Old Mortality, Illustrated, Volume 1.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 4 out of 5
first sight, rather qualified to be the votary of pleasure than of
ambition. But under this soft exterior was hidden a spirit unbounded in
daring and in aspiring, yet cautious and prudent as that of Machiavel
himself. Profound in politics, and embued, of course, with that disregard
for individual rights which its intrigues usually generate, this leader
was cool and collected in danger, fierce and ardent in pursuing success,
careless of facing death himself, and ruthless in inflicting it upon
others. Such are the characters formed in times of civil discord, when
the highest qualities, perverted by party spirit, and inflamed by
habitual opposition, are too often combined with vices and excesses which
deprive them at once of their merit and of their lustre.
In endeavouring to reply to the polite trifles with which Claverhouse
accosted her, Edith showed so much confusion, that her grandmother
thought it necessary to come to her relief.
"Edith Bellenden," said the old lady, "has, from my retired mode of
living, seen so little of those of her own sphere, that truly she can
hardly frame her speech to suitable answers. A soldier is so rare a sight
with us, Colonel Grahame, that unless it be my young Lord Evandale, we
have hardly had an opportunity of receiving a gentleman in uniform. And,
now I talk of that excellent young nobleman, may I enquire if I was not
to have had the honour of seeing him this morning with the regiment?"
"Lord Evandale, madam, was on his march with us," answered the leader,
"but I was obliged to detach him with a small party to disperse a
conventicle of those troublesome scoundrels, who have had the impudence
to assemble within five miles of my head-quarters."
"Indeed!" said the old lady; "that is a height of presumption to which I
would have thought no rebellious fanatics would have ventured to aspire.
But these are strange times! There is an evil spirit in the land, Colonel
Grahame, that excites the vassals of persons of rank to rebel against the
very house that holds and feeds them. There was one of my able-bodied men
the other day who plainly refused to attend the wappen-schaw at my
bidding. Is there no law for such recusancy, Colonel Grahame?"
"I think I could find one," said Claverhouse, with great composure, "if
your ladyship will inform me of the name and residence of the culprit."
"His name," said Lady Margaret, "is Cuthbert Headrigg; I can say nothing
of his domicile, for ye may weel believe, Colonel Grahame, he did not
dwell long in Tillietudlem, but was speedily expelled for his contumacy.
I wish the lad no severe bodily injury; but incarceration, or even a few
stripes, would be a good example in this neighbourhood. His mother, under
whose influence I doubt he acted, is an ancient domestic of this family,
which makes me incline to mercy; although," continued the old lady,
looking towards the pictures of her husband and her sons, with which the
wall was hung, and heaving, at the same time, a deep sigh, "I, Colonel
Grahame, have in my ain person but little right to compassionate that
stubborn and rebellious generation. They have made me a childless widow,
and, but for the protection of our sacred sovereign and his gallant
soldiers, they would soon deprive me of lands and goods, of hearth and
altar. Seven of my tenants, whose joint rent-mail may mount to wellnigh a
hundred merks, have already refused to pay either cess or rent, and had
the assurance to tell my steward that they would acknowledge neither king
nor landlord but who should have taken the Covenant."
"I will take a course with them--that is, with your ladyship's
permission," answered Claverhouse; "it would ill become me to neglect the
support of lawful authority when it is lodged in such worthy hands as
those of Lady Margaret Bellenden. But I must needs say this country grows
worse and worse daily, and reduces me to the necessity of taking measures
with the recusants that are much more consonant with my duty than with my
inclinations. And, speaking of this, I must not forget that I have to
thank your ladyship for the hospitality you have been pleased to extend
to a party of mine who have brought in a prisoner, charged with having
resetted [Note: Resetted, i.e. received or harboured.] the murdering
villain, Balfour of Burley."
"The house of Tillietudlem," answered the lady, "hath ever been open to
the servants of his majesty, and I hope that the stones of it will no
longer rest on each other when it surceases to be as much at their
command as at ours. And this reminds me, Colonel Grahame, that the
gentleman who commands the party can hardly be said to be in his proper
place in the army, considering whose blood flows in his veins; and if I
might flatter myself that any thing would be granted to my request, I
would presume to entreat that he might be promoted on some favourable
"Your ladyship means Sergeant Francis Stewart, whom we call Bothwell?"
said Claverhouse, smiling. "The truth is, he is a little too rough in the
country, and has not been uniformly so amenable to discipline as the
rules of the service require. But to instruct me how to oblige Lady
Margaret Bellenden, is to lay down the law to me.--Bothwell," he
continued, addressing the sergeant, who just then appeared at the door,
"go kiss Lady Margaret Bellenden's hand, who interests herself in your
promotion, and you shall have a commission the first vacancy."
Bothwell went through the salutation in the manner prescribed, but not
without evident marks of haughty reluctance, and, when he had done so,
said aloud, "To kiss a lady's hand can never disgrace a gentleman; but I
would not kiss a man's, save the king's, to be made a general."
"You hear him," said Claverhouse, smiling, "there's the rock he splits
upon; he cannot forget his pedigree."
"I know, my noble colonel," said Bothwell, in the same tone, "that you
will not forget your promise; and then, perhaps, you may permit Cornet
Stewart to have some recollection of his grandfather, though the Sergeant
must forget him."
"Enough of this, sir," said Claverhouse, in the tone of command which was
familiar to him; "and let me know what you came to report to me just
"My Lord Evandale and his party have halted on the high-road with some
prisoners," said Bothwell.
"My Lord Evandale?" said Lady Margaret. "Surely, Colonel Grahame, you
will permit him to honour me with his society, and to take his poor
disjune here, especially considering, that even his most sacred Majesty
did not pass the Tower of Tillietudlem without halting to partake of some
As this was the third time in the course of the conversation that Lady
Margaret had adverted to this distinguished event, Colonel Grahame, as
speedily as politeness would permit, took advantage of the first pause to
interrupt the farther progress of the narrative, by saying, "We are
already too numerous a party of guests; but as I know what Lord Evandale
will suffer (looking towards Edith) if deprived of the pleasure which we
enjoy, I will run the risk of overburdening your ladyship's
hospitality.--Bothwell, let Lord Evandale know that Lady Margaret
Bellenden requests the honour of his company."
"And let Harrison take care," added Lady Margaret, "that the people and
their horses are suitably seen to."
Edith's heart sprung to her lips during this conversation; for it
instantly occurred to her, that, through her influence over Lord
Evandale, she might find some means of releasing Morton from his present
state of danger, in case her uncle's intercession with Claverhouse should
prove ineffectual. At any other time she would have been much averse to
exert this influence; for, however inexperienced in the world, her native
delicacy taught her the advantage which a beautiful young woman gives to
a young man when she permits him to lay her under an obligation. And she
would have been the farther disinclined to request any favour of Lord
Evandale, because the voice of the gossips in Clydesdale had, for reasons
hereafter to be made known, assigned him to her as a suitor, and because
she could not disguise from herself that very little encouragement was
necessary to realize conjectures which had hitherto no foundation. This
was the more to be dreaded, that, in the case of Lord Evandale's making a
formal declaration, he had every chance of being supported by the
influence of Lady Margaret and her other friends, and that she would have
nothing to oppose to their solicitations and authority, except a
predilection, to avow which she knew would be equally dangerous and
unavailing. She determined, therefore, to wait the issue of her uncle's
intercession, and, should it fail, which she conjectured she should soon
learn, either from the looks or language of the open-hearted veteran, she
would then, as a last effort, make use in Morton's favour of her interest
with Lord Evandale. Her mind did not long remain in suspense on the
subject of her uncle's application.
Major Bellenden, who had done the honours of the table, laughing and
chatting with the military guests who were at that end of the board, was
now, by the conclusion of the repast, at liberty to leave his station,
and accordingly took an opportunity to approach Claverhouse, requesting
from his niece, at the same time, the honour of a particular
introduction. As his name and character were well known, the two military
men met with expressions of mutual regard; and Edith, with a beating
heart, saw her aged relative withdraw from the company, together with his
new acquaintance, into a recess formed by one of the arched windows of
the hall. She watched their conference with eyes almost dazzled by the
eagerness of suspense, and, with observation rendered more acute by the
internal agony of her mind, could guess, from the pantomimic gestures
which accompanied the conversation, the progress and fate of the
intercession in behalf of Henry Morton.
The first expression of the countenance of Claverhouse betokened that
open and willing courtesy, which, ere it requires to know the nature of
the favour asked, seems to say, how happy the party will be to confer an
obligation on the suppliant. But as the conversation proceeded, the brow
of that officer became darker and more severe, and his features, though
still retaining the expression of the most perfect politeness, assumed,
at least to Edith's terrified imagination, a harsh and inexorable
character. His lip was now compressed as if with impatience; now curled
slightly upward, as if in civil contempt of the arguments urged by Major
Bellenden. The language of her uncle, as far as expressed in his manner,
appeared to be that of earnest intercession, urged with all the
affectionate simplicity of his character, as well as with the weight
which his age and reputation entitled him to use. But it seemed to have
little impression upon Colonel Grahame, who soon changed his posture, as
if about to cut short the Major's importunity, and to break up their
conference with a courtly expression of regret, calculated to accompany a
positive refusal of the request solicited. This movement brought them so
near Edith, that she could distinctly hear Claverhouse say, "It cannot
be, Major Bellenden; lenity, in his case, is altogether beyond the bounds
of my commission, though in any thing else I am heartily desirous to
oblige you.--And here comes Evandale with news, as I think.--What tidings
do you bring us, Evandale?" he continued, addressing the young lord, who
now entered in complete uniform, but with his dress disordered, and his
boots spattered, as if by riding hard.
"Unpleasant news, sir," was his reply. "A large body of whigs are in arms
among the hills, and have broken out into actual rebellion. They have
publicly burnt the Act of Supremacy, that which established episcopacy,
that for observing the martyrdom of Charles I., and some others, and have
declared their intention to remain together in arms for furthering the
covenanted work of reformation."
This unexpected intelligence struck a sudden and painful surprise into
the minds of all who heard it, excepting Claverhouse.
"Unpleasant news call you them?" replied Colonel Grahame, his dark eyes
flashing fire, "they are the best I have heard these six months. Now that
the scoundrels are drawn into a body, we will make short work with them.
When the adder crawls into daylight," he added, striking the heel of his
boot upon the floor, as if in the act of crushing a noxious reptile, "I
can trample him to death; he is only safe when he remains lurking in his
den or morass.--Where are these knaves?" he continued, addressing Lord
"About ten miles off among the mountains, at a place called Loudon-hill,"
was the young nobleman's reply. "I dispersed the conventicle against
which you sent me, and made prisoner an old trumpeter of rebellion,--an
intercommuned minister, that is to say,--who was in the act of exhorting
his hearers to rise and be doing in the good cause, as well as one or two
of his hearers who seemed to be particularly insolent; and from some
country people and scouts I learned what I now tell you."
"What may be their strength?" asked his commander.
"Probably a thousand men, but accounts differ widely."
"Then," said Claverhouse, "it is time for us to be up and be doing
also--Bothwell, bid them sound to horse."
Bothwell, who, like the war-horse of scripture, snuffed the battle afar
off, hastened to give orders to six negroes, in white dresses richly
laced, and having massive silver collars and armlets. These sable
functionaries acted as trumpeters, and speedily made the castle and the
woods around it ring with their summons.
"Must you then leave us?" said Lady Margaret, her heart sinking under
recollection of former unhappy times; "had ye not better send to learn
the force of the rebels?--O, how many a fair face hae I heard these
fearfu' sounds call away frae the Tower of Tillietudlem, that my auld een
were ne'er to see return to it!"
"It is impossible for me to stop," said Claverhouse; "there are rogues
enough in this country to make the rebels five times their strength, if
they are not checked at once."
"Many," said Evandale, "are flocking to them already, and they give out
that they expect a strong body of the indulged presbyterians, headed by
young Milnwood, as they call him, the son of the famous old roundhead,
Colonel Silas Morton."
This speech produced a very different effect upon the hearers. Edith
almost sunk from her seat with terror, while Claverhouse darted a glance
of sarcastic triumph at Major Bellenden, which seemed to imply--"You see
what are the principles of the young man you are pleading for."
"It's a lie--it's a d--d lie of these rascally fanatics," said the Major
hastily. "I will answer for Henry Morton as I would for my own son. He is
a lad of as good church-principles as any gentleman in the Life-Guards. I
mean no offence to any one. He has gone to church service with me fifty
times, and I never heard him miss one of the responses in my life. Edith
Bellenden can bear witness to it as well as I. He always read on the same
Prayer-book with her, and could look out the lessons as well as the
curate himself. Call him up; let him be heard for himself."
"There can be no harm in that," said Claverhouse, "whether he be innocent
or guilty.--Major Allan," he said, turning to the officer next in
command, "take a guide, and lead the regiment forward to Loudon-hill by
the best and shortest road. Move steadily, and do not let the men blow
the horses; Lord Evandale and I will overtake you in a quarter of an
hour. Leave Bothwell with a party to bring up the prisoners."
Allan bowed, and left the apartment, with all the officers, excepting
Claverhouse and the young nobleman. In a few minutes the sound of the
military music and the clashing of hoofs announced that the horsemen were
leaving the castle. The sounds were presently heard only at intervals,
and soon died away entirely.
While Claverhouse endeavoured to soothe the terrors of Lady Margaret, and
to reconcile the veteran Major to his opinion of Morton, Evandale,
getting the better of that conscious shyness which renders an ingenuous
youth diffident in approaching the object of his affections, drew near to
Miss Bellenden, and accosted her in a tone of mingled respect and
"We are to leave you," he said, taking her hand, which he pressed with
much emotion--"to leave you for a scene which is not without its dangers.
Farewell, dear Miss Bellenden;--let me say for the first, and perhaps the
last time, dear Edith! We part in circumstances so singular as may excuse
some solemnity in bidding farewell to one, whom I have known so long, and
whom I--respect so highly."
The manner differing from the words, seemed to express a feeling much
deeper and more agitating than was conveyed in the phrase he made use of.
It was not in woman to be utterly insensible to his modest and deep-felt
expression of tenderness. Although borne down by the misfortunes and
imminent danger of the man she loved, Edith was touched by the hopeless
and reverential passion of the gallant youth, who now took leave of her
to rush into dangers of no ordinary description.
"I hope--I sincerely trust," she said, "there is no danger. I hope there
is no occasion for this solemn ceremonial--that these hasty insurgents
will be dispersed rather by fear than force, and that Lord Evandale will
speedily return to be what he must always be, the dear and valued friend
of all in this castle."
"Of all," he repeated, with a melancholy emphasis upon the word. "But be
it so--whatever is near you is dear and valued to me, and I value their
approbation accordingly. Of our success I am not sanguine. Our numbers
are so few, that I dare not hope for so speedy, so bloodless, or so safe
an end of this unhappy disturbance. These men are enthusiastic, resolute,
and desperate, and have leaders not altogether unskilled in military
matters. I cannot help thinking that the impetuosity of our Colonel is
hurrying us against them rather prematurely. But there are few that have
less reason to shun danger than I have."
Edith had now the opportunity she wished to bespeak the young nobleman's
intercession and protection for Henry Morton, and it seemed the only
remaining channel of interest by which he could be rescued from impending
destruction. Yet she felt at that moment as if, in doing so, she was
abusing the partiality and confidence of the lover, whose heart was as
open before her, as if his tongue had made an express declaration. Could
she with honour engage Lord Evandale in the service of a rival? or could
she with prudence make him any request, or lay herself under any
obligation to him, without affording ground for hopes which she could
never realize? But the moment was too urgent for hesitation, or even for
those explanations with which her request might otherwise have been
"I will but dispose of this young fellow," said Claverhouse, from the
other side of the hall, "and then, Lord Evandale--I am sorry to interrupt
again your conversation--but then we must mount.--Bothwell, why do not
you bring up the prisoner? and, hark ye, let two files load their
In these words, Edith conceived she heard the death-warrant of her lover.
She instantly broke through the restraint which had hitherto kept her
"My Lord Evandale," she said, "this young gentleman is a particular
friend of my uncle's--your interest must be great with your colonel--let
me request your intercession in his favour--it will confer on my uncle a
"You overrate my interest, Miss Bellenden," said Lord Evandale; "I have
been often unsuccessful in such applications, when I have made them on
the mere score of humanity."
"Yet try once again for my uncle's sake."
"And why not for your own?" said Lord Evandale. "Will you not allow me to
think I am obliging you personally in this matter?--Are you so diffident
of an old friend that you will not allow him even the satisfaction of
thinking that he is gratifying your wishes?"
"Surely--surely," replied Edith; "you will oblige me infinitely--I am
interested in the young gentleman on my uncle's account--Lose no time,
for God's sake!"
She became bolder and more urgent in her entreaties, for she heard the
steps of the soldiers who were entering with their prisoner.
"By heaven! then," said Evandale, "he shall not die, if I should die in
his place!--But will not you," he said, resuming the hand, which in the
hurry of her spirits she had not courage to withdraw, "will not you grant
me one suit, in return for my zeal in your service?"
"Any thing you can ask, my Lord Evandale, that sisterly affection can
"And is this all," he continued, "all you can grant to my affection
living, or my memory when dead?"
"Do not speak thus, my lord," said Edith, "you distress me, and do
injustice to yourself. There is no friend I esteem more highly, or to
whom I would more readily grant every mark of regard--providing--But"--A
deep sigh made her turn her head suddenly, ere she had well uttered the
last word; and, as she hesitated how to frame the exception with which
she meant to close the sentence, she became instantly aware she had been
overheard by Morton, who, heavily ironed and guarded by soldiers, was now
passing behind her in order to be presented to Claverhouse. As their eyes
met each other, the sad and reproachful expression of Morton's glance
seemed to imply that he had partially heard, and altogether
misinterpreted, the conversation which had just passed. There wanted but
this to complete Edith's distress and confusion. Her blood, which rushed
to her brow, made a sudden revulsion to her heart, and left her as pale
as death. This change did not escape the attention of Evandale, whose
quick glance easily discovered that there was between the prisoner and
the object of his own attachment, some singular and uncommon connexion.
He resigned the hand of Miss Bellenden, again surveyed the prisoner with
more attention, again looked at Edith, and plainly observed the confusion
which she could no longer conceal.
"This," he said, after a moment's gloomy silence, "is, I believe, the
young gentleman who gained the prize at the shooting match."
"I am not sure," hesitated Edith--"yet--I rather think not," scarce
knowing what she replied.
"It is he," said Evandale, decidedly; "I know him well. A victor," he
continued, somewhat haughtily, "ought to have interested a fair spectator
He then turned from Edith, and advancing towards the table at which
Claverhouse now placed himself, stood at a little distance, resting on
his sheathed broadsword, a silent, but not an unconcerned, spectator of
that which passed.
O, my Lord, beware of jealousy!
To explain the deep effect which the few broken passages of the
conversation we have detailed made upon the unfortunate prisoner by whom
they were overheard, it is necessary to say something of his previous
state of mind, and of the origin of his acquaintance with Edith.
Henry Morton was one of those gifted characters, which possess a force of
talent unsuspected by the owner himself. He had inherited from his father
an undaunted courage, and a firm and uncompromising detestation of
oppression, whether in politics or religion. But his enthusiasm was
unsullied by fanatic zeal, and unleavened by the sourness of the
puritanical spirit. From these his mind had been freed, partly by the
active exertions of his own excellent understanding, partly by frequent
and long visits at Major Bellenden's, where he had an opportunity of
meeting with many guests whose conversation taught him, that goodness and
worth were not limited to those of any single form of religious
The base parsimony of his uncle had thrown many obstacles in the way of
his education; but he had so far improved the opportunities which offered
themselves, that his instructors as well as his friends were surprised at
his progress under such disadvantages. Still, however, the current of his
soul was frozen by a sense of dependence, of poverty, above all, of an
imperfect and limited education. These feelings impressed him with a
diffidence and reserve which effectually concealed from all but very
intimate friends, the extent of talent and the firmness of character,
which we have stated him to be possessed of. The circumstances of the
times had added to this reserve an air of indecision and of indifference;
for, being attached to neither of the factions which divided the kingdom,
he passed for dull, insensible, and uninfluenced by the feeling of
religion or of patriotism. No conclusion, however, could be more unjust;
and the reasons of the neutrality which he had hitherto professed had
root in very different and most praiseworthy motives. He had formed few
congenial ties with those who were the objects of persecution, and was
disgusted alike by their narrow-minded and selfish party-spirit, their
gloomy fanaticism, their abhorrent condemnation of all elegant studies or
innocent exercises, and the envenomed rancour of their political hatred.
But his mind was still more revolted by the tyrannical and oppressive
conduct of the government, the misrule, license, and brutality of the
soldiery, the executions on the scaffold, the slaughters in the open
field, the free quarters and exactions imposed by military law, which
placed the lives and fortunes of a free people on a level with Asiatic
slaves. Condemning, therefore, each party as its excesses fell under his
eyes, disgusted with the sight of evils which he had no means of
alleviating, and hearing alternate complaints and exultations with which
he could not sympathize, he would long ere this have left Scotland, had
it not been for his attachment to Edith Bellenden.
The earlier meetings of these young people had been at Charnwood, when
Major Bellenden, who was as free from suspicion on such occasions as
Uncle Toby himself, had encouraged their keeping each other constant
company, without entertaining any apprehension of the natural
consequences. Love, as usual in such cases, borrowed the name of
friendship, used her language, and claimed her privileges. When Edith
Bellenden was recalled to her mother's castle, it was astonishing by what
singular and recurring accidents she often met young Morton in her
sequestered walks, especially considering the distance of their places of
abode. Yet it somehow happened that she never expressed the surprise
which the frequency of these rencontres ought naturally to have excited,
and that their intercourse assumed gradually a more delicate character,
and their meetings began to wear the air of appointments. Books,
drawings, letters, were exchanged between them, and every trifling
commission, given or executed, gave rise to a new correspondence. Love
indeed was not yet mentioned between them by name, but each knew the
situation of their own bosom, and could not but guess at that of the
other. Unable to desist from an intercourse which possessed such charms
for both, yet trembling for its too probable consequences, it had been
continued without specific explanation until now, when fate appeared to
have taken the conclusion into its own hands.
It followed, as a consequence of this state of things, as well as of the
diffidence of Morton's disposition at this period, that his confidence in
Edith's return of his affection had its occasional cold fits. Her
situations was in every respect so superior to his own, her worth so
eminent, her accomplishments so many, her face so beautiful, and her
manners so bewitching, that he could not but entertain fears that some
suitor more favoured than himself by fortune, and more acceptable to
Edith's family than he durst hope to be, might step in between him and
the object of his affections. Common rumour had raised up such a rival in
Lord Evandale, whom birth, fortune, connexions, and political principles,
as well as his frequent visits at Tillietudlem, and his attendance upon
Lady Bellenden and her niece at all public places, naturally pointed out
as a candidate for her favour. It frequently and inevitably happened,
that engagements to which Lord Evandale was a party, interfered with the
meeting of the lovers, and Henry could not but mark that Edith either
studiously avoided speaking of the young nobleman, or did so with obvious
reserve and hesitation.
These symptoms, which, in fact, arose from the delicacy of her own
feelings towards Morton himself, were misconstrued by his diffident
temper, and the jealousy which they excited was fermented by the
occasional observations of Jenny Dennison. This true-bred serving-damsel
was, in her own person, a complete country coquette, and when she had no
opportunity of teasing her own lovers, used to take some occasional
opportunity to torment her young lady's. This arose from no ill-will to
Henry Morton, who, both on her mistress's account and his own handsome
form and countenance, stood high in her esteem. But then Lord Evandale
was also handsome; he was liberal far beyond what Morton's means could
afford, and he was a lord, moreover, and, if Miss Edith Bellenden should
accept his hand, she would become a baron's lady, and, what was more,
little Jenny Dennison, whom the awful housekeeper at Tillietudlem huffed
about at her pleasure, would be then Mrs Dennison, Lady Evandale's own
woman, or perhaps her ladyship's lady-in-waiting. The impartiality of
Jenny Dennison, therefore, did not, like that of Mrs Quickly, extend to a
wish that both the handsome suitors could wed her young lady; for it must
be owned that the scale of her regard was depressed in favour of Lord
Evandale, and her wishes in his favour took many shapes extremely
tormenting to Morton; being now expressed as a friendly caution, now as
an article of intelligence, and anon as a merry jest, but always tending
to confirm the idea, that, sooner or later, his romantic intercourse with
her young mistress must have a close, and that Edith Bellenden would, in
spite of summer walks beneath the greenwood tree, exchange of verses, of
drawings, and of books, end in becoming Lady Evandale.
These hints coincided so exactly with the very point of his own
suspicions and fears, that Morton was not long of feeling that jealousy
which every one has felt who has truly loved, but to which those are most
liable whose love is crossed by the want of friends' consent, or some
other envious impediment of fortune. Edith herself, unwittingly, and in
the generosity of her own frank nature, contributed to the error into
which her lover was in danger of falling. Their conversation once chanced
to turn upon some late excesses committed by the soldiery on an occasion
when it was said (inaccurately however) that the party was commanded by
Lord Evandale. Edith, as true in friendship as in love, was somewhat hurt
at the severe strictures which escaped from Morton on this occasion, and
which, perhaps, were not the less strongly expressed on account of their
supposed rivalry. She entered into Lord Evandale's defence with such
spirit as hurt Morton to the very soul, and afforded no small delight to
Jenny Dennison, the usual companion of their walks. Edith perceived her
error, and endeavoured to remedy it; but the impression was not so easily
erased, and it had no small effect in inducing her lover to form that
resolution of going abroad, which was disappointed in the manner we have
The visit which he received from Edith during his confinement, the deep
and devoted interest which she had expressed in his fate, ought of
themselves to have dispelled his suspicions; yet, ingenious in tormenting
himself, even this he thought might be imputed to anxious friendship, or,
at most, to a temporary partiality, which would probably soon give way to
circumstances, the entreaties of her friends, the authority of Lady
Margaret, and the assiduities of Lord Evandale.
"And to what do I owe it," he said, "that I cannot stand up like a man,
and plead my interest in her ere I am thus cheated out of it?--to what,
but to the all-pervading and accursed tyranny, which afflicts at once our
bodies, souls, estates, and affections! And is it to one of the pensioned
cut-throats of this oppressive government that I must yield my
pretensions to Edith Bellenden?--I will not, by Heaven!--It is a just
punishment on me for being dead to public wrongs, that they have visited
me with their injuries in a point where they can be least brooked or
As these stormy resolutions boiled in his bosom, and while he ran over
the various kinds of insult and injury which he had sustained in his own
cause and in that of his country, Bothwell entered the tower, followed by
two dragoons, one of whom carried handcuffs.
"You must follow me, young man," said he, "but first we must put you in
"In trim!" said Morton. "What do you mean?"
"Why, we must put on these rough bracelets. I durst not--nay, d--n it, I
durst do any thing--but I would not for three hours' plunder of a stormed
town bring a whig before my Colonel without his being ironed. Come, come,
young man, don't look sulky about it."
He advanced to put on the irons; but, seizing the oaken-seat upon which
he had rested, Morton threatened to dash out the brains of the first who
should approach him.
"I could manage you in a moment, my youngster," said Bothwell, "but I had
rather you would strike sail quietly."
Here indeed he spoke the truth, not from either fear or reluctance to
adopt force, but because he dreaded the consequences of a noisy scuffle,
through which it might probably be discovered that he had, contrary to
express orders, suffered his prisoner to pass the night without being
"You had better be prudent," he continued, in a tone which he meant to be
conciliatory, "and don't spoil your own sport. They say here in the
castle that Lady Margaret's niece is immediately to marry our young
Captain, Lord Evandale. I saw them close together in the hall yonder, and
I heard her ask him to intercede for your pardon. She looked so devilish
handsome and kind upon him, that on my soul--But what the devil's the
matter with you?--You are as pale as a sheet--Will you have some brandy?"
"Miss Bellenden ask my life of Lord Evandale?" said the prisoner,
"Ay, ay; there's no friend like the women--their interest carries all in
court and camp.--Come, you are reasonable now--Ay, I thought you would
Here he employed himself in putting on the fetters, against which,
Morton, thunderstruck by this intelligence, no longer offered the least
"My life begged of him, and by her!--ay--ay--put on the irons--my limbs
shall not refuse to bear what has entered into my very soul--My life
begged by Edith, and begged of Evandale!"
"Ay, and he has power to grant it too," said Bothwell--"He can do more
with the Colonel than any man in the regiment."
And as he spoke, he and his party led their prisoner towards the hall. In
passing behind the seat of Edith, the unfortunate prisoner heard enough,
as he conceived, of the broken expressions which passed between Edith and
Lord Evandale, to confirm all that the soldier had told him. That moment
made a singular and instantaneous revolution in his character. The depth
of despair to which his love and fortunes were reduced, the peril in
which his life appeared to stand, the transference of Edith's affections,
her intercession in his favour, which rendered her fickleness yet more
galling, seemed to destroy every feeling for which he had hitherto lived,
but, at the same time, awakened those which had hitherto been smothered
by passions more gentle though more selfish. Desperate himself, he
determined to support the rights of his country, insulted in his person.
His character was for the moment as effectually changed as the appearance
of a villa, which, from being the abode of domestic quiet and happiness,
is, by the sudden intrusion of an armed force, converted into a
formidable post of defence.
We have already said that he cast upon Edith one glance in which reproach
was mingled with sorrow, as if to bid her farewell for ever; his next
motion was to walk firmly to the table at which Colonel Grahame was
"By what right is it, sir," said he firmly, and without waiting till he
was questioned,--"By what right is it that these soldiers have dragged me
from my family, and put fetters on the limbs of a free man?"
"By my commands," answered Claverhouse; "and I now lay my commands on you
to be silent and hear my questions."
"I will not," replied Morton, in a determined tone, while his boldness
seemed to electrify all around him. "I will know whether I am in lawful
custody, and before a civil magistrate, ere the charter of my country
shall be forfeited in my person."
"A pretty springald this, upon my honour!" said Claverhouse.
"Are you mad?" said Major Bellenden to his young friend. "For God's sake,
Henry Morton," he continued, in a tone between rebuke and entreaty,
"remember you are speaking to one of his majesty's officers high in the
"It is for that very reason, sir," returned Henry, firmly, "that I desire
to know what right he has to detain me without a legal warrant. Were he a
civil officer of the law I should know my duty was submission."
"Your friend, here," said Claverhouse to the veteran, coolly, "is one of
those scrupulous gentlemen, who, like the madman in the play, will not
tie his cravat without the warrant of Mr Justice Overdo; but I will let
him see, before we part, that my shoulder-knot is as legal a badge of
authority as the mace of the Justiciary. So, waving this discussion, you
will be pleased, young man, to tell me directly when you saw Balfour of
"As I know no right you have to ask such a question," replied Morton, "I
decline replying to it."
"You confessed to my sergeant," said Claverhouse, "that you saw and
entertained him, knowing him to be an intercommuned traitor; why are you
not so frank with me?"
"Because," replied the prisoner, "I presume you are, from education,
taught to understand the rights upon which you seem disposed to trample;
and I am willing you should be aware there are yet Scotsmen who can
assert the liberties of Scotland."
"And these supposed rights you would vindicate with your sword, I
presume?" said Colonel Grahame.
"Were I armed as you are, and we were alone upon a hill-side, you should
not ask me the question twice."
"It is quite enough," answered Claverhouse, calmly; "your language
corresponds with all I have heard of you;--but you are the son of a
soldier, though a rebellious one, and you shall not die the death of a
dog; I will save you that indignity."
"Die in what manner I may," replied Morton, "I will die like the son of a
brave man; and the ignominy you mention shall remain with those who shed
"Make your peace, then, with Heaven, in five minutes' space.--Bothwell,
lead him down to the court-yard, and draw up your party."
The appalling nature of this conversation, and of its result, struck the
silence of horror into all but the speakers. But now those who stood
round broke forth into clamour and expostulation. Old Lady Margaret, who,
with all the prejudices of rank and party, had not laid aside the
feelings of her sex, was loud in her intercession.
"O, Colonel Grahame," she exclaimed, "spare his young blood! Leave him to
the law--do not repay my hospitality by shedding men's blood on the
threshold of my doors!"
"Colonel Grahame," said Major Bellenden, "you must answer this violence.
Don't think, though I am old and feckless, that my friend's son shall be
murdered before my eyes with impunity. I can find friends that shall make
you answer it."
"Be satisfied, Major Bellenden, I will answer it," replied Claverhouse,
totally unmoved; "and you, madam, might spare me the pain the resisting
this passionate intercession for a traitor, when you consider the noble
blood your own house has lost by such as he is."
"Colonel Grahame," answered the lady, her aged frame trembling with
anxiety, "I leave vengeance to God, who calls it his own. The shedding of
this young man's blood will not call back the lives that were dear to me;
and how can it comfort me to think that there has maybe been another
widowed mother made childless, like mysell, by a deed done at my very
"This is stark madness," said Claverhouse; "I must do my duty to church
and state. Here are a thousand villains hard by in open rebellion, and
you ask me to pardon a young fanatic who is enough of himself to set a
whole kingdom in a blaze! It cannot be--Remove him, Bothwell."
She who was most interested in this dreadful decision, had twice strove
to speak, but her voice had totally failed her; her mind refused to
suggest words, and her tongue to utter them. She now sprung up and
attempted to rush forward, but her strength gave way, and she would have
fallen flat upon the pavement had she not been caught by her attendant.
"Help!" cried Jenny,--"Help, for God's sake! my young lady is dying."
At this exclamation, Evandale, who, during the preceding part of the
scene, had stood motionless, leaning upon his sword, now stepped forward,
and said to his commanding-officer, "Colonel Grahame, before proceeding
in this matter, will you speak a word with me in private?"
Claverhouse looked surprised, but instantly rose and withdrew with the
young nobleman into a recess, where the following brief dialogue passed
"I think I need not remind you, Colonel, that when our family interest
was of service to you last year in that affair in the privy-council, you
considered yourself as laid under some obligation to us?"
"Certainly, my dear Evandale," answered Claverhouse, "I am not a man who
forgets such debts; you will delight me by showing how I can evince my
"I will hold the debt cancelled," said Lord Evandale, "if you will spare
this young man's life."
"Evandale," replied Grahame, in great surprise, "you are mad--absolutely
mad--what interest can you have in this young spawn of an old
roundhead?--His father was positively the most dangerous man in all
Scotland, cool, resolute, soliderly, and inflexible in his cursed
principles. His son seems his very model; you cannot conceive the
mischief he may do. I know mankind, Evandale--were he an insignificant,
fanatical, country booby, do you think I would have refused such a
trifle as his life to Lady Margaret and this family? But this is a lad
of fire, zeal, and education--and these knaves want but such a leader to
direct their blind enthusiastic hardiness. I mention this, not as
refusing your request, but to make you fully aware of the possible
consequences--I will never evade a promise, or refuse to return an
obligation--if you ask his life, he shall have it."
"Keep him close prisoner," answered Evandale, "but do not be surprised if
I persist in requesting you will not put him to death. I have most urgent
reasons for what I ask."
"Be it so then," replied Grahame;--"but, young man, should you wish in
your future life to rise to eminence in the service of your king and
country, let it be your first task to subject to the public interest, and
to the discharge of your duty, your private passions, affections, and
feelings. These are not times to sacrifice to the dotage of greybeards,
or the tears of silly women, the measures of salutary severity which the
dangers around compel us to adopt. And remember, that if I now yield this
point, in compliance with your urgency, my present concession must exempt
me from future solicitations of the same nature."
He then stepped forward to the table, and bent his eyes keenly on Morton,
as if to observe what effect the pause of awful suspense between death
and life, which seemed to freeze the bystanders with horror, would
produce upon the prisoner himself. Morton maintained a degree of
firmness, which nothing but a mind that had nothing left upon earth to
love or to hope, could have supported at such a crisis.
"You see him?" said Claverhouse, in a half whisper to Lord Evandale; "he
is tottering on the verge between time and eternity, a situation more
appalling than the most hideous certainty; yet his is the only cheek
unblenched, the only eye that is calm, the only heart that keeps its
usual time, the only nerves that are not quivering. Look at him well,
Evandale--If that man shall ever come to head an army of rebels, you will
have much to answer for on account of this morning's work." He then said
aloud, "Young man, your life is for the present safe, through the
intercession of your friends--Remove him, Bothwell, and let him be
properly guarded, and brought along with the other prisoners."
"If my life," said Morton, stung with the idea that he owed his respite
to the intercession of a favoured rival, "if my life be granted at Lord
"Take the prisoner away, Bothwell," said Colonel Grahame, interrupting
him; "I have neither time to make nor to hear fine speeches."
Bothwell forced off Morton, saying, as he conducted him into the
court-yard, "Have you three lives in your pocket, besides the one in your
body, my lad, that you can afford to let your tongue run away with them
at this rate? Come, come, I'll take care to keep you out of the Colonel's
way; for, egad, you will not be five minutes with him before the next
tree or the next ditch will be the word. So, come along to your
companions in bondage."
Thus speaking, the sergeant, who, in his rude manner, did not altogether
want sympathy for a gallant young man, hurried Morton down to the
courtyard, where three other prisoners, (two men and a woman,) who had
been taken by Lord Evandale, remained under an escort of dragoons.
Meantime, Claverhouse took his leave of Lady Margaret. But it was
difficult for the good lady to forgive his neglect of her intercession.
"I have thought till now," she said, "that the Tower of Tillietudlem
might have been a place of succour to those that are ready to perish,
even if they werena sae deserving as they should have been--but I see
auld fruit has little savour--our suffering and our services have been of
an ancient date."
"They are never to be forgotten by me, let me assure your ladyship," said
Claverhouse. "Nothing but what seemed my sacred duty could make me
hesitate to grant a favour requested by you and the Major. Come, my good
lady, let me hear you say you have forgiven me, and, as I return
to-night, I will bring a drove of two hundred whigs with me, and pardon
fifty head of them for your sake."
"I shall be happy to hear of your success, Colonel," said Major
Bellenden; "but take an old soldier's advice, and spare blood when
battle's over,--and once more let me request to enter bail for young
"We will settle that when I return," said Claverhouse. "Meanwhile, be
assured his life shall be safe."
During this conversation, Evandale looked anxiously around for Edith; but
the precaution of Jenny Dennison had occasioned her mistress being
transported to her own apartment.
Slowly and heavily he obeyed the impatient summons of Claverhouse, who,
after taking a courteous leave of Lady Margaret and the Major, had
hastened to the court-yard. The prisoners with their guard were already
on their march, and the officers with their escort mounted and followed.
All pressed forward to overtake the main body, as it was supposed they
would come in sight of the enemy in little more than two hours.
My hounds may a' rin masterless,
My hawks may fly frae tree to tree,
My lord may grip my vassal lands,
For there again maun I never be!
We left Morton, along with three companions in captivity, travelling in
the custody of a small body of soldiers, who formed the rear-guard of the
column under the command of Claverhouse, and were immediately under the
charge of Sergeant Bothwell. Their route lay towards the hills in which
the insurgent presbyterians were reported to be in arms. They had not
prosecuted their march a quarter of a mile ere Claverhouse and Evandale
galloped past them, followed by their orderly-men, in order to take their
proper places in the column which preceded them. No sooner were they past
than Bothwell halted the body which he commanded, and disencumbered
Morton of his irons.
"King's blood must keep word," said the dragoon. "I promised you should
be civilly treated as far as rested with me.--Here, Corporal Inglis, let
this gentleman ride alongside of the other young fellow who is prisoner;
and you may permit them to converse together at their pleasure, under
their breath, but take care they are guarded by two files with loaded
carabines. If they attempt an escape, blow their brains out.--You cannot
call that using you uncivilly," he continued, addressing himself to
Morton, "it's the rules of war, you know.--And, Inglis, couple up the
parson and the old woman, they are fittest company for each other, d--n
me; a single file may guard them well enough. If they speak a word of
cant or fanatical nonsense, let them have a strapping with a
shoulder-belt. There's some hope of choking a silenced parson; if he is
not allowed to hold forth, his own treason will burst him."
Having made this arrangement, Bothwell placed himself at the head of the
party, and Inglis, with six dragoons, brought up the rear. The whole then
set forward at a trot, with the purpose of overtaking the main body of
Morton, overwhelmed with a complication of feelings, was totally
indifferent to the various arrangements made for his secure custody, and
even to the relief afforded him by his release from the fetters. He
experienced that blank and waste of the heart which follows the hurricane
of passion, and, no longer supported by the pride and conscious rectitude
which dictated his answers to Claverhouse, he surveyed with deep
dejection the glades through which he travelled, each turning of which
had something to remind him of past happiness and disappointed love. The
eminence which they now ascended was that from which he used first and
last to behold the ancient tower when approaching or retiring from it;
and, it is needless to add, that there he was wont to pause, and gaze
with a lover's delight on the battlements, which, rising at a distance
out of the lofty wood, indicated the dwelling of her, whom he either
hoped soon to meet or had recently parted from. Instinctively he turned
his head back to take a last look of a scene formerly so dear to him, and
no less instinctively he heaved a deep sigh. It was echoed by a loud
groan from his companion in misfortune, whose eyes, moved, perchance, by
similar reflections, had taken the same direction. This indication of
sympathy, on the part of the captive, was uttered in a tone more coarse
than sentimental; it was, however, the expression of a grieved spirit,
and so far corresponded with the sigh of Morton. In turning their heads
their eyes met, and Morton recognised the stolid countenance of Cuddie
Headrigg, bearing a rueful expression, in which sorrow for his own lot
was mixed with sympathy for the situation of his companion.
"Hegh, sirs!" was the expression of the ci-devant ploughman of the mains
of Tillietudlem; "it's an unco thing that decent folk should be harled
through the country this gate, as if they were a warld's wonder."
"I am sorry to see you here, Cuddie," said Morton, who, even in his own
distress, did not lose feeling for that of others.
"And sae am I, Mr Henry," answered Cuddie, "baith for mysell and you; but
neither of our sorrows will do muckle gude that I can see. To be sure,
for me," continued the captive agriculturist, relieving his heart by
talking, though he well knew it was to little purpose,--"to be sure, for
my part, I hae nae right to be here ava', for I never did nor said a word
against either king or curate; but my mither, puir body, couldna haud the
auld tongue o' her, and we maun baith pay for't, it's like."
"Your mother is their prisoner likewise?" said Morton, hardly knowing
what he said.
"In troth is she, riding ahint ye there like a bride, wi' that auld carle
o' a minister that they ca' Gabriel Kettledrummle--Deil that he had been
in the inside of a drum or a kettle either, for my share o' him! Ye see,
we were nae sooner chased out o' the doors o' Milnwood, and your uncle
and the housekeeper banging them to and barring them ahint us, as if we
had had the plague on our bodies, that I says to my mother, What are we
to do neist? for every hole and bore in the country will be steekit
against us, now that ye hae affronted my auld leddy, and gar't the
troopers tak up young Milnwood. Sae she says to me, Binna cast doun, but
gird yoursell up to the great task o' the day, and gie your testimony
like a man upon the mount o' the Covenant."
"And so I suppose you went to a conventicle?" said Morton.
"Ye sall hear," continued Cuddie.--"Aweel, I kendna muckle better what to
do, sae I e'en gaed wi' her to an auld daft carline like hersell, and we
got some water-broo and bannocks; and mony a weary grace they said, and
mony a psalm they sang, or they wad let me win to, for I was amaist
famished wi' vexation. Aweel, they had me up in the grey o' the morning,
and I behoved to whig awa wi' them, reason or nane, to a great gathering
o' their folk at the Miry-sikes; and there this chield, Gabriel
Kettledrummle, was blasting awa to them on the hill-side, about lifting
up their testimony, nae doubt, and ganging down to the battle of Roman
Gilead, or some sic place. Eh, Mr Henry! but the carle gae them a screed
o' doctrine! Ye might hae heard him a mile down the wind--He routed like
a cow in a fremd loaning.--Weel, thinks I, there's nae place in this
country they ca' Roman Gilead--it will be some gate in the west
muirlands; and or we win there I'll see to slip awa wi' this mither o'
mine, for I winna rin my neck into a tether for ony Kettledrummle in the
country side--Aweel," continued Cuddie, relieving himself by detailing
his misfortunes, without being scrupulous concerning the degree of
attention which his companion bestowed on his narrative, "just as I was
wearying for the tail of the preaching, cam word that the dragoons were
upon us.--Some ran, and some cried, Stand! and some cried, Down wi' the
Philistines!--I was at my mither to get her awa sting and ling or the
red-coats cam up, but I might as weel hae tried to drive our auld
fore-a-hand ox without the goad--deil a step wad she budge.--Weel, after
a', the cleugh we were in was strait, and the mist cam thick, and there
was good hope the dragoons wad hae missed us if we could hae held our
tongues; but, as if auld Kettledrummle himsell hadna made din eneugh to
waken the very dead, they behoved a' to skirl up a psalm that ye wad hae
heard as far as Lanrick!--Aweel, to mak a lang tale short, up cam my
young Lord Evandale, skelping as fast as his horse could trot, and twenty
red-coats at his back. Twa or three chields wad needs fight, wi' the
pistol and the whinger in the tae hand, and the Bible in the tother, and
they got their crouns weel cloured; but there wasna muckle skaith dune,
for Evandale aye cried to scatter us, but to spare life."
"And did you not resist?" said Morton, who probably felt, that, at that
moment, he himself would have encountered Lord Evandale on much slighter
"Na, truly," answered Cuddie, "I keepit aye before the auld woman, and
cried for mercy to life and limb; but twa o' the red-coats cam up, and
ane o' them was gaun to strike my mither wi' the side o' his
broadsword--So I got up my kebbie at them, and said I wad gie them as
gude. Weel, they turned on me, and clinked at me wi' their swords, and I
garr'd my hand keep my head as weel as I could till Lord Evandale came
up, and then I cried out I was a servant at Tillietudlem--ye ken
yoursell he was aye judged to hae a look after the young leddy--and he
bade me fling down my kent, and sae me and my mither yielded oursells
prisoners. I'm thinking we wad hae been letten slip awa, but
Kettledrummle was taen near us--for Andrew Wilson's naig that he was
riding on had been a dragooner lang syne, and the sairer Kettledrummle
spurred to win awa, the readier the dour beast ran to the dragoons when
he saw them draw up.--Aweel, when my mother and him forgathered, they
set till the sodgers, and I think they gae them their kale through the
reek! Bastards o' the hure o' Babylon was the best words in their wame.
Sae then the kiln was in a bleeze again, and they brought us a' three on
wi' them to mak us an example, as they ca't."
"It is most infamous and intolerable oppression!" said Morton, half
speaking to himself; "here is a poor peaceable fellow, whose only motive
for joining the conventicle was a sense of filial piety, and he is
chained up like a thief or murderer, and likely to die the death of one,
but without the privilege of a formal trial, which our laws indulge to
the worst malefactor! Even to witness such tyranny, and still more to
suffer under it, is enough to make the blood of the tamest slave boil
"To be sure," said Cuddie, hearing, and partly understanding, what had
broken from Morton in resentment of his injuries, "it is no right to
speak evil o' dignities--my auld leddy aye said that, as nae doubt she
had a gude right to do, being in a place o' dignity hersell; and troth I
listened to her very patiently, for she aye ordered a dram, or a sowp
kale, or something to us, after she had gien us a hearing on our duties.
But deil a dram, or kale, or ony thing else--no sae muckle as a cup o'
cauld water--do thae lords at Edinburgh gie us; and yet they are heading
and hanging amang us, and trailing us after thae blackguard troopers, and
taking our goods and gear as if we were outlaws. I canna say I tak it
kind at their hands."
"It would be very strange if you did," answered Morton, with suppressed
"And what I like warst o' a'," continued poor Cuddie, "is thae ranting
red-coats coming amang the lasses, and taking awa our joes. I had a sair
heart o' my ain when I passed the Mains down at Tillietudlem this morning
about parritch-time, and saw the reek comin' out at my ain lum-head, and
kend there was some ither body than my auld mither sitting by the
ingle-side. But I think my heart was e'en sairer, when I saw that
hellicat trooper, Tam Halliday, kissing Jenny Dennison afore my face. I
wonder women can hae the impudence to do sic things; but they are a' for
the red-coats. Whiles I hae thought o' being a trooper mysell, when I
thought naething else wad gae down wi' Jenny--and yet I'll no blame her
ower muckle neither, for maybe it was a' for my sake that she loot Tam
touzle her tap-knots that gate."
"For your sake?" said Morton, unable to refrain from taking some interest
in a story which seemed to bear a singular coincidence with his own.
"E'en sae, Milnwood," replied Cuddie; "for the puir quean gat leave to
come near me wi' speaking the loun fair, (d--n him, that I suld say sae!)
and sae she bade me God speed, and she wanted to stap siller into my
hand;--I'se warrant it was the tae half o' her fee and bountith, for she
wared the ither half on pinners and pearlings to gang to see us shoot yon
day at the popinjay."
"And did you take it, Cuddie?" said Morton.
"Troth did I no, Milnwood; I was sic a fule as to fling it back to
her--my heart was ower grit to be behadden to her, when I had seen that
loon slavering and kissing at her. But I was a great fule for my pains;
it wad hae dune my mither and me some gude, and she'll ware't a' on duds
There was here a deep and long pause. Cuddie was probably engaged in
regretting the rejection of his mistress's bounty, and Henry Morton in
considering from what motives, or upon what conditions, Miss Bellenden
had succeeded in procuring the interference of Lord Evandale in his
Was it not possible, suggested his awakening hopes, that he had construed
her influence over Lord Evandale hastily and unjustly? Ought he to
censure her severely, if, submitting to dissimulation for his sake, she
had permitted the young nobleman to entertain hopes which she had no
intention to realize? Or what if she had appealed to the generosity which
Lord Evandale was supposed to possess, and had engaged his honour to
protect the person of a favoured rival?
Still, however, the words which he had overheard recurred ever and anon
to his remembrance, with a pang which resembled the sting of an adder.
"Nothing that she could refuse him!--was it possible to make a more
unlimited declaration of predilection? The language of affection has not,
within the limits of maidenly delicacy, a stronger expression. She is
lost to me wholly, and for ever; and nothing remains for me now, but
vengeance for my own wrongs, and for those which are hourly inflicted on
Apparently, Cuddie, though with less refinement, was following out a
similar train of ideas; for he suddenly asked Morton in a low
whisper--"Wad there be ony ill in getting out o' thae chields' hands an
ane could compass it?"
"None in the world," said Morton; "and if an opportunity occurs of doing
so, depend on it I for one will not let it slip."
"I'm blythe to hear ye say sae," answered Cuddie. "I'm but a puir silly
fallow, but I canna think there wad be muckle ill in breaking out by
strength o' hand, if ye could mak it ony thing feasible. I am the lad
that will ne'er fear to lay on, if it were come to that; but our auld
leddy wad hae ca'd that a resisting o' the king's authority."
"I will resist any authority on earth," said Morton, "that invades
tyrannically my chartered rights as a freeman; and I am determined I will
not be unjustly dragged to a jail, or perhaps a gibbet, if I can possibly
make my escape from these men either by address or force."
"Weel, that's just my mind too, aye supposing we hae a feasible
opportunity o' breaking loose. But then ye speak o' a charter; now these
are things that only belang to the like o' you that are a gentleman, and
it mightna bear me through that am but a husbandman."
"The charter that I speak of," said Morton, "is common to the meanest
Scotchman. It is that freedom from stripes and bondage which was claimed,
as you may read in Scripture, by the Apostle Paul himself, and which
every man who is free-born is called upon to defend, for his own sake and
that of his countrymen."
"Hegh, sirs!" replied Cuddie, "it wad hae been lang or my Leddy Margaret,
or my mither either, wad hae fund out sic a wiselike doctrine in the
Bible! The tane was aye graning about giving tribute to Caesar, and the
tither is as daft wi' her whiggery. I hae been clean spoilt, just wi'
listening to twa blethering auld wives; but if I could get a gentleman
that wad let me tak on to be his servant, I am confident I wad be a clean
contrary creature; and I hope your honour will think on what I am saying,
if ye were ance fairly delivered out o' this house of bondage, and just
take me to be your ain wally-de-shamble."
"My valet, Cuddie?" answered Morton; "alas! that would be sorry
preferment, even if we were at liberty."
"I ken what ye're thinking--that because I am landward-bred, I wad be
bringing ye to disgrace afore folk; but ye maun ken I'm gay gleg at the
uptak; there was never ony thing dune wi' hand but I learned gay readily,
'septing reading, writing, and ciphering; but there's no the like o' me
at the fit-ba', and I can play wi' the broadsword as weel as Corporal
Inglis there. I hae broken his head or now, for as massy as he's riding
ahint us.--And then ye'll no be gaun to stay in this country?"--said he,
stopping and interrupting himself.
"Probably not," replied Morton.
"Weel, I carena a boddle. Ye see I wad get my mither bestowed wi' her
auld graning tittie, auntie Meg, in the Gallowgate o' Glasgow, and then I
trust they wad neither burn her for a witch, or let her fail for fau't o'
fude, or hang her up for an auld whig wife; for the provost, they say, is
very regardfu' o' sic puir bodies. And then you and me wad gang and pouss
our fortunes, like the folk i' the daft auld tales about Jock the
Giant-killer and Valentine and Orson; and we wad come back to merry
Scotland, as the sang says, and I wad tak to the stilts again, and turn
sic furs on the bonny rigs o' Milnwood holms, that it wad be worth a pint
but to look at them."
"I fear," said Morton, "there is very little chance, my good friend
Cuddie, of our getting back to our old occupation."
"Hout, stir--hout, stir," replied Cuddie, "it's aye gude to keep up a
hardy heart--as broken a ship's come to land.--But what's that I hear?
never stir, if my auld mither isna at the preaching again! I ken the
sough o' her texts, that sound just like the wind blawing through the
spence; and there's Kettledrummle setting to wark, too--Lordsake, if the
sodgers anes get angry, they'll murder them baith, and us for company!"
Their farther conversation was in fact interrupted by a blatant noise
which rose behind them, in which the voice of the preacher emitted, in
unison with that of the old woman, tones like the grumble of a bassoon
combined with the screaking of a cracked fiddle. At first, the aged pair
of sufferers had been contented to condole with each other in smothered
expressions of complaint and indignation; but the sense of their injuries
became more pungently aggravated as they communicated with each other,
and they became at length unable to suppress their ire.
"Woe, woe, and a threefold woe unto you, ye bloody and violent
persecutors!" exclaimed the Reverend Gabriel Kettledrummle--"Woe, and
threefold woe unto you, even to the breaking of seals, the blowing of
trumpets, and the pouring forth of vials!"
"Ay--ay--a black cast to a' their ill-fa'ur'd faces, and the outside o'
the loof to them at the last day!" echoed the shrill counter-tenor of
Mause, falling in like the second part of a catch.
"I tell you," continued the divine, "that your rankings and your
ridings--your neighings and your prancings--your bloody, barbarous,
and inhuman cruelties--your benumbing, deadening, and debauching
the conscience of poor creatures by oaths, soul-damning and
self-contradictory, have arisen from earth to Heaven like a foul and
hideous outcry of perjury for hastening the wrath to come--hugh! hugh!
"And I say," cried Mause, in the same tune, and nearly at the same time,
"that wi' this auld breath o' mine, and it's sair taen down wi' the
asthmatics and this rough trot"--
"Deil gin they would gallop," said Cuddie, "wad it but gar her haud her
"--Wi' this auld and brief breath," continued Mause, "will I testify
against the backslidings, defections, defalcations, and declinings of the
land--against the grievances and the causes of wrath!"
"Peace, I pr'ythee--Peace, good woman," said the preacher, who had just
recovered from a violent fit of coughing, and found his own anathema
borne down by Mause's better wind; "peace, and take not the word out of
the mouth of a servant of the altar.--I say, I uplift my voice and tell
you, that before the play is played out--ay, before this very sun gaes
down, ye sall learn that neither a desperate Judas, like your prelate
Sharpe that's gane to his place; nor a sanctuary-breaking Holofernes,
like bloody-minded Claverhouse; nor an ambitious Diotrephes, like the lad
Evandale; nor a covetous and warld-following Demas, like him they ca'
Sergeant Bothwell, that makes every wife's plack and her meal-ark his
ain; neither your carabines, nor your pistols, nor your broadswords, nor
your horses, nor your saddles, bridles, surcingles, nose-bags, nor
martingales, shall resist the arrows that are whetted and the bow that is
bent against you!"
"That shall they never, I trow," echoed Mause; "castaways are they ilk
ane o' them--besoms of destruction, fit only to be flung into the fire
when they have sweepit the filth out o' the Temple--whips of small cords,
knotted for the chastisement of those wha like their warldly gudes and
gear better than the Cross or the Covenant, but when that wark's done,
only meet to mak latchets to the deil's brogues."
"Fiend hae me," said Cuddie, addressing himself to Morton, "if I dinna
think our mither preaches as weel as the minister!--But it's a sair pity
o' his hoast, for it aye comes on just when he's at the best o't, and
that lang routing he made air this morning, is sair again him too--Deil
an I care if he wad roar her dumb, and then he wad hae't a' to answer for
himsell--It's lucky the road's rough, and the troopers are no taking
muckle tent to what they say, wi' the rattling o' the horse's feet; but
an we were anes on saft grund, we'll hear news o' a' this."
Cuddie's conjecture were but too true. The words of the prisoners had not
been much attended to while drowned by the clang of horses' hoofs on a
rough and stony road; but they now entered upon the moorlands, where the
testimony of the two zealous captives lacked this saving accompaniment.
And, accordingly, no sooner had their steeds begun to tread heath and
green sward, and Gabriel Kettledrummle had again raised his voice with,
"Also I uplift my voice like that of a pelican in the wilderness"--
"And I mine," had issued from Mause, "like a sparrow on the house-tops"--
When "Hollo, ho!" cried the corporal from the rear; "rein up your
tongues, the devil blister them, or I'll clap a martingale on them."
"I will not peace at the commands of the profane," said Gabriel.
"Nor I neither," said Mause, "for the bidding of no earthly potsherd,
though it be painted as red as a brick from the Tower of Babel, and ca'
itsell a corporal."
"Halliday," cried the corporal, "hast got never a gag about thee,
man?--We must stop their mouths before they talk us all dead."
Ere any answer could be made, or any measure taken in consequence of the
corporal's motion, a dragoon galloped towards Sergeant Bothwell, who was
considerably a-head of the party he commanded. On hearing the orders
which he brought, Bothwell instantly rode back to the head of his party,
ordered them to close their files, to mend their pace, and to move with
silence and precaution, as they would soon be in presence of the enemy.
Quantum in nobis, we've thought good
To save the expense of Christian blood,
And try if we, by mediation
Of treaty, and accommodation,
Can end the quarrel, and compose
This bloody duel without blows.
The increased pace of the party of horsemen soon took away from their
zealous captives the breath, if not the inclination, necessary for
holding forth. They had now for more than a mile got free of the
woodlands, whose broken glades had, for some time, accompanied them after
they had left the woods of Tillietudlem. A few birches and oaks still
feathered the narrow ravines, or occupied in dwarf-clusters the hollow
plains of the moor. But these were gradually disappearing; and a wide and
waste country lay before them, swelling into bare hills of dark heath,
intersected by deep gullies; being the passages by which torrents forced
their course in winter, and during summer the disproportioned channels
for diminutive rivulets that winded their puny way among heaps of stones
and gravel, the effects and tokens of their winter fury;--like so many
spendthrifts dwindled down by the consequences of former excesses and
extravagance. This desolate region seemed to extend farther than the eye
could reach, without grandeur, without even the dignity of mountain
wildness, yet striking, from the huge proportion which it seemed to bear
to such more favoured spots of the country as were adapted to
cultivation, and fitted for the support of man; and thereby impressing
irresistibly the mind of the spectator with a sense of the omnipotence of
nature, and the comparative inefficacy of the boasted means of
amelioration which man is capable of opposing to the disadvantages of
climate and soil.
It is a remarkable effect of such extensive wastes, that they impose an
idea of solitude even upon those who travel through them in considerable
numbers; so much is the imagination affected by the disproportion between
the desert around and the party who are traversing it. Thus the members
of a caravan of a thousand souls may feel, in the deserts of Africa or
Arabia, a sense of loneliness unknown to the individual traveller, whose
solitary course is through a thriving and cultivated country.
It was not, therefore, without a peculiar feeling of emotion, that Morton
beheld, at the distance of about half a mile, the body of the cavalry to
which his escort belonged, creeping up a steep and winding path which
ascended from the more level moor into the hills. Their numbers, which
appeared formidable when they crowded through narrow roads, and seemed
multiplied by appearing partially, and at different points, among the
trees, were now apparently diminished by being exposed at once to view,
and in a landscape whose extent bore such immense proportion to the
columns of horses and men, which, showing more like a drove of black
cattle than a body of soldiers, crawled slowly along the face of the
hill, their force and their numbers seeming trifling and contemptible.
"Surely," said Morton to himself, "a handful of resolute men may defend
any defile in these mountains against such a small force as this is,
providing that their bravery is equal to their enthusiasm."
While he made these reflections, the rapid movement of the horsemen who
guarded him, soon traversed the space which divided them from their
companions; and ere the front of Claverhouse's column had gained the brow
of the hill which they had been seen ascending, Bothwell, with his
rearguard and prisoners, had united himself, or nearly so, with the main
body led by his commander. The extreme difficulty of the road, which was
in some places steep, and in others boggy, retarded the progress of the
column, especially in the rear; for the passage of the main body, in many
instances, poached up the swamps through which they passed, and rendered
them so deep, that the last of their followers were forced to leave the
beaten path, and find safer passage where they could.
On these occasions, the distresses of the Reverend Gabriel Kettledrummle
and of Mause Headrigg, were considerably augmented, as the brutal
troopers, by whom they were guarded, compelled them, at all risks which
such inexperienced riders were likely to incur, to leap their horses over
drains and gullies, or to push them through morasses and swamps.
"Through the help of the Lord I have luppen ower a wall," cried poor
Mause, as her horse was, by her rude attendants, brought up to leap the
turf enclosure of a deserted fold, in which feat her curch flew off,
leaving her grey hairs uncovered.
"I am sunk in deep mire where there is no standing--I am come into deep
waters where the floods overflow me," exclaimed Kettledrummle, as the
charger on which he was mounted plunged up to the saddle-girths in a
well-head, as the springs are called which supply the marshes, the sable
streams beneath spouting over the face and person of the captive
These exclamations excited shouts of laughter among their military
attendants; but events soon occurred which rendered them all sufficiently
The leading files of the regiment had nearly attained the brow of the
steep hill we have mentioned, when two or three horsemen, speedily
discovered to be a part of their own advanced guard, who had acted as a
patrol, appeared returning at full gallop, their horses much blown, and
the men apparently in a disordered flight. They were followed upon the
spur by five or six riders, well armed with sword and pistol, who halted
upon the top of the hill, on observing the approach of the Life-Guards.
One or two who had carabines dismounted, and, taking a leisurely and
deliberate aim at the foremost rank of the regiment, discharged their
pieces, by which two troopers were wounded, one severely. They then
mounted their horses, and disappeared over the ridge of the hill,
retreating with so much coolness as evidently showed, that, on the one
hand, they were undismayed by the approach of so considerable a force as
was moving against them, and conscious, on the other, that they were
supported by numbers sufficient for their protection. This incident
occasioned a halt through the whole body of cavalry; and while
Claverhouse himself received the report of his advanced guard, which had
been thus driven back upon the main body, Lord Evandale advanced to the
top of the ridge over which the enemy's horsemen had retired, and Major
Allan, Cornet Grahame, and the other officers, employed themselves in
extricating the regiment from the broken ground, and drawing them up on
the side of the hill in two lines, the one to support the other.
The word was then given to advance; and in a few minutes the first lines
stood on the brow and commanded the prospect on the other side. The
second line closed upon them, and also the rear-guard with the prisoners;
so that Morton and his companions in captivity could, in like manner, see
the form of opposition which was now offered to the farther progress of
The brow of the hill, on which the royal Life-Guards were now drawn up,
sloped downwards (on the side opposite to that which they had ascended)
with a gentle declivity, for more than a quarter of a mile, and presented
ground, which, though unequal in some places, was not altogether
unfavourable for the manoeuvres of cavalry, until near the bottom, when
the slope terminated in a marshy level, traversed through its whole
length by what seemed either a natural gully, or a deep artificial drain,
the sides of which were broken by springs, trenches filled with water,
out of which peats and turf had been dug, and here and there by some
straggling thickets of alders which loved the moistness so well, that
they continued to live as bushes, although too much dwarfed by the sour
soil and the stagnant bog-water to ascend into trees. Beyond this ditch,
or gully, the ground arose into a second heathy swell, or rather hill,
near to the foot of which, and' as if with the object of defending the
broken ground and ditch that covered their front, the body of insurgents
appeared to be drawn up with the purpose of abiding battle.
Their infantry was divided into three lines. The first, tolerably
provided with fire-arms, were advanced almost close to the verge of the
bog, so that their fire must necessarily annoy the royal cavalry as they
descended the opposite hill, the whole front of which was exposed, and
would probably be yet more fatal if they attempted to cross the morass.
Behind this first line was a body of pikemen, designed for their support
in case the dragoons should force the passage of the marsh. In their rear
was their third line, consisting of countrymen armed with scythes set
straight on poles, hay-forks, spits, clubs, goads, fish-spears, and such
other rustic implements as hasty resentment had converted into
instruments of war. On each flank of the infantry, but a little backward
from the bog, as if to allow themselves dry and sound ground whereon to
act in case their enemies should force the pass, there was drawn up a
small body of cavalry, who were, in general, but indifferently armed, and
worse mounted, but full of zeal for the cause, being chiefly either
landholders of small property, or farmers of the better class, whose
means enabled them to serve on horseback. A few of those who had been
engaed in driving back the advanced guard of the royalists, might now be
seen returning slowly towards their own squadrons. These were the only
individuals of the insurgent army which seemed to be in motion. All the
others stood firm and motionless, as the grey stones that lay scattered
on the heath around them.
The total number of the insurgents might amount to about a thousand men;
but of these there were scarce a hundred cavalry, nor were the half of
them even tolerably armed. The strength of their position, however, the
sense of their having taken a desperate step, the superiority of their
numbers, but, above all, the ardour of their enthusiasm, were the means
on which their leaders reckoned, for supplying the want of arms,
equipage, and military discipline.
On the side of the hill that rose above the array of battle which they
had adopted, were seen the women and even the children, whom zeal,
opposed to persecution, had driven into the wilderness. They seemed
stationed there to be spectators of the engagement, by which their own
fate, as well as that of their parents, husbands, and sons, was to be
decided. Like the females of the ancient German tribes, the shrill cries
which they raised, when they beheld the glittering ranks of their enemy
appear on the brow of the opposing eminence, acted as an incentive to
their relatives to fight to the last in defence of that which was dearest
to them. Such exhortations seemed to have their full and emphatic effect;
for a wild halloo, which went from rank to rank on the appearance of the
soldiers, intimated the resolution of the insurgents to fight to the
As the horsemen halted their lines on the ridge of the hill, their
trumpets and kettle-drums sounded a bold and warlike flourish of menace
and defiance, that rang along the waste like the shrill summons of a
destroying angel. The wanderers, in answer, united their voices, and sent
forth, in solemn modulation, the two first verses of the seventy-sixth
Psalm, according to the metrical version of the Scottish Kirk:
"In Judah's land God is well known,
His name's in Israel great:
In Salem is his tabernacle,
In Zion is his seat.
There arrows of the bow he brake,
The shield, the sword, the war.
More glorious thou than hills of prey,
More excellent art far."
A shout, or rather a solemn acclamation, attended the close of the
stanza; and after a dead pause, the second verse was resumed by the
insurgents, who applied the destruction of the Assyrians as prophetical
of the issue of their own impending contest:--
"Those that were stout of heart are spoil'd,
They slept their sleep outright;
And none of those their hands did find,
That were the men of might.
When thy rebuke, O Jacob's God,
Had forth against them past,
Their horses and their chariots both
Were in a deep sleep cast."
There was another acclamation, which was followed by the most profound
While these solemn sounds, accented by a thousand voices, were prolonged
amongst the waste hills, Claverhouse looked with great attention on the
ground, and on the order of battle which the wanderers had adopted, and
in which they determined to await the assault.
"The churls," he said, "must have some old soldiers with them; it was no
rustic that made choice of that ground."
"Burley is said to be with them for certain," answered Lord Evandale,
"and also Hackston of Rathillet, Paton of Meadowhead, Cleland, and some
other men of military skill."
"I judged as much," said Claverhouse, "from the style in which these
detached horsemen leapt their horses over the ditch, as they returned to
their position. It was easy to see that there were a few roundheaded
troopers amongst them, the true spawn of the old Covenant. We must manage
this matter warily as well as boldly. Evandale, let the officers come to
He moved to a small moss-grown cairn, probably the resting-place of some
Celtic chief of other times, and the call of "Officers to the front,"
soon brought them around their commander.
"I do not call you around me, gentlemen," said Claverhouse, "in the
formal capacity of a council of war, for I will never turn over on others
the responsibility which my rank imposes on myself. I only want the
benefit of your opinions, reserving to myself, as most men do when they
ask advice, the liberty of following my own.--What say you, Cornet
Grahame? Shall we attack these fellows who are bellowing younder? You are
youngest and hottest, and therefore will speak first whether I will or
"Then," said Cornet Grahame, "while I have the honour to carry the
standard of the Life-Guards, it shall never, with my will, retreat before
rebels. I say, charge, in God's name and the King's!"
"And what say you, Allan?" continued Claverhouse, "for Evandale is so
modest, we shall never get him to speak till you have said what you have
"These fellows," said Major Allan, an old cavalier officer of experience,
"are three or four to one--I should not mind that much upon a fair field,
but they are posted in a very formidable strength, and show no
inclination to quit it. I therefore think, with deference to Cornet
Grahame's opinion, that we should draw back to Tillietudlem, occupy the
pass between the hills and the open country, and send for reinforcements
to my Lord Ross, who is lying at Glasgow with a regiment of infantry. In
this way we should cut them off from the Strath of Clyde, and either
compel them to come out of their stronghold, and give us battle on fair
terms, or, if they remain here, we will attack them so soon as our
infantry has joined us, and enabled us to act with effect among these
ditches, bogs, and quagmires."
"Pshaw!" said the young Cornet, "what signifies strong ground, when it is
only held by a crew of canting, psalm-singing old women?"
"A man may fight never the worse," retorted Major Allan, "for honouring
both his Bible and Psalter. These fellows will prove as stubborn as
steel; I know them of old."
"Their nasal psalmody," said the Cornet, "reminds our Major of the race
"Had you been at that race, young man," retorted Allan, "you would have
wanted nothing to remind you of it for the longest day you have to live."
"Hush, hush, gentlemen," said Claverhouse, "these are untimely
repartees.--I should like your advice well, Major Allan, had our rascally
patrols (whom I will see duly punished) brought us timely notice of the
enemy's numbers and position. But having once presented ourselves before
them in line, the retreat of the Life-Guards would argue gross timidity,
and be the general signal for insurrection throughout the west. In which
case, so far from obtaining any assistance from my Lord Ross, I promise
you I should have great apprehensions of his being cut off before we can
join him, or he us. A retreat would have quite the same fatal effect upon
the king's cause as the loss of a battle--and as to the difference of
risk or of safety it might make with respect to ourselves, that, I am
sure, no gentleman thinks a moment about. There must be some gorges or
passes in the morass through which we can force our way; and, were we
once on firm ground, I trust there is no man in the Life-Guards who
supposes our squadrons, though so weak in numbers, are unable to trample
into dust twice the number of these unpractised clowns.--What say you, my
"I humbly think," said Lord Evandale, "that, go the day how it will, it
must be a bloody one; and that we shall lose many brave fellows, and
probably be obliged to slaughter a great number of these misguided men,
who, after all, are Scotchmen and subjects of King Charles as well as we
"Rebels! rebels! and undeserving the name either of Scotchmen or of
subjects," said Claverhouse; "but come, my lord, what does your opinion
"To enter into a treaty with these ignorant and misled men," said the
"A treaty! and with rebels having arms in their hands? Never while I
live," answered his commander.
"At least send a trumpet and flag of truce, summoning them to lay down
their weapons and disperse," said Lord Evandale, "upon promise of a free
pardon--I have always heard, that had that been done before the battle of
Pentland hills, much blood might have been saved."
"Well," said Claverhouse, "and who the devil do you think would carry a
summons to these headstrong and desperate fanatics? They acknowledge no
laws of war. Their leaders, who have been all most active in the murder
of the Archbishop of St Andrews, fight with a rope round their necks, and
are likely to kill the messenger, were it but to dip their followers in
loyal blood, and to make them as desperate of pardon as themselves."
"I will go myself," said Evandale, "if you will permit me. I have often
risked my blood to spill that of others, let me do so now in order to
save human lives."
"You shall not go on such an errand, my lord," said Claverhouse; "your
rank and situation render your safety of too much consequence to the
country in an age when good principles are so rare.--Here's my brother's
son Dick Grahame, who fears shot or steel as little as if the devil had
given him armour of proof against it, as the fanatics say he has given to
[Note: Cornet Grahame. There was actually a young cornet of the
Life-Guards named Grahame, and probably some relation of
Claverhouse, slain in the skirmish of Drumclog. In the old ballad on
the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, Claverhouse is said to have continued
the slaughter of the fugitives in revenge of this gentleman's death.
"Haud up your hand," then Monmouth said; "Gie quarters to these men
for me;" But bloody Claver'se swore an oath, His kinsman's death
avenged should be.
The body of this young man was found shockingly mangled after the
battle, his eyes pulled out, and his features so much defaced, that
it was impossible to recognise him. The Tory writers say that this
was done by the Whigs; because, finding the name Grahame wrought in
the young gentleman's neckcloth, they took the corpse for that of
Claver'se himself. The Whig authorities give a different account,
from tradition, of the cause of Cornet Grahame's body being thus
mangled. He had, say they, refused his own dog any food on the
morning of the battle, affirming, with an oath, that he should have
no breakfast but upon the flesh of the Whigs. The ravenous animal,
it is said, flew at his master as soon as he fell, and lacerated his
face and throat.
These two stories are presented to the reader, leaving it to him to
judge whether it is most likely that a party of persecuted and
insurgent fanatics should mangle a body supposed to be that of their
chief enemy, in the same manner as several persons present at
Drumclog had shortly before treated the person of Archbishop Sharpe;
or that a domestic dog should, for want of a single breakfast,
become so ferocious as to feed on his own master, selecting his body
from scores that were lying around, equally accessible to his
He shall take a flag of truce and a trumpet, and ride down to the edge of
the morass to summon them to lay down their arms and disperse."
"With all my soul, Colonel," answered the Cornet; "and I'll tie my cravat
on a pike to serve for a white flag--the rascals never saw such a pennon
of Flanders lace in their lives before."
"Colonel Grahame," said Evandale, while the young officer prepared for
his expedition, "this young gentleman is your nephew and your apparent
heir; for God's sake, permit me to go. It was my counsel, and I ought to
stand the risk."
"Were he my only son," said Claverhouse, "this is no cause and no time to
spare him. I hope my private affections will never interfere with my
public duty. If Dick Grahame falls, the loss is chiefly mine; were your
lordship to die, the King and country would be the sufferers.--Come,
gentlemen, each to his post. If our summons is unfavourably received, we
will instantly attack; and, as the old Scottish blazon has it, God shaw
With many a stout thwack and many a bang,
Hard crab-tree and old iron rang.
Cornet Richard Grahame descended the hill, bearing in his hand the
extempore flag of truce, and making his managed horse keep time by bounds
and curvets to the tune which he whistled. The trumpeter followed. Five
or six horsemen, having something the appearance of officers, detached
themselves from each flank of the Presbyterian army, and, meeting in the
centre, approached the ditch which divided the hollow as near as the
morass would permit. Towards this group, but keeping the opposite side of
the swamp, Cornet Grahame directed his horse, his motions being now the
conspicuous object of attention to both armies; and, without
disparagement to the courage of either, it is probable there was a
general wish on both sides that this embassy might save the risks and
bloodshed of the impending conflict.
When he had arrived right opposite to those, who, by their advancing to
receive his message, seemed to take upon themselves as the leaders of the
enemy, Cornet Grahame commanded his trumpeter to sound a parley. The
insurgents having no instrument of martial music wherewith to make the
appropriate reply, one of their number called out with a loud, strong
voice, demanding to know why he approached their leaguer.
"To summon you in the King's name, and in that of Colonel John Grahame of
Claverhouse, specially commissioned by the right honourable Privy Council
of Scotland," answered the Cornet, "to lay down your arms, and dismiss
the followers whom ye have led into rebellion, contrary to the laws of
God, of the King, and of the country."
"Return to them that sent thee," said the insurgent leader, "and tell
them that we are this day in arms for a broken Covenant and a persecuted
Kirk; tell them that we renounce the licentious and perjured Charles
Stewart, whom you call king, even as he renounced the Covenant, after
having once and again sworn to prosecute to the utmost of his power all
the ends thereof, really, constantly, and sincerely, all the days of his
life, having no enemies but the enemies of the Covenant, and no friends
but its friends. Whereas, far from keeping the oath he had called God and
angels to witness, his first step, after his incoming into these
kingdoms, was the fearful grasping at the prerogative of the Almighty, by
that hideous Act of Supremacy, together with his expulsing, without
summons, libel, or process of law, hundreds of famous faithful preachers,
thereby wringing the bread of life out of the mouth of hungry, poor
creatures, and forcibly cramming their throats with the lifeless,
saltless, foisonless, lukewarm drammock of the fourteen false prelates,
and their sycophantic, formal, carnal, scandalous creature-curates."
"I did not come to hear you preach," answered the officer, "but to know,
in one word, if you will disperse yourselves, on condition of a free
pardon to all but the murderers of the late Archbishop of St Andrews; or
whether you will abide the attack of his majesty's forces, which will
instantly advance upon you."
"In one word, then," answered the spokesman, "we are here with our swords
on our thighs, as men that watch in the night. We will take one part and
portion together, as brethren in righteousness. Whosoever assails us in
our good cause, his blood be on his own head. So return to them that sent
thee, and God give them and thee a sight of the evil of your ways!"
"Is not your name," said the Cornet, who began to recollect having seen
the person whom he was now speaking with, "John Balfour of Burley?"
"And if it be," said the spokesman, "hast thou aught to say against it?"
"Only," said the Cornet, "that, as you are excluded from pardon in the
name of the King and of my commanding officer, it is to these country
people, and not to you, that I offer it; and it is not with you, or such
as you, that I am sent to treat."
"Thou art a young soldier, friend," said Burley, "and scant well learned
in thy trade, or thou wouldst know that the bearer of a flag of truce
cannot treat with the army but through their officers; and that if he
presume to do otherwise, he forfeits his safe conduct."
While speaking these words, Burley unslung his carabine, and held it in
"I am not to be intimidated from the discharge of my duty by the menaces
of a murderer," said Cornet Grahame.--"Hear me, good people; I proclaim,
in the name of the King and of my commanding officer, full and free
pardon to all, excepting"--
"I give thee fair warning," said Burley, presenting his piece.
"A free pardon to all," continued the young officer, still addressing the
body of the insurgents--"to all but"--
"Then the Lord grant grace to thy soul--amen!" said Burley.
With these words he fired, and Cornet Richard Grahame dropped from his
horse. The shot was mortal. The unfortunate young gentleman had only
strength to turn himself on the ground and mutter forth, "My poor
mother!" when life forsook him in the effort. His startled horse fled
back to the regiment at the gallop, as did his scarce less affrighted
"What have you done?" said one of Balfour's brother officers.
"My duty," said Balfour, firmly. "Is it not written, Thou shalt be
zealous even to slaying? Let those, who dare, now venture to speak of
truce or pardon!"
Claverhouse saw his nephew fall. He turned his eye on Evandale, while a
transitory glance of indescribable emotion disturbed, for a second's
space, the serenity of his features, and briefly said, "You see the
"I will avenge him, or die!" exclaimed Evandale; and, putting his horse
into motion, rode furiously down the hill, followed by his own troop, and
that of the deceased Cornet, which broke down without orders; and, each
striving to be the foremost to revenge their young officer, their ranks
soon fell into confusion. These forces formed the first line of the
royalists. It was in vain that Claverhouse exclaimed, "Halt! halt! this
rashness will undo us." It was all that he could accomplish, by galloping
along the second line, entreating, commanding, and even menacing the men
with his sword, that he could restrain them from following an example so
"Allan," he said, as soon as he had rendered the men in some degree more
steady, "lead them slowly down the hill to support Lord Evandale, who is
about to need it very much.--Bothwell, thou art a cool and a daring
"Ay," muttered Bothwell, "you can remember that in a moment like this."
"Lead ten file up the hollow to the right," continued his commanding
officer, "and try every means to get through the bog; then form and
charge the rebels in flank and rear, while they are engaged with us in
Bothwell made a signal of intelligence and obedience, and moved off with
his party at a rapid pace.
Meantime, the disaster which Claverhouse had apprehended, did not fail to
take place. The troopers, who, with Lord Evandale, had rushed down upon
the enemy, soon found their disorderly career interrupted by the
impracticable character of the ground. Some stuck fast in the morass as
they attempted to struggle through, some recoiled from the attempt and
remained on the brink, others dispersed to seek a more favourable place
to pass the swamp. In the midst of this confusion, the first line of the
enemy, of which the foremost rank knelt, the second stooped, and the
third stood upright, poured in a close and destructive fire that emptied
at least a score of saddles, and increased tenfold the disorder into
which the horsemen had fallen. Lord Evandale, in the meantime, at the
head of a very few well-mounted men, had been able to clear the ditch,
but was no sooner across than he was charged by the left body of the
enemy's cavalry, who, encouraged by the small number of opponents that
had made their way through the broken ground, set upon them with the
utmost fury, crying, "Woe, woe to the uncircumcised Philistines! down
with Dagon and all his adherents!"
The young nobleman fought like a lion; but most of his followers were
killed, and he himself could not have escaped the same fate but for a
heavy fire of carabines, which Claverhouse, who had now advanced with the
second line near to the ditch, poured so effectually upon the enemy, that
both horse and foot for a moment began to shrink, and Lord Evandale,
disengaged from his unequal combat, and finding himself nearly alone,
took the opportunity to effect his retreat through the morass. But
notwithstanding the loss they had sustained by Claverhouse's first fire,
the insurgents became soon aware that the advantage of numbers and of
position were so decidedly theirs, that, if they could but persist in
making a brief but resolute defence, the Life-Guards must necessarily be
defeated. Their leaders flew through their ranks, exhorting them to stand
firm, and pointing out how efficacious their fire must be where both men
and horse were exposed to it; for the troopers, according to custom,
fired without having dismounted. Claverhouse, more than once, when he
perceived his best men dropping by a fire which they could not
effectually return, made desperate efforts to pass the bog at various
points, and renew the battle on firm ground and fiercer terms. But the
close fire of the insurgents, joined to the natural difficulties of the
pass, foiled his attempts in every point.
"We must retreat," he said to Evandale, "unless Bothwell can effect a
diversion in our favour. In the meantime, draw the men out of fire, and
leave skirmishers behind these patches of alderbushes to keep the enemy
These directions being accomplished, the appearance of Bothwell with his
party was earnestly expected. But Bothwell had his own disadvantages to
struggle with. His detour to the right had not escaped the penetrating
observation of Burley, who made a corresponding movement with the left
wing of the mounted insurgents, so that when Bothwell, after riding a
considerable way up the valley, found a place at which the bog could be
passed, though with some difficulty, he perceived he was still in front
of a superior enemy. His daring character was in no degree checked by
this unexpected opposition.
"Follow me, my lads!" he called to his men; "never let it be said that we
turned our backs before these canting roundheads!"
With that, as if inspired by the spirit of his ancestors, he shouted,
"Bothwell! Bothwell!" and throwing himself into the morass, he struggled
through it at the head of his party, and attacked that of Burley with
such fury, that he drove them back above a pistol-shot, killing three men
with his own hand. Burley, perceiving the consequences of a defeat on
this point, and that his men, though more numerous, were unequal to the
regulars in using their arms and managing their horses, threw himself
across Bothwell's way, and attacked him hand to hand. Each of the
combatants was considered as the champion of his respective party, and a
result ensued more usual in romance than in real story. Their followers,
on either side, instantly paused, and looked on as if the fate of the day
were to be decided by the event of the combat between these two redoubted
swordsmen. The combatants themselves seemed of the same opinion; for,
after two or three eager cuts and pushes had been exchanged, they paused,
as if by joint consent, to recover the breath which preceding exertions
had exhausted, and to prepare for a duel in which each seemed conscious
he had met his match.
[Illustration: The Duel--230]
"You are the murdering villain, Burley," said Bothwell, griping his sword
firmly, and setting his teeth close--"you escaped me once, but"--(he
swore an oath too tremendous to be written down)--"thy head is worth its
weight of silver, and it shall go home at my saddle-bow, or my saddle
shall go home empty for me."
"Yes," replied Burley, with stern and gloomy deliberation, "I am that
John Balfour, who promised to lay thy head where thou shouldst never lift
it again; and God do so unto me, and more also, if I do not redeem my
"Then a bed of heather, or a thousand merks!" said Bothwell, striking at
Burley with his full force.
"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" answered Balfour, as he parried
and returned the blow.
There have seldom met two combatants more equally matched in strength of
body, skill in the management of their weapons and horses, determined
courage, and unrelenting hostility. After exchanging many desperate
blows, each receiving and inflicting several wounds, though of no great
consequence, they grappled together as if with the desperate impatience
of mortal hate, and Bothwell, seizing his enemy by the shoulder-belt,
while the grasp of Balfour was upon his own collar, they came headlong to
the ground. The companions of Burley hastened to his assistance, but were
repelled by the dragoons, and the battle became again general. But
nothing could withdraw the attention of the combatants from each other,
or induce them to unclose the deadly clasp in which they rolled together
on the ground, tearing, struggling, and foaming, with the inveteracy of
Several horses passed over them in the melee without their quitting hold
of each other, until the sword-arm of Bothwell was broken by the kick of
a charger. He then relinquished his grasp with a deep and suppressed
groan, and both combatants started to their feet. Bothwell's right hand
dropped helpless by his side, but his left griped to the place where his
dagger hung; it had escaped from the sheath in the struggle,--and, with a
look of mingled rage and despair, he stood totally defenceless, as
Balfour, with a laugh of savage joy, flourished his sword aloft, and then
passed it through his adversary's body. Bothwell received the thrust
without falling--it had only grazed on his ribs. He attempted no farther
defence, but, looking at Burley with a grin of deadly hatred,
exclaimed--"Base peasant churl, thou hast spilt the blood of a line
"Die, wretch!--die!" said Balfour, redoubling the thrust with better aim;
and, setting his foot on Bothwell's body as he fell, he a third time
transfixed him with his sword.--"Die, bloodthirsty dog! die as thou hast
lived!--die, like the beasts that perish--hoping nothing--believing
"And fearing nothing!" said Bothwell, collecting the last effort of
respiration to utter these desperate words, and expiring as soon as they
To catch a stray horse by the bridle, throw himself upon it, and rush to
the assistance of his followers, was, with Burley, the affair of a
moment. And as the fall of Bothwell had given to the insurgents all the
courage of which it had deprived his comrades, the issue of this partial
contest did not remain long undecided. Several soldiers were slain, the
rest driven back over the morass and dispersed, and the victorious
Burley, with his party, crossed it in their turn, to direct against
Claverhouse the very manoeuvre which he had instructed Bothwell to
execute. He now put his troop in order, with the view of attacking the
right wing of the royalists; and, sending news of his success to the main
body, exhorted them, in the name of Heaven, to cross the marsh, and work
out the glorious work of the Lord by a general attack upon the enemy.
Meanwhile, Claverhouse, who had in some degree remedied the confusion
occasioned by the first irregular and unsuccessful attack, and reduced
the combat in front to a distant skirmish with firearms, chiefly
maintained by some dismounted troopers whom he had posted behind the
cover of the shrub-by copses of alders, which in some places covered the
edge of the morass, and whose close, cool, and well-aimed fire
greatly annoyed the enemy, and concealed their own deficiency of
numbers,--Claverhouse, while he maintained the contest in this manner,
still expecting that a diversion by Bothwell and his party might
facilitate a general attack, was accosted by one of the dragoons, whose
bloody face and jaded horse bore witness he was come from hard service.
"What is the matter, Halliday?" said Claverhouse, for he knew every man
in his regiment by name--"Where is Bothwell?"
"Bothwell is down," replied Halliday, "and many a pretty fellow with
"Then the king," said Claverhouse, with his usual composure, "has lost a
stout soldier.--The enemy have passed the marsh, I suppose?"
"With a strong body of horse, commanded by the devil incarnate that
killed Bothwell," answered the terrified soldier.
"Hush! hush!" said Claverhouse, putting his finger on his lips, "not a
word to any one but me.--Lord Evandale, we must retreat. The fates will
have it so. Draw together the men that are dispersed in the skirmishing
work. Let Allan form the regiment, and do you two retreat up the hill in
two bodies, each halting alternately as the other falls back. I'll keep
the rogues in check with the rear-guard, making a stand and facing from
time to time. They will be over the ditch presently, for I see their
whole line in motion and preparing to cross; therefore lose no time."
"Where is Bothwell with his party?" said Lord Evandale, astonished at the
coolness of his commander.
"Fairly disposed of," said Claverhouse, in his ear--"the king has lost a
servant, and the devil has got one. But away to business, Evandale--ply
your spurs and get the men together. Allan and you must keep them steady.
This retreating is new work for us all; but our turn will come round
Evandale and Allan betook themselves to their task; but ere they had
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