvert? Well, I thought so--I
thought so," said Mrs. Logan; and, helping herself to a seat, she
came and sat down dose by the prisoner's knee. "So you are
indeed Bell Calvert, so called once. Well, of all the world you are
the woman whom I have longed and travailed the most to see.
But you were invisible; a being to be heard of, not seen."
"There have been days, madam," returned she, "when I was to be
seen, and when there were few to be seen like me. But since that
time there have indeed been days on which I was not to be seen.
My crimes have been great, but my sufferings have been greater.
So great that neither you nor the world can ever either know or
conceive them. I hope they will be taken into account by the Most
High. Mine have been crimes of utter desperation. But whom am
I speaking to? You had better leave me to myself, mistress."
"Leave you to yourself? That I will be loth to do till you tell me
where you were that night my young master was murdered."
"Where the devil would, I was! Will that suffice you? Ah, it was
a vile action! A night to be remembered that was! Won't you be
going? I want to trust my daughter with a commission."
"No, Mrs. Calvert, you and I part not till you have divulged that
mystery to me."
"You must accompany me to the other world, then, for you shall
not have it in this."
"If you refuse to answer me, I can have you before a tribunal,
where you shall be sifted to the soul."
"Such miserable inanity! What care I for your threatenings of a
tribunal? I who must soon stand before my last earthly one? What
could the word of such a culprit avail? Or, if it could, where is the
judge that could enforce it?"
"Did you not say that there was some mode of accommodating
matters on that score?"
"Yes, I prayed you to grant me my life, which is in your power.
The saving of it would not have cost you a plack, yet you refused
to do it. The taking of it will cost you a great deal, and yet to that
purpose you adhere. I can have no parley with such a spirit. I
would not have my life in a present from its motions, nor would I
exchange courtesies with its possessor."
"Indeed, Mrs. Calvert, since ever we met, I have been so busy
thinking about who you might be that I know not what you have
been proposing. I believe I meant to do what I could to save you
But, once for all, tell me everything that you know concerning
that amiable young gentleman's death, and here is my band there
shall be nothing wanting that I can effect for you."
"No I despise all barter with such mean and selfish curiosity; and,
as I believe that passion is stronger with you, than fear with me,
we part on equal terms. Do your worst; and my secret shall go to
the gallows and the grave with me."
Mrs. Logan was now greatly confounded, and after proffering in
vain to concede everything she could ask in exchange, for the
particulars relating to the murder, she became the suppliant in her
turn. But the unaccountable culprit, exulting in her advantage.
laughed her to scorn; and finally, in a paroxysm of pride and
impatience, called in the jailor and had her expelled, ordering him
in her hearing not to grant her admittance a second time, on any
Mrs. Logan was now hard put to it, and again driven almost to
despair. She might have succeeded in the attainment of that she
thirsted for most in life so easily had she known the character
with which she had to deal. Had she known to have soothed her
high and afflicted spirit: but that opportunity was past, and the
hour of examination at hand. She once thought of going and
claiming her articles, as she at first intended; but then, when she
thought again of the Wringhims swaying it at Dalcastle, where
she had been wont to hear them held in such contempt, if not
abhorrence, and perhaps of holding it by the most diabolical
means, she was withheld from marring the only chance that
remained of having a glimpse into that mysterious affair.
Finally, she resolved not to answer to her name in the court,
rather than to appear and assert a falsehood, which she might be
called on to certify by oath. She did so; and heard the Sheriff give
orders to the officers to make inquiry for Miss Logan from
Edinburgh, at the various places of entertainment in town, and to
expedite her arrival in court, as things of great value were in
dependence. She also heard the man who had turned king's
evidence against the prisoner examined for the second time, and
sifted most cunningly. His answers gave anything but satisfaction
to the Sheriff, though Mrs. Logan believed them to be mainly
truth. But there were a few questions and answers that struck her
above all others.
"How long is it since Mrs. Calvert and you became acquainted?"
"About a year and a half."
"State the precise time, if you please; the day, or night, according
to your remembrance."
"It was on the morning of the 28th of February, 1705."
"What time of the morning?"
"Perhaps about one."
"So early as that? At what place did you meet then?"
"It was at the foot of one of the north wynds of Edinburgh." "Was
it by appointment that you met?"
"No, it was not."
"For what purpose was it then?"
"For no purpose."
"How is it that you chance to remember the day and hour so
minutely, if you met that woman, whom you have accused,
merely by chance, and for no manner of purpose, as you must
have met others that night, perhaps to the amount of hundreds, in
the same way?"
"I have good cause to remember it, my lord."
"What was that cause?--No answer?--You don't choose to say
what that cause was?"
"I am not at liberty to tell."
The Sheriff then descended to other particulars, all of which
tended to prove that the fellow was an accomplished villain, and
that the principal share of the atrocities had been committed by
him. Indeed the Sheriff hinted that he suspected the only share
Mrs. Calvert had in them was in being too much in his company,
and too true to him. The case was remitted to the Court of
Justiciary; but Mrs. Logan had heard enough to convince her that
the culprits first met at the very spot, and the very hour, on which
George Colwan was slain; and she had no doubt that they were
incendiaries set on by his mother, to forward her own and her
darling son's way to opulence. Mrs. Logan was wrong, as will
appear in the sequel; but her antipathy to Mrs. Colwan made her
watch the event with all care. She never quitted Peebles as long
as Bell Calvert remained there, and, when she was removed to
Edinburgh, the other followed. When the trial came on, Mrs.
Logan and her maid were again summoned as witnesses before
the jury, and compelled by the prosecutor for the Crown to
The maid was first called; and, when she came into the witness
box, the anxious and hopeless looks of the prisoner were manifest
to all. But the girl, whose name, she said, was Bessy Gillies,
answered in so flippant and fearless a way that the auditors were
much amused. After a number of routine questions, the depute-
advocate asked her if she was at home on the morning of the fifth
of September last, when her mistress's house was robbed.
"Was I at hame, say ye? Na, faith-ye, lad! An' I had been at hame,
there had been mair to dee. I wad hae raised sic a yelloch!"
"Where were you that morning?"
"Where was I, say you? I was in the house where my mistress
was, sitting dozing an' half sleeping in the kitchen. I thought aye
she would be setting out every minute, for twa hours."
"And, when you went home, what did you find?"
"What found we? Be my sooth, we found a broken lock, an' toom
"Relate some of the particulars, if you please."
"Sir, the thieves didna stand upon particulars: they were halesale
dealers in a' our best wares."
"I mean, what passed between your mistress and you on the
"What passed, say ye? O, there wasna muckle: I was in a great
passion, but she was dung doitrified a wee. When she gaed to put
the key i' the door, up it flew to the fer wa'. 'Bless ye, jaud, what's
the meaning o' this?' quo she. 'Ye hae left the door open, ye
tawpie!' quo she. 'The ne'er o' that I did,' quo I, 'or may my shakel
bane never turn another key.' When we got the candle lightit, a'
the house was in a hoad-road. 'Bessy, my woman,' quo she, 'we
are baith ruined and undone creatures.' 'The deil a bit,' quo I; 'that
I deny positively. H'mh! to speak o' a lass o' my age being ruined
and undone! I never had muckle except what was within a good
jerkin, an' let the thief ruin me there wha can.
"Do you remember aught else that your mistress said on the
occasion? Did you hear her blame any person?"
"O, she made a gread deal o' grumphing an' groaning about the
misfortune, as she ca'd it, an' I think she said it was a part o' the
ruin, wrought by the Ringans, or some sic name. 'They'll hae't a'!
They'll hae't a'!' cried she, wringing her hands; 'a'! they'll hae' a',
an' hell wi't, an' they'll get them baith.' 'Aweel, that's aye some
satisfaction,' quo I."
"Whom did she mean by the Ringans, do you know?"
"I fancy they are some creatures that she has dreamed about,
for I think there canna be as ill folks living as she ca's them."
"Did you never hear say that the prisoner at the bar there, Mrs.
Calvert, or Bell Calvert, was the robber of her house; or that she
was one of the Ringans?"
"Never. Somebody tauld her lately that ane Bell Calvert robbed
her house, but she disna believe it. Neither do I."
"What reasons have you for doubting it?"
"Because it was nae woman's fingers that broke up the bolts an'
the locks that were torn open that night."
"Very pertinent, Bessy. Come then within the bar, and look, at
these articles on the table. Did you ever see these silver spoons
"I hae seen some very like them, and whaever has seen siller
spoons has done the same."
"Can you swear you never saw them before?"
"Na, na, I wadna swear to ony siller spoons that ever war made,
unless I had put a private mark on them wi' my ain hand, an' that's
what I never did to ane."
"See, they are all marked with a C."
"Sae are a' the spoons in Argyle, an' the half o' them in Edinburgh
I think. A C is a very common letter, an' so are a' the names that
begin wi't. Lay them by, lay them by, an' gie the poor woman her
spoons again. They are marked wi' her ain name, an' I hae little
doubt they are hers, an' that she has seen better days."
"Ah, God bless her heart!" sighed the prisoner; and that blessing
was echoed in the breathings of many a feeling breast.
"Did you ever see this gown before, think you?"
"I hae seen ane very like it."
"Could you not swear that gown was your mistress's once?"
"No, unless I saw her hae't on, an' kend that she had paid for't. I
am very scrupulous about an oath. Like is an ill mark. Sae ill
indeed that I wad hardly swear to anything."
"But you say that gown is very like one your mistress used to
"I never said sic a thing. It is like one I hae seen her hae out airing
on the hay raip i' the back green. It is very like ane I hae seen
Mrs. Butler in the Grass Market wearing too: I rather think it is
the same. Bless you, sir, I wadna swear to my ain forefinger, if it
had been as lang out o' my sight an', brought in an' laid on that
"Perhaps you are not aware, girl, that this scrupulousness of yours
is likely to thwart the purposes of justice, and bereave your
mistress of property to the amount of a thousand merks." (From
"I canna help that, my lord: that's her look-out. For my part, I am
resolved to keep a clear conscience, till I be married, at any rate."
"Look over these things and see if there is any one article among
them which you can fix on as the property of your mistress."
"No ane o' them. sir, no ane o' them. An oath is an awfu' thing,
especially when it is for life or death. Gie the poor woman her
things again, an' let my mistress pick up the next she finds: that's
When Mrs. Logan came into the box, the prisoner groaned and
laid down her head. But how she was astonished when she heard
her deliver herself something to the following purport--That,
whatever penalties she was doomed to abide, she was determined
she would not bear witness against a woman's life, from a certain
conviction that it could not be a woman who broke her house. "I
have no doubt that I may find some of my own things there,"
added she, "but, if they were found in her possession, she has
been made a tool, or the dupe, of an infernal set, who shall be
nameless here. I believe she did not rob me, and for that reason I
will have no hand in her condemnation."
The judge: "This is the most singular perversion I have ever
witnessed. Mrs. Logan, I entertain strong suspicions that the
prisoner, or her agents, have made some agreement with you on
this matter to prevent the course of justice."
"So far from that, my lord, I went into the jail at Peebles to this
woman, whom I had never seen before, and proffered to
withdraw my part in the prosecution, as well as my evidence,
provided she would tell me a few simple facts; but she spurned at
my offer, and had me turned insolently out of the prison, with
orders to the jailor never to admit me again on any pretence."
The prisoner's counsel, taking hold of this evidence, addressed
the jury with great fluency; and, finally, the prosecution was
withdrawn, and the prisoner dismissed from the bar, with a severe
reprimand for her past conduct, and an exhortation to keep better
It was not many days till a caddy came with a large parcel to Mrs.
Logan's house, which parcel he delivered into her hands,
accompanied with a sealed note, containing an inventory of the
articles, and a request to know if the unfortunate Arabella Calvert
would be admitted to converse with Mrs. Logan.
Never was there a woman so much overjoyed as Mrs. Logan was
at this message. She returned compliments. Would be most happy
to see her; and no article of the parcel should be looked at, or
touched, till her arrival. It was not long till she made her
appearance, dressed in somewhat better style than she had yet
seen her; delivered her over the greater part of the stolen
property, besides many things that either never had belonged to
Mrs. Logan or that she thought proper to deny in order that the
other might retain them.
The tale that she told of her misfortunes was of the most
distressing nature, and was enough to stir up all the tender, as
well as abhorrent feelings in the bosom of humanity. She had
suffered every deprivation in fame, fortune, and person. She had
been imprisoned; she had been scourged, and branded as an
impostor; and all on account of her resolute and unmoving
fidelity and truth to several of the very worst of men, every one of
whom had abandoned her to utter destitution and shame. But this
story we cannot enter on at present, as it would perhaps mar the
thread of our story, as much as it did the anxious anticipations of
Mrs. Logan, who sat pining and longing for the relation that
"Now I know, Mrs. Logan, that you are expecting a detail of the
circumstances relating to the death of Mr. George Colwan; and,
in gratitude for your unbounded generosity and disinterestedness,
I will tell you all that I know, although, for causes that will
appear obvious to you, I had determined never in life to divulge
one circumstance of it. I can tell you, however, that you will be
disappointed, for it was not the gentleman who was accused,
found guilty, and would have suffered the utmost penalty of the
law had he not made his escape. It was not he, I say, who slew
your young master, nor had he any hand in it."
"I never thought he had. But, pray, how do you come to know
"You shall hear. I had been abandoned in York by an artful and
consummate fiend; and found guilty of being art and part
concerned in the most heinous atrocities, and, in his place,
suffered what I yet shudder to think of I was banished the county,
begged my way with my poor outcast child up to Edinburgh, and
was there obliged, for the second time in my life, to betake
myself to the most degrading of all means to support two
wretched lives. I hired a dress, and betook me, shivering, to the
High Street, too well aware that my form and appearance would
soon draw me suitors enow at that throng and intemperate time of
the Parliament. On my very first stepping out to the street, a party
of young gentlemen was passing. I heard by the noise they made,
and the tenor of their speech, that they were more then mellow,
and so I resolved to keep near them, in order, if possible, to make
some of them my prey. But, just as one of them began to eye me,
I was rudely thrust into a narrow close by one of the guardsmen. I
had heard to what house the party was bound, for the men were
talking exceedingly loud, and making no secret of it: so I hasted
down the close, and round below to the one where their
rendezvous was to be; but I was too late, they were all housed and
the door bolted. I resolved to wait, thinking they could not all stay
long; but I was perishing with famine, and was like to fall down.
The moon shone as bright as day, and I perceived, by a sign at the
bottom of the close, that there was a small tavern of a certain
description up two stairs there. I went up and called, telling the
mistress of the house my plan. She approved of it mainly, and
offered me her best apartment, provided I could get one of these
noble mates to accompany me. She abused Lucky Sudds, as she
called her, at the inn where the party was, envying her huge
profits, no doubt, and giving me afterwards something to drink
for which I really felt exceedingly grateful in my need. I stepped
downstairs in order to be on the alert. The moment that I reached
the ground, the door of Lucky Sudds' house opened and shut, and
down came the Honourable Thomas Drummond, with hasty and
impassioned strides, his sword rattling at his heel. I accosted him
in a soft and soothing tone. He was taken with my address; for he
instantly stood still and gazed intently at me, then at the place,
and then at me again. I beckoned him to follow me, which he did
without further ceremony, and we soon found ourselves together
in the best room of a house where everything was wretched. He
still looked about him, and at me; but all this while he had never
spoken a word. At length, I asked if he would take any
refreshment? 'If you please,' said he. I asked what he would have,
but he only answered, 'Whatever you choose, madam.' If he was
taken with my address, I was much more taken with his; for he
was a complete gentleman, and a gentleman will ever act as one.
At length, he began as follows:
"'I am utterly at a loss to account for this adventure, madam. It
seems to me like enchantment, and I can hardly believe my
senses. An English lady, I judge, and one, who from her manner
and address should belong to the first class of society, in such a
place as this, is indeed matter of wonder to me. At the foot of a
close in Edinburgh! and at this time of the night! Surely it must
have been no common reverse of fortune that reduced you to
this?' I wept, or pretended to do so; on which he added, 'Pray,
madam, take heart. Tell me what has befallen you; and if I can do
anything for you, in restoring you to your country or your friends,
you shall command my interest.'
"I had great need of a friend then, and I thought now was the time
to secure one. So I began and told him the moving tale I have told
you. But I soon perceived that I had kept by the naked truth too
unvarnishedly, and thereby quite overshot my mark. When he
learned that he was sitting in a wretched corner of an irregular
house, with a felon, who had so lately been scourged and
banished as a swindler and impostor, his modest nature took the
alarm, and he was shocked, instead of being moved with pity. His
eye fixed on some of the casual stripes on my arm, and from that
moment he became restless and impatient to be gone. I tried some
gentle arts to retain him, but in vain; so, after paying both the
landlady and me for pleasures he had neither tasted nor asked, he
took his leave.
"I showed him downstairs; and, just as be turned the corner of the
next land, a man came rushing violently by him; exchanged looks
with him, and came running up to me. He appeared in great
agitation, and was quite out of breath; and, taking my hand in his,
we ran upstairs together without speaking, and were instantly in
the apartment I had left, where a stoup of wine still stood
untasted. 'Ah, this is fortunate!' said my new spark, and helped
himself. In the meanwhile, as our apartment was a corner one,
and looked both east and north, I ran to the eastern casement to
look after Drummond. Now, note me well: I saw him going
eastward in his tartans and bonnet, and the gilded hilt of his
claymore glittering in the moon; and, at the very same time, I saw
two men, the one in black, and the other likewise in tartans,
coming towards the steps from the opposite bank, by the foot of
the loch; and I saw Drummond and they eyeing each other as they
passed. I kept view of him till he vanished towards Leith Wynd,
and by that time the two strangers had come close up under our
window. This is what I wish you to pay particular attention to. I
had only lost sight of Drummond (who had given me his name
and address) for the short space of time that we took in running
up one pair of short stairs; and during that space he had halted a
moment, for, when I got my eye on him again, he had not crossed
the mouth of the next entry, nor proceeded above ten or twelve
paces, and, at the same time, I saw the two men coming down the
bank on the opposite side of the loch, at about three hundred
paces' distance. Both he and they were distinctly in my view, and
never within speech of each other, until he vanished into one of
the wynds leading towards the bottom of the High Street, at
which precise time the two strangers came below my window; so
that it was quite dear he neither could be one of them nor have
any communication with them.
"Yet, mark me again; for, of all things I have ever seen, this was
the most singular. When I looked down at the two strangers, one
of them was extremely like Drummond. So like was he that there
was not one item in dress, form, feature, nor voice, by which I
could distinguish the one from the other. I was certain it was not
he, because I had seen the one going and the other approaching at
the same time, and my impression at the moment was that I
looked upon some spirit, or demon, in his likeness. I felt a
chillness creep all round my heart, my knees tottered, and,
withdrawing my head from the open casement that lay in the dark
shade, I said to the man who was with me, 'Good God, what is
"'What is it, my dear?' said he, as much alarmed as I was.
"'As I live, there stands an apparition!' said I.
"He was not so much afraid when he heard me say so, and,
peeping cautiously out, he looked and listened awhile, and then,
drawing back, he said in a whisper, 'They are both living men,
and one of them is he I passed at the corner.'
"'That he is not,' said I, emphatically. 'To that I will make oath.'
"He smiled and shook his head, and then added, 'I never then saw
a man before, whom I could not know again, particularly if he
was the very last I had seen. But what matters it whether it be or
not? As it is no concern of ours, let us sit down and enjoy
'But it does matter a very great deal with me, sir,' said I.
'Bless me, my head is giddy--my breath quite gone, and I feel as if
I were surrounded with fiends. Who are you, sir?'
'You shall know that ere we two part, my love,' said he. 'I cannot
conceive why the return of this young gentleman to the spot he so
lately left should discompose you. I suppose he got a glance of
you as he passed, and has returned to look after you, and that is
the whole secret of the matter.'
"'If you will be so civil as to walk out and join him then, it will
oblige me hugely,' said I, 'for I never in my life experienced such
boding apprehensions of evil company. I cannot conceive how
you should come up here without asking my permission. Will it
please you to be gone, sir?' I was within an ace of prevailing. He
took out his purse--I need not say more--I was bribed to let him
remain. Ah, had I kept my frail resolution of dismissing him at
that moment, what a world of shame and misery had been evited!
But that, though uppermost still in my mind, has nothing ado
"When I peeped over again, the two men were disputing in a
whisper, the one of them in violent agitation and terror, and the
other upbraiding him, and urging him on to some desperate act.
At length I heard the young man in the Highland garb say
indignantly, 'Hush, recreant! It is God's work which you are
commissioned to execute, and it must be done. But, if you
positively decline it, I will do it myself, and do you beware of the
"'Oh, I will, I will!' cried the other in black clothes, in a wretched
beseeching tone. 'You shall instruct me in this, as in all things
"I thought all this while I was closely concealed from them, and
wondered not a little when be in tartans gave me a sly nod, as
much as to say, 'What do you think of this?' or, 'Take note of
what you see,' or something to that effect; from which I perceived
that, whatever he was about, he did not wish it to be kept a secret.
For all that, I was impressed with a terror and anxiety that I could
not overcome, but it only made me mark every event with the
more intense curiosity. The Highlander, whom I still could not
help regarding as the evil genius of Thomas Drummond,
performed every action as with the quickness of thought. He
concealed the youth in black in a narrow entry, a little to the
westward of my windows, and, as he was leading him across the
moonlight green by the shoulder, I perceived, for the first time,
that both of them were armed with rapiers. He pushed him
without resistance into the dark shaded close, made another signal
to me, and hasted up the close to Lucky Sudds' door. The city and
the morning were so still that I heard every word that was uttered,
on putting my head out a little. He knocked at the door sharply,
and, after waiting a considerable space, the bolt was drawn, and
the door, as I conceived, edged up as far as the massy chain
would let it. 'Is young Dalcastle still in the house?' said he
"I did not hear the answer, but I heard him say, shortly after, 'If
he is, pray tell him to speak with me for a few minutes.' He then
withdrew from the door, and came slowly down the close, in a
lingering manner, looking oft behind him. Dalcastle came out;
advanced a few steps after him, and then stood still, as if
hesitating whether or not he should call out a friend to
accompany him; and that instant the door behind him was closed,
chained, and the iron bolt drawn; on hearing of which, he
followed his adversary without further hesitation. As he passed
below my window, I heard him say, 'I beseech you, Tom, let us
do nothing in this matter rashly'; but I could not hear the answer
of the other, who had turned the corner.
"I roused up my drowsy companion, who was leaning on the bed,
and we both looked together from the north window. We were in
the shade, but the moon shone full on the two young gentlemen.
Young Dalcastle was visibly the worse of liquor, and, his back
being turned towards us, he said something to the other which I
could not make out, although he spoke a considerable time, and,
from his tones and gestures, appeared to be reasoning.
"When he had done, the tall young man in the tartans drew his
sword, and, his face being straight to us, we heard him say
distinctly, 'No more words about it, George, if you please; but if
you be a man, as I take you to be, draw your sword, and let us
settle it here.'
"Dalcastle drew his sword, without changing his attitude; but
he spoke with more warmth, for we heard his words, 'Think you
that I fear you, Tom? Be assured, Sir, I would not fear ten of the
best of your name, at each other's backs: all that I want is to have
friends with us to see fair play, for, if you close with me, you are
a dead man.'
"The other stormed at these words. 'You are a braggart, Sir,'
cried he, 'a wretch--a blot on the cheek of nature--a blight on
the Christian world--a reprobate--I'll have your soul, Sir. You
must play at tennis, and put down elect brethren in another world
to-morrow.' As he said this, he brandished his rapier, exciting
Dalcastle to offence. He gained his point. The latter, who had
previously drawn, advanced upon his vapouring and licentious
antagonist, and a fierce combat ensued. My companion was
delighted beyond measure, and I could not keep him from
exclaiming, loud enough to have been heard, 'That's grand! That's
excellent!' For me, my heart quaked like an aspen. Young
Dalcastle either had a decided advantage over his adversary, or
else the other thought proper to let him have it; for he shifted, and
swore, and flitted from Dalcastle's thrusts like a shadow, uttering
ofttimes a sarcastic laugh, that seemed to provoke the other
beyond all bearing. At one time, he would spring away to a great
distance, then advance again on young Dalcastle with the
swiftness of lightning. But that young hero always stood his
ground, and repelled the attack: he never gave way, although they
fought nearly twice round the bleaching green, which you know
is not a very small one. At length they fought close up to the
mouth of the dark entry, where the fellow in black stood all this
while concealed, and then the combatant in tartans closed with
his antagonist, or pretended to do so; but, the moment they began
to grapple, he wheeled about, turning Colwan's back towards the
entry, and then cried out, 'Ah, hell has it! My friend, my friend!'
"That moment the fellow in black rushed from his cover with his
drawn rapier, and gave the brave young Dalcastle two deadly
wounds in the back, as quick as arm could thrust, both of which I
thought pierced through his body. He fell, and, rolling himself on
his back, he perceived who it was that had slain him thus foully,
and said, with a dying emphasis, which I never heard equalled,
'oh, dog of hell, it is you who has done this!'
"He articulated some more, which I could not hear for other
sounds; for, the moment that the man in black inflicted the deadly
wound, my companion called out, 'That's unfair, you rip! That's
damnable! to strike a brave fellow behind! One at a time, you
cowards!' etc., to all which the unnatural fiend in the tartans
answered with a loud exulting laugh; and then, taking the poor
paralysed murderer by the bow of the arm, be hurried him in the
dark entry once more, where I lost sight of them for ever."
Before this time Mrs. Logan had risen up; and, when the narrator
had finished, she was standing with her arms stretched upwards at
their full length, and her visage turned down, on which were
portrayed the lines of the most absolute horror. "The dark
suspicions of my late benefactor have been just, and his last
prediction is fulfilled," cried she. "The murderer of the
accomplished George Colwan has been his own brother, set on,
there is little doubt, by her who bare them both, and her directing
angel, the self-justified bigot. Aye, and yonder they sit, enjoying
the luxuries so dearly purchased, with perfect impunity! If the
Almighty do not hurl them down, blasted with shame and
confusion, there is no hope of retribution in this life. And, by His
might, I will be the agent to accomplish it! Why did the man not
pursue the foul murderers? Why did he not raise the alarm, and
call the watch?"
"He? The wretch! He durst not move from the shelter he had
obtained. No, not for the soul of him. He was pursued for his life,
at the moment when he first flew into my arms. But I did not
know it; no, I did not then know him. May the curse of heaven,
and the blight of hell, settle on the detestable wretch! He pursue
for the sake of justice! No; his efforts have all been for evil, but
never for good. But I raised the alarm; miserable and degraded as
I was, I pursued and raised the watch myself Have you not heard
the name of Bell Calvert coupled with that hideous and
"Yes, I have. In secret often I have heard it. But how came it that
you could never be found? How came it that you never appeared
in defence of the Honourable Thomas Drummond; you, the only
person who could have justified him?"
"I could not, for I then fell under the power and guidance of a
wretch who durst not for the soul of him be brought forward in
the affair. And, what was worse, his evidence would have
overborne mine, for he would have sworn that the man who
called out and fought Colwan was the same he met leaving my
apartment, and there was an end of it. And, moreover, it is well
known that this same man--this wretch of whom I speak, never
mistook one man for another in his life, which makes the mystery
of the likeness between this incendiary and Drummond the more
"If it was Drummond, after all that you have asserted, then are
my surmises still wrong."
"There is nothing of which I can be more certain than that it was
not Drummond. We have nothing on earth but our senses to
depend upon. if these deceive us, what are we to do? I own I
cannot account for it; nor ever shall be able to account for it as
long as I live."
"Could you know the man in black, if you saw him again?"
"I think I could, if I saw him walk or run: his gait was very
particular. He walked as if he had been flat-soled, and his legs
made of steel, without any joints in his feet or ankles."
"The very same! The very same! The very same! Pray will you
take a few days' journey into the country with me, to look at such
"You have preserved my life, and for you I will do anything. I
will accompany you with pleasure: and I think I can say that I
will know him, for his form left an impression on my heart not
soon to be effaced. But of this I am sure that my unworthy
companion will recognize him, and that he will be able to swear
to his identity every day as long as he lives."
"Where is he? Where is he? Oh! Mrs. Calvert, where is he?"
"Where is he? He is the wretch whom you heard giving me up to
the death; who, after experiencing every mark of affection that a
poor ruined being could confer, and after committing a thousand
atrocities of which she was ignorant, became an informer to save
his diabolical life, and attempted to offer up mine as a sacrifice
for all. We will go by ourselves first, and I will tell you if it
is necessary to send any farther."
The two dames, the very next morning, dressed themselves like
country goodwives, and, hiring two stout ponies furnished with
pillions, they took their journey westward, and the second
evening after leaving Edinburgh they arrived at the village about
two miles below Dalcastle, where they alighted. But Mrs. Logan,
being anxious to have Mrs. Calvert's judgment, without either
hint or preparation, took care not to mention that they were so
near to the end of their journey. In conformity with this plan, she
said, after they had sat a while: "Heigh-ho, but I am weary! What,
suppose we should rest a day here before we proceed farther on
Mrs. Calvert was leaning on the casement and looking out when
her companion addressed these words to her, and by far too much
engaged to return any answer, for her eyes were riveted on two
young men who approached from the farther end of the village;
and at length, turning round her head, she said, with the most
intense interest, "Proceed farther on our journey, did you say?
That we need not do; for, as I live, here comes the very man!"
Mrs. Logan ran to the window, and, behold, there was indeed
Robert Wringhim Colwan (now the Laird of Dalcastle) coming
forward almost below their window, walking arm in arm with
another young man; and, as the two passed, the latter looked up
and made a sly signal to the two dames, biting his lip, winking
with his left eye, and nodding his head. Mrs. Calvert was
astonished at this recognizance, the young man's former
companion having made exactly such another signal on the night
of the duel, by the light of the moon; and it struck her, moreover,
that she had somewhere seen this young man's face before. She
looked after him, and he winked over his shoulder to her; but she
was prevented from returning his salute by her companion, who
uttered a loud cry, between a groan and shriek, and fell down on
the floor with a rumble like a wall that had suddenly been
undermined. She had fainted quite away, and required all her
companion's attention during the remainder of the evening, for
she had scarcely ever well recovered out of one fit before she fell
into another, and in the short intervals she raved like one
distracted or in a dream. After falling into a sound sleep by night.
she recovered her equanimity, and the two began to converse
seriously on what they had seen. Mrs. Calvert averred that the
young man who passed next to the window was the very man
who stabbed George Colwan in the back, and she said she was
willing to take her oath on it at any time when required, and was
certain, if the wretch Ridsley saw him, that he would make oath
to the same purport, for that his walk was so peculiar no one of
common discernment could mistake it.
Mrs. Logan was in great agitation, and said: "It is what I have
suspected all along, and what I am sure my late master and
benefactor was persuaded of, and the horror of such an idea cut
short his days. That wretch, Mrs. Calvert, is the born brother of
him he murdered, sons of the same mother they were, whether or
not of the same father, the Lord only knows. But, Oh, Mrs.
Calvert, that is not the main thing that has discomposed me, and
shaken my nerves to pieces at this time. Who do you think the
young man was who walked in his company to-night?"
"I cannot for my life recollect, but am convinced I have seen the
same fine form and face before."
"And did not he seem to know us, Mrs. Calvert? You who are
able to recollect things as they happened, did he not seem to
recollect us, and make signs to that effect?"
"He did, indeed, and apparently with great good humour."
"Oh, Mrs Calvert, hold me, else I shall fall into hysterics again!
Who is he? Who is he? Tell me who you suppose he is, for I
cannot say my own thought."
"On my life, I cannot remember."
"Did you note the appearance of the young gentleman you saw
slain that night? Do you recollect aught of the appearance of my
young master, George Colwan?"
Mrs. Calvert sat silent, and stared the other mildly in the face.
Their looks encountered, and there was an unearthly amazement
that gleamed from each, which, meeting together, caught real fire,
and returned the flame to their heated imaginations, till the two
associates became like two statues, with their hands spread, their
eyes fixed, and their chops fallen down upon their bosoms. An
old woman who kept the lodging-house, having been called in
before when Mrs. Logan was faintish, chanced to enter at this
crisis with some cordial; and, seeing the state of her lodgers, she
caught the infection, and fell into the same rigid and statue-like
appearance. No scene more striking was ever exhibited; and if
Mrs. Calvert had not resumed strength of mind to speak, and
break the spell, it is impossible to say how long it might have
continued. "It is he, I believe," said she, uttering the words as it
were inwardly. "It can be none other but he. But, no, it is
impossible! I saw him stabbed through and through the heart; I
saw him roll backward on the green in his own blood, utter his
last words, and groan away his soul. Yet, if it is not he, who can it
"It is he!" cried Mrs. Logan, hysterically.
"Yes, yes, it is he!" cried the landlady, in unison.
"It is who?" said Mrs. Calvert. "Whom do you mean, mistress?"
"Oh, I don't know! I don't know! I was affrighted."
"Hold your peace then till you recover your senses, and tell me, if
you can, who that young gentleman is who keeps company with
the new Laird of Dalcastle?"
"Oh, it is he! It is he!" screamed Mrs. Logan, wringing her hands.
"Oh, it is he! It is he!" cried the landlady, wringing hers.
Mrs. Calvert turned the latter gently and civilly out of the
apartment, observing that there seemed to be some infection in
the air of the room, and she would be wise for herself to keep out
The two dames had a restless and hideous night. Sleep came not
to their relief, for their conversation was wholly about the dead,
who seemed to be alive, and their minds were wandering and
groping in a chaos of mystery. "Did you attend to his corpse, and
know that he positively died and was buried?" said Mrs. Calvert.
"Oh, yes, from the moment that his fair but mangled corpse was
brought home, I attended it till that when it was screwed in the
coffin. I washed the long stripes of blood from his lifeless form,
on both sides of the body. I bathed the livid wound that passed
through his generous and gentle heart. There was one through the
flesh of his left side too, which had bled most outwardly of them
all. I bathed them, and bandaged them up with wax and perfumed
ointment, but still the blood oozed through all, so that when he
was laid in the coffin he was like one newly murdered. My brave,
my generous young master. He was always as a son to me, and no
son was ever more kind or more respectful to a mother. But he
was butchered--he was cut off from the earth ere he had well
reached to manhood--most barbarously and unfairly slain. And
how is it, how can it be, that we again see him here, walking arm
in arm with his murderer?"
"The thing cannot be, Mrs. Logan. It is a phantasy of our
disturbed imaginations, therefore let us compose ourselves till we
investigate this matter farther."
"It cannot be in nature, that is quite clear," said Mrs. Logan. "Yet
how it should be that I should think so--I who knew and nursed
him from his infancy--there lies the paradox. As you said once
before, we have nothing but our senses to depend on, and, if you
and I believe that we see a person, why, we do see him. Whose
word, or whose reasoning can convince us against our own
senses? We will disguise ourselves as poor women selling a few
country wares, and we will go up to the Hall, and see what is to
see, and hear what we can hear, for this is a weighty business in
which we are engaged, namely, to turn the vengeance of the law
upon an unnatural monster; and we will further learn, if we can,
who this is that accompanies him."
Mrs. Calvert acquiesced, and the two dames took their way to
Dalcastle, with baskets well furnished with trifles. They did not
take the common path from the village, but went about, and
approached the mansion by a different way. But it seemed as if
some overruling power ordered it that they should miss no chance
of attaining the information they wanted. For ere ever they came
within half a mile of Dalcastle they perceived the two youths
coming as to meet them, on the same path. The road leading
from Dalcastle towards the north-east, as all the country knows,
goes along a dark bank of brush-wood called the Bogle-heuch. It
was by this track that the two women were going, and, when they
perceived the two gentlemen meeting them, they turned back,
and, the moment they were out of their sight, they concealed
themselves in a thicket close by the road. They did this because
Mrs. Logan was terrified for being discovered, and because they
wished to reconnoitre without being seen. Mrs. Calvert now
charged her, whatever she saw, or whatever she heard, to put on a
resolution, and support it, for if she fainted there and was
discovered, what was to become of her!
The two young men came on, in earnest and vehement
conversation; but the subject they were on was a terrible one, and
hardly fit to be repeated in the face of a Christian community.
Wringhim was disputing the boundlessness of the true Christian's
freedom, and expressing doubts that, chosen as he knew he was
from all eternity, still it might be possible for him to commit acts
that would exclude him from the limits of the covenant. The other
argued, with mighty fluency, that the thing was utterly
impossible, and altogether inconsistent with eternal
predestination. The arguments of the latter prevailed, and the
laird was driven to sullen silence. But, to the women's utter
surprise, as the conquering disputant passed, he made a signal of
recognizance through the brambles to them, as formerly, and, that
he might expose his associate fully, and in his true colours, he led
him back, wards and forwards by the women more than twenty
times, making him to confess both the crimes that he had done
and those he had in contemplation. At length he said to him:
"Assuredly I saw some strolling vagrant women on this walk, my
dear friend: I wish we could find them, for there is little doubt
that they are concealed here in your woods."
"I wish we could find them," answered Wringhim. "We would
have fine sport maltreating and abusing them."
"That we should, that we should! Now tell me, Robert, if you
found a malevolent woman, the latent enemy of your prosperity,
lurking in these woods to betray you, what would you inflict on
"I would tear her to pieces with my dogs, and feed them with her
flesh. Oh, my dear friend, there is an old strumpet who lived with
my unnatural father, whom I hold in such utter detestation that I
stand constantly in dread of her, and would sacrifice the half of
my estate to shed her blood!"
"What will you give me if I will put her in your power, and give
you a fair and genuine excuse for making away with her; one for
which you shall answer at the bar, here or hereafter?"
"I should like to see the vile hag put down. She is in possession of
the family plate, that is mine by right, as well as a thousand
valuable relics, and great riches besides, all of which the old
profligate gifted shamefully away. And it is said, besides all
these, that she has sworn my destruction."
"She has, she has. But I see not how she can accomplish that,
seeing the deed was done so suddenly, and in the silence of the
"It was said there were some onlookers. But where shall we find
that disgraceful Miss Logan?"
"I will show you her by and by. But will you then consent to the
other meritorious deed? Come, be a man, and throw away
"If you can convince me that the promise is binding I will."
"Then step this way, till I give you a piece of information."
They walked a little way out of hearing, but went not out of sight;
therefore, though the women were in a terrible quandary, they
durst not stir, for they had some hopes that this extraordinary
person was on a mission of the same sort with themselves, knew
of them, and was going to make use of their testimony. Mrs.
Logan was several times on the point of falling into a swoon, so
much did the appearance of the young man impress her, until her
associate covered her face that she might listen without
embarrassment. But this latter dialogue roused different feelings
within them; namely, those arising from imminent personal
danger. They saw his waggish associate point out the place of
their concealment to Wringhim, who came towards them, out of
curiosity to see what his friend meant by what he believed to be a
joke, manifestly without crediting it in the least degree. When he
came running away, the other called after him: "If she is too hard
for you, call to me." As he said this, he hasted out of sight, in the
contrary direction, apparently much delighted with the joke.
Wringhim came rushing through the thicket impetuously, to the
very spot where Mrs. Logan lay squatted. She held the wrapping
close about her head, but he tore it off and discovered her. "The
curse of God be on thee!" said he. "What fiend has brought thee
here, and for what purpose art thou come? But, whatever has
brought thee, I have thee!" and with that he seized her by the
throat. The two women, when they heard what jeopardy they
were in from such a wretch, had squatted among the underwood
at a small distance from each other, so that he had never observed
Mrs. Calvert; but, no sooner had he seized her benefactor, than,
like a wild cat, she sprung out of the thicket, and had both hands
fixed at his throat, one of them twisted in his stock, in a
twinkling. She brought him back-over among the brushwood, and
the two, fixing on him like two harpies, mastered him with case.
Then indeed was he woefully beset. He deemed for a while that
his friend was at his back, and, turning his bloodshot eyes
towards the path, he attempted to call; but there was no friend
there, and the women cut short his cries by another twist of his
stock. "Now, gallant and rightful Laird of Dalcastle," said Mrs.
Logan, "what hast thou to say for thyself? Lay thy account to dree
the weird thou hast so well earned. Now shalt thou suffer due
penance for murdering thy brave and only brother."
"Thou liest, thou hag of the pit! I touched not my brother's life."
"I saw thee do it with these eyes that now look thee in the face;
ay, when his back was to thee, too, and while he was hotly
engaged with thy friend," said Mrs. Calvert.
"I heard thee confess it again and again this same hour," said Mrs.
"Ay, and so did I," said her companion. "Murder will out, though
the Almighty should lend hearing to the ears of the willow, and
speech to the seven tongues of the woodriff."
"You are liars and witches!" said he, foaming with rage, "and
creatures fitted from the beginning for eternal destruction. I'll
have your bones and your blood sacrificed on your cursed altars!
O Gil-Martin! Gil-Martin! Where art thou now? Here, here is the
proper food for blessed vengeance! Hilloa!"
There was no friend, no Gil-Martin there to hear or assist him: he
was in the two women's mercy, but they used it with moderation.
They mocked, they tormented, and they threatened him; but,
finally, after putting him in great terror, they bound his hands
behind his back, and his feet fast with long straps of garters
which they chanced to have in their baskets, to prevent him from
pursuing them till they were out of his reach. As they left him,
which they did in the middle of the path, Mrs. Calvert said: "We
could easily put an end to thy sinful life, but our hands shall be
free of thy blood. Nevertheless thou art still in our power, and the
vengeance of thy country shall overtake thee, thou mean and
cowardly murderer, ay, and that more suddenly than thou art
The women posted to Edinburgh; and as they put themselves
under the protection of an English merchant, who was journeying
thither with twenty horses laden, and armed servants, so they had
scarcely any conversation on the road. When they arrived at Mrs.
Logan's house, then they spoke of what they had seen and heard,
and agreed that they had sufficient proof to condemn young
Wringhim, who they thought richly deserved the severest doom
of the law.
"I never in my life saw any human being," said Mrs. Calvert,
whom I thought so like a fiend. If a demon could inherit flesh and
blood, that youth is precisely such a being as I could conceive
that demon to be. The depth and the malignity of his eye is
hideous. His breath is like the airs from a charnel house, and his
flesh seems fading from his bones, as if the worm that never dies
were gnawing it away already."
"He was always repulsive, and every way repulsive," said the
other, "but be is now indeed altered greatly to the worse. While
we were hand-fasting him, I felt his body to be feeble and
emaciated; but yet I know him to be so puffed up with spiritual
pride that I believe he weens every one of his actions justified
before God, and, instead of having stings of conscience for these,
he takes great merit to himself in having effected them. Still my
thoughts are less about him than the extraordinary being who
accompanies him. He does everything with so much ease and
indifference, so much velocity and effect, that all bespeak him an
adept in wickedness. The likeness to my late hapless young
master is so striking that I can hardly believe it to be a chance
model; and I think he imitates him in everything, for some
purpose or some effect on his sinful associate. Do you know that
he is so like in every lineament, look, and gesture, that, against
the, clearest light of reason, I cannot in my mind separate the one
from the other, and have a certain indefinable expression on my
mind that they are one and the same being, or that the one was a
prototype of the other."
"If there is an earthly crime," said Mrs. Calvert, "for the due
punishment of which the Almighty may be supposed to subvert
the order of nature, it is fratricide. But tell me, dear friend, did
you remark to what the subtile and hellish villain was
endeavouring to prompt the assassin?"
"No, I could not comprehend it. My senses were altogether so
bewildered that I thought they had combined to deceive me, and I
gave them no credit."
"Then bear me: I am almost certain he was using every
persuasion to induce him to make away with his mother; and I
likewise conceive that I heard the incendiary give his consent!"
"This is dreadful. Let us speak and think no more about it, till we
see the issue. In the meantime, let us do that which is our
bounden duty--go and divulge all that we know relating to this
Accordingly the two women went to Sir Thomas Wallace of
Craigie, the Lord justice Clerk (who was, I think, either uncle or
grandfather to young Drummond, who was outlawed and obliged
to fly his country on account of Colwan's death), and to that
gentleman they related every circumstance of what they had seen
and heard. He examined Calvert very minutely, and seemed
deeply interested in her evidence--said he knew she was relating
the truth, and, in testimony of it, brought a letter of young
Drummond's from his desk, wherein that young gentleman, after
protesting his innocence in the most forcible terms, confessed
having been with such a woman in such a house, after leaving the
company of his friends; and that, on going home, Sir Thomas's
servant had let him in, in the dark, and from these circumstances
he found it impossible to prove an alibi. He begged of his
relative, if ever an opportunity offered, to do his endeavour to
clear up that mystery, and remove the horrid stigma from his
name in his country, and among his kin, of having stabbed a
friend behind his back.
Lord Craigie, therefore, directed the two women to the proper
authorities, and, after hearing their evidence there, it was judged
proper to apprehend the present Laird of Dalcastle, and bring him
to his trial. But, before that, they sent the prisoner in the
Tolbooth, he who had seen the whole transaction along with Mrs.
Calvert, to take a view of Wringhim privately; and, his
discrimination being so well known as to be proverbial all over
the land, they determined secretly to be ruled by his report. They
accordingly sent him on a pretended mission of legality to
Dalcastle, with orders to see and speak with the proprietor,
without giving him a hint what was wanted. On his return, they
examined him, and he told them that he found all things at the
place in utter confusion and dismay; that the lady of the place was
missing, and could not be found, dead or alive. On being asked if
he had ever seen the proprietor before, he looked astounded and
unwilling to answer. But it came out that he had; and that he had
once seen him kill a man on such a spot at such an hour.
Officers were then dispatched, without delay, to apprehend the
monster, and bring him to justice. On these going to the mansion,
and inquiring for him, they were told he was at home; on which
they stationed guards, and searched all the premises, but he was
not to be found. It was in vain that they overturned beds, raised
floors, and broke open closets: Robert Wringhim Colwan was lost
once and for ever. His mother also was lost; and strong suspicions
attached to some of the farmers and house servants to whom she
was obnoxious, relating to her disappearance.
The Honourable Thomas Drummond became a distinguished
officer in the Austrian service, and died in the memorable year
for Scotland, 1715; and this is all with which history, justiciary
records, and tradition, furnish me relating to these matters.
I have now the pleasure of presenting my readers with an original
document of a most singular nature, and preserved for their
perusal in a still more singular manner. I offer no remarks on it,
and make as few additions to it, leaving everyone to judge for
himself. We have heard much of the rage of fanaticism in former
days, but nothing to this.
The Private Memoirs and
Confessions of a Sinner
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
PRIVATE MEMOIRS AND CONFESSIONS OF A SINNER
My life has been a life of trouble and turmoil of change and
vicissitude; of anger and exultation; of sorrow and of vengeance.
My sorrows have all been for a slighted gospel, and my
vengeance has been wreaked on its adversaries. Therefore, in the
might of Heaven, I will sit down and write: I will let the wicked
of this world know what I have done in the faith of the promises,
and justification by grace, that they may read and tremble, and
bless their gods of silver and gold that the minister of Heaven was
removed from their sphere before their blood was mingled with
I was born an outcast in the world, in which I was destined to act
so conspicuous a part. My mother was a burning and a shining
light, in the community of Scottish worthies, and in the days of
her virginity had suffered much in the persecution of the saints.
But it so pleased Heaven that, as a trial of her faith, she was
married to one of the wicked; a man all over spotted with the
leprosy of sin. As well might they have conjoined fire and water
together, in hopes that they would consort and amalgamate, as
purity and corruption: She fled from his embraces the first night
after their marriage, and from that time forth his iniquities so
galled her upright heart that she quitted his society altogether,
keeping her own apartments in the same house with him.
I was the second son of this unhappy marriage, and, ere ever I
was born, my father according to the flesh disclaimed all relation
or connection with me, and all interest in me, save what the law
compelled him to take, which was to grant me a scanty
maintenance; and had it not been for a faithful minister of the
gospel, my mother's early instructor, I should have remained an
outcast from the church visible. He took pity on me, admitting me
not only into that, but into the bosom of his own household and
ministry also, and to him am I indebted, under Heaven, for the
high conceptions and glorious discernment between good and
evil, right and wrong, which I attained even at an early age. It was
he who directed my studies aright, both in the learning of the
ancient fathers and the doctrines of the reformed church, and
designed me for his assistant and successor in the holy office. I
missed no opportunity of perfecting myself particularly in all the
minute points of theology in which my reverend father and
mother took great delight; but at length I acquired so much skill
that I astonished my teachers, and made them gaze at one
another. I remember that it was the custom, in my patron's house,
to ask questions of the Single Catechism round every Sabbath
night. He asked the first, my mother the second, and so on,
everyone saying the question asked and then asking the next. It
fell to my mother to ask Effectual Calling at me. I said the answer
with propriety and emphasis. "Now, madam," added I, my
question to you is: What is Ineffectual Calling?"
"Ineffectual Calling? There is no such thing, Robert," said she.
"But there is, madam," said I, and that answer proves how much
you say these fundamental precepts by rote, and without any
consideration. Ineffectual Calling is the outward call of the gospel
without any effect on the hearts of unregenerated and impenitent
sinners. Have not all these the same calls, warnings, doctrines,
and reproofs, that we have? And is not this ineffectual Calling?
Has not Ardinferry the same? Has not Patrick M'Lure the same?
Has not the Laird of Dalcastle and his reprobate heir the same?
And will any tell me that this is not Ineffectual Calling?"
"What a wonderful boy he is!" said my mother.
"I'm feared he turn out to be a conceited gowk," said old Barnet,
the minister's man.
"No," said my pastor, and father (as I shall henceforth
denominate him). "No, Barnet, he is a wonderful boy; and no
marvel, for I have prayed for these talents to be bestowed on him
from his infancy: and do you think that Heaven would refuse a
prayer so disinterested? No, it is impossible. But my dread is,
madam," continued he, turning to my mother, "that he is yet in
the bond of iniquity."
"God forbid!" said my mother.
"I have struggled with the Almighty long and hard," continued
he; "but have as yet no certain token of acceptance in his behalf, I
have indeed fought a hard fight, but have been repulsed by him
who hath seldom refused my request; although I cited his own
words against him, and endeavoured to hold him at his promise,
he hath so many turnings in the supremacy of his power, that I
have been rejected. How dreadful is it to think of our darling
being still without the pale of the covenant! But I have vowed a
vow, and in that there is hope."
My heart quaked with terror when I thought of being still living
in a state of reprobation, subjected to the awful issues of death,
judgment, and eternal misery, by the slightest accident or
casualty; and I set about the duty of prayer myself with the
utmost earnestness. I prayed three times every day, and seven
times on the Sabbath; but, the more frequently and fervently that I
prayed, I sinned still the more. About this time, and for a long
period afterwards, amounting to several years, I lived in a
hopeless and deplorable state of mind; for I said to myself, "If my
name is not written in the book of life from all eternity, it is in
vain for me to presume that either vows or prayers of mine, or
those of all mankind combined, can ever procure its insertion
now." I had come under many vows, most solemnly taken, every
one of which I had broken; and I saw with the intensity of
juvenile grief that there was no hope for me. I went on sinning
every hour, and all the while most strenuously warring against
sin, and repenting of every one transgression as soon after the
commission of it as I got leisure to think. But, oh, what a
wretched state this unregenerated state is, in which every effort
after righteousness only aggravates our offences! I found it vanity
to contend; for, after communing with my heart, the conclusion
was as follows: "If I could repent me of all my sins, and shed
tears of blood for them, still have I not a load of original
transgression pressing on me that is enough to crush me to the
lowest hell. I may be angry with my first parents for having
sinned, but how I shall repent me of their sin is beyond what I am
able to comprehend."
Still, in those days of depravity and corruption, I had some of
those principles implanted in my mind which were afterwards to
spring up with such amazing fertility among the heroes of the
faith and the promises. In particular, I felt great indignation
against all the wicked of this world, and often wished for the
means of ridding it of such a noxious burden. I liked John Barnet,
my reverend father's serving-man, extremely ill; but, from a
supposition that he might be one of the justified, I refrained from
doing him any injury. He gave always his word against me, and
when we were by ourselves, in the barn or the fields, he rated me
with such severity for my faults that my heart could brook it no
longer. He discovered some notorious lies that I had framed, and
taxed me with them in such a manner that I could in no wise get
off. My cheek burnt, with offence, rather than shame; and he,
thinking he had got the mastery of me, exulted over me most
unmercifully, telling me I was a selfish and conceited blackguard,
who made great pretences towards religious devotion to cloak a
disposition tainted with deceit, and that it would not much
astonish him if I brought myself to the gallows.
I gathered some courage from his over-severity, and answered
him as follows: "Who made thee a judge of the actions or
dispositions of the Almighty's creatures--thou who art a worm
and no man in his sight? How it befits thee to deal out judgments and
anathemas! Hath he not made one vessel to honour, and another
to dishonour, as in the case with myself and thee? Hath he not
builded his stories in the heavens, and laid the foundations
thereof in the earth, and how can a being like thee judge between
good and evil, that are both subjected to the workings of his hand;
or of the opposing principles in the soul of man, correcting,
modifying, and refining one another?"
I said this with that strong display of fervour for which I was
remarkable at my years, and expected old Barnet to be utterly
confounded; but he only shook his head, and, with the most
provoking grin, said: "There he goes! Sickan sublime and
ridiculous sophistry I never heard come out of another mouth but
ane. There needs nae aiths to be sworn afore the session wha is
your father, young goodman. I ne'er, for my part, saw a son sac
like a dad, sin' my een first opened." With that he went away,
saying with an ill-natured wince: "You made to honour and me to
dishonour! Dirty bow-kail thing that thou be'st!"
"I will have the old rascal on the hip for this, if I live," thought I.
So I went and asked my mother if John was a righteous man. She
could not tell, but supposed he was, and therefore I got no
encouragement from her. I went next to my reverend father, and
inquired his opinion, expecting as little from that quarter. He
knew the elect as it were by instinct, and could have told you of
all those in his own, and some neighbouring parishes, who were
born within the boundaries of the covenant of promise, and who
"I keep a good deal in company with your servant, old Barnet,
father," said I.
"You do, boy, you do, I see," said he.
"I wish I may not keep too much in his company," said I, "not
knowing what kind of society I am in. Is John a good man,
"Why, boy, he is but so so. A morally good man John is, but very
little of the leaven of true righteousness, which is faith, within. I
am afraid old Barnet, with all his stock of morality, will be a
My heart was greatly cheered by this remark; and I sighed very
deeply, and hung my head to one side. The worthy father
observed me, and inquired the cause, when I answered as follows:
"How dreadful the thought, that I have been going daily in
company and fellowship with one whose name is written on the
red-letter side of the book of life; whose body and soul have
been, from all eternity, consigned over to everlasting destruction,
and to whom the blood of the atonement can never, never reach!
Father, this is an awful thing, and beyond my comprehension."
"While we are in the world, we must mix with the inhabitants
thereof," said he; "and the stains which adhere to us by reason of
this mixture, which is unavoidable, shall all be washed away. It is
our duty, however, to shun the society of wicked men as much as
possible, lest we partake of their sins, and become sharers with
them in punishment. John, however, is morally a good man, and
may yet get a cast of grace."
"I always thought him a good man till to-day," said I, "when he
threw out some reflections on your character, so horrible that I
quake to think of the wickedness and malevolence of his heart.
He was rating me very impertinently for some supposed fault,
which had no being save in his own jealous brain, when I
attempted to reason him out of his belief in the spirit of calm
Christian argument. But how do you think he answered me? He
did so, sir, by twisting his mouth at me, and remarking that such
sublime and ridiculous sophistry never came out of another
mouth but one (meaning yours) and that no oath before a kirk
session was necessary to prove who was my dad, for that he had
never seen a son so like a father as I was like mine."
"He durst not for his soul's salvation, and for his daily bread,
which he values much more, say such a word, boy; therefore, take
care what you assert," said my reverend father.
"He said these very words, and will not deny them, sir," said I.
My reverend father turned about in great wrath and indignation,
and went away in search of John, but I kept out of the way, and
listened at a back window; for John was dressing the plot of
ground behind the house; and I hope it was no sin in me that I did
rejoice in the dialogue which took place, it being the victory of
righteousness over error.
"Well, John, this is a fine day for your delving work."
"Ay, it's a tolerable day, sir."
"Are you thankful in heart, John, for such temporal mercies as
"Aw doubt we're a' ower little thankfu', sir, baith for temporal an'
speeritual mercies; but it isna aye the maist thankfu' heart that
maks the greatest fraze wi' the tongue."
"I hope there is nothing personal under that remark, John?"
"Gin the bannet fits ony body's head, they're unco welcome to it,
sir, for me."
"John, I do not approve of these innuendoes. You have an arch
malicious manner. of vending your aphorisms, which the men of
the world are too apt to read the wrong way, for your dark hints
are sure to have one very bad meaning."
"Hout na, sir, it's only bad folks that think sac. They find ma bits
o' gibes come hame to their hearts wi' a kind o' yerk, an' that gars
"That saying is ten times worse than the other, John; it is a
manifest insult: it is just telling me to my face that you think me a
"A body canna help his thoughts, sir."
"No, but a man's thoughts are generally formed from observation.
Now I should like to know, even from the mouth of a
misbeliever, what part of my conduct warrants such a
"Nae particular pairt, sir; I draw a' my conclusions frae the haill o'
a man's character, an' I'm no that aften far wrong."
"Well, John, and what sort of general character do you suppose
mine to be?"
"Yours is a Scripture character, sir, an' I'll prove it."
"I hope so, John. Well, which of the Scripture characters do you
think approximates nearest to my own?"
"Guess, sir, guess; I wish to lead a proof."
"Why, if it be an Old Testament character, I hope it is
Melchizedek, for at all events you cannot deny there is one point
of resemblance: I, like him, am a preacher of righteousness. If it
be a New Testament character, I suppose you mean the Apostle
of the Gentiles, of whom I am an unworthy representative."
"Na, na, sir, better nor that still, an' fer closer is the resemblance.
When ye bring me to the point, I maun speak. Ye are the just
Pharisee, sir, that gaed up wi' the poor publican to pray in the
Temple; an' ye're acting the very same pairt at this time, an'
saying i' your heart, 'God, I thank thee that I am not as other men
are, an' in nae way like this poor misbelieving unregenerate
sinner, John Barnet.'"
"I hope I may say so indeed."
"There now! I tauld you how it was! But, d'ye hear, maister. Here
stands the poor sinner, John Barnet, your beadle an' servantman,
wha wadna change chances wi' you in the neist world, nor
consciences in this, for ten times a' that you possess--your
justification by faith an' awthegither."
"You are extremely audacious and impertinent, John; but the
language of reprobation cannot affect me: I came only to ask you
one question, which I desire you to answer candidly. Did you
ever say to anyone that I was the boy Robert's natural father?"
"Hout na, sir! Ha-ha-ha! Aih, fie, na, sir! I durst-na say that for
my life. I doubt the black stool, an' the sack gown, or maybe the
juggs wad hae been my portion had I said sic a thing as that.
Hout, hout! Fie, fie! Unco-like doings thae for a Melchizedek or a
"John, you are a profane old man, and I desire that you will not
presume to break your jests on me. Tell me, dare you say, or dare
you think, that I am the natural father of that boy?"
"Ye canna hinder me to think whatever I like, sir, nor can I hinder
"But did you ever say to anyone that he resembled me, and
fathered himself well enough?"
"I hae said mony a time that he resembled you, sir. Naebody can
"But, John, there are many natural reasons for such likenesses,
besides that of consanguinity. They depend much on the thoughts
and affections of the mother; and it is probable that the mother of
this boy, being deserted by her worthless husband, having turned
her thoughts on me, as likely to be her protector, may have
caused this striking resemblance."
"Ay, it may be, sir. I coudna say."
"I have known a lady, John, who was delivered of a blackamoor
child, merely from the circumstance of having got a start by the
sudden entrance of her negro servant, and not being able to forget
him for several hours."
"It may be, sir; but I ken this--an' I had been the laird, I wadna
hae ta'en that story in."
"So, then, John, you positively think, from a casual likeness, that
this boy is my son?"
"Man's thoughts are vanity, sir; they come unasked, an' gang
away without a dismissal, an' he canna' help them. I'm neither
gaun to say that I think he's your son, nor that I think he's no your
son: sae ye needna pose me nae mair about it."
"Hear then my determination, John. If you do not promise to me,
in faith and honour, that you never will say, or insinuate such a
thing again in your life, as that that boy is my natural son, I will
take the keys of the church from you, and dismiss you from my
John pulled out the keys, and dashed them on the gravel at the
reverend minister's feet. "There are the keys o' your kirk, sir! I
hae never had muckle mense o' them sin' ye entered the door o't. I
hae carried them this three and thretty year, but they hae aye been
like to burn a hole i' my pouch sin' ever they were turned for your
admittance. Tak them again, an' gie them to wha you will, and
muckle gude may he get o' them. Auld John may dee a beggar in
a hay barn, or at the back of a dike, but he sall aye be master o'
his ain thoughts an' gie them vent or no, as he likes."
He left the manse that day, and I rejoiced in the riddance; for I
disdained to be kept so much under by one who was in bond of
iniquity, and of whom there seemed no hope, as he rejoiced in his
frowardness, and refused to submit to that faithful teacher, his
It was about this time that my reverend father preached a sermon,
one sentence of which affected me most disagreeably. It was to
the purport that every unrepented sin was productive of a new sin
with each breath that a man drew; and every one of these new
sins added to the catalogue in the same manner. I was utterly
confounded at the multitude of my transgressions; for I was
sensible that there were great numbers of sins of which I had
never been able thoroughly to repent, and these momentary ones,
by moderate calculation, had, I saw. long ago, amounted to a
hundred and fifty thousand in the minute, and I saw no end to the
series of repentances to which I had subjected myself. A life-time
was nothing to enable me to accomplish the sum, and then being,
for anything I was certain of, in my state of nature, and the grace
of repentance withheld from me--what was I to do, or what was
to become of me? In the meantime, I went on sinning without
measure; but I was still more troubled about the multitude than
the magnitude of my transgressions, and the small minute ones
puzzled me more than those that were more heinous, as the latter
had generally some good effects in the way of punishing wicked
men, froward boys, and deceitful women; and I rejoiced, even
then in my early youth, at being used as a scourge in the hand of
the Lord; another Jehu, a Cyrus, or a Nebuchadnezzar.
On the whole, I remember that I got into great confusion relating
to my sins and repentances, and knew neither where to begin nor
how to proceed, and often had great fears that I was wholly
without Christ, and that I would find God a consuming fire to me.
I could not help running into new sins continually; but then I was
mercifully dealt with, for I was often made to repent of them
most heartily, by reason of bodily chastisements received on
these delinquencies being discovered. I was particularly prone to
lying, and I cannot but admire the mercy that has freely forgiven
me all these juvenile sins. Now that I know them all to be blotted
out, and that I am an accepted person, I may the more freely
confess them: the truth is, that one lie always paved the way for
another, from hour to hour, from day to day, and from year to
year; so that I found myself constantly involved in a labyrinth of
deceit, from which it was impossible to extricate myself. If I
knew a person to be a godly one, I could almost have kissed his
feet; but, against the carnal portion of mankind, I set my face
continually. I esteemed the true ministers of the gospel; but the
prelatic party, and the preachers up of good works I abhorred, and
to this hour I account them the worst and most heinous of all
There was only one boy at Mr. Witch's class who kept always the
upper hand of me in every part of education. I strove against him
from year to year, but it was all in vain; for he was a very wicked
boy, and I was convinced he had dealings with the Devil. Indeed,
it was believed all over the country that his mother was a witch;
and I was at length convinced, that it was no human ingenuity
that beat me with so much ease in the Latin, after I had often sat
up a whole night with my reverend father, studying my lesson in
all its bearings. I often read as well and sometimes better than he;
but, the moment Mr. Wilson began to examine us, my opponent
popped up above me. I determined (as I knew him for a wicked
person, and one of the Devil's handfasted children) to be
revenged on him, and to humble him by some means or other.
Accordingly I lost no opportunity of setting the master against
him, and succeeded several times in getting him severely beaten
for faults of which he was innocent. I can hardly describe the joy
that it gave to my heart to see a wicked creature suffering, for,
though he deserved it not for one thing, he richly deserved it for
others. This may be by some people accounted a great sin in me;
but I deny it, for I did it as a duty, and what a man or boy does for
the right will never be put into the sum of his transgressions.
This boy, whose name was M'Gill, was, at all his leisure hours,
engaged in drawing profane pictures of beasts, men, women,
houses, and trees, and, in short, of all things that his eye
encountered. These profane things the master often smiled at, and
admired; therefore I began privately to try my hand likewise. I
had scarcely tried above once to draw the figure of a man, ere I
conceived that I had hit the very features of Mr. Wilson. They
were so particular that they could not be easily mistaken, and I
was so tickled and pleased with the droll likeness that I had
drawn that I laughed immoderately at it. I tried no other figure
but this; and I tried it in every situation in which a man and a
schoolmaster could be placed. I often wrought for hours together
at this likeness, nor was it long before I made myself so much
master of the outline that I could have drawn it in any situation
whatever, almost off hand. I then took M'Gill's account book of
algebra home with me, and at my leisure put down a number
of gross caricatures of Mr. Wilson here and there, several of them
in situations notoriously ludicrous. I waited the discovery of this
treasure with great impatience; but the book, chancing to be one
that M'Gill was not using, I saw it might be long enough before
I enjoyed the consummation of my grand scheme: therefore,
with all the ingenuity I was master of, I brought it before our
dominie's eye. But never shall I forget the rage that gleamed
in the tyrant's phiz! I was actually terrified to look at him, and
trembled at his voice. M'Gill was called upon, and examined
relating to the obnoxious figures. He denied flatly that any of
them were of his doing. But the master inquiring at him whose
they were, he could not tell, but affirmed it to be some trick. Mr.
Wilson at one time began, as I thought, to hesitate; but the
evidence was so strong against M'Gill that at length his solemn
asseverations of innocence only proved an aggravation of his
crime. There was not one in the school who had ever been known
to draw a figure but himself, and on him fell the whole weight of
the tyrant's vengeance. It was dreadful; and I was once in hopes
that he would not leave life in the culprit. He, however, left the
school for several months, refusing to return to be subjected to
punishment for the faults of others, and I stood king of the class.
Matters, were at last made up between M'Gill's parents and the
schoolmaster, but by that time I had got the start of him, and
never in my life did I exert myself so much as to keep the
mastery. It was in vain; the powers of enchantment prevailed, and
I was again turned down with the tear in my eye. I could think of
no amends but one, and, being driven to desperation, I put it in
practice. I told a lie of him. I came boldly up to the master, and
told him that M'Gill had in my hearing cursed him in a most
shocking manner, and called him vile names. He called M'Gill,
and charged him with the crime, and the proud young coxcomb
was so stunned at the atrocity of the charge that his face grew as
red as crimson, and the words stuck in his throat as he feebly
denied it. His guilt was manifest, and he was again flogged most
nobly and dismissed the school for ever in disgrace, as a most
This was a great victory gained, and I rejoiced and exulted
exceedingly in it. It had, however, very nigh cost me my life; for
I not long thereafter I encountered M'Gill in the fields, on which
he came up and challenged me for a liar, daring me to fight him. I
refused, and said that I looked on him as quite below my notice;
but he would not quit me, and finally told me that he should
either lick me, or I should lick him, as he had no other means of
being revenged on such a scoundrel. I tried to intimidate him, but
it would not do; and I believe I would have given all that I had in
the world to be quit of him. He at length went so far as first to
kick me, and then strike me on the face; and, being both older and
stronger than he, I thought it scarcely became me to take such
insults patiently. I was, nevertheless, well aware that the devilish
powers of his mother would finally prevail; and either the dread
of this, or the inward consciousness of having wronged him,
certainly unnerved my arm, for I fought wretchedly, and was
soon wholly overcome. I was so sore defeated that I kneeled and
was going to beg his pardon; but another thought struck me
momentarily, and I threw myself on my face, and inwardly
begged aid from heaven; at the same time I felt as if assured that
my prayer was heard, and would be answered. While I was in this
humble attitude, the villain kicked me with his foot and cursed
me; and I, being newly encouraged, arose and encountered him
once more. We had not fought long at this second turn before I
saw a man hastening towards us; on which I uttered a shout of
joy, and laid on valiantly; but my very next look assured me that
the man was old John Barnet, whom I had likewise wronged all
that was in my power, and between these two wicked persons I
expected anything but justice. My arm was again enfeebled, and
that of my adversary prevailed. I was knocked down and mauled
most grievously, and, while the ruffian was kicking and cuffing
me at his will and pleasure, up came old John Barnet, breathless
with running, and, at one blow with his open hand, levelled my
opponent with the earth. "Tak ye that, maister!" said John, "to
learn ye better breeding. Hout awa, man! An ye will fight, fight
fair. Gude sauf us, ir ye a gentleman's brood, that ye will kick an'
cuff a lad when he's down?"
When I heard this kind and unexpected interference, I began once
more to value myself on my courage, and, springing up, I made at
my adversary; but John, without saying a word, bit his lip, and
seizing me by the neck threw me down. M'Gill begged of him to
stand and see fair play, and suffer us to finish the battle; for,
added he. "he is a liar, and a scoundrel, and deserves ten times
more than I can give him."
"I ken he's a' that ye say, an' mair, my man," quoth John. "But am
I sure that ye're no as bad, an' waur? It says nae muckle for ony o'
ye to be tearing like tikes at one anither here."
John cocked his cudgel and stood between us, threatening to
knock the one dead who first offered to lift his hand against the
other; but, perceiving no disposition in any of us to separate, he
drove me home before him like a bullock, and keeping close
guard behind me, lest M'Gill had followed. I felt greatly indebted
to John, yet I complained of his interference to my mother, and
the old officious sinner got no thanks for his pains.
As I am writing only from recollection, so I remember of nothing
farther in these early days, in the least worthy of being recorded.
That I was a great, a transcendent sinner, I confess. But still I had
hopes of forgiveness, because I never sinned from principle, but
accident; and then I always tried to repent of these sins by the
slump, for individually it was impossible; and, though not always
successful in my endeavours, I could not help that, the grace of
repentance being withheld from me, I regarded myself as in no
degree accountable for the failure. Moreover, there were many of
the most deadly sins into which I never fell, for I dreaded those
mentioned in the Revelations as excluding sins, so that I guarded
against them continually. In particular, I brought myself to
despise, if not to abhor, the beauty of women, looking on it as the
greatest snare to which mankind was subjected, and though
young men and maidens, and even old women (my mother
among the rest), taxed me with being an unnatural wretch, I
gloried in my acquisition; and, to this day, am thankful for having
escaped the most dangerous of all snares.
I kept myself also free of the sins of idolatry and misbelief, both
of a deadly nature; and, upon the whole, I think I had not then
broken, that is, absolutely broken, above four out of the ten
commandments; but, for all that, I had more sense than to regard
either my good works, or my evil deeds, as in the smallest degree
influencing the eternal decrees of God concerning me, either with
regard to my acceptance or reprobation. I depended entirely on
the bounty of free grace, holding all the righteousness of man as
filthy rags, and believing in the momentous and magnificent truth
that, the more heavily loaden with transgressions, the more
welcome was the believer at the throne of grace. And I have
reason to believe that it was this dependence and this belief that at
last ensured my acceptance there.
I come now to the most important period of my existence--the
period that has modelled my character, and influenced every
action of my life--without which, this detail of my actions would
have been as a tale that hath been told--a monotonous farrago--an
uninteresting harangue--in short, a thing of nothing. Whereas, lo!
it must now be a relation of great and terrible actions, done in the
might, and by the commission of heaven. Amen.
Like the sinful king of Israel, I had been walking softly before the
Lord for a season. I had been humbled for my transgressions, and,
as far as I recollect, sorry on account of their numbers and
heinousness. My reverend father had been, moreover, examining
me every day regarding the state of my soul, and my answers
sometimes appeared to give him satisfaction, and sometimes not.
As for my mother, she would harp on the subject of my faith for
ever; yet, though I knew her to be a Christian, I confess that I
always despised her motley instructions, nor had I any great
regard for her person. If this was a crime in me, I never could
help it. I confess it freely, and believe it was a judgment from
heaven inflicted on her for some sin of former days, and that I
had no power to have acted otherwise towards her than I did.
In this frame of mind was I when my reverend father one
morning arose from his seat, and, meeting me as I entered the
room, he embraced me, and welcomed me into the community of
the just upon earth. I was struck speechless, and could make no
answer save by looks of surprise. My mother also came to me,
kissed, and wept over me; and, after showering unnumbered
blessings on my head, she also welcomed me into the society of
the just made perfect. Then each of them took me by a hand, and
my reverend father explained to me how he had wrestled with
God, as the patriarch of old had done, not for a night, but for days
and years, and that in bitterness and anguish of spirit, on my
account; but, that he had at last prevailed, and had now gained the
long and earnestly desired assurance of my acceptance with the
Almighty, in and through the merits and sufferings of his Son.
That I was now a justified person, adopted among the number of
God's children--my name written in the Lamb's book of life, and
that no by-past transgression, nor any future act of my own, or of
other men, could be instrumental in altering the decree. "All the
powers of darkness," added he, "shall never be able to pluck you
again out of your Redeemer's hand. And now, my son, be strong
and steadfast in the truth. Set your face against sin, and sinful
men, and resist even to blood, as many of the faithful of this land
have done, and your reward shall be double. I am assured of your
acceptance by the word and spirit of Him who cannot err, and
your sanctification and repentance unto life will follow in due
course. Rejoice and be thankful, for you are plucked as a brand
out of the burning, and now your redemption is sealed and sure."
I wept for joy to be thus assured of my freedom from all sin, and
of the impossibility of my ever again falling away from my new
state. I bounded away into the fields and the woods, to pour out
my spirit in prayer before the Almighty for his kindness to me:
my whole frame seemed to be renewed; every nerve was buoyant
with new life; I felt as if I could have flown in the air, or leaped
over the tops of the trees. An exaltation of spirit lifted me, as it
were, far above the earth and the sinful creatures crawling on its
surface; and I deemed myself as an eagle among the children of
men, soaring on high, and looking down with pity and contempt
on the grovelling creatures below.
As I thus wended my way, I beheld a young man of a mysterious
appearance coming towards me. I tried to shun him, being bent
on my own contemplations; but he cast himself in my way, so
that I could not well avoid him; and, more than that, I felt a sort
of invisible power that drew me towards him, something like the
force of enchantment, which I could not resist. As we approached
each other, our eyes met and I can never describe the strange
sensations that thrilled through my whole frame at that
impressive moment; a moment to me fraught with the most
tremendous consequences; the beginning of a series of adventures
which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am
no more in it. That time will now soon arrive, sooner than anyone
can devise who knows not the tumult of my thoughts and the
labour of my spirit; and when it hath come and passed over, when
my flesh and my bones are decayed, and my soul has passed to its
everlasting home, then shall the sons of men ponder on the events
of my life; wonder and tremble, and tremble and wonder how
such things should be.
That strange youth and I approached each other in silence, and
slowly, with our eyes fixed on each other's eyes. We approached
till not more than a yard intervened between us, and then stood
still and gazed, measuring each other from head to foot. What
was my astonishment on perceiving that he was the same being as
myself! The clothes were the same to the smallest item. The form
was the same; the apparent age; the colour of the hair; the eyes;
and, as far as recollection could serve me from viewing my own
features in a glass, the features too were the very same. I
conceived at first that I saw a vision, and that my guardian angel
had appeared to me at this important era of my life; but this
singular being read my thoughts in my looks, anticipating the
very words that I was going to utter.
"You think I am your brother," said he; or that I am your second
self. I am indeed your brother, not according to the flesh, but in
my belief of the same truths, and my assurance in the same mode
of redemption, than which I hold nothing so great or so glorious
"Then you are an associate well adapted to my present state," said
I. "For this time is a time of great rejoicing in spirit to me. I am
on my way to return thanks to the Most High for my redemption
from the bonds of sin and misery. If you will join with me heart
and hand in youthful thanksgiving, then shall we two go and
worship together; but, if not, go your way, and I shall go mine."
"Ah, you little know with how much pleasure I will accompany
you, and join with you in your elevated devotions," said he
fervently. "Your state is a state to be envied indeed; but I have
been advised of it, and am come to be a humble disciple of yours;
to be initiated into the true way of salvation by conversing with
you, and perhaps of being assisted by your prayers."
My spiritual pride being greatly elevated by this address, I began
to assume the preceptor, and questioned this extraordinary youth
with regard to his religious principles, telling him plainly, if he
was one who expected acceptance with God at all, on account of
good works, that I would hold no communion with him. He
renounced these at once, with the greatest vehemence, and
declared his acquiescence in my faith. I asked if he believed in
the eternal and irrevocable decrees of God, regarding the
salvation and condemnation of all mankind? He answered that he
did so: aye, what would signify all things else that he believed, if
he did not believe in that? We then went on to commune about all
our points of belief; and in everything that I suggested he
acquiesced, and, as I thought that day, often carried them to
extremes, so that I had a secret dread he was advancing
blasphemies. He had such a way with him, and paid such a
deference to all my opinions, that I was quite captivated, and, at
the same time, I stood in a sort of awe of him, which I could not
account for, and several times was seized with an involuntary
inclination to escape from his presence by making a sudden
retreat. But he seemed constantly to anticipate my thoughts, and
was sure to divert my purpose by some turn in the conversation
that particularly interested me. He took care to dwell much on the
theme of the impossibility of those ever falling away who were
once accepted and received into covenant with God, for he
seemed to know that in that confidence, and that trust, my whole
hopes were centred.
We moved about from one place to another, until the day was
wholly spent. My mind had all the while been kept in a state of
agitation resembling the motion of a whirlpool, and, when we
came to separate, I then discovered that the purpose for which I
had sought the fields had been neglected, and that I had been
diverted from the worship of God by attending to the quibbles
and dogmas of this singular and unaccountable being, who
seemed to have more knowledge and information than all the
persons I had ever known put together.
We parted with expressions of mutual regret, and when I left him
I felt a deliverance, but at the same time a certain consciousness
that I was not thus to get free of him, but that he was like to be an
acquaintance that was to stick to me for good or for evil. I was
astonished at his acuteness and knowledge about everything; but,
as for his likeness to me, that was quite unaccountable. He was
the same person in every respect, but yet he was not always so;
for I observed several times, when we were speaking of certain
divines and their tenets, that his face assumed something of the
appearance of theirs; and it struck me that, by setting his features
to the mould of other people's, he entered at once into their
conceptions and feelings. I had been greatly flattered, and greatly
interested by his conversation; whether I had been the better for it
or the worse, I could not tell. I had been diverted from returning
thanks to my gracious Maker for his great kindness to me, and came
home as I went away, but not with the same buoyancy and lightness of
heart. Well may I remember the day in which I was first received into
the number, and made an heir to all the privileges of the children
of God, and on which I first met this mysterious associate, who
from that day forth contrived to wind himself into all my affairs,
both spiritual and temporal, to this day on which I am writing the
account of it. It was on the 25th day of March, 1704, when I had
just entered the eighteenth year of my age. Whether it behoves
me to bless God for the events of that day, or to deplore them, has
been hid from my discernment, though I have inquired into it
with fear and trembling; and I have now lost all hopes of ever
discovering the true import of these events until that day when
my accounts are to make up and reckon for in another world.
When I came home, I went straight into the parlour, where my
mother was sitting by herself. She started to her feet, and uttered
a smothered scream. "What ails you, Robert?" cried she. "My
dear son, what is the matter with you?"
"Do you see anything the matter with me?" said I. "It appears that
the ailment is with yourself and either in your crazed head or your
dim eyes, for there is nothing the matter with me."
"Ah, Robert, you are ill!" cried she. "You are very ill, my dear
boy; you are quite changed; your very voice and manner are
changed. Ah, Jane, haste you up to the study, and tell Mr.
Wringhim to come here on the instant and speak to Robert."
"I beseech you, woman, to restrain yourself," said I. "If you suffer
your frenzy to run away with your judgment in this manner, I will
leave the house. What do you mean? I tell you, there is nothing
ails me: I never was better."
She screamed, and ran between me and the door, to bar my
retreat: in the meantime my reverend father entered, and I have
not forgot how he gazed, through his glasses, first at my mother,
and then at me. I imagined that his eyes burnt like candles, and
was afraid of him, which I suppose made my looks more unstable
than they would otherwise have been.
"What is all this for?" said he. "Mistress! Robert! What is the
"Oh, sir, our boy!" cried my mother; "our dear boy, Mr.
Wringhim! Look at him, and speak to him: he is either dying or
He looked at me with a countenance of great alarm; mumbling
some sentences to himself, and then taking me by the arm, as if to
feel my pulse, he said, with a faltering voice: "Something has
indeed befallen you, either in body or mind, boy, for you are
transformed, since the morning, that I could not have known you
for the same person. Have you met with any accident?"
"Have you seen anything out of the ordinary course of nature?"
"Then, Satan, I fear, has been busy with you, tempting you in no
ordinary degree at this momentous crisis of your life?"
My mind turned on my associate for the day, and the idea that he
might be an agent of the Devil had such an effect on me that I
could make no answer.
"I see how it is," said he; "you are troubled in spirit, and I have no
doubt that the enemy of our salvation has been busy with you.
Tell me this, has he overcome you, or has he not?"
"He has not, my dear father," said I. "in the strength of the Lord, I
hope I have withstood him. But indeed, if he has been busy with
me, I knew it not. I have been conversant this day with one
stranger only, whom I took rather for an angel of light."
"It is one of the Devil's most profound wiles to appear like one,"
said my mother.
"Woman, hold thy peace!" said my reverend father. "Thou
pretendest to teach what thou knowest not. Tell me this, boy: did
this stranger, with whom you met, adhere to the religious