Old Mortality Volume 2 by Sir Walter Scott

Produced by David Widger, with assistance from an etext produced by David Moynihan OLD MORTALITY By Walter Scott VOLUME II. CHAPTER I. And look how many Grecian tents do stand Hollow upon this plain–so many hollow factions. Troilus and Cressida. In a hollow of the hill, about a quarter of a mile from the field
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Produced by David Widger, with assistance from an etext produced by David Moynihan

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OLD MORTALITY

By Walter Scott

[Illustration: Titlepage]

VOLUME II.

CHAPTER I.

And look how many Grecian tents do stand Hollow upon this plain–so many hollow factions. Troilus and Cressida.

In a hollow of the hill, about a quarter of a mile from the field of battle, was a shepherd’s hut; a miserable cottage, which, as the only enclosed spot within a moderate distance, the leaders of the presbyterian army had chosen for their council-house. Towards this spot Burley guided Morton, who was surprised, as he approached it, at the multifarious confusion of sounds which issued from its precincts. The calm and anxious gravity which it might be supposed would have presided in councils held on such important subjects, and at a period so critical, seemed to have given place to discord wild, and loud uproar, which fell on the ear of their new ally as an evil augury of their future measures. As they approached the door, they found it open indeed, but choked up with the bodies and heads of countrymen, who, though no members of the council, felt no scruple in intruding themselves upon deliberations in which they were so deeply interested. By expostulation, by threats, and even by some degree of violence, Burley, the sternness of whose character maintained a sort of superiority over these disorderly forces, compelled the intruders to retire, and, introducing Morton into the cottage, secured the door behind them against impertinent curiosity. At a less agitating moment, the young man might have been entertained with the singular scene of which he now found himself an auditor and a spectator.

The precincts of the gloomy and ruinous hut were enlightened partly by some furze which blazed on the hearth, the smoke whereof, having no legal vent, eddied around, and formed over the heads of the assembled council a clouded canopy, as opake as their metaphysical theology, through which, like stars through mist, were dimly seen to twinkle a few blinking candles, or rather rushes dipped in tallow, the property of the poor owner of the cottage, which were stuck to the walls by patches of wet clay. This broken and dusky light showed many a countenance elated with spiritual pride, or rendered dark by fierce enthusiasm; and some whose anxious, wandering, and uncertain looks, showed they felt themselves rashly embarked in a cause which they had neither courage nor conduct to bring to a good issue, yet knew not how to abandon, for very shame. They were, indeed, a doubtful and disunited body. The most active of their number were those concerned with Burley in the death of the Primate, four or five of whom had found their way to Loudon-hill, together with other men of the same relentless and uncompromising zeal, who had, in various ways, given desperate and unpardonable offence to the government.

With them were mingled their preachers, men who had spurned at the indulgence offered by government, and preferred assembling their flocks in the wilderness, to worshipping in temples built by human hands, if their doing the latter should be construed to admit any right on the part of their rulers to interfere with the supremacy of the Kirk. The other class of counsellors were such gentlemen of small fortune, and substantial farmers, as a sense of intolerable oppression had induced to take arms and join the insurgents. These also had their clergymen with them, and such divines, having many of them taken advantage of the indulgence, were prepared to resist the measures of their more violent brethren, who proposed a declaration in which they should give testimony against the warrants and instructions for indulgence as sinful and unlawful acts. This delicate question had been passed over in silence in the first draught of the manifestos which they intended to publish, of the reasons of their gathering in arms; but it had been stirred anew during Balfour’s absence, and, to his great vexation, he now found that both parties had opened upon it in full cry, Macbriar, Kettledrummle, and other teachers of the wanderers, being at the very spring-tide of polemical discussion with Peter Poundtext, the indulged pastor of Milnwood’s parish, who, it seems, had e’en girded himself with a broadsword, but, ere he was called upon to fight for the good cause of presbytery in the field, was manfully defending his own dogmata in the council. It was the din of this conflict, maintained chiefly between Poundtext and Kettledrummle, together with the clamour of their adherents, which had saluted Morton’s ears upon approaching the cottage. Indeed, as both the divines were men well gifted with words and lungs, and each fierce, ardent, and intolerant in defence of his own doctrine, prompt in the recollection of texts wherewith they battered each other without mercy, and deeply impressed with the importance of the subject of discussion, the noise of the debate betwixt them fell little short of that which might have attended an actual bodily conflict.

Burley, scandalized at the disunion implied in this virulent strife of tongues, interposed between the disputants, and, by some general remarks on the unseasonableness of discord, a soothing address to the vanity of each party, and the exertion of the authority which his services in that day’s victory entitled him to assume, at length succeeded in prevailing upon them to adjourn farther discussion of the controversy. But although Kettledrummle and Poundtext were thus for the time silenced, they continued to eye each other like two dogs, who, having been separated by the authority of their masters while fighting, have retreated, each beneath the chair of his owner, still watching each other’s motions, and indicating, by occasional growls, by the erected bristles of the back and ears, and by the red glance of the eye, that their discord is unappeased, and that they only wait the first opportunity afforded by any general movement or commotion in the company, to fly once more at each other’s throats.

Balfour took advantage of the momentary pause to present to the council Mr Henry Morton of Milnwood, as one touched with a sense of the evils of the times, and willing to peril goods and life in the precious cause for which his father, the renowned Silas Morton, had given in his time a soul-stirring testimony. Morton was instantly received with the right hand of fellowship by his ancient pastor, Poundtext, and by those among the insurgents who supported the more moderate principles. The others muttered something about Erastianism, and reminded each other in whispers, that Silas Morton, once a stout and worthy servant of the Covenant, had been a backslider in the day when the resolutioners had led the way in owning the authority of Charles Stewart, thereby making a gap whereat the present tyrant was afterwards brought in, to the oppression both of Kirk and country. They added, however, that, on this great day of calling, they would not refuse society with any who should put hand to the plough; and so Morton was installed in his office of leader and counsellor, if not with the full approbation of his colleagues, at least without any formal or avowed dissent. They proceeded, on Burley’s motion, to divide among themselves the command of the men who had assembled, and whose numbers were daily increasing. In this partition, the insurgents of Poundtext’s parish and congregation were naturally placed under the command of Morton; an arrangement mutually agreeable to both parties, as he was recommended to their confidence, as well by his personal qualities as his having been born among them.

When this task was accomplished, it became necessary to determine what use was to be made of their victory. Morton’s heart throbbed high when he heard the Tower of Tillietudlem named as one of the most important positions to be seized upon. It commanded, as we have often noticed, the pass between the more wild and the more fertile country, and must furnish, it was plausibly urged, a stronghold and place of rendezvous to the cavaliers and malignants of the district, supposing the insurgents were to march onward and leave it uninvested. This measure was particularly urged as necessary by Poundtext and those of his immediate followers, whose habitations and families might be exposed to great severities, if this strong place were permitted to remain in possession of the royalists.

“I opine,” said Poundtext,–for, like the other divines of the period, he had no hesitation in offering his advice upon military matters of which he was profoundly ignorant,–“I opine, that we should take in and raze that stronghold of the woman Lady Margaret Bellenden, even though we should build a fort and raise a mount against it; for the race is a rebellious and a bloody race, and their hand has been heavy on the children of the Covenant, both in the former and the latter times. Their hook hath been in our noses, and their bridle betwixt our jaws.”

“What are their means and men of defence?” said Burley. “The place is strong; but I cannot conceive that two women can make it good against a host.”

“There is also,” said Poundtext, “Harrison the steward, and John Gudyill, even the lady’s chief butler, who boasteth himself a man of war from his youth upward, and who spread the banner against the good cause with that man of Belial, James Grahame of Montrose.”

“Pshaw!” returned Burley, scornfully, “a butler!”

“Also, there is that ancient malignant,” replied Poundtext, “Miles Bellenden of Charnwood, whose hands have been dipped in the blood of the saints.”

“If that,” said Burley, “be Miles Bellenden, the brother of Sir Arthur, he is one whose sword will not turn back from battle; but he must now be stricken in years.”

“There was word in the country as I rode along,” said another of the council, “that so soon as they heard of the victory which has been given to us, they caused shut the gates of the tower, and called in men, and collected ammunition. They were ever a fierce and a malignant house.”

“We will not, with my consent,” said Burley, “engage in a siege which may consume time. We must rush forward, and follow our advantage by occupying Glasgow; for I do not fear that the troops we have this day beaten, even with the assistance of my Lord Ross’s regiment, will judge it safe to await our coming.”

“Howbeit,” said Poundtext, “we may display a banner before the Tower, and blow a trumpet, and summon them to come forth. It may be that they will give over the place into our mercy, though they be a rebellious people. And we will summon the women to come forth of their stronghold, that is, Lady Margaret Bellenden and her grand-daughter, and Jenny Dennison, which is a girl of an ensnaring eye, and the other maids, and we will give them a safe conduct, and send them in peace to the city, even to the town of Edinburgh. But John Gudyill, and Hugh Harrison, and Miles Bellenden, we will restrain with fetters of iron, even as they, in times bypast, have done to the martyred saints.”

“Who talks of safe conduct and of peace?” said a shrill, broken, and overstrained voice, from the crowd.

“Peace, brother Habakkuk,” said Macbriar, in a soothing tone, to the speaker.

“I will not hold my peace,” reiterated the strange and unnatural voice; “is this a time to speak of peace, when the earth quakes, and the mountains are rent, and the rivers are changed into blood, and the two-edged sword is drawn from the sheath to drink gore as if it were water, and devour flesh as the fire devours dry stubble?”

While he spoke thus, the orator struggled forward to the inner part of the circle, and presented to Morton’s wondering eyes a figure worthy of such a voice and such language. The rags of a dress which had once been black, added to the tattered fragments of a shepherd’s plaid, composed a covering scarce fit for the purposes of decency, much less for those of warmth or comfort. A long beard, as white as snow, hung down on his breast, and mingled with bushy, uncombed, grizzled hair, which hung in elf-locks around his wild and staring visage. The features seemed to be extenuated by penury and famine, until they hardly retained the likeness of a human aspect. The eyes, grey, wild, and wandering, evidently betokened a bewildered imagination. He held in his hand a rusty sword, clotted with blood, as were his long lean hands, which were garnished at the extremity with nails like eagle’s claws.

“In the name of Heaven! who is he?” said Morton, in a whisper to Poundtext, surprised, shocked, and even startled, at this ghastly apparition, which looked more like the resurrection of some cannibal priest, or druid red from his human sacrifice, than like an earthly mortal.

“It is Habakkuk Mucklewrath,” answered Poundtext, in the same tone, “whom the enemy have long detained in captivity in forts and castles, until his understanding hath departed from him, and, as I fear, an evil demon hath possessed him. Nevertheless, our violent brethren will have it, that he speaketh of the spirit, and that they fructify by his pouring forth.”

Here he was interrupted by Mucklewrath, who cried in a voice that made the very beams of the roof quiver–“Who talks of peace and safe conduct? who speaks of mercy to the bloody house of the malignants? I say take the infants and dash them against the stones; take the daughters and the mothers of the house and hurl them from the battlements of their trust, that the dogs may fatten on their blood as they did on that of Jezabel, the spouse of Ahab, and that their carcasses may be dung to the face of the field even in the portion of their fathers!”

“He speaks right,” said more than one sullen voice from behind; “we will be honoured with little service in the great cause, if we already make fair weather with Heaven’s enemies.”

“This is utter abomination and daring impiety,” said Morton, unable to contain his indignation.

“What blessing can you expect in a cause, in which you listen to the mingled ravings of madness and atrocity?”

“Hush, young man!” said Kettledrummle, “and reserve thy censure for that for which thou canst render a reason. It is not for thee to judge into what vessels the spirit may be poured.”

“We judge of the tree by the fruit,” said Poundtext, “and allow not that to be of divine inspiration that contradicts the divine laws.”

“You forget, brother Poundtext,” said Macbriar, “that these are the latter days, when signs and wonders shall be multiplied.”

Poundtext stood forward to reply; but, ere he could articulate a word, the insane preacher broke in with a scream that drowned all competition.

“Who talks of signs and wonders? Am not I Habakkuk Mucklewrath, whose name is changed to Magor-Missabib, because I am made a terror unto myself and unto all that are around me?–I heard it–When did I hear it?–Was it not in the Tower of the Bass, that overhangeth the wide wild sea?–And it howled in the winds, and it roared in the billows, and it screamed, and it whistled, and it clanged, with the screams and the clang and the whistle of the sea-birds, as they floated, and flew, and dropped, and dived, on the bosom of the waters. I saw it–Where did I see it?–Was it not from the high peaks of Dunbarton, when I looked westward upon the fertile land, and northward on the wild Highland hills; when the clouds gathered and the tempest came, and the lightnings of heaven flashed in sheets as wide as the banners of an host?–What did I see?–Dead corpses and wounded horses, the rushing together of battle, and garments rolled in blood.–What heard I?–The voice that cried, Slay, slay–smite–slay utterly–let not your eye have pity! slay utterly, old and young, the maiden, the child, and the woman whose head is grey–Defile the house and fill the courts with the slain!”

“We receive the command,” exclaimed more than one of the company. “Six days he hath not spoken nor broken bread, and now his tongue is unloosed:–We receive the command; as he hath said, so will we do.”

Astonished, disgusted, and horror-struck, at what he had seen and heard, Morton turned away from the circle and left the cottage. He was followed by Burley, who had his eye on his motions.

“Whither are you going?” said the latter, taking him by the arm.

“Any where,–I care not whither; but here I will abide no longer.”

“Art thou so soon weary, young man?” answered Burley. “Thy hand is but now put to the plough, and wouldst thou already abandon it? Is this thy adherence to the cause of thy father?”

“No cause,” replied Morton, indignantly–“no cause can prosper, so conducted. One party declares for the ravings of a bloodthirsty madman; another leader is an old scholastic pedant; a third”–he stopped, and his companion continued the sentence–“Is a desperate homicide, thou wouldst say, like John Balfour of Burley?–I can bear thy misconstruction without resentment. Thou dost not consider, that it is not men of sober and self-seeking minds, who arise in these days of wrath to execute judgment and to accomplish deliverance. Hadst thou but seen the armies of England, during her Parliament of 1640, whose ranks were filled with sectaries and enthusiasts, wilder than the anabaptists of Munster, thou wouldst have had more cause to marvel; and yet these men were unconquered on the field, and their hands wrought marvellous things for the liberties of the land.”

“But their affairs,” replied Morton, “were wisely conducted, and the violence of their zeal expended itself in their exhortations and sermons, without bringing divisions into their counsels, or cruelty into their conduct. I have often heard my father say so, and protest, that he wondered at nothing so much as the contrast between the extravagance of their religious tenets, and the wisdom and moderation with which they conducted their civil and military affairs. But our councils seem all one wild chaos of confusion.”

“Thou must have patience, Henry Morton,” answered Balfour; “thou must not leave the cause of thy religion and country either for one wild word, or one extravagant action. Hear me. I have already persuaded the wiser of our friends, that the counsellors are too numerous, and that we cannot expect that the Midianites shall, by so large a number, be delivered into our hands. They have hearkened to my voice, and our assemblies will be shortly reduced within such a number as can consult and act together; and in them thou shalt have a free voice, as well as in ordering our affairs of war, and protecting those to whom mercy should be shown–Art thou now satisfied?”

“It will give me pleasure, doubtless,” answered Morton, “to be the means of softening the horrors of civil war; and I will not leave the post I have taken, unless I see measures adopted at which my conscience revolts. But to no bloody executions after quarter asked, or slaughter without trial, will I lend countenance or sanction; and you may depend on my opposing them, with both heart and hand, as constantly and resolutely, if attempted by our own followers, as when they are the work of the enemy.”

Balfour waved his hand impatiently.

“Thou wilt find,” he said, “that the stubborn and hard-hearted generation with whom we deal, must be chastised with scorpions ere their hearts be humbled, and ere they accept the punishment of their iniquity. The word is gone forth against them, ‘I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge the quarrel of my Covenant.’ But what is done shall be done gravely, and with discretion, like that of the worthy James Melvin, who executed judgment on the tyrant and oppressor, Cardinal Beaton.”

“I own to you,” replied Morton, “that I feel still more abhorrent at cold-blooded and premeditated cruelty, than at that which is practised in the heat of zeal and resentment.”

“Thou art yet but a youth,” replied Balfour, “and hast not learned how light in the balance are a few drops of blood in comparison to the weight and importance of this great national testimony. But be not afraid; thyself shall vote and judge in these matters; it may be we shall see little cause to strive together anent them.”

With this concession Morton was compelled to be satisfied for the present; and Burley left him, advising him to lie down and get some rest, as the host would probably move in the morning.

“And you,” answered Morton, “do not you go to rest also?”

“No,” said Burley; “my eyes must not yet know slumber. This is no work to be done lightly; I have yet to perfect the choosing of the committee of leaders, and I will call you by times in the morning to be present at their consultation.”

He turned away, and left Morton to his repose.

The place in which he found himself was not ill adapted for the purpose, being a sheltered nook, beneath a large rock, well protected from the prevailing wind. A quantity of moss with which the ground was overspread, made a couch soft enough for one who had suffered so much hardship and anxiety. Morton wrapped himself in the horse-man’s cloak which he had still retained, stretched himself on the ground, and had not long indulged in melancholy reflections on the state of the country, and upon his own condition, ere he was relieved from them by deep and sound slumber.

The rest of the army slept on the ground, dispersed in groups, which chose their beds on the fields as they could best find shelter and convenience. A few of the principal leaders held wakeful conference with Burley on the state of their affairs, and some watchmen were appointed who kept themselves on the alert by chanting psalms, or listening to the exercises of the more gifted of their number.

CHAPTER II.

Got with much ease–now merrily to horse. Henry IV. Part I.

With the first peep of day Henry awoke, and found the faithful Cuddie standing beside him with a portmanteau in his hand.

“I hae been just putting your honour’s things in readiness again ye were waking,” said Cuddie, “as is my duty, seeing ye hae been sae gude as to tak me into your service.”

“I take you into my service, Cuddie?” said Morton, “you must be dreaming.”

“Na, na, stir,” answered Cuddie; “didna I say when I was tied on the horse yonder, that if ever ye gat loose I would be your servant, and ye didna say no? and if that isna hiring, I kenna what is. Ye gae me nae arles, indeed, but ye had gien me eneugh before at Milnwood.”

“Well, Cuddie, if you insist on taking the chance of my unprosperous fortunes”–

“Ou ay, I’se warrant us a’ prosper weel eneugh,” answered Cuddie, cheeringly, “an anes my auld mither was weel putten up. I hae begun the campaigning trade at an end that is easy eneugh to learn.”

“Pillaging, I suppose?” said Morton, “for how else could you come by that portmanteau?”

“I wotna if it’s pillaging, or how ye ca’t,” said Cuddie, “but it comes natural to a body, and it’s a profitable trade. Our folk had tirled the dead dragoons as bare as bawbees before we were loose amaist.–But when I saw the Whigs a’ weel yokit by the lugs to Kettledrummle and the other chield, I set off at the lang trot on my ain errand and your honour’s. Sae I took up the syke a wee bit, away to the right, where I saw the marks o’mony a horsefoot, and sure eneugh I cam to a place where there had been some clean leatherin’, and a’ the puir chields were lying there buskit wi’ their claes just as they had put them on that morning–naebody had found out that pose o’ carcages–and wha suld be in the midst thereof (as my mither says) but our auld acquaintance, Sergeant Bothwell?”

“Ay, has that man fallen?” said Morton.

“Troth has he,” answered Cuddie; “and his een were open and his brow bent, and his teeth clenched thegither, like the jaws of a trap for foumarts when the spring’s doun–I was amaist feared to look at him; however, I thought to hae turn about wi’ him, and sae I e’en riped his pouches, as he had dune mony an honester man’s; and here’s your ain siller again (or your uncle’s, which is the same) that he got at Milnwood that unlucky night that made us a’ sodgers thegither.”

“There can be no harm, Cuddie,” said Morton, “in making use of this money, since we know how he came by it; but you must divide with me.”

“Bide a wee, bide a wee,” said Cuddie. “Weel, and there’s a bit ring he had hinging in a black ribbon doun on his breast. I am thinking it has been a love-token, puir fallow–there’s naebody sae rough but they hae aye a kind heart to the lasses–and there’s a book wi’a wheen papers, and I got twa or three odd things, that I’ll keep to mysell, forby.”

“Upon my word, you have made a very successful foray for a beginner,” said his new master.

“Haena I e’en now?” said Cuddie, with great exultation. “I tauld ye I wasna that dooms stupid, if it cam to lifting things.–And forby, I hae gotten twa gude horse. A feckless loon of a Straven weaver, that has left his loom and his bein house to sit skirling on a cauld hill-side, had catched twa dragoon naigs, and he could neither gar them hup nor wind, sae he took a gowd noble for them baith–I suld hae tried him wi’ half the siller, but it’s an unco ill place to get change in–Ye’ll find the siller’s missing out o’ Bothwell’s purse.”

“You have made a most excellent and useful purchase, Cuddie; but what is that portmanteau?”

“The pockmantle?” answered Cuddie, “it was Lord Evandale’s yesterday, and it’s yours the day. I fand it ahint the bush o’ broom yonder–ilka dog has its day–Ye ken what the auld sang says,

‘Take turn about, mither, quo’ Tam o’ the Linn.’

“And, speaking o’ that, I maun gang and see about my mither, puir auld body, if your honour hasna ony immediate commands.”

“But, Cuddie,” said Morton, “I really cannot take these things from you without some recompense.”

“Hout fie, stir,” answered Cuddie, “ye suld aye be taking,–for recompense, ye may think about that some other time–I hae seen gay weel to mysell wi’ some things that fit me better. What could I do wi’ Lord Evandale’s braw claes? Sergeant Bothwell’s will serve me weel eneugh.”

Not being able to prevail on the self-constituted and disinterested follower to accept of any thing for himself out of these warlike spoils, Morton resolved to take the first opportunity of returning Lord Evandale’s property, supposing him yet to be alive; and, in the meanwhile, did not hesitate to avail himself of Cuddie’s prize, so far as to appropriate some changes of linen and other triffling articles amongst those of more value which the portmanteau contained.

He then hastily looked over the papers which were found in Bothwell’s pocket-book. These were of a miscellaneous description. The roll of his troop, with the names of those absent on furlough, memorandums of tavern-bills, and lists of delinquents who might be made subjects of fine and persecution, first presented themselves, along with a copy of a warrant from the Privy Council to arrest certain persons of distinction therein named. In another pocket of the book were one or two commissions which Bothwell had held at different times, and certificates of his services abroad, in which his courage and military talents were highly praised. But the most remarkable paper was an accurate account of his genealogy, with reference to many documents for establishment of its authenticity; subjoined was a list of the ample possessions of the forfeited Earls of Bothwell, and a particular account of the proportions in which King James VI. had bestowed them on the courtiers and nobility by whose descendants they were at present actually possessed; beneath this list was written, in red letters, in the hand of the deceased, Haud Immemor, F. S. E. B. the initials probably intimating Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell. To these documents, which strongly painted the character and feelings of their deceased proprietor, were added some which showed him in a light greatly different from that in which we have hitherto presented him to the reader.

In a secret pocket of the book, which Morton did not discover without some trouble, were one or two letters, written in a beautiful female hand. They were dated about twenty years back, bore no address, and were subscribed only by initials. Without having time to peruse them accurately, Morton perceived that they contained the elegant yet fond expressions of female affection directed towards an object whose jealousy they endeavoured to soothe, and of whose hasty, suspicious, and impatient temper, the writer seemed gently to complain. The ink of these manuscripts had faded by time, and, notwithstanding the great care which had obviously been taken for their preservation, they were in one or two places chafed so as to be illegible.

“It matters not,” these words were written on the envelope of that which had suffered most, “I have them by heart.”

With these letters was a lock of hair wrapped in a copy of verses, written obviously with a feeling, which atoned, in Morton’s opinion, for the roughness of the poetry, and the conceits with which it abounded, according to the taste of the period:

Thy hue, dear pledge, is pure and bright, As in that well-remember’d night, When first thy mystic braid was wove, And first my Agnes whisper’d love. Since then, how often hast thou press’d The torrid zone of this wild breast, Whose wrath and hate have sworn to dwell With the first sin which peopled hell; A breast whose blood’s a troubled ocean, Each throb the earthquake’s wild commotion!–O, if such clime thou canst endure, Yet keep thy hue unstain’d and pure, What conquest o’er each erring thought Of that fierce realm had Agnes wrought! I had not wander’d wild and wide, With such an angel for my guide; Nor heaven nor earth could then reprove me, If she had lived, and lived to love me. Not then this world’s wild joys had been To me one savage hunting-scene, My sole delight the headlong race, And frantic hurry of the chase, To start, pursue, and bring to bay, Rush in, drag down, and rend my prey, Then from the carcass turn away; Mine ireful mood had sweetness tamed, And soothed each wound which pride inflamed;–Yes, God and man might now approve me, If thou hadst lived, and lived to love me!

As he finished reading these lines, Morton could not forbear reflecting with compassion on the fate of this singular and most unhappy being, who, it appeared, while in the lowest state of degradation, and almost of contempt, had his recollections continually fixed on the high station to which his birth seemed to entitle him; and, while plunged in gross licentiousness, was in secret looking back with bitter remorse to the period of his youth, during which he had nourished a virtuous, though unfortunate attachment.

“Alas! what are we,” said Morton, “that our best and most praiseworthy feelings can be thus debased and depraved–that honourable pride can sink into haughty and desperate indifference for general opinion, and the sorrow of blighted affection inhabit the same bosom which license, revenge, and rapine, have chosen for their citadel? But it is the same throughout; the liberal principles of one man sink into cold and unfeeling indifference, the religious zeal of another hurries him into frantic and savage enthusiasm. Our resolutions, our passions, are like the waves of the sea, and, without the aid of Him who formed the human breast, we cannot say to its tides, ‘Thus far shall ye come, and no farther.”‘

While he thus moralized, he raised his eyes, and observed that Burley stood before him.

“Already awake?” said that leader–“It is well, and shows zeal to tread the path before you.–What papers are these?” he continued.

Morton gave him some brief account of Cuddie’s successful marauding party, and handed him the pocket-book of Bothwell, with its contents. The Cameronian leader looked with some attention on such of the papers as related to military affairs, or public business; but when he came to the verses, he threw them from him with contempt.

“I little thought,” he said, “when, by the blessing of God, I passed my sword three times through the body of that arch tool of cruelty and persecution, that a character so desperate and so dangerous could have stooped to an art as trifling as it is profane. But I see that Satan can blend the most different qualities in his well-beloved and chosen agents, and that the same hand which can wield a club or a slaughter-weapon against the godly in the valley of destruction, can touch a tinkling lute, or a gittern, to soothe the ears of the dancing daughters of perdition in their Vanity Fair.”

“Your ideas of duty, then,” said Morton, “exclude love of the fine arts, which have been supposed in general to purify and to elevate the mind?”

“To me, young man,” answered Burley, “and to those who think as I do, the pleasures of this world, under whatever name disguised, are vanity, as its grandeur and power are a snare. We have but one object on earth, and that is to build up the temple of the Lord.”

“I have heard my father observe,” replied Morton, “that many who assumed power in the name of Heaven, were as severe in its exercise, and as unwilling to part with it, as if they had been solely moved by the motives of worldly ambition–But of this another time. Have you succeeded in obtaining a committee of the council to be nominated?”

“I have,” answered Burley. “The number is limited to six, of which you are one, and I come to call you to their deliberations.”

Morton accompanied him to a sequestered grassplot, where their colleagues awaited them. In this delegation of authority, the two principal factions which divided the tumultuary army had each taken care to send three of their own number. On the part of the Cameronians, were Burley, Macbriar, and Kettledrummle; and on that of the moderate party, Poundtext, Henry Morton, and a small proprietor, called the Laird of Langcale. Thus the two parties were equally balanced by their representatives in the committee of management, although it seemed likely that those of the most violent opinions were, as is usual in such cases, to possess and exert the greater degree of energy. Their debate, however, was conducted more like men of this world than could have been expected from their conduct on the preceding evening. After maturely considering their means and situation, and the probable increase of their numbers, they agreed that they would keep their position for that day, in order to refresh their men, and give time to reinforcements to join them, and that, on the next morning, they would direct their march towards Tillietudlem, and summon that stronghold, as they expressed it, of malignancy. If it was not surrendered to their summons, they resolved to try the effect of a brisk assault; and, should that miscarry, it was settled that they should leave a part of their number to blockade the place, and reduce it, if possible, by famine, while their main body should march forward to drive Claverhouse and Lord Ross from the town of Glasgow. Such was the determination of the council of management; and thus Morton’s first enterprise in active life was likely to be the attack of a castle belonging to the parent of his mistress, and defended by her relative, Major Bellenden, to whom he personally owed many obligations! He felt fully the embarrassment of his situation, yet consoled himself with the reflection, that his newly-acquired power in the insurgent army would give him, at all events, the means of extending to the inmates of Tillietudlem a protection which no other circumstance could have afforded them; and he was not without hope that he might be able to mediate such an accommodation betwixt them and the presbyterian army, as should secure them a safe neutrality during the war which was about to ensue.

CHAPTER III.

There came a knight from the field of slain, His steed was drench’d in blood and rain. Finlay.

We must now return to the fortress of Tillietudlem and its inhabitants. The morning, being the first after the battle of Loudon-hill, had dawned upon its battlements, and the defenders had already resumed the labours by which they proposed to render the place tenable, when the watchman, who was placed in a high turret, called the Warder’s Tower, gave the signal that a horseman was approaching. As he came nearer, his dress indicated an officer of the Life-Guards; and the slowness of his horse’s pace, as well as the manner in which the rider stooped on the saddle-bow, plainly showed that he was sick or wounded. The wicket was instantly opened to receive him, and Lord Evandale rode into the court-yard, so reduced by loss of blood, that he was unable to dismount without assistance. As he entered the hall, leaning upon a servant, the ladies shrieked with surprise and terror; for, pale as death, stained with blood, his regimentals soiled and torn, and his hair matted and disordered, he resembled rather a spectre than a human being. But their next exclamation was that of joy at his escape.

“Thank God!” exclaimed Lady Margaret, “that you are here, and have escaped the hands of the bloodthirsty murderers who have cut off so many of the king’s loyal servants!”

“Thank God!” added Edith, “that you are here and in safety! We have dreaded the worst. But you are wounded, and I fear we have little the means of assisting you.”

“My wounds are only sword-cuts,” answered the young nobleman, as he reposed himself on a seat; “the pain is not worth mentioning, and I should not even feel exhausted but for the loss of blood. But it was not my purpose to bring my weakness to add to your danger and distress, but to relieve them, if possible. What can I do for you?–Permit me,” he added, addressing Lady Margaret–“permit me to think and act as your son, my dear madam–as your brother, Edith!”

He pronounced the last part of the sentence with some emphasis, as if he feared that the apprehension of his pretensions as a suitor might render his proffered services unacceptable to Miss Bellenden. She was not insensible to his delicacy, but there was no time for exchange of sentiments.

“We are preparing for our defence,” said the old lady with great dignity; “my brother has taken charge of our garrison, and, by the grace of God, we will give the rebels such a reception as they deserve.”

“How gladly,” said Evandale, “would I share in the defence of the Castle! But in my present state, I should be but a burden to you, nay, something worse; for, the knowledge that an officer of the Life-Guards was in the Castle would be sufficient to make these rogues more desperately earnest to possess themselves of it. If they find it defended only by the family, they may possibly march on to Glasgow rather than hazard an assault.”

“And can you think so meanly of us, my lord,” said Edith, with the generous burst of feeling which woman so often evinces, and which becomes her so well, her voice faltering through eagerness, and her brow colouring with the noble warmth which dictated her language–“Can you think so meanly of your friends, as that they would permit such considerations to interfere with their sheltering and protecting you at a moment when you are unable to defend yourself, and when the whole country is filled with the enemy? Is there a cottage in Scotland whose owners would permit a valued friend to leave it in such circumstances? And can you think we will allow you to go from a castle which we hold to be strong enough for our own defence?”

“Lord Evandale need never think of it,” said Lady Margaret. “I will dress his wounds myself; it is all an old wife is fit for in war time; but to quit the Castle of Tillietudlem when the sword of the enemy is drawn to slay him,–the meanest trooper that ever wore the king’s coat on his back should not do so, much less my young Lord Evandale.–Ours is not a house that ought to brook such dishonour. The tower of Tillietudlem has been too much distinguished by the visit of his most sacred”–

Here she was interrupted by the entrance of the Major.

“We have taken a prisoner, my dear uncle,” said Edith–“a wounded prisoner, and he wants to escape from us. You must help us to keep him by force.”

“Lord Evandale!” exclaimed the veteran. “I am as much pleased as when I got my first commission. Claverhouse reported you were killed, or missing at least.”

“I should have been slain, but for a friend of yours,” said Lord Evandale, speaking with some emotion, and bending his eyes on the ground, as if he wished to avoid seeing the impression that what he was about to say would make upon Miss Bellenden. “I was unhorsed and defenceless, and the sword raised to dispatch me, when young Mr Morton, the prisoner for whom you interested yourself yesterday morning, interposed in the most generous manner, preserved my life, and furnished me with the means of escaping.”

As he ended the sentence, a painful curiosity overcame his first resolution; he raised his eyes to Edith’s face, and imagined he could read in the glow of her cheek and the sparkle of her eye, joy at hearing of her lover’s safety and freedom, and triumph at his not having been left last in the race of generosity. Such, indeed, were her feelings; but they were also mingled with admiration of the ready frankness with which Lord Evandale had hastened to bear witness to the merit of a favoured rival, and to acknowledge an obligation which, in all probability, he would rather have owed to any other individual in the world.

Major Bellenden, who would never have observed the emotions of either party, even had they been much more markedly expressed, contented himself with saying, “Since Henry Morton has influence with these rascals, I am glad he has so exerted it; but I hope he will get clear of them as soon as he can. Indeed, I cannot doubt it. I know his principles, and that he detests their cant and hypocrisy. I have heard him laugh a thousand times at the pedantry of that old presbyterian scoundrel, Poundtext, who, after enjoying the indulgence of the government for so many years, has now, upon the very first ruffle, shown himself in his own proper colours, and set off, with three parts of his cropeared congregation, to join the host of the fanatics.–But how did you escape after leaving the field, my lord?”

“I rode for my life, as a recreant knight must,” answered Lord Evandale, smiling. “I took the route where I thought I had least chance of meeting with any of the enemy, and I found shelter for several hours–you will hardly guess where.”

“At Castle Bracklan, perhaps,” said Lady Margaret, “or in the house of some other loyal gentleman?”

“No, madam. I was repulsed, under one mean pretext or another, from more than one house of that description, for fear of the enemy following my traces; but I found refuge in the cottage of a poor widow, whose husband had been shot within these three months by a party of our corps, and whose two sons are at this very moment with the insurgents.”

“Indeed?” said Lady Margaret Bellenden; “and was a fanatic woman capable of such generosity?–but she disapproved, I suppose, of the tenets of her family?”

“Far from it, madam,” continued the young nobleman; “she was in principle a rigid recusant, but she saw my danger and distress, considered me as a fellow-creature, and forgot that I was a cavalier and a soldier. She bound my wounds, and permitted me to rest upon her bed, concealed me from a party of the insurgents who were seeking for stragglers, supplied me with food, and did not suffer me to leave my place of refuge until she had learned that I had every chance of getting to this tower without danger.”

“It was nobly done,” said Miss Bellenden; “and I trust you will have an opportunity of rewarding her generosity.”

“I am running up an arrear of obligation on all sides, Miss Bellenden, during these unfortunate occurrences,” replied Lord Evandale; “but when I can attain the means of showing my gratitude, the will shall not be wanting.”

All now joined in pressing Lord Evandale to relinquish his intention of leaving the Castle; but the argument of Major Bellenden proved the most effectual.

“Your presence in the Castle will be most useful, if not absolutely necessary, my lord, in order to maintain, by your authority, proper discipline among the fellows whom Claverhouse has left in garrison here, and who do not prove to be of the most orderly description of inmates; and, indeed, we have the Colonel’s authority, for that very purpose, to detain any officer of his regiment who might pass this way.”

“That,” said Lord Evandale, “is an unanswerable argument, since it shows me that my residence here may be useful, even in my present disabled state.”

“For your wounds, my lord,” said the Major, “if my sister, Lady Bellenden, will undertake to give battle to any feverish symptom, if such should appear, I will answer that my old campaigner, Gideon Pike, shall dress a flesh-wound with any of the incorporation of Barber-Surgeons. He had enough of practice in Montrose’s time, for we had few regularly-bred army chirurgeons, as you may well suppose.–You agree to stay with us, then?”

“My reasons for leaving the Castle,” said Lord Evandale, glancing a look towards Edith, “though they evidently seemed weighty, must needs give way to those which infer the power of serving you. May I presume, Major, to enquire into the means and plan of defence which you have prepared? or can I attend you to examine the works?”

It did not escape Miss Bellenden, that Lord Evandale seemed much exhausted both in body and mind. “I think, sir,” she said, addressing the Major, “that since Lord Evandale condescends to become an officer of our garrison, you should begin by rendering him amenable to your authority, and ordering him to his apartment, that he may take some refreshment ere he enters on military discussions.”

“Edith is right,” said the old lady; “you must go instantly to bed, my lord, and take some febrifuge, which I will prepare with my own hand; and my lady-in-waiting, Mistress Martha Weddell, shall make some friar’s chicken, or something very light. I would not advise wine.–John Gudyill, let the housekeeper make ready the chamber of dais. Lord Evandale must lie down instantly. Pike will take off the dressings, and examine the state of the wounds.”

“These are melancholy preparations, madam,” said Lord Evandale, as he returned thanks to Lady Margaret, and was about to leave the hall,–“but I must submit to your ladyship’s directions; and I trust that your skill will soon make me a more able defender of your castle than I am at present. You must render my body serviceable as soon as you can, for you have no use for my head while you have Major Bellenden.”

With these words he left the apartment.

“An excellent young man, and a modest,” said the Major.

“None of that conceit,” said Lady Margaret, “that often makes young folk suppose they know better how their complaints should be treated than people that have had experience.”

“And so generous and handsome a young nobleman,” said Jenny Dennison, who had entered during the latter part of this conversation, and was now left alone with her mistress in the hall, the Major returning to his military cares, and Lady Margaret to her medical preparations.

Edith only answered these encomiums with a sigh; but, although silent, she felt and knew better than any one how much they were merited by the person on whom they were bestowed. Jenny, however, failed not to follow up her blow.

“After a’, it’s true that my lady says–there’s nae trusting a presbyterian; they are a’ faithless man-sworn louns. Whae wad hae thought that young Milnwood and Cuddie Headrigg wad hae taen on wi’ thae rebel blackguards?”

“What do you mean by such improbable nonsense, Jenny?” said her young mistress, very much displeased.

“I ken it’s no pleasing for you to hear, madam,” answered Jenny hardily; “and it’s as little pleasant for me to tell; but as gude ye suld ken a’ about it sune as syne, for the haill Castle’s ringing wi’t.”

“Ringing with what, Jenny? Have you a mind to drive me mad?” answered Edith, impatiently.

“Just that Henry Morton of Milnwood is out wi’ the rebels, and ane o’ their chief leaders.”

“It is a falsehood!” said Edith–“a most base calumny! and you are very bold to dare to repeat it to me. Henry Morton is incapable of such treachery to his king and country–such cruelty to me–to–to all the innocent and defenceless victims, I mean, who must suffer in a civil war–I tell you he is utterly incapable of it, in every sense.”

“Dear! dear! Miss Edith,” replied Jenny, still constant to her text, “they maun be better acquainted wi’ young men than I am, or ever wish to be, that can tell preceesely what they’re capable or no capable o’. But there has been Trooper Tam, and another chield, out in bonnets and grey plaids, like countrymen, to recon–reconnoitre–I think John Gudyill ca’d it; and they hae been amang the rebels, and brought back word that they had seen young Milnwood mounted on ane o’ the dragoon horses that was taen at Loudon-hill, armed wi’ swords and pistols, like wha but him, and hand and glove wi’ the foremost o’ them, and dreeling and commanding the men; and Cuddie at the heels o’ him, in ane o’ Sergeant Bothwell’s laced waistcoats, and a cockit hat with a bab o’ blue ribbands at it for the auld cause o’ the Covenant, (but Cuddie aye liked a blue ribband,) and a ruffled sark, like ony lord o’ the land–it sets the like o’ him, indeed!”

“Jenny,” said her young mistress hastily, “it is impossible these men’s report can be true; my uncle has heard nothing of it at this instant.”

“Because Tam Halliday,” answered the handmaiden, “came in just five minutes after Lord Evandale; and when he heard his lordship was in the Castle, he swore (the profane loon!) he would be d–d ere he would make the report, as he ca’d it, of his news to Major Bellenden, since there was an officer of his ain regiment in the garrison. Sae he wad have said naething till Lord Evandale wakened the next morning; only he tauld me about it,” (here Jenny looked a little down,) “just to vex me about Cuddie.”

“Poh, you silly girl,” said Edith, assuming some courage, “it is all a trick of that fellow to teaze you.”

“Na, madam, it canna be that, for John Gudyill took the other dragoon (he’s an auld hard-favoured man, I wotna his name) into the cellar, and gae him a tass o’ brandy to get the news out o’ him, and he said just the same as Tam Halliday, word for word; and Mr Gudyill was in sic a rage, that he tauld it a’ ower again to us, and says the haill rebellion is owing to the nonsense o’ my Leddy and the Major, and Lord Evandale, that begged off young Milnwood and Cuddie yesterday morning, for that, if they had suffered, the country wad hae been quiet–and troth I am muckle o’ that opinion mysell.”

This last commentary Jenny added to her tale, in resentment of her mistress’s extreme and obstinate incredulity. She was instantly alarmed, however, by the effect which her news produced upon her young lady, an effect rendered doubly violent by the High-church principles and prejudices in which Miss Bellenden had been educated. Her complexion became as pale as a corpse, her respiration so difficult that it was on the point of altogether failing her, and her limbs so incapable of supporting her, that she sunk, rather than sat, down upon one of the seats in the hall, and seemed on the eve of fainting. Jenny tried cold water, burnt feathers, cutting of laces, and all other remedies usual in hysterical cases, but without any immediate effect.

“God forgie me! what hae I done?” said the repentant fille-de-chambre. “I wish my tongue had been cuttit out!–Wha wad hae thought o’ her taking on that way, and a’ for a young lad?–O, Miss Edith–dear Miss Edith, haud your heart up about it, it’s maybe no true for a’ that I hae said–O, I wish my mouth had been blistered! A’ body tells me my tongue will do me a mischief some day. What if my Leddy comes? or the Major?–and she’s sitting in the throne, too, that naebody has sate in since that weary morning the King was here!–O, what will I do! O, what will become o’ us!”

While Jenny Dennison thus lamented herself and her mistress, Edith slowly returned from the paroxysm into which she had been thrown by this unexpected intelligence.

“If he had been unfortunate,” she said, “I never would have deserted him. I never did so, even when there was danger and disgrace in pleading his cause. If he had died, I would have mourned him–if he had been unfaithful, I would have forgiven him; but a rebel to his King,–a traitor to his country,–the associate and colleague of cut-throats and common stabbers,–the persecutor of all that is noble,–the professed and blasphemous enemy of all that is sacred,–I will tear him from my heart, if my life-blood should ebb in the effort!”

She wiped her eyes, and rose hastily from the great chair, (or throne, as Lady Margaret used to call it,) while the terrified damsel hastened to shake up the cushion, and efface the appearance of any one having occupied that sacred seat; although King Charles himself, considering the youth and beauty as well as the affliction of the momentary usurper of his hallowed chair, would probably have thought very little of the profanation. She then hastened officiously to press her support on Edith, as she paced the hall apparently in deep meditation.

“Tak my arm, madam; better just tak my arm; sorrow maun hae its vent, and doubtless”–

“No, Jenny,” said Edith, with firmness; “you have seen my weakness, and you shall see my strength.”

“But ye leaned on me the other morning. Miss Edith, when ye were sae sair grieved.”

“Misplaced and erring affection may require support, Jenny–duty can support itself; yet I will do nothing rashly. I will be aware of the reasons of his conduct–and then–cast him off for ever,” was the firm and determined answer of her young lady.

Overawed by a manner of which she could neither conceive the motive, nor estimate the merit, Jenny muttered between her teeth, “Odd, when the first flight’s ower, Miss Edith taks it as easy as I do, and muckle easier, and I’m sure I ne’er cared half sae muckle about Cuddie Headrigg as she did about young Milnwood. Forby that, it’s maybe as weel to hae a friend on baith sides; for, if the whigs suld come to tak the Castle, as it’s like they may, when there’s sae little victual, and the dragoons wasting what’s o’t, ou, in that case, Milnwood and Cuddie wad hae the upper hand, and their freendship wad be worth siller–I was thinking sae this morning or I heard the news.”

With this consolatory reflection the damsel went about her usual occupations, leaving her mistress to school her mind as she best might, for eradicating the sentiments which she had hitherto entertained towards Henry Morton.

CHAPTER IV.

Once more into the breach–dear friends, once more! Henry V.

On the evening of this day, all the information which they could procure led them to expect, that the insurgent army would be with early dawn on their march against Tillietudlem. Lord Evandale’s wounds had been examined by Pike, who reported them in a very promising state. They were numerous, but none of any consequence; and the loss of blood, as much perhaps as the boasted specific of Lady Margaret, had prevented any tendency to fever; so that, notwithstanding he felt some pain and great weakness, the patient maintained that he was able to creep about with the assistance of a stick. In these circumstances he refused to be confined to his apartment, both that he might encourage the soldiers by his presence, and suggest any necessary addition to the plan of defence, which the Major might be supposed to have arranged upon something of an antiquated fashion of warfare. Lord Evandale was well qualified to give advice on such subjects, having served, during his early youth, both in France and in the Low Countries. There was little or no occasion, however, for altering the preparations already made; and, excepting on the article of provisions, there seemed no reason to fear for the defence of so strong a place against such assailants as those by whom it was threatened.

With the peep of day, Lord Evandale and Major Bellenden were on the battlements again, viewing and re-viewing the state of their preparations, and anxiously expecting the approach of the enemy. I ought to observe, that the report of the spies had now been regularly made and received; but the Major treated the report that Morton was in arms against the government with the most scornful incredulity.

“I know the lad better,” was the only reply he deigned to make; “the fellows have not dared to venture near enough, and have been deceived by some fanciful resemblance, or have picked up some story.”

“I differ from you, Major,” answered Lord Evandale; “I think you will see that young gentleman at the head of the insurgents; and, though I shall be heartily sorry for it, I shall not be greatly surprised.”

“You are as bad as Claverhouse,” said the Major, “who contended yesterday morning down my very throat, that this young fellow, who is as high-spirited and gentleman-like a boy as I have ever known, wanted but an opportunity to place himself at the head of the rebels.”

“And considering the usage which he has received, and the suspicions under which he lies,” said Lord Evandale, “what other course is open to him? For my own part, I should hardly know whether he deserved most blame or pity.”

“Blame, my lord?–Pity!” echoed the Major, astonished at hearing such sentiments; “he would deserve to be hanged, that’s all; and, were he my own son, I should see him strung up with pleasure–Blame, indeed! But your lordship cannot think as you are pleased to speak?”

“I give you my honour, Major Bellenden, that I have been for some time of opinion, that our politicians and prelates have driven matters to a painful extremity in this country, and have alienated, by violence of various kinds, not only the lower classes, but all those in the upper ranks, whom strong party-feeling, or a desire of court-interest, does not attach to their standard.”

“I am no politician,” answered the Major, “and I do not understand nice distinctions. My sword is the King’s, and when he commands, I draw it in his cause.”

“I trust,” replied the young lord, “you will not find me more backward than yourself, though I heartily wish that the enemy were foreigners. It is, however, no time to debate that matter, for yonder they come, and we must defend ourselves as well as we can.”

As Lord Evandale spoke, the van of the insurgents began to make their appearance on the road which crossed the top of the hill, and thence descended opposite to the Tower. They did not, however, move downwards, as if aware that, in doing so, their columns would be exposed to the fire of the artillery of the place. But their numbers, which at first seemed few, appeared presently so to deepen and concentrate themselves, that, judging of the masses which occupied the road behind the hill from the closeness of the front which they presented on the top of it, their force appeared very considerable. There was a pause of anxiety on both sides; and, while the unsteady ranks of the Covenanters were agitated, as if by pressure behind, or uncertainty as to their next movement, their arms, picturesque from their variety, glanced in the morning sun, whose beams were reflected from a grove of pikes, muskets, halberds, and battle-axes. The armed mass occupied, for a few minutes, this fluctuating position, until three or four horsemen, who seemed to be leaders, advanced from the front, and occupied the height a little nearer to the Castle. John Gudyill, who was not without some skill as an artilleryman, brought a gun to bear on this detached group.

“I’ll flee the falcon,”–(so the small cannon was called,)–“I’ll flee the falcon whene’er your honour gies command; my certie, she’ll ruffle their feathers for them!”

The Major looked at Lord Evandale.

“Stay a moment,” said the young nobleman, “they send us a flag of truce.”

In fact, one of the horsemen at that moment dismounted, and, displaying a white cloth on a pike, moved forward towards the Tower, while the Major and Lord Evandale, descending from the battlement of the main fortress, advanced to meet him as far as the barricade, judging it unwise to admit him within the precincts which they designed to defend. At the same time that the ambassador set forth, the group of horsemen, as if they had anticipated the preparations of John Gudyill for their annoyance, withdrew from the advanced station which they had occupied, and fell back to the main body.

The envoy of the Covenanters, to judge by his mien and manner, seemed fully imbued with that spiritual pride which distinguished his sect. His features were drawn up to a contemptuous primness, and his half-shut eyes seemed to scorn to look upon the terrestial objects around, while, at every solemn stride, his toes were pointed outwards with an air that appeared to despise the ground on which they trode. Lord Evandale could not suppress a smile at this singular figure.

“Did you ever,” said he to Major Bellenden, “see such an absurd automaton? One would swear it moves upon springs–Can it speak, think you?”

“O, ay,” said the Major; “that seems to be one of my old acquaintance, a genuine puritan of the right pharisaical leaven.–Stay–he coughs and hems; he is about to summon the Castle with the but-end of a sermon, instead of a parley on the trumpet.”

The veteran, who in his day had had many an opportunity to become acquainted with the manners of these religionists, was not far mistaken in his conjecture; only that, instead of a prose exordium, the Laird of Langcale–for it was no less a personage–uplifted, with a Stentorian voice, a verse of the twenty-fourth Psalm:

“Ye gates lift up your heads! ye doors, Doors that do last for aye, Be lifted up”–

“I told you so,” said the Major to Evandale, and then presented himself at the entrance of the barricade, demanding to know for what purpose or intent he made that doleful noise, like a hog in a high wind, beneath the gates of the Castle.

“I come,” replied the ambassador, in a high and shrill voice, and without any of the usual salutations or deferences,–“I come from the godly army of the Solemn League and Covenant, to speak with two carnal malignants, William Maxwell, called Lord Evandale, and Miles Bellenden of Charnwood.”

“And what have you to say to Miles Bellenden and Lord Evandale?” answered the Major.

“Are you the parties?” said the Laird of Langcale, in the same sharp, conceited, disrespectful tone of voice.

“Even so, for fault of better,” said the Major.

“Then there is the public summons,” said the envoy, putting a paper into Lord Evandale’s hand, “and there is a private letter for Miles Bellenden from a godly youth, who is honoured with leading a part of our host. Read them quickly, and God give you grace to fructify by the contents, though it is muckle to be doubted.”

The summons ran thus: “We, the named and constituted leaders of the gentlemen, ministers, and others, presently in arms for the cause of liberty and true religion, do warn and summon William Lord Evandale and Miles Bellenden of Charnwood, and others presently in arms, and keeping garrison in the Tower of Tillietudlem, to surrender the said Tower upon fair conditions of quarter, and license to depart with bag and baggage, otherwise to suffer such extremity of fire and sword as belong by the laws of war to those who hold out an untenable post. And so may God defend his own good cause!”

This summons was signed by John Balfour of Burley, as quarter-master general of the army of the Covenant, for himself, and in name of the other leaders.

The letter to Major Bellenden was from Henry Morton. It was couched in the following language:

“I have taken a step, my venerable friend, which, among many painful consequences, will, I am afraid, incur your very decided disapprobation. But I have taken my resolution in honour and good faith, and with the full approval of my own conscience. I can no longer submit to have my own rights and those of my fellow-subjects trampled upon, our freedom violated, our persons insulted, and our blood spilt, without just cause or legal trial. Providence, through the violence of the oppressors themselves, seems now to have opened a way of deliverance from this intolerable tyranny, and I do not hold him deserving of the name and rights of a freeman, who, thinking as I do, shall withold his arm from the cause of his country. But God, who knows my heart, be my witness, that I do not share the angry or violent passions of the oppressed and harassed sufferers with whom I am now acting. My most earnest and anxious desire is, to see this unnatural war brought to a speedy end, by the union of the good, wise, and moderate of all parties, and a peace restored, which, without injury to the King’s constitutional rights, may substitute the authority of equal laws to that of military violence, and, permitting to all men to worship God according to their own consciences, may subdue fanatical enthusiasm by reason and mildness, instead of driving it to frenzy by persecution and intolerance.

“With these sentiments, you may conceive with what pain I appear in arms before the house of your venerable relative, which we understand you propose to hold out against us. Permit me to press upon you the assurance, that such a measure will only lead to the effusion of blood–that, if repulsed in the assault, we are yet strong enough to invest the place, and reduce it by hunger, being aware of your indifferent preparations to sustain a protracted siege. It would grieve me to the heart to think what would be the sufferings in such a case, and upon whom they would chiefly fall.

“Do not suppose, my respected friend, that I would propose to you any terms which could compromise the high and honourable character which you have so deservedly won, and so long borne. If the regular soldiers (to whom I will ensure a safe retreat) are dismissed from the place, I trust no more will be required than your parole to remain neuter during this unhappy contest; and I will take care that Lady Margaret’s property, as well as yours, shall be duly respected, and no garrison intruded upon you. I could say much in favour of this proposal; but I fear, as I must in the present instance appear criminal in your eyes, good arguments would lose their influence when coming from an unwelcome quarter. I will, therefore, break off with assuring you, that whatever your sentiments may be hereafter towards me, my sense of gratitude to you can never be diminished or erased; and it would be the happiest moment of my life that should give me more effectual means than mere words to assure you of it. Therefore, although in the first moment of resentment you may reject the proposal I make to you, let not that prevent you from resuming the topic, if future events should render it more acceptable; for whenever, or howsoever, I can be of service to you, it will always afford the greatest satisfaction to
“Henry Morton.”

Having read this long letter with the most marked indignation, Major Bellenden put it into the hands of Lord Evandale.

“I would not have believed this,” he said, “of Henry Morton, if half mankind had sworn it! The ungrateful, rebellious traitor! rebellious in cold blood, and without even the pretext of enthusiasm, that warms the liver of such a crack-brained fop as our friend the envoy there. But I should have remembered he was a presbyterian–I ought to have been aware that I was nursing a wolf-cub, whose diabolical nature would make him tear and snatch at me on the first opportunity. Were Saint Paul on earth again, and a presbyterian, he would be a rebel in three months–it is in the very blood of them.”

“Well,” said Lord Evandale, “I will be the last to recommend surrender; but, if our provisions fail, and we receive no relief from Edinburgh or Glasgow, I think we ought to avail ourselves of this opening, to get the ladies, at least, safe out of the Castle.”

“They will endure all, ere they would accept the protection of such a smooth-tongued hypocrite,” answered the Major indignantly; “I would renounce them for relatives were it otherwise. But let us dismiss the worthy ambassador.–My friend,” he said, turning to Langcale, “tell your leaders, and the mob they have gathered yonder, that, if they have not a particular opinion of the hardness of their own skulls, I would advise them to beware how they knock them against these old walls. And let them send no more flags of truce, or we will hang up the messenger in retaliation of the murder of Cornet Grahame.”

With this answer the ambassador returned to those by whom he had been sent. He had no sooner reached the main body than a murmur was heard amongst the multitude, and there was raised in front of their ranks an ample red flag, the borders of which were edged with blue. As the signal of war and defiance spread out its large folds upon the morning wind, the ancient banner of Lady Margaret’s family, together with the royal ensign, were immediately hoisted on the walls of the Tower, and at the same time, a round of artillery was discharged against the foremost ranks of the insurgents, by which they sustained some loss. Their leaders instantly withdrew them to the shelter of the brow of the hill.

“I think,” said John Gudyill, while he busied himself in re-charging his guns, “they hae fund the falcon’s neb a bit ower hard for them–It’s no for nought that the hawk whistles.”

But as he uttered these words, the ridge was once more crowded with the ranks of the enemy. A general discharge of their fire-arms was directed against the defenders upon the battlements. Under cover of the smoke, a column of picked men rushed down the road with determined courage, and, sustaining with firmness a heavy fire from the garrison, they forced their way, in spite of opposition, to the first barricade by which the avenue was defended. They were led on by Balfour in person, who displayed courage equal to his enthusiasm; and, in spite of every opposition, forced the barricade, killing and wounding several of the defenders, and compelling the rest to retreat to their second position. The precautions, however, of Major Bellenden rendered this success unavailing; for no sooner were the Covenanters in possession of the post, than a close and destructive fire was poured into it from the Castle, and from those stations which commanded it in the rear. Having no means of protecting themselves from this fire, or of returning it with effect against men who were under cover of their barricades and defences, the Covenanters were obliged to retreat; but not until they had, with their axes, destroyed the stockade, so as to render it impossible for the defenders to re-occupy it.

Balfour was the last man that retired. He even remained for a short space almost alone, with an axe in his hand, labouring like a pioneer amid the storm of balls, many of which were specially aimed against him. The retreat of the party he commanded was not effected without heavy loss, and served as a severe lesson concerning the local advantages possessed by the garrison.

The next attack of the Covenanters was made with more caution. A strong party of marksmen, (many of them competitors at the game of the popinjay,) under the command of Henry Morton, glided through the woods where they afforded them the best shelter, and, avoiding the open road, endeavoured, by forcing their way through the bushes and trees, and up the rocks which surrounded it on either side, to gain a position, from which, without being exposed in an intolerable degree, they might annoy the flank of the second barricade, while it was menaced in front by a second attack from Burley. The besieged saw the danger of this movement, and endeavoured to impede the approach of the marksmen, by firing upon them at every point where they showed themselves. The assailants, on the other hand, displayed great coolness, spirit, and judgment, in the manner in which they approached the defences. This was, in a great measure, to be ascribed to the steady and adroit manner in which they were conducted by their youthful leader, who showed as much skill in protecting his own followers as spirit in annnoying the enemy.

He repeatedly enjoined his marksmen to direct their aim chiefly upon the red-coats, and to save the others engaged in the defence of the Castle; and, above all, to spare the life of the old Major, whose anxiety made him more than once expose himself in a manner, that, without such generosity on the part of the enemy, might have proved fatal. A dropping fire of musketry now glanced from every part of the precipitous mount on which the Castle was founded. From bush to bush–from crag to crag–from tree to tree, the marksmen continued to advance, availing themselves of branches and roots to assist their ascent, and contending at once with the disadvantages of the ground and the fire of the enemy. At length they got so high on the ascent, that several of them possessed an opportunity of firing into the barricade against the defenders, who then lay exposed to their aim, and Burley, profiting by the confusion of the moment, moved forward to the attack in front. His onset was made with the same desperation and fury as before, and met with less resistance, the defenders being alarmed at the progress which the sharp-shooters had made in turning the flank of their position. Determined to improve his advantage, Burley, with his axe in his hand, pursued the party whom he had dislodged even to the third and last barricade, and entered it along with them.

“Kill, kill–down with the enemies of God and his people!–No quarter–The Castle is ours!” were the cries by which he animated his friends; the most undaunted of whom followed him close, whilst the others, with axes, spades, and other implements, threw up earth, cut down trees, hastily labouring to establish such a defensive cover in the rear of the second barricade as might enable them to retain possession of it, in case the Castle was not carried by this coup-de-main.

Lord Evandale could no longer restrain his impatience. He charged with a few soldiers who had been kept in reserve in the court-yard of the Castle; and, although his arm was in a sling, encouraged them, by voice and gesture, to assist their companions who were engaged with Burley. The combat now assumed an air of desperation. The narrow road was crowded with the followers of Burley, who pressed forward to support their companions. The soldiers, animated by the voice and presence of Lord Evandale, fought with fury, their small numbers being in some measure compensated by their greater skill, and by their possessing the upper ground, which they defended desperately with pikes and halberds, as well as with the but of the carabines and their broadswords. Those within the Castle endeavoured to assist their companions, whenever they could so level their guns as to fire upon the enemy without endangering their friends. The sharp-shooters, dispersed around, were firing incessantly on each object that was exposed upon the battlement. The Castle was enveloped with smoke, and the rocks rang to the cries of the combatants. In the midst of this scene of confusion, a singular accident had nearly given the besiegers possession of the fortress.

Cuddie Headrigg, who had advanced among the marksmen, being well acquainted with every rock and bush in the vicinity of the Castle, where he had so often gathered nuts with Jenny Dennison, was enabled, by such local knowledge, to advance farther, and with less danger, than most of his companions, excepting some three or four who had followed him close. Now Cuddie, though a brave enough fellow upon the whole, was by no means fond of danger, either for its own sake, or for that of the glory which attends it. In his advance, therefore, he had not, as the phrase goes, taken the bull by the horns, or advanced in front of the enemy’s fire. On the contrary, he had edged gradually away from the scene of action, and, turning his line of ascent rather to the left, had pursued it until it brought him under a front of the Castle different from that before which the parties were engaged, and to which the defenders had given no attention, trusting to the steepness of the precipice. There was, however, on this point, a certain window belonging to a certain pantry, and communicating with a certain yew-tree, which grew out of a steep cleft of the rock, being the very pass through which Goose Gibbie was smuggled out of the Castle in order to carry Edith’s express to Charnwood, and which had probably, in its day, been used for other contraband purposes. Cuddie, resting upon the but of his gun, and looking up at this window, observed to one of his companions,–“There’s a place I ken weel; mony a time I hae helped Jenny Dennison out o’ the winnock, forby creeping in whiles mysell to get some daffin, at e’en after the pleugh was loosed.”

“And what’s to hinder us to creep in just now?” said the other, who was a smart enterprising young fellow.

“There’s no muckle to hinder us, an that were a’,” answered Cuddie; “but what were we to do neist?”

“We’ll take the Castle,” cried the other; “here are five or six o’ us, and a’ the sodgers are engaged at the gate.”

“Come awa wi’ you, then,” said Cuddie; “but mind, deil a finger ye maun lay on Lady Margaret, or Miss Edith, or the auld Major, or, aboon a’, on Jenny Dennison, or ony body but the sodgers–cut and quarter amang them as ye like, I carena.”

“Ay, ay,” said the other, “let us once in, and we will make our ain terms with them a’.”

Gingerly, and as if treading upon eggs, Cuddie began to ascend the well-known pass, not very willingly; for, besides that he was something apprehensive of the reception he might meet with in the inside, his conscience insisted that he was making but a shabby requital for Lady Margaret’s former favours and protection. He got up, however, into the yew-tree, followed by his companions, one after another. The window was small, and had been secured by stancheons of iron; but these had been long worn away by time, or forced out by the domestics to possess a free passage for their own occasional convenience. Entrance was therefore easy, providing there was no one in the pantry, a point which Cuddie endeavoured to discover before he made the final and perilous step. While his companions, therefore, were urging and threatening him behind, and he was hesitating and stretching his neck to look into the apartment, his head became visible to Jenny Dennison, who had ensconced herself in said pantry as the safest place in which to wait the issue of the assault. So soon as this object of terror caught her eye, she set up a hysteric scream, flew to the adjacent kitchen, and, in the desperate agony of fear, seized on a pot of kailbrose which she herself had hung on the fire before the combat began, having promised to Tam Halliday to prepare his breakfast for him. Thus burdened, she returned to the window of the pantry, and still exclaiming, “Murder! murder!–we are a’ harried and ravished–the Castle’s taen–tak it amang ye!” she discharged the whole scalding contents of the pot, accompanied with a dismal yell, upon the person of the unfortunate Cuddie. However welcome the mess might have been, if Cuddie and it had become acquainted in a regular manner, the effects, as administered by Jenny, would probably have cured him of soldiering for ever, had he been looking upwards when it was thrown upon him. But, fortunately for our man of war, he had taken the alarm upon Jenny’s first scream, and was in the act of looking down, expostulating with his comrades, who impeded the retreat which he was anxious to commence; so that the steel cap and buff coat which formerly belonged to Sergeant Bothwell, being garments of an excellent endurance, protected his person against the greater part of the scalding brose. Enough, however, reached him to annoy him severely, so that in the pain and surprise he jumped hastily out of the tree, oversetting his followers, to the manifest danger of their limbs, and, without listening to arguments, entreaties, or authority, made the best of his way by the most safe road to the main body of the army whereunto he belonged, and could neither by threats nor persuasion be prevailed upon to return to the attack.

[Illustration: Jenny Dennison–050]

As for Jenny, when she had thus conferred upon one admirer’s outward man the viands which her fair hands had so lately been in the act of preparing for the stomach of another, she continued her song of alarm, running a screaming division upon all those crimes, which the lawyers call the four pleas of the crown, namely, murder, fire, rape, and robbery. These hideous exclamations gave so much alarm, and created such confusion within the Castle, that Major Bellenden and Lord Evandale judged it best to draw off from the conflict without the gates, and, abandoning to the enemy all the exterior defences of the avenue, confine themselves to the Castle itself, for fear of its being surprised on some unguarded point. Their retreat was unmolested; for the panic of Cuddie and his companions had occasioned nearly as much confusion on the side of the besiegers, as the screams of Jenny had caused to the defenders.

There was no attempt on either side to renew the action that day. The insurgents had suffered most severely; and, from the difficulty which they had experienced in carrying the barricadoed positions without the precincts of the Castle, they could have but little hope of storming the place itself. On the other hand, the situation of the besieged was dispiriting and gloomy. In the skirmishing they had lost two or three men, and had several wounded; and though their loss was in proportion greatly less than that of the enemy, who had left twenty men dead on the place, yet their small number could much worse spare it, while the desperate attacks of the opposite party plainly showed how serious the leaders were in the purpose of reducing the place, and how well seconded by the zeal of their followers. But, especially, the garrison had to fear for hunger, in case blockade should be resorted to as the means of reducing them. The Major’s directions had been imperfectly obeyed in regard to laying in provisions; and the dragoons, in spite of all warning and authority, were likely to be wasteful in using them. It was, therefore, with a heavy heart, that Major Bellenden gave directions for guarding the window through which the Castle had so nearly been surprised, as well as all others which offered the most remote facility for such an enterprise.

CHAPTER V.

The King hath drawn
The special head of all the land together. Henry IV. Part II.

The leaders of the presbyterian army had a serious consultation upon the evening of the day in which they had made the attack on Tillietudlem. They could not but observe that their followers were disheartened by the loss which they had sustained, and which, as usual in such cases, had fallen upon the bravest and most forward. It was to be feared, that if they were suffered to exhaust their zeal and efforts in an object so secondary as the capture of this petty fort, their numbers would melt away by degrees, and they would lose all the advantages arising out of the present unprepared state of the government. Moved by these arguments, it was agreed that the main body of the army should march against Glasgow, and dislodge the soldiers who were lying in that town. The council nominated Henry Morton, with others, to this last service, and appointed Burley to the command of a chosen body of five hundred men, who were to remain behind, for the purpose of blockading the Tower of Tillietudlem. Morton testified the greatest repugnance to this arrangement.

“He had the strongest personal motives,” he said, “for desiring to remain near Tillietudlem; and if the management of the siege were committed to him, he had little doubt but that he would bring it to such an accommodation, as, without being rigorous to the besieged, would fully answer the purpose of the besiegers.”

Burley readily guessed the cause of his young colleague’s reluctance to move with the army; for, interested as he was in appreciating the characters with whom he had to deal, he had contrived, through the simplicity of Cuddie, and the enthusiasm of old Mause, to get much information concerning Morton’s relations with the family of Tillietudlem. He therefore took the advantage of Poundtext’s arising to speak to business, as he said, for some short space of time, (which Burley rightly interpreted to mean an hour at the very least), and seized that moment to withdraw Morton from the hearing of their colleagues, and to hold the following argument with him:

“Thou art unwise, Henry Morton, to desire to sacrifice this holy cause to thy friendship for an uncircumcised Philistine, or thy lust for a Moabitish woman.”

“I neither understand your meaning, Mr Balfour, nor relish your allusions,” replied Morton, indignantly; “and I know no reason you have to bring so gross a charge, or to use such uncivil language.”

“Confess, however, the truth,” said Balfour, “and own that there are those within yon dark Tower, over whom thou wouldst rather be watching like a mother over her little ones, than thou wouldst bear the banner of the Church of Scotland over the necks of her enemies.”

“If you mean, that I would willingly terminate this war without any bloody victory, and that I am more anxious to do this than to acquire any personal fame or power, you may be,” replied Morton, “perfectly right.”

“And not wholly wrong,” answered Burley, “in deeming that thou wouldst not exclude from so general a pacification thy friends in the garrison of Tillietudlem.”

“Certainly,” replied Morton; “I am too much obliged to Major Bellenden not to wish to be of service to him, as far as the interest of the cause I have espoused will permit. I never made a secret of my regard for him.”

“I am aware of that,” said Burley; “but, if thou hadst concealed it, I should, nevertheless, have found out thy riddle. Now, hearken to my words. This Miles Bellenden hath means to subsist his garrison for a month.”

“This is not the case,” answered Morton; “we know his stores are hardly equal to a week’s consumption.”

“Ay, but,” continued Burley, “I have since had proof, of the strongest nature, that such a report was spread in the garrison by that wily and grey-headed malignant, partly to prevail on the soldiers to submit to a diminution of their daily food, partly to detain us before the walls of his fortress until the sword should be whetted to smite and destroy us.”

“And why was not the evidence of this laid before the council of war?” said Morton.

“To what purpose?” said Balfour. “Why need we undeceive Kettledrummle, Macbriar, Poundtext, and Langcale, upon such a point? Thyself must own, that whatever is told to them escapes to the host out of the mouth of the preachers at their next holding-forth. They are already discouraged by the thoughts of lying before the fort a week. What would be the consequence were they ordered to prepare for the leaguer of a month?”

“But why conceal it, then, from me? or why tell it me now? and, above all, what proofs have you got of the fact?” continued Morton.

“There are many proofs,” replied Burley; and he put into his hands a number of requisitions sent forth by Major Bellenden, with receipts on the back to various proprietors, for cattle, corn, meal, to such an amount, that the sum total seemed to exclude the possibility of the garrison being soon distressed for provisions. But Burley did not inform Morton of a fact which he himself knew full well, namely, that most of these provisions never reached the garrison, owing to the rapacity of the dragoons sent to collect them, who readily sold to one man what they took from another, and abused the Major’s press for stores, pretty much as Sir John Falstaff did that of the King for men.

“And now,” continued Balfour, observing that he had made the desired impression, “I have only to say, that I concealed this from thee no longer than it was concealed from myself, for I have only received these papers this morning; and I tell it unto thee now, that thou mayest go on thy way rejoicing, and work the great work willingly at Glasgow, being assured that no evil can befall thy friends in the malignant party, since their fort is abundantly victualled, and I possess not numbers sufficient to do more against them than to prevent their sallying forth.”

“And why,” continued Morton, who felt an inexpressible reluctance to acquiesce in Balfour’s reasoning–“why not permit me to remain in the command of this smaller party, and march forward yourself to Glasgow? It is the more honourable charge.”

“And therefore, young man,” answered Burley, “have I laboured that it should be committed to the son of Silas Morton. I am waxing old, and this grey head has had enough of honour where it could be gathered by danger. I speak not of the frothy bubble which men call earthly fame, but the honour belonging to him that doth not the work negligently. But thy career is yet to run. Thou hast to vindicate the high trust which has been bestowed on thee through my assurance that it was dearly well-merited. At Loudon-hill thou wert a captive, and at the last assault it was thy part to fight under cover, whilst I led the more open and dangerous attack; and, shouldst thou now remain before these walls when there is active service elsewhere, trust me, that men will say, that the son of Silas Morton hath fallen away from the paths of his father.”

Stung by this last observation, to which, as a gentleman and soldier, he could offer no suitable reply, Morton hastily acquiesced in the proposed arrangement. Yet he was unable to divest himself of certain feelings of distrust which he involuntarily attached to the quarter from which he received this information.

“Mr Balfour,” he said, “let us distinctly understand each other. You have thought it worth your while to bestow particular attention upon my private affairs and personal attachments; be so good as to understand, that I am as constant to them as to my political principles. It is possible, that, during my absence, you may possess the power of soothing or of wounding those feelings. Be assured, that whatever may be the consequences to the issue of our present adventure, my eternal gratitude, or my persevering resentment, will attend the line of conduct you may adopt on such an occasion; and, however young and inexperienced I am, I have no doubt of finding friends to assist me in expressing my sentiments in either case.”

“If there be a threat implied in that denunciation,” replied Burley, coldly and haughtily, “it had better have been spared. I know how to value the regard of my friends, and despise, from my soul, the threats of my enemies. But I will not take occasion of offence. Whatever happens here in your absence shall be managed with as much deference to your wishes, as the duty I owe to a higher power can possibly permit.”

With this qualified promise Morton was obliged to rest satisfied.

“Our defeat will relieve the garrison,” said he, internally, “ere they can be reduced to surrender at discretion; and, in case of victory, I already see, from the numbers of the moderate party, that I shall have a voice as powerful as Burley’s in determining the use which shall be made of it.”

He therefore followed Balfour to the council, where they found Kettledrummle adding to his lastly a few words of practical application. When these were expended, Morton testified his willingness to accompany the main body of the army, which was destined to drive the regular troops from Glasgow. His companions in command were named, and the whole received a strengthening exhortation from the preachers who were present. Next morning, at break of day, the insurgent army broke up from their encampment, and marched towards Glasgow.

It is not our intention to detail at length incidents which may be found in the history of the period. It is sufficient to say, that Claverhouse and Lord Ross, learning the superior force which was directed against them, intrenched, or rather barricadoed themselves, in the centre of the city, where the town-house and old jail were situated, with the determination to stand the assault of the insurgents rather than to abandon the capital of the west of Scotland. The presbyterians made their attack in two bodies, one of which penetrated into the city in the line of the College and Cathedral Church, while the other marched up the Gallowgate, or principal access from the south-east. Both divisions were led by men of resolution, and behaved with great spirit. But the advantages of military skill and situation were too great for their undisciplined valour.

Ross and Claverhouse had carefully disposed parties of their soldiers in houses, at the heads of the streets, and in the entrances of closes, as they are called, or lanes, besides those who were intrenched behind breast-works which reached across the streets. The assailants found their ranks thinned by a fire from invisible opponents, which they had no means of returning with effect. It was in vain that Morton and other leaders exposed their persons with the utmost gallantry, and endeavoured to bring their antagonists to a close action; their followers shrunk from them in every direction. And yet, though Henry Morton was one of the very last to retire, and exerted himself in bringing up the rear, maintaining order in the retreat, and checking every attempt which the enemy made to improve the advantage they had gained by the repulse, he had still the mortification to hear many of those in his ranks muttering to each other, that “this came of trusting to latitudinarian boys; and that, had honest, faithful Burley led the attack, as he did that of the barricades of Tillietudlem, the issue would have been as different as might be.”

It was with burning resentment that Morton heard these reflections thrown out by the very men who had soonest exhibited signs of discouragement. The unjust reproach, however, had the effect of firing his emulation, and making him sensible that, engaged as he was in a perilous cause, it was absolutely necessary that he should conquer or die.

“I have no retreat,” he said to himself. “All shall allow–even Major Bellenden–even Edith–that in courage, at least, the rebel Morton was not inferior to his father.”

The condition of the army after the repulse was so undisciplined, and in such disorganization, that the leaders thought it prudent to draw off some miles from the city to gain time for reducing them once more into such order as they were capable of adopting. Recruits, in the meanwhile, came fast in, more moved by the extreme hardships of their own condition, and encouraged by the advantage obtained at Loudon-hill, than deterred by the last unfortunate enterprise. Many of these attached themselves particularly to Morton’s division. He had, however, the mortification to see that his unpopularity among the more intolerant part of the Covenanters increased rapidly. The prudence beyond his years, which he exhibited in improving the discipline and arrangement of his followers, they termed a trusting in the arm of flesh, and his avowed tolerance for those of religious sentiments and observances different from his own, obtained him, most unjustly, the nickname of Gallio, who cared for none of those things. What was worse than these misconceptions, the mob of the insurgents, always loudest in applause of those who push political or religious opinions to extremity, and disgusted with such as endeavour to reduce them to the yoke of discipline, preferred avowedly the more zealous leaders, in whose ranks enthusiasm in the cause supplied the want of good order and military subjection, to the restraints which Morton endeavoured to bring them under. In short, while bearing the principal burden of command, (for his colleagues willingly relinquished in his favour every thing that was troublesome and obnoxious in the office of general,) Morton found himself without that authority, which alone could render his regulations effectual. [Note: These feuds, which tore to pieces the little army of insurgents, turned merely on the point whether the king’s interest or royal authority was to be owned or not, and whether the party in arms were to be contented with a free exercise of their own religion, or insist upon the re-establishment of Presbytery in its supreme authority, and with full power to predominate over all other forms of worship. The few country gentlemen who joined the insurrection, with the most sensible part of the clergy, thought it best to limit their demands to what it might be possible to attain. But the party who urged these moderate views were termed by the more zealous bigots, the Erastian party, men, namely, who were willing to place the church under the influence of the civil government, and therefore they accounted them, “a snare upon Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.” See the Life of Sir Robert Hamilton in the Scottish Worthies, and his account of the Battle of Both-well-bridge, passim.]

Yet, notwithstanding these obstacles, he had, during the course of a few days, laboured so hard to introduce some degree of discipline into the army, that he thought he might hazard a second attack upon Glasgow with every prospect of success.

It cannot be doubted that Morton’s anxiety to measure himself with Colonel Grahame of Claverhouse, at whose hands he had sustained such injury, had its share in giving motive to his uncommon exertions. But Claverhouse disappointed his hopes; for, satisfied with having the advantage in repulsing the first attack upon Glasgow, he determined that he would not, with the handful of troops under his command, await a second assault from the insurgents, with more numerous and better disciplined forces than had supported their first enterprise. He therefore evacuated the place, and marched at the head of his troops towards Edinburgh. The insurgents of course entered Glasgow without resistance, and without Morton having the opportunity, which he so deeply coveted, of again encountering Claverhouse personally. But, although he had not an opportunity of wiping away the disgrace which had befallen his division of the army of the Covenant, the retreat of Claverhouse, and the possession of Glasgow, tended greatly to animate the insurgent army, and to increase its numbers. The necessity of appointing new officers, of organizing new regiments and squadrons, of making them acquainted with at least the most necessary points of military discipline, were labours, which, by universal consent, seemed to be devolved upon Henry Morton, and which he the more readily undertook, because his father had made him acquainted with the theory of the military art, and because he plainly saw, that, unless he took this ungracious but absolutely necessary labour, it was vain to expect any other to engage in it.

In the meanwhile, fortune appeared to favour the enterprise of the insurgents more than the most sanguine durst have expected. The Privy Council of Scotland, astonished at the extent of resistance which their arbitrary measures had provoked, seemed stupified with terror, and incapable of taking active steps to subdue the resentment which these measures had excited. There were but very few troops in Scotland, and these they drew towards Edinburgh, as if to form an army for protection of the metropolis. The feudal array of the crown vassals in the various counties, was ordered to take the field, and render to the King the military service due for their fiefs. But the summons was very slackly obeyed. The quarrel was not generally popular among the gentry; and even those who were not unwilling themselves to have taken arms, were deterred by the repugnance of their wives, mothers, and sisters, to their engaging in such a cause.

Meanwhile, the inadequacy of the Scottish government to provide for their own defence, or to put down a rebellion of which the commencement seemed so trifling, excited at the English court doubts at once of their capacity, and of the prudence of the severities they had exerted against the oppressed presbyterians. It was, therefore, resolved to nominate to the command of the army of Scotland, the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, who had by marriage a great interest, large estate, and a numerous following, as it was called, in the southern parts of that kingdom. The military skill which he had displayed on different occasions abroad, was supposed more than adequate to subdue the insurgents in the field; while it was expected that his mild temper, and the favourable disposition which he showed to presbyterians in general, might soften men’s minds, and tend to reconcile them to the government. The Duke was, therefore, invested with a commission, containing high powers for settling the distracted affairs of Scotland, and dispatched from London with strong succours to take the principal military command in that country.

CHAPTER VI.

I am bound to Bothwell-hill, Where I maun either do or die. Old Ballad.

[Illustration: The Battle of Bothwell Bridge–128

There was now a pause in the military movements on both sides. The government seemed contented to prevent the rebels advancing towards the capital, while the insurgents were intent upon augmenting and strengthening their forces. For this purpose, they established a sort of encampment in the park belonging to the ducal residence at Hamilton, a centrical situation for receiving their recruits, and where they were secured from any sudden attack, by having the Clyde, a deep and rapid river, in front of their position, which is only passable by a long and narrow bridge, near the castle and village of Bothwell.

Morton remained here for about a fortnight after the attack on Glasgow, actively engaged in his military duties. He had received more than one communication from Burley, but they only stated, in general, that the Castle of Tillietudlem continued to hold out. Impatient of suspense upon this most interesting subject, he at length intimated to his colleagues in command his desire, or rather his intention,–for he saw no reason why he should not assume a license which was taken by every one else in this disorderly army,–to go to Milnwood for a day or two to arrange some private affairs of consequence. The proposal was by no means approved of; for the military council of the insurgents were sufficiently sensible of the value of his services to fear to lose them, and felt somewhat conscious of their own inability to supply his place. They could not, however, pretend to dictate to him laws more rigid than they submitted to themselves, and he was suffered to depart on his journey without any direct objection being stated. The Reverend Mr Poundtext took the same opportunity to pay a visit to his own residence in the neighbourhood of Milnwood, and favoured Morton with his company on the journey. As the country was chiefly friendly to their cause, and in possession of their detached parties, excepting here and there the stronghold of some old cavaliering Baron, they travelled without any other attendant than the faithful Cuddie.

It was near sunset when they reached Milnwood, where Poundtext bid adieu to his companions, and travelled forward alone to his own manse, which was situated half a mile’s march beyond Tillietudlem. When Morton was left alone to his own reflections, with what a complication of feelings did he review the woods, banks, and fields, that had been familiar to him! His character, as well as his habits, thoughts, and occupations, had been entirely changed within the space of little more than a fortnight, and twenty days seemed to have done upon him the work of as many years. A mild, romantic, gentle-tempered youth, bred up in dependence, and stooping patiently to the control of a sordid and tyrannical relation, had suddenly, by the rod of oppression and the spur of injured feeling, been compelled to stand forth a leader of armed men, was earnestly engaged in affairs of a public nature, had friends to animate and enemies to contend with, and felt his individual fate bound up in that of a national insurrection and revolution. It seemed as if he had at once experienced a transition from the romantic dreams of youth to the labours and cares of active manhood. All that had formerly interested him was obliterated from his memory, excepting only his attachment to Edith; and even his love seemed to have assumed a character more manly and disinterested, as it had become mingled and contrasted with other duties and feelings. As he revolved the particulars of this sudden change, the circumstances in which it originated, and the possible consequences of his present career, the thrill of natural anxiety which passed along his mind was immediately banished by a glow of generous and high-spirited confidence.

“I shall fall young,” he said, “if fall I must, my motives misconstrued, and my actions condemned, by those whose approbation is dearest to me. But the sword of liberty and patriotism is in my hand, and I will neither fall meanly nor unavenged. They may expose my body, and gibbet my limbs; but other days will come, when the sentence of infamy will recoil against those who may pronounce it. And that Heaven, whose name is so often profaned during this unnatural war, will bear witness to the purity of the motives by which I have been guided.”

Upon approaching Milnwood, Henry’s knock upon the gate no longer intimated the conscious timidity of a stripling who has been out of bounds, but the confidence of a man in full possession of his own rights, and master of his own actions,–bold, free, and decided. The door was cautiously opened by his old acquaintance, Mrs Alison Wilson, who started back when she saw the steel cap and nodding plume of the martial visitor.

“Where is my uncle, Alison?” said Morton, smiling at her alarm.

“Lordsake, Mr Harry! is this you?” returned the old lady. “In troth, ye garr’d my heart loup to my very mouth–But it canna be your ainsell, for ye look taller and mair manly-like than ye used to do.”

“It is, however, my own self,” said Henry, sighing and smiling at the same time; “I believe this dress may make me look taller, and these times, Ailie, make men out of boys.”

“Sad times indeed!” echoed the old woman; “and O that you suld be endangered wi’them! but wha can help it?–ye were ill eneugh guided, and, as I tell your uncle, if ye tread on a worm it will turn.”

“You were always my advocate, Ailie,” said he, and the housekeeper no longer resented the familiar epithet, “and would let no one blame me but yourself, I am aware of that,–Where is my uncle?”

“In Edinburgh,” replied Alison; “the honest man thought it was best to gang and sit by the chimley when the reek rase–a vex’d man he’s been and a feared–but ye ken the Laird as weel as I do.”

“I hope he has suffered nothing in health?” said Henry.

“Naething to speak of,” answered the housekeeper, “nor in gudes neither–we fended as weel as we could; and, though the troopers of Tillietudlem took the red cow and auld Hackie, (ye’ll mind them weel;) yet they sauld us a gude bargain o’ four they were driving to the Castle.”

“Sold you a bargain?” said Morton; “how do you mean?”

“Ou, they cam out to gather marts for the garrison,” answered the housekeeper; “but they just fell to their auld trade, and rade through the country couping and selling a’ that they gat, like sae mony west-country drovers. My certie, Major Bellenden was laird o’ the least share o’ what they lifted, though it was taen in his name.”

“Then,” said Morton, hastily, “the garrison must be straitened for provisions?”

“Stressed eneugh,” replied Ailie–“there’s little doubt o’ that.”

A light instantly glanced on Morton’s mind.

“Burley must have deceived me–craft as well as cruelty is permitted by his creed.” Such was his inward thought; he said aloud, “I cannot stay, Mrs Wilson, I must go forward directly.”

“But, oh! bide to eat a mouthfu’,” entreated the affectionate housekeeper, “and I’ll mak it ready for you as I used to do afore thae sad days,” “It is impossible,” answered Morton.–“Cuddie, get our horses ready.”

“They’re just eating their corn,” answered the attendant.

“Cuddie!” exclaimed Ailie; “what garr’d ye bring that ill-faur’d, unlucky loon alang wi’ ye?–It was him and his randie mother began a’ the mischief in this house.”

“Tut, tut,” replied Cuddie, “ye should forget and forgie, mistress. Mither’s in Glasgow wi’ her tittie, and sall plague ye nae mair; and I’m the Captain’s wallie now, and I keep him tighter in thack and rape than ever ye did;–saw ye him ever sae weel put on as he is now?”

“In troth and that’s true,” said the old housekeeper, looking with great complacency at her young master, whose mien she thought much improved by his dress. “I’m sure ye ne’er had a laced cravat like that when ye were at Milnwood; that’s nane o’ my sewing.”

“Na, na, mistress,” replied Cuddie, “that’s a cast o’ my hand–that’s ane o’ Lord Evandale’s braws.”

“Lord Evandale?” answered the old lady, “that’s him that the whigs are gaun to hang the morn, as I hear say.”