Old Mortality, Volume 1.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 2 out of 5
said the old lady, continuing her enquiry.
"Two horsemen with complete harness," answered Gilbertscleugh.
"Our land," said Lady Margaret, drawing herself up with dignity, "has
always furnished to the muster eight men, cousin Gilbertscleugh, and
often a voluntary aid of thrice the number. I remember his sacred Majesty
King Charles, when he took his disjune at Tillietudlem, was particular in
enquiring"--"I see the Duke's carriage in motion," said Gilbertscleugh,
partaking at the moment an alarm common to all Lady Margaret's friends,
when she touched upon the topic of the royal visit at the family
mansion,--"I see the Duke's carriage in motion; I presume your ladyship
will take your right of rank in leaving the field. May I be permitted to
convoy your ladyship and Miss Bellenden home?--Parties of the wild whigs
have been abroad, and are said to insult and disarm the wellaffected who
travel in small numbers."
"We thank you, cousin Gilbertscleugh," said Lady Margaret; "but as we
shall have the escort of my own people, I trust we have less need than
others to be troublesome to our friends. Will you have the goodness to
order Harrison to bring up our people somewhat more briskly; he rides
them towards us as if he were leading a funeral procession."
The gentleman in attendance communicated his lady's orders to the trusty
Honest Harrison had his own reasons for doubting the prudence of this
command; but, once issued and received, there was a necessity for obeying
it. He set off, therefore, at a hand-gallop, followed by the butler, in
such a military attitude as became one who had served under Montrose, and
with a look of defiance, rendered sterner and fiercer by the inspiring
fumes of a gill of brandy, which he had snatched a moment to bolt to the
king's health, and confusion to the Covenant, during the intervals of
military duty. Unhappily this potent refreshment wiped away from the
tablets of his memory the necessity of paying some attention to the
distresses and difficulties of his rear-file, Goose Gibbie. No sooner had
the horses struck a canter, than Gibbie's jack-boots, which the poor
boy's legs were incapable of steadying, began to play alternately against
the horse's flanks, and, being armed with long-rowelled spurs, overcame
the patience of the animal, which bounced and plunged, while poor
Gibbie's entreaties for aid never reached the ears of the too heedless
butler, being drowned partly in the concave of the steel cap in which his
head was immersed, and partly in the martial tune of the Gallant Grames,
which Mr Gudyill whistled with all his power of lungs.
The upshot was, that the steed speedily took the matter into his own
hands, and having gambolled hither and thither to the great amusement of
all spectators, set off at full speed towards the huge family-coach
already described. Gibbie's pike, escaping from its sling, had fallen to
a level direction across his hands, which, I grieve to say, were seeking
dishonourable safety in as strong a grasp of the mane as their muscles
could manage. His casque, too, had slipped completely over his face, so
that he saw as little in front as he did in rear. Indeed, if he could, it
would have availed him little in the circumstances; for his horse, as if
in league with the disaffected, ran full tilt towards the solemn equipage
of the Duke, which the projecting lance threatened to perforate from
window to window, at the risk of transfixing as many in its passage as
the celebrated thrust of Orlando, which, according to the Italian epic
poet, broached as many Moors as a Frenchman spits frogs.
On beholding the bent of this misdirected career, a panic shout of
mingled terror and wrath was set up by the whole equipage, insides and
outsides, at once, which had the happy effect of averting the threatened
misfortune. The capricious horse of Goose Gibbie was terrified by the
noise, and stumbling as he turned short round, kicked and plunged
violently as soon as he recovered. The jack-boots, the original cause of
the disaster, maintaining the reputation they had acquired when worn by
better cavaliers, answered every plunge by a fresh prick of the spurs,
and, by their ponderous weight, kept their place in the stirrups. Not so
Goose Gibbie, who was fairly spurned out of those wide and ponderous
greaves, and precipitated over the horse's head, to the infinite
amusement of all the spectators. His lance and helmet had forsaken him in
his fall, and, for the completion of his disgrace, Lady Margaret
Bellenden, not perfectly aware that it was one of her warriors who was
furnishing so much entertainment, came up in time to see her diminutive
man-at-arms stripped of his lion's hide,--of the buff-coat, that is, in
which he was muffled.
As she had not been made acquainted with this metamorphosis, and could
not even guess its cause, her surprise and resentment were extreme, nor
were they much modified by the excuses and explanations of her steward
and butler. She made a hasty retreat homeward, extremely indignant at the
shouts and laughter of the company, and much disposed to vent her
displeasure on the refractory agriculturist whose place Goose Gibbie had
so unhappily supplied. The greater part of the gentry now dispersed, the
whimsical misfortune which had befallen the gens d'armerie of
Tillietudlem furnishing them with huge entertainment on their road
homeward. The horsemen also, in little parties, as their road lay
together, diverged from the place of rendezvous, excepting such as,
having tried their dexterity at the popinjay, were, by ancient custom,
obliged to partake of a grace-cup with their captain before their
At fairs he play'd before the spearmen,
And gaily graithed in their gear then,
Steel bonnets, pikes, and swords shone clear then
As ony bead; Now wha sall play before sic weir men,
Since Habbie's dead!
Elegy on Habbie Simpson.
The cavalcade of horsemen on their road to the little borough-town were
preceded by Niel Blane, the town-piper, mounted on his white galloway,
armed with his dirk and broadsword, and bearing a chanter streaming with
as many ribbons as would deck out six country belles for a fair or
preaching. Niel, a clean, tight, well-timbered, long-winded fellow, had
gained the official situation of town-piper of--by his merit, with all
the emoluments thereof; namely, the Piper's Croft, as it is still called,
a field of about an acre in extent, five merks, and a new livery-coat of
the town's colours, yearly; some hopes of a dollar upon the day of the
election of magistrates, providing the provost were able and willing to
afford such a gratuity; and the privilege of paying, at all the
respectable houses in the neighbourhood, an annual visit at spring-time,
to rejoice their hearts with his music, to comfort his own with their ale
and brandy, and to beg from each a modicum of seed-corn.
In addition to these inestimable advantages, Niel's personal, or
professional, accomplishments won the heart of a jolly widow, who then
kept the principal change-house in the borough. Her former husband having
been a strict presbyterian, of such note that he usually went among his
sect by the name of Gaius the publican, many of the more rigid were
scandalized by the profession of the successor whom his relict had chosen
for a second helpmate. As the browst (or brewing) of the Howff retained,
nevertheless, its unrivalled reputation, most of the old customers
continued to give it a preference. The character of the new landlord,
indeed, was of that accommodating kind, which enabled him, by close
attention to the helm, to keep his little vessel pretty steady amid the
contending tides of faction. He was a good-humoured, shrewd, selfish sort
of fellow, indifferent alike to the disputes about church and state, and
only anxious to secure the good-will of customers of every description.
But his character, as well as the state of the country, will be best
understood by giving the reader an account of the instructions which he
issued to his daughter, a girl about eighteen, whom he was initiating in
those cares which had been faithfully discharged by his wife, until about
six months before our story commences, when the honest woman had been
carried to the kirkyard.
"Jenny," said Niel Blane, as the girl assisted to disencumber him of his
bagpipes, "this is the first day that ye are to take the place of your
worthy mother in attending to the public; a douce woman she was, civil to
the customers, and had a good name wi' Whig and Tory, baith up the street
and down the street. It will be hard for you to fill her place,
especially on sic a thrang day as this; but Heaven's will maun be
obeyed.--Jenny, whatever Milnwood ca's for, be sure he maun hae't, for
he's the Captain o' the Popinjay, and auld customs maun be supported; if
he canna pay the lawing himsell, as I ken he's keepit unco short by the
head, I'll find a way to shame it out o' his uncle.--The curate is
playing at dice wi' Cornet Grahame. Be eident and civil to them baith--
clergy and captains can gie an unco deal o' fash in thae times, where
they take an ill-will.--The dragoons will be crying for ale, and they
wunna want it, and maunna want it--they are unruly chields, but they pay
ane some gate or other. I gat the humle-cow, that's the best in the byre,
frae black Frank Inglis and Sergeant Bothwell, for ten pund Scots, and
they drank out the price at ae downsitting."
"But, father," interrupted Jenny, "they say the twa reiving loons drave
the cow frae the gudewife o' Bell's-moor, just because she gaed to hear a
field-preaching ae Sabbath afternoon."
"Whisht! ye silly tawpie," said her father, "we have naething to do how
they come by the bestial they sell--be that atween them and their
consciences.--Aweel--Take notice, Jenny, of that dour, stour-looking
carle that sits by the cheek o' the ingle, and turns his back on a' men.
He looks like ane o' the hill-folk, for I saw him start a wee when he saw
the red-coats, and I jalouse he wad hae liked to hae ridden by, but his
horse (it's a gude gelding) was ower sair travailed; he behoved to stop
whether he wad or no. Serve him cannily, Jenny, and wi' little din, and
dinna bring the sodgers on him by speering ony questions at him; but let
na him hae a room to himsell, they wad say we were hiding him.--For
yoursell, Jenny, ye'll be civil to a' the folk, and take nae heed o' ony
nonsense and daffing the young lads may say t'ye. Folk in the hostler
line maun put up wi' muckle. Your mither, rest her saul, could pit up wi'
as muckle as maist women--but aff hands is fair play; and if ony body be
uncivil ye may gie me a cry--Aweel,--when the malt begins to get aboon
the meal, they'll begin to speak about government in kirk and state, and
then, Jenny, they are like to quarrel--let them be doing--anger's a
drouthy passion, and the mair they dispute, the mair ale they'll drink;
but ye were best serve them wi' a pint o' the sma' browst, it will heat
them less, and they'll never ken the difference."
"But, father," said Jenny, "if they come to lounder ilk ither, as they
did last time, suldna I cry on you?"
"At no hand, Jenny; the redder gets aye the warst lick in the fray. If
the sodgers draw their swords, ye'll cry on the corporal and the guard.
If the country folk tak the tangs and poker, ye'll cry on the bailie and
town-officers. But in nae event cry on me, for I am wearied wi' doudling
the bag o' wind a' day, and I am gaun to eat my dinner quietly in the
spence.--And, now I think on't, the Laird of Lickitup (that's him that
was the laird) was speering for sma' drink and a saut herring--gie him a
pu' be the sleeve, and round into his lug I wad be blithe o' his company
to dine wi' me; he was a gude customer anes in a day, and wants naething
but means to be a gude ane again--he likes drink as weel as e'er he did.
And if ye ken ony puir body o' our acquaintance that's blate for want o'
siller, and has far to gang hame, ye needna stick to gie them a waught o'
drink and a bannock--we'll ne'er miss't, and it looks creditable in a
house like ours. And now, hinny, gang awa', and serve the folk, but first
bring me my dinner, and twa chappins o' yill and the mutchkin stoup o'
Having thus devolved his whole cares on Jenny as prime minister, Niel
Blane and the ci-devant laird, once his patron, but now glad to be his
trencher-companion, sate down to enjoy themselves for the remainder of
the evening, remote from the bustle of the public room.
All in Jenny's department was in full activity. The knights of the
popinjay received and requited the hospitable entertainment of their
captain, who, though he spared the cup himself, took care it should go
round with due celerity among the rest, who might not have otherwise
deemed themselves handsomely treated. Their numbers melted away by
degrees, and were at length diminished to four or five, who began to talk
of breaking up their party. At another table, at some distance, sat two
of the dragoons, whom Niel Blane had mentioned, a sergeant and a private
in the celebrated John Grahame of Claverhouse's regiment of Life-Guards.
Even the non-commissioned officers and privates in these corps were not
considered as ordinary mercenaries, but rather approached to the rank of
the French mousquetaires, being regarded in the light of cadets, who
performed the duties of rank-and-file with the prospect of obtaining
commissions in case of distinguishing themselves.
Many young men of good families were to be found in the ranks, a
circumstance which added to the pride and self-consequence of these
troops. A remarkable instance of this occurred in the person of the
non-commissioned officer in question. His real name was Francis Stewart,
but he was universally known by the appellation of Bothwell, being
lineally descended from the last earl of that name; not the infamous
lover of the unfortunate Queen Mary, but Francis Stewart, Earl of
Bothwell, whose turbulence and repeated conspiracies embarrassed the
early part of James Sixth's reign, and who at length died in exile in
great poverty. The son of this Earl had sued to Charles I. for the
restitution of part of his father's forfeited estates, but the grasp of
the nobles to whom they had been allotted was too tenacious to be
unclenched. The breaking out of the civil wars utterly ruined him, by
intercepting a small pension which Charles I. had allowed him, and he
died in the utmost indigence. His son, after having served as a soldier
abroad and in Britain, and passed through several vicissitudes of
fortune, was fain to content himself with the situation of a
non-commissioned officer in the Life-Guards, although lineally descended
from the royal family, the father of the forfeited Earl of Bothwell
having been a natural son of James VI.
[Note: Sergeant Bothwell. The history of the restless and ambitious
Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, makes a considerable figure in
the reign of James VI. of Scotland, and First of England. After
being repeatedly pardoned for acts of treason, he was at length
obliged to retire abroad, where he died in great misery. Great part
of his forfeited estate was bestowed on Walter Scott, first Lord of
Buccleuch, and on the first Earl of Roxburghe.
Francis Stewart, son of the forfeited Earl, obtained from the favour
of Charles I. a decreet-arbitral, appointing the two noblemen,
grantees of his father's estate, to restore the same, or make some
compensation for retaining it. The barony of Crichton, with its
beautiful castle, was surrendered by the curators of Francis, Earl
of Buccleuch, but he retained the far more extensive property in
Liddesdale. James Stewart also, as appears from writings in the
author's possession, made an advantageous composition with the Earl
of Roxburghe. "But," says the satirical Scotstarvet, "male parta
pejus dilabuntur; for he never brooked them, (enjoyed them,) nor was
any thing the richer, since they accrued to his creditors, and are
now in the possession of Dr Seaton. His eldest son Francis became a
trooper in the late war; as for the other brother John, who was
Abbot of Coldingham, he also disponed all that estate, and now has
nothing, but lives on the charity of his friends. "The Staggering
State of the Scots Statesmen for One Hundred Years," by Sir John
Scot of Scotstarvet. Edinburgh, 1754. P. 154.
Francis Stewart, who had been a trooper during the great Civil War,
seems to have received no preferment, after the Restoration, suited
to his high birth, though, in fact, third cousin to Charles II.
Captain Crichton, the friend of Dean Swift, who published his
Memoirs, found him a private gentleman in the King's Life-Guards. At
the same time this was no degrading condition; for Fountainhall
records a duel fought between a Life-Guardsman and an officer in the
militia, because the latter had taken upon him to assume superior
rank as an officer, to a gentleman private in the Life-Guards. The
Life-Guards man was killed in the rencontre, and his antagonist was
executed for murder.
The character of Bothwell, except in relation to the name, is
Great personal strength, and dexterity in the use of his arms, as well as
the remarkable circumstances of his descent, had recommended this man to
the attention of his officers. But he partook in a great degree of the
licentiousness and oppressive disposition, which the habit of acting as
agents for government in levying fines, exacting free quarters, and
otherwise oppressing the Presbyterian recusants, had rendered too general
among these soldiers. They were so much accustomed to such missions, that
they conceived themselves at liberty to commit all manner of license with
impunity, as if totally exempted from all law and authority, excepting
the command of their officers. On such occasions Bothwell was usually the
It is probable that Bothwell and his companions would not so long have
remained quiet, but for respect to the presence of their Cornet, who
commanded the small party quartered in the borough, and who was engaged
in a game at dice with the curate of the place. But both of these being
suddenly called from their amusement to speak with the chief magistrate
upon some urgent business, Bothwell was not long of evincing his contempt
for the rest of the company.
"Is it not a strange thing, Halliday," he said to his comrade, "to see a
set of bumpkins sit carousing here this whole evening, without having
drank the king's health?"
"They have drank the king's health," said Halliday. "I heard that green
kail-worm of a lad name his majesty's health."
"Did he?" said Bothwell. "Then, Tom, we'll have them drink the Archbishop
of St Andrew's health, and do it on their knees too."
"So we will, by G--," said Halliday; "and he that refuses it, we'll have
him to the guard-house, and teach him to ride the colt foaled of an
acorn, with a brace of carabines at each foot to keep him steady."
"Right, Tom," continued Bothwell; "and, to do all things in order, I'll
begin with that sulky blue-bonnet in the ingle-nook."
He rose accordingly, and taking his sheathed broadsword under his arm to
support the insolence which he meditated, placed himself in front of the
stranger noticed by Niel Blane, in his admonitions to his daughter, as
being, in all probability, one of the hill-folk, or refractory
"I make so bold as to request of your precision, beloved," said the
trooper, in a tone of affected solemnity, and assuming the snuffle of a
country preacher, "that you will arise from your seat, beloved, and,
having bent your hams until your knees do rest upon the floor, beloved,
that you will turn over this measure (called by the profane a gill) of
the comfortable creature, which the carnal denominate brandy, to the
health and glorification of his Grace the Archbishop of St Andrews, the
worthy primate of all Scotland."
All waited for the stranger's answer.--His features, austere even to
ferocity, with a cast of eye, which, without being actually oblique,
approached nearly to a squint, and which gave a very sinister expression
to his countenance, joined to a frame, square, strong, and muscular,
though something under the middle size, seemed to announce a man unlikely
to understand rude jesting, or to receive insults with impunity.
"And what is the consequence," said he, "if I should not be disposed to
comply with your uncivil request?"
"The consequence thereof, beloved," said Bothwell, in the same tone of
raillery, "will be, firstly, that I will tweak thy proboscis or nose.
Secondly, beloved, that I will administer my fist to thy distorted visual
optics; and will conclude, beloved, with a practical application of the
flat of my sword to the shoulders of the recusant."
"Is it even so?" said the stranger; "then give me the cup;" and, taking
it in his hand, he said, with a peculiar expression of voice and manner,
"The Archbishop of St Andrews, and the place he now worthily holds;--may
each prelate in Scotland soon be as the Right Reverend James Sharpe!"
"He has taken the test," said Halliday, exultingly.
"But with a qualification," said Bothwell; "I don't understand what the
devil the crop-eared whig means."
"Come, gentlemen," said Morton, who became impatient of their insolence,
"we are here met as good subjects, and on a merry occasion; and we have a
right to expect we shall not be troubled with this sort of discussion."
Bothwell was about to make a surly answer, but Halliday reminded him in a
whisper, that there were strict injunctions that the soldiers should give
no offence to the men who were sent out to the musters agreeably to the
council's orders. So, after honouring Morton with a broad and fierce
stare, he said, "Well, Mr Popinjay, I shall not disturb your reign; I
reckon it will be out by twelve at night.--Is it not an odd thing,
Halliday," he continued, addressing his companion, "that they should make
such a fuss about cracking off their birding-pieces at a mark which any
woman or boy could hit at a day's practice? If Captain Popinjay now, or
any of his troop, would try a bout, either with the broadsword,
backsword, single rapier, or rapier and dagger, for a gold noble, the
first-drawn blood, there would be some soul in it,--or, zounds, would the
bumpkins but wrestle, or pitch the bar, or putt the stone, or throw the
axle-tree, if (touching the end of Morton's sword scornfully with his
toe) they carry things about them that they are afraid to draw."
Morton's patience and prudence now gave way entirely, and he was about to
make a very angry answer to Bothwell's insolent observations, when the
stranger stepped forward.
"This is my quarrel," he said, "and in the name of the good cause, I will
see it out myself.--Hark thee, friend," (to Bothwell,) "wilt thou wrestle
a fall with me?"
"With my whole spirit, beloved," answered Bothwell; "yea I will strive
with thee, to the downfall of one or both."
"Then, as my trust is in Him that can help," retorted his antagonist, "I
will forthwith make thee an example to all such railing Rabshakehs"
With that he dropped his coarse grey horseman's coat from his shoulders,
and, extending his strong brawny arms with a look of determined
resolution, he offered himself to the contest. The soldier was nothing
abashed by the muscular frame, broad chest, square shoulders, and hardy
look of his antagonist, but, whistling with great composure, unbuckled
his belt, and laid aside his military coat. The company stood round them,
anxious for the event.
In the first struggle the trooper seemed to have some advantage, and also
in the second, though neither could be considered as decisive. But it was
plain he had put his whole strength too suddenly forth, against an
antagonist possessed of great endurance, skill, vigour, and length of
wind. In the third close, the countryman lifted his opponent fairly from
the floor, and hurled him to the ground with such violence, that he lay
for an instant stunned and motionless. His comrade Halliday immediately
drew his sword; "You have killed my sergeant," he exclaimed to the
victorious wrestler, "and by all that is sacred you shall answer it!"
"Stand back!" cried Morton and his companions, "it was all fair play;
your comrade sought a fall, and he has got it."
"That is true enough," said Bothwell, as he slowly rose; "put up your
bilbo, Tom. I did not think there was a crop-ear of them all could have
laid the best cap and feather in the King's Life-Guards on the floor of a
rascally change-house.--Hark ye, friend, give me your hand." The stranger
held out his hand. "I promise you," said Bothwell, squeezing his hand
very hard, "that the time will come when we shall meet again, and try
this game over in a more earnest manner."
"And I'll promise you," said the stranger, returning the grasp with equal
firmness, "that when we next meet, I will lay your head as low as it lay
even now, when you shall lack the power to lift it up again."
"Well, beloved," answered Bothwell, "if thou be'st a whig, thou art a
stout and a brave one, and so good even to thee--Hadst best take thy nag
before the Cornet makes the round; for, I promise thee, he has stay'd
less suspicious-looking persons."
The stranger seemed to think that the hint was not to be neglected; he
flung down his reckoning, and going into the stable, saddled and brought
out a powerful black horse, now recruited by rest and forage, and turning
to Morton, observed, "I ride towards Milnwood, which I hear is your home;
will you give me the advantage and protection of your company?"
"Certainly," said Morton; although there was something of gloomy and
relentless severity in the man's manner from which his mind recoiled. His
companions, after a courteous good-night, broke up and went off in
different directions, some keeping them company for about a mile, until
they dropped off one by one, and the travellers were left alone.
The company had not long left the Howff, as Blane's public-house was
called, when the trumpets and kettle-drums sounded. The troopers got
under arms in the market-place at this unexpected summons, while, with
faces of anxiety and earnestness, Cornet Grahame, a kinsman of
Claverhouse, and the Provost of the borough, followed by half-a-dozen
soldiers, and town-officers with halberts, entered the apartment of Niel
"Guard the doors!" were the first words which the Cornet spoke; "let no
man leave the house.--So, Bothwell, how comes this? Did you not hear them
sound boot and saddle?"
"He was just going to quarters, sir," said his comrade; "he has had a bad
"In a fray, I suppose?" said Grahame. "If you neglect duty in this way,
your royal blood will hardly protect you."
"How have I neglected duty?" said Bothwell, sulkily.
"You should have been at quarters, Sergeant Bothwell," replied the
officer; "you have lost a golden opportunity. Here are news come that the
Archbishop of St Andrews has been strangely and foully assassinated by a
body of the rebel whigs, who pursued and stopped his carriage on
Magus-Muir, near the town of St Andrews, dragged him out, and dispatched
him with their swords and daggers." [Note: The general account of this
act of assassination is to be found in all histories of the period. A
more particular narrative may be found in the words of one of the actors,
James Russell, in the Appendix to Kirkton's History of the Church of
Scotland, published by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esquire. 4to,
All stood aghast at the intelligence.
"Here are their descriptions," continued the Cornet, pulling out a
proclamation, "the reward of a thousand merks is on each of their heads."
"The test, the test, and the qualification!" said Bothwell to Halliday;
"I know the meaning now--Zounds, that we should not have stopt him! Go
saddle our horses, Halliday.--Was there one of the men, Cornet, very
stout and square-made, double-chested, thin in the flanks, hawk-nosed?"
"Stay, stay," said Cornet Grahame, "let me look at the paper.--Hackston
of Rathillet, tall, thin, black-haired."
"That is not my man," said Bothwell.
"John Balfour, called Burley, aquiline nose, red-haired, five feet eight
inches in height"--"It is he--it is the very man!" said Bothwell,--
"skellies fearfully with one eye?"
"Right," continued Grahame, "rode a strong black horse, taken from the
primate at the time of the murder."
"The very man," exclaimed Bothwell, "and the very horse! he was in this
room not a quarter of an hour since."
A few hasty enquiries tended still more to confirm the opinion, that the
reserved and stern stranger was Balfour of Burley, the actual commander
of the band of assassins, who, in the fury of misguided zeal, had
murdered the primate, whom they accidentally met, as they were searching
for another person against whom they bore enmity. [Note: One Carmichael,
sheriff-depute in Fife, who had been active in enforcing the penal
measures against non-conformists. He was on the moors hunting, but
receiving accidental information that a party was out in quest of him, he
returned home, and escaped the fate designed for him, which befell his
patron the Archbishop.] In their excited imagination the casual
rencounter had the appearance of a providential interference, and they
put to death the archbishop, with circumstances of great and cold-blooded
cruelty, under the belief, that the Lord, as they expressed it, had
delivered him into their hands.
[Note: Murderers of Archbishop Sharpe. The leader of this party was
David Hackston, of Rathillet, a gentleman of ancient birth and good
estate. He had been profligate in his younger days, but having been
led from curiosity to attend the conventicles of the nonconforming
clergy, he adopted their principles in the fullest extent. It
appears, that Hackston had some personal quarrel with Archbishop
Sharpe, which induced him to decline the command of the party when
the slaughter was determined upon, fearing his acceptance might be
ascribed to motives of personal enmity. He felt himself free in
conscience, however, to be present; and when the archbishop, dragged
from his carriage, crawled towards him on his knees for protection,
he replied coldly, "Sir, I will never lay a finger on you." It is
remarkable that Hackston, as well as a shepherd who was also
present, but passive, on the occasion, were the only two of the
party of assassins who suffered death by the hands of the
On Hackston refusing the command, it was by universal suffrage
conferred on John Balfour of Kinloch, called Burley, who was
Hackston's brother-in-law. He is described "as a little man,
squint-eyed, and of a very fierce aspect."--"He was," adds the same
author, "by some reckoned none of the most religious; yet he was
always reckoned zealous and honest-hearted, courageous in every
enterprise, and a brave soldier, seldom any escaping that came into
his hands. He was the principal actor in killing that arch-traitor
to the Lord and his church, James Sharpe." See Scottish Worthies.
8vo. Leith, 1816. Page 522.]
"Horse, horse, and pursue, my lads!" exclaimed Cornet Grahame; "the
murdering dog's head is worth its weight in gold."
Arouse thee, youth!--it is no human call--
God's church is leaguer'd--haste to man the wall;
Haste where the Redcross banners wave on high,
Signal of honour'd death, or victory!
Morton and his companion had attained some distance from the town before
either of them addressed the other. There was something, as we have
observed, repulsive in the manner of the stranger, which prevented Morton
from opening the conversation, and he himself seemed to have no desire to
talk, until, on a sudden, he abruptly demanded, "What has your father's
son to do with such profane mummeries as I find you this day engaged in?"
"I do my duty as a subject, and pursue my harmless recreations according
to my own pleasure," replied Morton, somewhat offended.
"Is it your duty, think you, or that of any Christian young man, to bear
arms in their cause who have poured out the blood of God's saints in the
wilderness as if it had been water? or is it a lawful recreation to waste
time in shooting at a bunch of feathers, and close your evening with
winebibbing in public-houses and market-towns, when He that is mighty is
come into the land with his fan in his hand, to purge the wheat from the
"I suppose from your style of conversation," said Morton, "that you are
one of those who have thought proper to stand out against the government.
I must remind you that you are unnecessarily using dangerous language in
the presence of a mere stranger, and that the times do not render it safe
for me to listen to it."
"Thou canst not help it, Henry Morton," said his companion; "thy Master
has his uses for thee, and when he calls, thou must obey. Well wot I thou
hast not heard the call of a true preacher, or thou hadst ere now been
what thou wilt assuredly one day become."
"We are of the presbyterian persuasion, like yourself," said Morton; for
his uncle's family attended the ministry of one of those numerous
presbyterian clergymen, who, complying with certain regulations, were
licensed to preach without interruption from the government. This
indulgence, as it was called, made a great schism among the
presbyterians, and those who accepted of it were severely censured by the
more rigid sectaries, who refused the proffered terms. The stranger,
therefore, answered with great disdain to Morton's profession of faith.
"That is but an equivocation--a poor equivocation. Ye listen on the
Sabbath to a cold, worldly, time-serving discourse, from one who forgets
his high commission so much as to hold his apostleship by the favour of
the courtiers and the false prelates, and ye call that hearing the word!
Of all the baits with which the devil has fished for souls in these days
of blood and darkness, that Black Indulgence has been the most
destructive. An awful dispensation it has been, a smiting of the shepherd
and a scattering of the sheep upon the mountains--an uplifting of one
Christian banner against another, and a fighting of the wars of darkness
with the swords of the children of light!"
"My uncle," said Morton, "is of opinion, that we enjoy a reasonable
freedom of conscience under the indulged clergymen, and I must
necessarily be guided by his sentiments respecting the choice of a place
of worship for his family."
"Your uncle," said the horseman, "is one of those to whom the least lamb
in his own folds at Milnwood is dearer than the whole Christian flock. He
is one that could willingly bend down to the golden-calf of Bethel, and
would have fished for the dust thereof when it was ground to powder and
cast upon the waters. Thy father was a man of another stamp."
"My father," replied Morton, "was indeed a brave and gallant man. And you
may have heard, sir, that he fought for that royal family in whose name I
was this day carrying arms."
"Ay; and had he lived to see these days, he would have cursed the hour he
ever drew sword in their cause. But more of this hereafter--I promise
thee full surely that thy hour will come, and then the words thou hast
now heard will stick in thy bosom like barbed arrows. My road lies
He pointed towards a pass leading up into a wild extent of dreary and
desolate hills; but as he was about to turn his horse's head into the
rugged path, which led from the high-road in that direction, an old woman
wrapped in a red cloak, who was sitting by the cross-way, arose, and
approaching him, said, in a mysterious tone of voice, "If ye be of our
ain folk, gangna up the pass the night for your lives. There is a lion in
the path, that is there. The curate of Brotherstane and ten soldiers hae
beset the pass, to hae the lives of ony of our puir wanderers that
venture that gate to join wi' Hamilton and Dingwall."
"Have the persecuted folk drawn to any head among themselves?" demanded
"About sixty or seventy horse and foot," said the old dame; "but, ewhow!
they are puirly armed, and warse fended wi' victual."
"God will help his own," said the horseman. "Which way shall I take to
"It's a mere impossibility this night," said the woman, "the troopers
keep sae strict a guard; and they say there's strange news come frae the
east, that makes them rage in their cruelty mair fierce than ever--Ye
maun take shelter somegate for the night before ye get to the muirs, and
keep yoursell in hiding till the grey o' the morning, and then you may
find your way through the Drake Moss. When I heard the awfu' threatenings
o' the oppressors, I e'en took my cloak about me, and sate down by the
wayside, to warn ony of our puir scattered remnant that chanced to come
this gate, before they fell into the nets of the spoilers."
"Have you a house near this?" said the stranger; "and can you give me
"I have," said the old woman, "a hut by the way-side, it may be a mile
from hence; but four men of Belial, called dragoons, are lodged therein,
to spoil my household goods at their pleasure, because I will not wait
upon the thowless, thriftless, fissenless ministry of that carnal man,
John Halftext, the curate."
"Good night, good woman, and thanks for thy counsel," said the stranger,
as he rode away.
"The blessings of the promise upon you," returned the old dame; "may He
keep you that can keep you."
"Amen!" said the traveller; "for where to hide my head this night, mortal
skill cannot direct me."
"I am very sorry for your distress," said Morton; "and had I a house or
place of shelter that could be called my own, I almost think I would risk
the utmost rigour of the law rather than leave you in such a strait. But
my uncle is so alarmed at the pains and penalties denounced by the laws
against such as comfort, receive, or consort with intercommuned persons,
that he has strictly forbidden all of us to hold any intercourse with
"It is no less than I expected," said the stranger; "nevertheless, I
might be received without his knowledge;--a barn, a hay-loft, a
cart-shed,--any place where I could stretch me down, would be to my
habits like a tabernacle of silver set about with planks of cedar."
"I assure you," said Morton, much embarrassed, "that I have not the means
of receiving you at Milnwood without my uncle's consent and knowledge;
nor, if I could do so, would I think myself justifiable in engaging him
unconsciously in danger, which, most of all others, he fears and
"Well," said the traveller, "I have but one word to say. Did you ever
hear your father mention John Balfour of Burley?"
"His ancient friend and comrade, who saved his life, with almost the loss
of his own, in the battle of Longmarston-Moor?--Often, very often."
"I am that Balfour," said his companion. "Yonder stands thy uncle's
house; I see the light among the trees. The avenger of blood is behind
me, and my death certain unless I have refuge there. Now, make thy
choice, young man; to shrink from the side of thy father's friend, like a
thief in the night, and to leave him exposed to the bloody death from
which he rescued thy father, or to expose thine uncle's wordly goods to
such peril, as, in this perverse generation, attends those who give a
morsel of bread or a draught of cold water to a Christian man, when
perishing for lack of refreshment!"
A thousand recollections thronged on the mind of Morton at once. His
father, whose memory he idolized, had often enlarged upon his obligations
to this man, and regretted, that, after having been long comrades, they
had parted in some unkindness at the time when the kingdom of Scotland
was divided into Resolutioners and Protesters; the former of whom adhered
to Charles II. after his father's death upon the scaffold, while the
Protesters inclined rather to a union with the triumphant republicans.
The stern fanaticism of Burley had attached him to this latter party, and
the comrades had parted in displeasure, never, as it happened, to meet
again. These circumstances the deceased Colonel Morton had often
mentioned to his son, and always with an expression of deep regret, that
he had never, in any manner, been enabled to repay the assistance, which,
on more than one occasion, he had received from Burley.
To hasten Morton's decision, the night-wind, as it swept along, brought
from a distance the sullen sound of a kettle-drum, which, seeming to
approach nearer, intimated that a body of horse were upon their march
"It must be Claverhouse, with the rest of his regiment. What can have
occasioned this night-march? If you go on, you fall into their hands--if
you turn back towards the borough-town, you are in no less danger from
Cornet Grahame's party.--The path to the hill is beset. I must shelter
you at Milnwood, or expose you to instant death;--but the punishment of
the law shall fall upon myself, as in justice it should, not upon my
Burley, who had awaited his resolution with great composure, now followed
him in silence.
The house of Milnwood, built by the father of the present proprietor, was
a decent mansion, suitable to the size of the estate, but, since the
accession of this owner, it had been suffered to go considerably into
disrepair. At some little distance from the house stood the court of
offices. Here Morton paused.
"I must leave you here for a little while," he whispered, "until I can
provide a bed for you in the house."
"I care little for such delicacy," said Burley; "for thirty years this
head has rested oftener on the turf, or on the next grey stone, than upon
either wool or down. A draught of ale, a morsel of bread, to say my
prayers, and to stretch me upon dry hay, were to me as good as a painted
chamber and a prince's table."
It occurred to Morton at the same moment, that to attempt to introduce
the fugitive within the house, would materially increase the danger of
detection. Accordingly, having struck a light with implements left in the
stable for that purpose, and having fastened up their horses, he assigned
Burley, for his place of repose, a wooden bed, placed in a loft half-full
of hay, which an out-of-door domestic had occupied until dismissed by his
uncle in one of those fits of parsimony which became more rigid from day
to day. In this untenanted loft Morton left his companion, with a caution
so to shade his light that no reflection might be seen from the window,
and a promise that he would presently return with such refreshments as he
might be able to procure at that late hour. This last, indeed, was a
subject on which he felt by no means confident, for the power of
obtaining even the most ordinary provisions depended entirely upon the
humour in which he might happen to find his uncle's sole confidant, the
old housekeeper. If she chanced to be a-bed, which was very likely, or
out of humour, which was not less so, Morton well knew the case to be at
Cursing in his heart the sordid parsimony which pervaded every part of
his uncle's establishment, he gave the usual gentle knock at the bolted
door, by which he was accustomed to seek admittance, when accident had
detained him abroad beyond the early and established hours of rest at the
house of Milnwood. It was a sort of hesitating tap, which carried an
acknowledgment of transgression in its very sound, and seemed rather to
solicit than command attention. After it had been repeated again and
again, the housekeeper, grumbling betwixt her teeth as she rose from the
chimney corner in the hall, and wrapping her checked handkerchief round
her head to secure her from the cold air, paced across the stone-passage,
and repeated a careful "Wha's there at this time o' night?" more than
once before she undid the bolts and bars, and cautiously opened the door.
"This is a fine time o' night, Mr Henry," said the old dame, with the
tyrannic insolence of a spoilt and favourite domestic;--"a braw time o'
night and a bonny, to disturb a peaceful house in, and to keep quiet folk
out o' their beds waiting for you. Your uncle's been in his maist three
hours syne, and Robin's ill o' the rheumatize, and he's to his bed too,
and sae I had to sit up for ye mysell, for as sair a hoast as I hae."
Here she coughed once or twice, in further evidence of the egregious
inconvenience which she had sustained.
"Much obliged to you, Alison, and many kind thanks."
"Hegh, sirs, sae fair-fashioned as we are! Mony folk ca' me Mistress
Wilson, and Milnwood himsell is the only ane about this town thinks o'
ca'ing me Alison, and indeed he as aften says Mrs Alison as ony other
"Well, then, Mistress Alison," said Morton, "I really am sorry to have
kept you up waiting till I came in."
"And now that you are come in, Mr Henry," said the cross old woman, "what
for do you no tak up your candle and gang to your bed? and mind ye dinna
let the candle sweal as ye gang alang the wainscot parlour, and haud a'
the house scouring to get out the grease again."
"But, Alison, I really must have something to eat, and a draught of ale,
before I go to bed."
"Eat?--and ale, Mr Henry?--My certie, ye're ill to serve! Do ye think we
havena heard o' your grand popinjay wark yonder, and how ye bleezed away
as muckle pouther as wad hae shot a' the wild-fowl that we'll want atween
and Candlemas--and then ganging majoring to the piper's Howff wi' a' the
idle loons in the country, and sitting there birling, at your poor
uncle's cost, nae doubt, wi' a' the scaff and raff o' the water-side,
till sun-down, and then coming hame and crying for ale, as if ye were
maister and mair!"
Extremely vexed, yet anxious, on account of his guest, to procure
refreshments if possible, Morton suppressed his resentment, and
good-humouredly assured Mrs Wilson, that he was really both hungry and
thirsty; "and as for the shooting at the popinjay, I have heard you say
you have been there yourself, Mrs Wilson--I wish you had come to look at
"Ah, Maister Henry," said the old dame, "I wish ye binna beginning to
learn the way of blawing in a woman's lug wi' a' your whilly-wha's!--
Aweel, sae ye dinna practise them but on auld wives like me, the less
matter. But tak heed o' the young queans, lad.--Popinjay--ye think
yoursell a braw fellow enow; and troth!" (surveying him with the candle,)
"there's nae fault to find wi' the outside, if the inside be conforming.
But I mind, when I was a gilpy of a lassock, seeing the Duke, that was
him that lost his head at London--folk said it wasna a very gude ane, but
it was aye a sair loss to him, puir gentleman--Aweel, he wan the
popinjay, for few cared to win it ower his Grace's head--weel, he had a
comely presence, and when a' the gentles mounted to show their capers,
his Grace was as near to me as I am to you; and he said to me, 'Tak tent
o' yoursell, my bonny lassie, (these were his very words,) for my horse
is not very chancy.'--And now, as ye say ye had sae little to eat or
drink, I'll let you see that I havena been sae unmindfu' o' you; for I
dinna think it's safe for young folk to gang to their bed on an empty
To do Mrs Wilson justice, her nocturnal harangues upon such occasions not
unfrequently terminated with this sage apophthegm, which always prefaced
the producing of some provision a little better than ordinary, such as
she now placed before him. In fact, the principal object of her
maundering was to display her consequence and love of power; for Mrs
Wilson was not, at the bottom, an illtempered woman, and certainly loved
her old and young master (both of whom she tormented extremely) better
than any one else in the world. She now eyed Mr Henry, as she called him,
with great complacency, as he partook of her good cheer.
"Muckle gude may it do ye, my bonny man. I trow ye dinna get sic a
skirl-in-the-pan as that at Niel Blane's. His wife was a canny body, and
could dress things very weel for ane in her line o' business, but no like
a gentleman's housekeeper, to be sure. But I doubt the daughter's a silly
thing--an unco cockernony she had busked on her head at the kirk last
Sunday. I am doubting that there will be news o' a' thae braws. But my
auld een's drawing thegither--dinna hurry yoursell, my bonny man, tak
mind about the putting out the candle, and there's a horn of ale, and a
glass of clow-gillie-flower water; I dinna gie ilka body that; I keep it
for a pain I hae whiles in my ain stamach, and it's better for your young
blood than brandy. Sae, gude-night to ye, Mr Henry, and see that ye tak
gude care o' the candle."
Morton promised to attend punctually to her caution, and requested her
not to be alarmed if she heard the door opened, as she knew he must
again, as usual, look to his horse, and arrange him for the night. Mrs
Wilson then retreated, and Morton, folding up his provisions, was about
to hasten to his guest, when the nodding head of the old housekeeper was
again thrust in at the door, with an admonition, to remember to take an
account of his ways before he laid himself down to rest, and to pray for
protection during the hours of darkness.
Such were the manners of a certain class of domestics, once common in
Scotland, and perhaps still to be found in some old manor-houses in its
remote counties. They were fixtures in the family they belonged to; and
as they never conceived the possibility of such a thing as dismissal to
be within the chances of their lives, they were, of course, sincerely
attached to every member of it. [Note: A masculine retainer of this kind,
having offended his master extremely, was commanded to leave his service
instantly. "In troth and that will I not," answered the domestic; "if
your honour disna ken when ye hae a gude servant, I ken when I hae a gude
master, and go away I will not." On another occasion of the same nature,
the master said, "John, you and I shall never sleep under the same roof
again;" to which John replied, with much, "Whare the deil can your honour
be ganging?"] On the other hand, when spoiled by the indulgence or
indolence of their superiors, they were very apt to become ill-tempered,
self-sufficient, and tyrannical; so much so, that a mistress or master
would sometimes almost have wished to exchange their crossgrained
fidelity for the smooth and accommodating duplicity of a modern menial.
Yea, this man's brow, like to a tragic leaf,
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume.
Being at length rid of the housekeeper's presence, Morton made a
collection of what he had reserved from the provisions set before him,
and prepared to carry them to his concealed guest. He did not think it
necessary to take a light, being perfectly acquainted with every turn of
the road; and it was lucky he did not do so, for he had hardly stepped
beyond the threshold ere a heavy trampling of horses announced, that the
body of cavalry, whose kettle-drums [Note: Regimental music is never
played at night. But who can assure us that such was not the custom in
Charles the Second's time? Till I am well informed on this point, the
kettle-drums shall clash on, as adding something to the picturesque
effect of the night march.] they had before heard, were in the act of
passing along the high-road which winds round the foot of the bank on
which the house of Milnwood was placed. He heard the commanding officer
distinctly give the word halt. A pause of silence followed, interrupted
only by the occasional neighing or pawing of an impatient charger.
"Whose house is this?" said a voice, in a tone of authority and command.
"Milnwood, if it like your honour," was the reply.
"Is the owner well affected?" said the enquirer.
"He complies with the orders of government, and frequents an indulged
minister," was the response.
"Hum! ay! indulged? a mere mask for treason, very impolitically allowed
to those who are too great cowards to wear their principles barefaced.--
Had we not better send up a party and search the house, in case some of
the bloody villains concerned in this heathenish butchery may be
concealed in it?"
Ere Morton could recover from the alarm into which this proposal had
thrown him, a third speaker rejoined, "I cannot think it at all
necessary; Milnwood is an infirm, hypochondriac old man, who never
meddles with politics, and loves his moneybags and bonds better than any
thing else in the world. His nephew, I hear, was at the wappenschaw
to-day, and gained the popinjay, which does not look like a fanatic. I
should think they are all gone to bed long since, and an alarm at this
time of night might kill the poor old man."
"Well," rejoined the leader, "if that be so, to search the house would be
lost time, of which we have but little to throw away. Gentlemen of the
A few notes on the trumpet, mingled with the occasional boom of the
kettle-drum, to mark the cadence, joined with the tramp of hoofs and the
clash of arms, announced that the troop had resumed its march. The moon
broke out as the leading files of the column attained a hill up which the
road winded, and showed indistinctly the glittering of the steel-caps;
and the dark figures of the horses and riders might be imperfectly traced
through the gloom. They continued to advance up the hill, and sweep over
the top of it in such long succession, as intimated a considerable
When the last of them had disappeared, young Morton resumed his purpose
of visiting his guest. Upon entering the place of refuge, he found him
seated on his humble couch with a pocket Bible open in his hand, which he
seemed to study with intense meditation. His broadsword, which he had
unsheathed in the first alarm at the arrival of the dragoons, lay naked
across his knees, and the little taper that stood beside him upon the old
chest, which served the purpose of a table, threw a partial and imperfect
light upon those stern and harsh features, in which ferocity was rendered
more solemn and dignified by a wild cast of tragic enthusiasm. His brow
was that of one in whom some strong o'ermastering principle has
overwhelmed all other passions and feelings, like the swell of a high
spring-tide, when the usual cliffs and breakers vanish from the eye, and
their existence is only indicated by the chasing foam of the waves that
burst and wheel over them. He raised his head, after Morton had
contemplated him for about a minute.
"I perceive," said Morton, looking at his sword, "that you heard the
horsemen ride by; their passage delayed me for some minutes."
"I scarcely heeded them," said Balfour; "my hour is not yet come. That I
shall one day fall into their hands, and be honourably associated with
the saints whom they have slaughtered, I am full well aware. And I would,
young man, that the hour were come; it should be as welcome to me as ever
wedding to bridegroom. But if my Master has more work for me on earth, I
must not do his labour grudgingly."
"Eat and refresh yourself," said Morton; "tomorrow your safety requires
you should leave this place, in order to gain the hills, so soon as you
can see to distinguish the track through the morasses."
"Young man," returned Balfour, "you are already weary of me, and would be
yet more so, perchance, did you know the task upon which I have been
lately put. And I wonder not that it should be so, for there are times
when I am weary of myself. Think you not it is a sore trial for flesh and
blood, to be called upon to execute the righteous judgments of Heaven
while we are yet in the body, and continue to retain that blinded sense
and sympathy for carnal suffering, which makes our own flesh thrill when
we strike a gash upon the body of another? And think you, that when some
prime tyrant has been removed from his place, that the instruments of his
punishment can at all times look back on their share in his downfall with
firm and unshaken nerves? Must they not sometimes even question the truth
of that inspiration which they have felt and acted under? Must they not
sometimes doubt the origin of that strong impulse with which their
prayers for heavenly direction under difficulties have been inwardly
answered and confirmed, and confuse, in their disturbed apprehensions,
the responses of Truth itself with some strong delusion of the enemy?"
"These are subjects, Mr Balfour, on which I am ill qualified to converse
with you," answered Morton; "but I own I should strongly doubt the origin
of any inspiration which seemed to dictate a line of conduct contrary to
those feelings of natural humanity, which Heaven has assigned to us as
the general law of our conduct."
Balfour seemed somewhat disturbed, and drew himself hastily up, but
immediately composed himself, and answered coolly, "It is natural you
should think so; you are yet in the dungeon-house of the law, a pit
darker than that into which Jeremiah was plunged, even the dungeon of
Malcaiah the son of Hamelmelech, where there was no water but mire. Yet
is the seal of the covenant upon your forehead, and the son of the
righteous, who resisted to blood where the banner was spread on the
mountains, shall not be utterly lost, as one of the children of darkness.
Trow ye, that in this day of bitterness and calamity, nothing is required
at our hands but to keep the moral law as far as our carnal frailty will
permit? Think ye our conquests must be only over our corrupt and evil
affections and passions? No; we are called upon, when we have girded up
our loins, to run the race boldly, and when we have drawn the sword, we
are enjoined to smite the ungodly, though he be our neighbour, and the
man of power and cruelty, though he were of our own kindred, and the
friend of our own bosom."
"These are the sentiments," said Morton, "that your enemies impute to
you, and which palliate, if they do not vindicate, the cruel measures
which the council have directed against you. They affirm, that you
pretend to derive your rule of action from what you call an inward light,
rejecting the restraints of legal magistracy, of national law, and even
of common humanity, when in opposition to what you call the spirit within
"They do us wrong," answered the Covenanter; "it is they, perjured as
they are, who have rejected all law, both divine and civil, and who now
persecute us for adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant between God
and the kingdom of Scotland, to which all of them, save a few popish
malignants, have sworn in former days, and which they now burn in the
market-places, and tread under foot in derision. When this Charles
Stewart returned to these kingdoms, did the malignants bring him back?
They had tried it with strong hand, but they failed, I trow. Could James
Grahame of Montrose, and his Highland caterans, have put him again in the
place of his father? I think their heads on the Westport told another
tale for many a long day. It was the workers of the glorious work--the
reformers of the beauty of the tabernacle, that called him again to the
high place from which his father fell. And what has been our reward? In
the words of the prophet, 'We looked for peace, but no good came; and for
a time of health, and behold trouble--The snorting of his horses was
heard from Dan; the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of
his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land and all
that is in it.'"
"Mr Balfour," answered Morton, "I neither undertake to subscribe to or
refute your complaints against the government. I have endeavoured to
repay a debt due to the comrade of my father, by giving you shelter in
your distress, but you will excuse me from engaging myself either in your
cause, or in controversy. I will leave you to repose, and heartily wish
it were in my power to render your condition more comfortable."
"But I shall see you, I trust, in the morning, ere I depart?--I am not a
man whose bowels yearn after kindred and friends of this world. When I
put my hand to the plough, I entered into a covenant with my worldly
affections that I should not look back on the things I left behind me.
Yet the son of mine ancient comrade is to me as mine own, and I cannot
behold him without the deep and firm belief, that I shall one day see him
gird on his sword in the dear and precious cause for which his father
fought and bled."
With a promise on Morton's part that he would call the refugee when it
was time for him to pursue his journey, they parted for the night.
Morton retired to a few hours' rest; but his imagination, disturbed by
the events of the day, did not permit him to enjoy sound repose. There
was a blended vision of horror before him, in which his new friend seemed
to be a principal actor. The fair form of Edith Bellenden also mingled in
his dream, weeping, and with dishevelled hair, and appearing to call on
him for comfort and assistance, which he had not in his power to render.
He awoke from these unrefreshing slumbers with a feverish impulse, and a
heart which foreboded disaster. There was already a tinge of dazzling
lustre on the verge of the distant hills, and the dawn was abroad in all
the freshness of a summer morning.
"I have slept too long," he exclaimed to himself, "and must now hasten to
forward the journey of this unfortunate fugitive."
He dressed himself as fast as possible, opened the door of the house with
as little noise as he could, and hastened to the place of refuge occupied
by the Covenanter. Morton entered on tiptoe, for the determined tone and
manner, as well as the unusual language and sentiments of this singular
individual, had struck him with a sensation approaching to awe. Balfour
was still asleep. A ray of light streamed on his uncurtained couch, and
showed to Morton the working of his harsh features, which seemed agitated
by some strong internal cause of disturbance. He had not undressed. Both
his arms were above the bed-cover, the right hand strongly clenched, and
occasionally making that abortive attempt to strike which usually attends
dreams of violence; the left was extended, and agitated, from time to
time, by a movement as if repulsing some one. The perspiration stood on
his brow, "like bubbles in a late disturbed stream," and these marks of
emotion were accompanied with broken words which escaped from him at
intervals--"Thou art taken, Judas--thou art taken--Cling not to my knees
--cling not to my knees--hew him down!--A priest? Ay, a priest of Baal,
to be bound and slain, even at the brook Kishon.--Fire arms will not
prevail against him--Strike--thrust with the cold iron--put him out of
pain--put him out of pain, were it but for the sake of his grey hairs."
Much alarmed at the import of these expressions, which seemed to burst
from him even in sleep with the stern energy accompanying the
perpetration of some act of violence, Morton shook his guest by the
shoulder in order to awake him. The first words he uttered were, "Bear me
where ye will, I will avouch the deed!"
His glance around having then fully awakened him, he at once assumed all
the stern and gloomy composure of his ordinary manner, and throwing
himself on his knees, before speaking to Morton, poured forth an
ejaculatory prayer for the suffering Church of Scotland, entreating that
the blood of her murdered saints and martyrs might be precious in the
sight of Heaven, and that the shield of the Almighty might be spread over
the scattered remnant, who, for His name's sake, were abiders in the
wilderness. Vengeance--speedy and ample vengeance on the oppressors, was
the concluding petition of his devotions, which he expressed aloud in
strong and emphatic language, rendered more impressive by the Orientalism
When he had finished his prayer he arose, and, taking Morton by the arm,
they descended together to the stable, where the Wanderer (to give Burley
a title which was often conferred on his sect) began to make his horse
ready to pursue his journey. When the animal was saddled and bridled,
Burley requested Morton to walk with him a gun-shot into the wood, and
direct him to the right road for gaining the moors. Morton readily
complied, and they walked for some time in silence under the shade of
some fine old trees, pursuing a sort of natural path, which, after
passing through woodland for about half a mile, led into the bare and
wild country which extends to the foot of the hills.
There was little conversation between them, until at length Burley
suddenly asked Morton, "Whether the words he had spoken over-night had
borne fruit in his mind?"
Morton answered, "That he remained of the same opinion which he had
formerly held, and was determined, at least as far and as long as
possible, to unite the duties of a good Christian with those of a
"In other words," replied Burley, "you are desirous to serve both God and
Mammon--to be one day professing the truth with your lips, and the next
day in arms, at the command of carnal and tyrannic authority, to shed the
blood of those who for the truth have forsaken all things? Think ye," he
continued, "to touch pitch and remain undefiled? to mix in the ranks of
malignants, papists, papa-prelatists, latitudinarians, and scoffers; to
partake of their sports, which are like the meat offered unto idols; to
hold intercourse, perchance, with their daughters, as the sons of God
with the daughters of men in the world before the flood--Think you, I
say, to do all these things, and yet remain free from pollution? I say
unto you, that all communication with the enemies of the Church is the
accursed thing which God hateth! Touch not--taste not--handle not! And
grieve not, young man, as if you alone were called upon to subdue your
carnal affections, and renounce the pleasures which are a snare to your
feet--I say to you, that the Son of David hath denounced no better lot on
the whole generation of mankind."
He then mounted his horse, and, turning to Morton, repeated the text of
Scripture, "An heavy yoke was ordained for the sons of Adam from the day
they go out of their mother's womb, till the day that they return to the
mother of all things; from him who is clothed in blue silk and weareth a
crown, even to him who weareth simple linen,--wrath, envy, trouble, and
unquietness, rigour, strife, and fear of death in the time of rest."
Having uttered these words he set his horse in motion, and soon
disappeared among the boughs of the forest.
"Farewell, stern enthusiast," said Morton, looking after him; "in some
moods of my mind, how dangerous would be the society of such a companion!
If I am unmoved by his zeal for abstract doctrines of faith, or rather
for a peculiar mode of worship, (such was the purport of his
reflections,) can I be a man, and a Scotchman, and look with indifference
on that persecution which has made wise men mad? Was not the cause of
freedom, civil and religious, that for which my father fought; and shall
I do well to remain inactive, or to take the part of an oppressive
government, if there should appear any rational prospect of redressing
the insufferable wrongs to which my miserable countrymen are subjected?--
And yet, who shall warrant me that these people, rendered wild by
persecution, would not, in the hour of victory, be as cruel and as
intolerant as those by whom they are now hunted down? What degree of
moderation, or of mercy, can be expected from this Burley, so
distinguished as one of their principal champions, and who seems even now
to be reeking from some recent deed of violence, and to feel stings of
remorse, which even his enthusiasm cannot altogether stifle? I am weary
of seeing nothing but violence and fury around me--now assuming the mask
of lawful authority, now taking that of religious zeal. I am sick of my
country--of myself--of my dependent situation--of my repressed feelings--
of these woods--of that river--of that house--of all but--Edith, and she
can never be mine! Why should I haunt her walks?--Why encourage my own
delusion, and perhaps hers?--She can never be mine. Her grandmother's
pride--the opposite principles of our families--my wretched state of
dependence--a poor miserable slave, for I have not even the wages of a
servant--all circumstances give the lie to the vain hope that we can ever
be united. Why then protract a delusion so painful?
"But I am no slave," he said aloud, and drawing himself up to his full
stature--"no slave, in one respect, surely. I can change my abode--my
father's sword is mine, and Europe lies open before me, as before him and
hundreds besides of my countrymen, who have filled it with the fame of
their exploits. Perhaps some lucky chance may raise me to a rank with our
Ruthvens, our Lesleys, our Monroes, the chosen leaders of the famous
Protestant champion, Gustavus Adolphus, or, if not, a soldier's life or a
When he had formed this determination, he found himself near the door of
his uncle's house, and resolved to lose no time in making him acquainted
"Another glance of Edith's eye, another walk by Edith's side, and my
resolution would melt away. I will take an irrevocable step, therefore,
and then see her for the last time."
In this mood he entered the wainscotted parlour, in which his uncle was
already placed at his morning's refreshment, a huge plate of oatmeal
porridge, with a corresponding allowance of butter-milk. The favourite
housekeeper was in attendance, half standing, half resting on the back of
a chair, in a posture betwixt freedom and respect. The old gentleman had
been remarkably tall in his earlier days, an advantage which he now lost
by stooping to such a degree, that at a meeting, where there was some
dispute concerning the sort of arch which should be thrown over a
considerable brook, a facetious neighbour proposed to offer Milnwood a
handsome sum for his curved backbone, alleging that he would sell any
thing that belonged to him. Splay feet of unusual size, long thin hands,
garnished with nails which seldom felt the steel, a wrinkled and puckered
visage, the length of which corresponded with that of his person,
together with a pair of little sharp bargain-making grey eyes, that
seemed eternally looking out for their advantage, completed the highly
unpromising exterior of Mr Morton of Milnwood. As it would have been very
injudicious to have lodged a liberal or benevolent disposition in such an
unworthy cabinet, nature had suited his person with a mind exactly in
conformity with it, that is to say, mean, selfish, and covetous.
When this amiable personage was aware of the presence of his nephew, he
hastened, before addressing him, to swallow the spoonful of porridge
which he was in the act of conveying to his mouth, and, as it chanced to
be scalding hot, the pain occasioned by its descent down his throat and
into his stomach, inflamed the ill-humour with which he was already
prepared to meet his kinsman.
"The deil take them that made them!" was his first ejaculation,
apostrophizing his mess of porridge.
"They're gude parritch eneugh," said Mrs Wilson, "if ye wad but take time
to sup them. I made them mysell; but if folk winna hae patience, they
should get their thrapples causewayed."
"Haud your peace, Alison! I was speaking to my nevoy.--How is this, sir?
And what sort o' scampering gates are these o' going on? Ye were not at
hame last night till near midnight."
"Thereabouts, sir, I believe," answered Morton, in an indifferent tone.
"Thereabouts, sir?--What sort of an answer is that, sir? Why came ye na
hame when other folk left the grund?"
"I suppose you know the reason very well, sir," said Morton; "I had the
fortune to be the best marksman of the day, and remained, as is usual, to
give some little entertainment to the other young men."
"The deevil ye did, sir! And ye come to tell me that to my face? You
pretend to gie entertainments, that canna come by a dinner except by
sorning on a carefu' man like me? But if ye put me to charges, I'se work
it out o'ye. I seena why ye shouldna haud the pleugh, now that the
pleughman has left us; it wad set ye better than wearing thae green duds,
and wasting your siller on powther and lead; it wad put ye in an honest
calling, and wad keep ye in bread without being behadden to ony ane."
"I am very ambitious of learning such a calling, sir, but I don't
understand driving the plough."
"And what for no? It's easier than your gunning and archery that ye like
sae weel. Auld Davie is ca'ing it e'en now, and ye may be goadsman for
the first twa or three days, and tak tent ye dinna o'erdrive the owsen,
and then ye will be fit to gang betweeu the stilts. Ye'll ne'er learn
younger, I'll be your caution. Haggie-holm is heavy land, and Davie is
ower auld to keep the coulter down now."
"I beg pardon for interrupting you, sir, but I have formed a scheme for
myself, which will have the same effect of relieving you of the burden
and charge attending my company."
"Ay? Indeed? a scheme o' yours? that must be a denty ane!" said the
uncle, with a very peculiar sneer; "let's hear about it, lad."
"It is said in two words, sir. I intend to leave this country, and serve
abroad, as my father did before these unhappy troubles broke out at home.
His name will not be so entirely forgotten in the countries where he
served, but that it will procure his son at least the opportunity of
trying his fortune as a soldier."
"Gude be gracious to us!" exclaimed the housekeeper; "our young Mr Harry
gang abroad? na, na! eh, na! that maun never be."
Milnwood, entertaining no thought or purpose of parting with his nephew,
who was, moreover, very useful to him in many respects, was thunderstruck
at this abrupt declaration of independence from a person whose deference
to him had hitherto been unlimited. He recovered himself, however,
"And wha do you think is to give you the means, young man, for such a
wild-goose chase? Not I, I am sure. I can hardly support you at hame. And
ye wad be marrying, I'se warrant, as your father did afore ye, too, and
sending your uncle hame a pack o' weans to be fighting and skirling
through the house in my auld days, and to take wing and flee aff like
yoursell, whenever they were asked to serve a turn about the town?"
"I have no thoughts of ever marrying," answered Henry.
"Hear till him now!" said the housekeeper. "It's a shame to hear a douce
young lad speak in that way, since a' the warld kens that they maun
either marry or do waur."
"Haud your peace, Alison," said her master; "and you, Harry," (he added
more mildly,) "put this nonsense out o' your head--this comes o' letting
ye gang a-sodgering for a day--mind ye hae nae siller, lad, for ony sic
"I beg your pardon, sir, my wants shall be very few; and would you please
to give me the gold chain, which the Margrave gave to my father after the
battle of Lutzen"--"Mercy on us! the gowd chain?" exclaimed his uncle.
"The chain of gowd!" re-echoed the housekeeper, both aghast with
astonishment at the audacity of the proposal.
--"I will keep a few links," continued the young man, "to remind me of
him by whom it was won, and the place where he won it," continued Morton;
"the rest shall furnish me the means of following the same career in
which my father obtained that mark of distinction."
"Mercifu' powers!" exclaimed the governante, "my master wears it every
"Sunday and Saturday," added old Milnwood, "whenever I put on my black
velvet coat; and Wylie Mactrickit is partly of opinion it's a kind of
heir-loom, that rather belangs to the head of the house than to the
immediate descendant. It has three thousand links; I have counted them a
thousand times. It's worth three hundred pounds sterling."
"That is more than I want, sir; if you choose to give me the third part
of the money, and five links of the chain, it will amply serve my
purpose, and the rest will be some slight atonement for the expense and
trouble I have put you to."
"The laddie's in a creel!" exclaimed his uncle. "O, sirs, what will
become o' the rigs o' Milnwood when I am dead and gane! He would fling
the crown of Scotland awa, if he had it."
"Hout, sir," said the old housekeeper, "I maun e'en say it's partly your
ain faut. Ye maunna curb his head ower sair in neither; and, to be sure,
since he has gane doun to the Howff, ye maun just e'en pay the lawing."
"If it be not abune twa dollars, Alison," said the old gentleman, very
"I'll settle it myself wi'Niel Blane, the first time I gang down to the
clachan," said Alison, "cheaper than your honour or Mr Harry can do;" and
then whispered to Henry, "Dinna vex him onymair; I'll pay the lave out o'
the butter siller, and nae mair words about it." Then proceeding aloud,
"And ye maunna speak o' the young gentleman hauding the pleugh; there's
puir distressed whigs enow about the country will be glad to do that for
a bite and a soup--it sets them far better than the like o' him."
"And then we'll hae the dragoons on us," said Milnwood, "for comforting
and entertaining intercommuned rebels; a bonny strait ye wad put us in!--
But take your breakfast, Harry, and then lay by your new green coat, and
put on your Raploch grey; it's a mair mensfu' and thrifty dress, and a
mair seemly sight, than thae dangling slops and ribbands."
Morton left the room, perceiving plainly that he had at present no chance
of gaining his purpose, and, perhaps, not altogether displeased at the
obstacles which seemed to present themselves to his leaving the
neighbourhood of Tillietudlem. The housekeeper followed him into the next
room, patting him on the back, and bidding him "be a gude bairn, and pit
by his braw things."
"And I'll loop doun your hat, and lay by the band and ribband," said the
officious dame; "and ye maun never, at no hand, speak o' leaving the
land, or of selling the gowd chain, for your uncle has an unco pleasure
in looking on you, and in counting the links of the chainzie; and ye ken
auld folk canna last for ever; sae the chain, and the lands, and a' will
be your ain ae day; and ye may marry ony leddy in the country-side ye
like, and keep a braw house at Milnwood, for there's enow o' means; and
is not that worth waiting for, my dow?"
There was something in the latter part of the prognostic which sounded so
agreeably in the ears of Morton, that he shook the old dame cordially by
the hand, and assured her he was much obliged by her good advice, and
would weigh it carefully before he proceeded to act upon his former
From seventeen years till now, almost fourscore,
Here lived I, but now live here no more.
At seventeen years many their fortunes seek,
But at fourscore it is too late a week.
As You Like it.
We must conduct our readers to the Tower of Tillietudlem, to which Lady
Margaret Bellenden had returned, in romantic phrase, malecontent and full
of heaviness, at the unexpected, and, as she deemed it, indelible
affront, which had been brought upon her dignity by the public
miscarriage of Goose Gibbie. That unfortunate man-at-arms was forthwith
commanded to drive his feathered charge to the most remote parts of the
common moor, and on no account to awaken the grief or resentment of his
lady, by appearing in her presence while the sense of the affront was yet
The next proceeding of Lady Margaret was to hold a solemn court of
justice, to which Harrison and the butler were admitted, partly on the
footing of witnesses, partly as assessors, to enquire into the recusancy
of Cuddie Headrigg the ploughman, and the abetment which he had received
from his mother--these being regarded as the original causes of the
disaster which had befallen the chivalry of Tillietudlem. The charge
being fully made out and substantiated, Lady Margaret resolved to
reprimand the culprits in person, and, if she found them impenitent, to
extend the censure into a sentence of expulsion from the barony. Miss
Bellenden alone ventured to say any thing in behalf of the accused, but
her countenance did not profit them as it might have done on any other
occasion. For so soon as Edith had heard it ascertained that the
unfortunate cavalier had not suffered in his person, his disaster had
affected her with an irresistible disposition to laugh, which, in spite
of Lady Margaret's indignation, or rather irritated, as usual, by
restraint, had broke out repeatedly on her return homeward, until her
grandmother, in no shape imposed upon by the several fictitious causes
which the young lady assigned for her ill-timed risibility, upbraided her
in very bitter terms with being insensible to the honour of her family.
Miss Bellenden's intercession, therefore, had, on this occasion, little
or no chance to be listened to.
As if to evince the rigour of her disposition, Lady Margaret, on this
solemn occasion, exchanged the ivory-headed cane with which she commonly
walked, for an immense gold-headed staff which had belonged to her
father, the deceased Earl of Torwood, and which, like a sort of mace of
office, she only made use of on occasions of special solemnity. Supported
by this awful baton of command, Lady Margaret Bellenden entered the
cottage of the delinquents.
There was an air of consciousness about old Mause, as she rose from her
wicker chair in the chimney-nook, not with the cordial alertness of
visage which used, on other occasions, to express the honour she felt in
the visit of her lady, but with a certain solemnity and embarrassment,
like an accused party on his first appearance in presence of his judge,
before whom he is, nevertheless, determined to assert his innocence. Her
arms were folded, her mouth primmed into an expression of respect,
mingled with obstinacy, her whole mind apparently bent up to the solemn
interview. With her best curtsey to the ground, and a mute motion of
reverence, Mause pointed to the chair, which, on former occasions, Lady
Margaret (for the good lady was somewhat of a gossip) had deigned to
occupy for half an hour sometimes at a time, hearing the news of the
county and of the borough. But at present her mistress was far too
indignant for such condescension. She rejected the mute invitation with a
haughty wave of her hand, and drawing herself up as she spoke, she
uttered the following interrogatory in a tone calculated to overwhelm the
"Is it true, Mause, as I am informed by Harrison, Gudyill, and others of
my people, that you hae taen it upon you, contrary to the faith you owe
to God and the king, and to me, your natural lady and mistress, to keep
back your son frae the wappen-schaw, held by the order of the sheriff,
and to return his armour and abulyiements at a moment when it was
impossible to find a suitable delegate in his stead, whereby the barony
of Tullietudlem, baith in the person of its mistress and indwellers, has
incurred sic a disgrace and dishonour as hasna befa'en the family since
the days of Malcolm Canmore?"
Mause's habitual respect for her mistress was extreme; she hesitated, and
one or two short coughs expressed the difficulty she had in defending
"I am sure--my leddy--hem, hem!--I am sure I am sorry--very sorry that
ony cause of displeasure should hae occurred--but my son's illness"--
"Dinna tell me of your son's illness, Mause! Had he been sincerely
unweel, ye would hae been at the Tower by daylight to get something that
wad do him gude; there are few ailments that I havena medical recipes
for, and that ye ken fu' weel."
"O ay, my leddy! I am sure ye hae wrought wonderful cures; the last thing
ye sent Cuddie, when he had the batts, e'en wrought like a charm."
"Why, then, woman, did ye not apply to me, if there was only real need?--
but there was none, ye fause-hearted vassal that ye are!"
"Your leddyship never ca'd me sic a word as that before. Ohon! that I
suld live to be ca'd sae," she continued, bursting into tears, "and me a
born servant o' the house o' Tillietudlem! I am sure they belie baith
Cuddie and me sair, if they said he wadna fight ower the boots in blude
for your leddyship and Miss Edith, and the auld Tower--ay suld he, and I
would rather see him buried beneath it, than he suld gie way--but thir
ridings and wappenschawings, my leddy, I hae nae broo o' them ava. I can
find nae warrant for them whatsoever."
"Nae warrant for them?" cried the high-born dame. "Do ye na ken, woman,
that ye are bound to be liege vassals in all hunting, hosting, watching,
and warding, when lawfully summoned thereto in my name? Your service is
not gratuitous. I trow ye hae land for it.--Ye're kindly tenants; hae a
cot-house, a kale-yard, and a cow's grass on the common.--Few hae been
brought farther ben, and ye grudge your son suld gie me a day's service
in the field?"
"Na, my leddy--na, my leddy, it's no that," exclaimed Mause, greatly
embarrassed, "but ane canna serve twa maisters; and, if the truth maun
e'en come out, there's Ane abune whase commands I maun obey before your
leddyship's. I am sure I would put neither king's nor kaisar's, nor ony
earthly creature's, afore them."
"How mean ye by that, ye auld fule woman?--D'ye think that I order ony
thing against conscience?"
"I dinna pretend to say that, my leddy, in regard o' your leddyship's
conscience, which has been brought up, as it were, wi' prelatic
principles; but ilka ane maun walk by the light o' their ain; and mine,"
said Mause, waxing bolder as the conference became animated, "tells me
that I suld leave a'--cot, kale-yard, and cow's grass--and suffer a',
rather than that I or mine should put on harness in an unlawfu' cause,"
"Unlawfu'!" exclaimed her mistress; "the cause to which you are called by
your lawful leddy and mistress--by the command of the king--by the writ
of the privy council--by the order of the lordlieutenant--by the warrant
of the sheriff?"
"Ay, my leddy, nae doubt; but no to displeasure your leddyship, ye'll
mind that there was ance a king in Scripture they ca'd Nebuchadnezzar,
and he set up a golden image in the plain o' Dura, as it might be in the
haugh yonder by the water-side, where the array were warned to meet
yesterday; and the princes, and the governors, and the captains, and the
judges themsells, forby the treasurers, the counsellors, and the
sheriffs, were warned to the dedication thereof, and commanded to fall
down and worship at the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut,
psaltery, and all kinds of music."
"And what o' a' this, ye fule wife? Or what had Nebuchadnezzar to do with
the wappen-schaw of the Upper Ward of Clydesdale?"
"Only just thus far, my leddy," continued Mause, firmly, "that prelacy is
like the great golden image in the plain of Dura, and that as Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, were borne out in refusing to bow down and
worship, so neither shall Cuddy Headrigg, your leddyship's poor
pleughman, at least wi' his auld mither's consent, make murgeons or
Jenny-flections, as they ca' them, in the house of the prelates and
curates, nor gird him wi' armour to fight in their cause, either at the
sound of kettle-drums, organs, bagpipes, or ony other kind of music
Lady Margaret Bellenden heard this exposition of Scripture with the
greatest possible indignation, as well as surprise.
"I see which way the wind blaws," she exclaimed, after a pause of
astonishment; "the evil spirit of the year sixteen hundred and forty-twa
is at wark again as merrily as ever, and ilka auld wife in the
chimley-neuck will be for knapping doctrine wi' doctors o' divinity and
the godly fathers o' the church."
"If your leddyship means the bishops and curates, I'm sure they hae been
but stepfathers to the Kirk o' Scotland. And, since your leddyship is
pleased to speak o' parting wi' us, I am free to tell you a piece o' my
mind in another article. Your leddyship and the steward hae been pleased
to propose that my son Cuddie suld work in the barn wi' a new-fangled
machine [Note: Probably something similar to the barn-fanners now used
for winnowing corn, which were not, however, used in their present shape
until about 1730. They were objected to by the more rigid sectaries on
their first introduction, upon such reasoning as that of honest Mause in
the text.] for dighting the corn frae the chaff, thus impiously thwarting
the will of Divine Providence, by raising wind for your leddyship's ain
particular use by human art, instead of soliciting it by prayer, or
waiting patiently for whatever dispensation of wind Providence was
pleased to send upon the sheeling-hill. Now, my leddy"--"The woman would
drive ony reasonable being daft!" said Lady Margaret; then resuming her
tone of authority and indifference, she concluded, "Weel, Mause, I'll
just end where I sud hae begun--ye're ower learned and ower godly for me
to dispute wi'; sae I have just this to say,--either Cuddie must attend
musters when he's lawfully warned by the ground officer, or the sooner he
and you flit and quit my bounds the better; there's nae scarcity o' auld
wives or ploughmen; but, if there were, I had rather that the rigs of
Tillietudlem bare naething but windle-straes and sandy lavrocks [Note:
Bent-grass and sand-larks.] than that they were ploughed by rebels to the
"Aweel, my leddy," said Mause, "I was born here, and thought to die where
my father died; and your leddyship has been a kind mistress, I'll ne'er
deny that, and I'se ne'er cease to pray for you, and for Miss Edith, and
that ye may be brought to see the error of your ways. But still"--"The
error of my ways!" interrupted Lady Margaret, much incensed--"The error
of my ways, ye uncivil woman?"
"Ou, ay, my leddy, we are blinded that live in this valley of tears and
darkness, and hae a' ower mony errors, grit folks as weel as sma'--but,
as I said, my puir bennison will rest wi' you and yours wherever I am. I
will be wae to hear o' your affliction, and blithe to hear o' your
prosperity, temporal and spiritual. But I canna prefer the commands of an
earthly mistress to those of a heavenly master, and sae I am e'en ready
to suffer for righteousness' sake."
"It is very well," said Lady Margaret, turning her back in great
displeasure; "ye ken my will, Mause, in the matter. I'll hae nae whiggery
in the barony of Tillietudlem--the next thing wad be to set up a
conventicle in my very withdrawing room."
Having said this, she departed, with an air of great dignity; and Mause,
giving way to feelings which she had suppressed during the interview,--
for she, like her mistress, had her own feeling of pride,--now lifted up
her voice and wept aloud.
Cuddie, whose malady, real or pretended, still detained him in bed, lay
perdu during all this conference, snugly ensconced within his boarded
bedstead, and terrified to death lest Lady Margaret, whom he held in
hereditary reverence, should have detected his presence, and bestowed on
him personally some of those bitter reproaches with which she loaded his
mother. But as soon as he thought her ladyship fairly out of hearing, he
bounced up in his nest.
"The foul fa' ye, that I suld say sae," he cried out to his mother, "for
a lang-tongued clavering wife, as my father, honest man, aye ca'd ye!
Couldna ye let the leddy alane wi' your whiggery? And I was e'en as great
a gomeral to let ye persuade me to lie up here amang the blankets like a
hurcheon, instead o' gaun to the wappen-schaw like other folk. Odd, but I
put a trick on ye, for I was out at the window-bole when your auld back
was turned, and awa down by to hae a baff at the popinjay, and I shot
within twa on't. I cheated the leddy for your clavers, but I wasna gaun
to cheat my joe. But she may marry whae she likes now, for I'm clean dung
ower. This is a waur dirdum than we got frae Mr Gudyill when ye garr'd me
refuse to eat the plum-porridge on Yule-eve, as if it were ony matter to
God or man whether a pleughman had suppit on minched pies or sour
"O, whisht, my bairn, whisht," replied Mause; "thou kensna about thae
things--It was forbidden meat, things dedicated to set days and holidays,
which are inhibited to the use of protestant Christians."
"And now," continued her son, "ye hae brought the leddy hersell on our
hands!--An I could but hae gotten some decent claes in, I wad hae spanged
out o' bed, and tauld her I wad ride where she liked, night or day, an
she wad but leave us the free house and the yaird, that grew the best
early kale in the haill country, and the cow's grass."
"O wow! my winsome bairn, Cuddie," continued the old dame, "murmur not at
the dispensation; never grudge suffering in the gude cause."
"But what ken I if the cause is gude or no, mither," rejoined Cuddie,
"for a' ye bleeze out sae muckle doctrine about it? It's clean beyond my
comprehension a'thegither. I see nae sae muckle difference atween the twa
ways o't as a' the folk pretend. It's very true the curates read aye the
same words ower again; and if they be right words, what for no? A gude
tale's no the waur o' being twice tauld, I trow; and a body has aye the
better chance to understand it. Every body's no sae gleg at the uptake as
ye are yoursell, mither."
"O, my dear Cuddie, this is the sairest distress of a'," said the anxious
mother--"O, how aften have I shown ye the difference between a pure
evangelical doctrine, and ane that's corrupt wi' human inventions? O, my
bairn, if no for your ain saul's sake, yet for my grey hairs"--"Weel,
mither," said Cuddie, interrupting her, "what need ye mak sae muckle din
about it? I hae aye dune whate'er ye bade me, and gaed to kirk whare'er
ye likit on the Sundays, and fended weel for ye in the ilka days besides.
And that's what vexes me mair than a' the rest, when I think how I am to
fend for ye now in thae brickle times. I am no clear if I can pleugh ony
place but the Mains and Mucklewhame, at least I never tried ony other
grund, and it wadna come natural to me. And nae neighbouring heritors
will daur to take us, after being turned aff thae bounds for
"Non-conformity, hinnie," sighed Mause, "is the name that thae warldly
men gie us."
"Weel, aweel--we'll hae to gang to a far country, maybe twall or fifteen
miles aff. I could be a dragoon, nae doubt, for I can ride and play wi'
the broadsword a bit, but ye wad be roaring about your blessing and your
grey hairs." (Here Mause's exclamations became extreme.) "Weel, weel, I
but spoke o't; besides, ye're ower auld to be sitting cocked up on a
baggage-waggon wi' Eppie Dumblane, the corporal's wife. Sae what's to
come o' us I canna weel see--I doubt I'll hae to tak the hills wi' the
wild whigs, as they ca' them, and then it will be my lo to be shot down
like a mawkin at some dikeside, or to be sent to heaven wi' a Saint
Johnstone's tippit about my hause."
"O, my bonnie Cuddie," said the zealous Mause, "forbear sic carnal,
self-seeking language, whilk is just a misdoubting o' Providence--I have
not seen the son of the righteous begging his bread, sae says the text;
and your father was a douce honest man, though somewhat warldly in his
dealings, and cumbered about earthly things, e'en like yoursell, my jo!"
"Aweel," said Cuddie, after a little consideration, "I see but ae gate
for't, and that's a cauld coal to blaw at, mither. Howsomever, mither, ye
hae some guess o' a wee bit kindness that's atween Miss Edith and young
Mr Henry Morton, that suld be ca'd young Milnwood, and that I hae whiles
carried a bit book, or maybe a bit letter, quietly atween them, and made
believe never to ken wha it cam frae, though I kend brawly. There's
whiles convenience in a body looking a wee stupid--and I have aften seen
them walking at e'en on the little path by Dinglewood-burn; but naebody
ever kend a word about it frae Cuddie; I ken I'm gay thick in the head,
but I'm as honest as our auld fore-hand ox, puir fallow, that I'll ne'er
work ony mair--I hope they'll be as kind to him that come ahint me as I
hae been.--But, as I was saying, we'll awa down to Milnwood and tell Mr
Harry our distress They want a pleughman, and the grund's no unlike our
ain--I am sure Mr Harry will stand my part, for he's a kind-hearted
gentleman.--I'll get but little penny-fee, for his uncle, auld Nippie
Milnwood, has as close a grip as the deil himsell. But we'l, aye win a
bit bread, and a drap kale, and a fire-side and theeking ower our heads,
and that's a' we'll want for a season.--Sae get up, mither, and sort your
things to gang away; for since sae it is that gang we maun, I wad like
ill to wait till Mr Harrison and auld Gudyill cam to pu' us out by the
lug and the horn."
The devil a puritan, or any thing else he is, but a time-server.
It was evening when Mr Henry Morton perceived an old woman, wrapped in
her tartan plaid, supported by a stout, stupid-looking fellow, in
hoddin-grey, approach the house of Milnwood. Old Mause made her courtesy,
but Cuddie took the lead in addressing Morton. Indeed, he had previously
stipulated with his mother that he was to manage matters his own way; for
though he readily allowed his general inferiority of understanding, and
filially submitted to the guidance of his mother on most ordinary
occasions, yet he said, "For getting a service, or getting forward in the
warld, he could somegate gar the wee pickle sense he had gang muckle
farther than hers, though she could crack like ony minister o' them a'."
Accordingly, he thus opened the conversation with young Morton: "A braw
night this for the rye, your honour; the west park will be breering
bravely this e'en."
"I do not doubt it, Cuddie; but what can have brought your mother--this
is your mother, is it not?" (Cuddie nodded.) "What can have brought your
mother and you down the water so late?"
"Troth, stir, just what gars the auld wives trot--neshessity, stir--I'm
seeking for service, stir."
"For service, Cuddie, and at this time of the year? how comes that?"
Mause could forbear no longer. Proud alike of her cause and her
sufferings, she commenced with an affected humility of tone, "It has
pleased Heaven, an it like your honour, to distinguish us by a
visitation"--"Deil's in the wife and nae gude!" whispered Cuddie to his
mother, "an ye come out wi' your whiggery, they'll no daur open a door to
us through the haill country!" Then aloud and addressing Morton, "My
mother's auld, stir, and she has rather forgotten hersell in speaking to
my leddy, that canna weel bide to be contradickit, (as I ken nae-body
likes it if they could help themsells,) especially by her ain folk,--and
Mr Harrison the steward, and Gudyill the butler, they're no very fond o'
us, and it's ill sitting at Rome and striving wi' the Pope; sae I thought
it best to flit before ill came to waur--and here's a wee bit line to
your honour frae a friend will maybe say some mair about it."
Morton took the billet, and crimsoning up to the ears, between joy and
surprise, read these words: "If you can serve these poor helpless people,
you will oblige E. B."
It was a few instants before he could attain composure enough to ask,
"And what is your object, Cuddie? and how can I be of use to you?"
"Wark, stir, wark, and a service, is my object--a bit beild for my mither
and mysell--we hae gude plenishing o' our ain, if we had the cast o' a
cart to bring it down--and milk and meal, and greens enow, for I'm gay
gleg at meal-time, and sae is my mither, lang may it be sae--And, for the
penny-fee and a' that, I'll just leave it to the laird and you. I ken
ye'll no see a poor lad wranged, if ye can help it."
Morton shook his head. "For the meat and lodging, Cuddie, I think I can
promise something; but the penny-fee will be a hard chapter, I doubt."
"I'll tak my chance o't, stir," replied the candidate for service,
"rather than gang down about Hamilton, or ony sic far country."
"Well; step into the kitchen, Cuddie, and I'll do what I can for you."
The negotiation was not without difficulties. Morton had first to bring
over the housekeeper, who made a thousand objections, as usual, in order
to have the pleasure of being besought and entreated; but, when she was
gained over, it was comparatively easy to induce old Milnwood to accept
of a servant, whose wages were to be in his own option. An outhouse was,
therefore, assigned to Mause and her son for their habitation, and it was
settled that they were for the time to be admitted to eat of the frugal
fare provided for the family, until their own establishment should be
completed. As for Morton, he exhausted his own very slender stock of
money in order to make Cuddie such a present, under the name of arles, as
might show his sense of the value of the recommendation delivered to him.
"And now we're settled ance mair," said: Cuddie to his mother, "and if
we're no sae bien and comfortable as we were up yonder, yet life's life
ony gate, and we're wi' decent kirk-ganging folk o' your ain persuasion,
mither; there will be nae quarrelling about that."
"Of my persuasion, hinnie!" said the too-enlightened Mause; "wae's me for
thy blindness and theirs. O, Cuddie, they are but in the court of the
Gentiles, and will ne'er win farther ben, I doubt; they are but little
better than the prelatists themsells. They wait on the ministry of that
blinded man, Peter Poundtext, ance a precious teacher of the Word, but
now a backsliding pastor, that has, for the sake of stipend and family
maintenance, forsaken the strict path, and gane astray after the black
Indulgence. O, my son, had ye but profited by the gospel doctrines ye hae
heard in the Glen of Bengonnar, frae the dear Richard Rumbleberry, that
sweet youth, who suffered martyrdom in the Grassmarket, afore Candlemas!
Didna ye hear him say, that Erastianism was as bad as Prelacy, and that
the Indulgence was as bad as Erastianism?"
"Heard ever ony body the like o' this!" interrupted Cuddie; "we'll be
driven out o' house and ha' again afore we ken where to turn oursells.
Weej, mither, I hae just ae word mair--An I hear ony mair o' your din--
afore folk, that is, for I dinna mind your clavers mysell, they aye set
me sleeping--but if I hear ony mair din afore folk, as I was saying,
about Poundtexts and Rumbleberries, and doctrines and malignants, I'se
e'en turn a single sodger mysell, or maybe a sergeant or a captain, if ye
plague me the mair, and let Rumbleberry and you gang to the deil
thegither. I ne'er gat ony gude by his doctrine, as ye ca't, but a sour
fit o' the batts wi' sitting amang the wat moss-hags for four hours at a
yoking, and the leddy cured me wi' some hickery-pickery; mair by token,
an she had kend how I came by the disorder, she wadna hae been in sic a
hurry to mend it."
Although groaning in spirit over the obdurate and impenitent state, as
she thought it, of her son Cuddie, Mause durst neither urge him farther
on the topic, nor altogether neglect the warning he had given her. She
knew the disposition of her deceased helpmate, whom this surviving pledge
of their union greatly resembled, and remembered, that although
submitting implicitly in most things to her boast of superior acuteness,
he used on certain occasions, when driven to extremity, to be seized with
fits of obstinacy, which neither remonstrance, flattery, nor threats,
were capable of overpowering. Trembling, therefore, at the very
possibility of Cuddie's fulfilling his threat, she put a guard over her
tongue, and even when Poundtext was commended in her presence, as an able
and fructifying preacher, she had the good sense to suppress the
contradiction which thrilled upon her tongue, and to express her
sentiments no otherwise than by deep groans, which the hearers charitably
construed to flow from a vivid recollection of the more pathetic parts of
his homilies. How long she could have repressed her feelings it is
difficult to say. An unexpected accident relieved her from the necessity.
The Laird of Milnwood kept up all old fashions which were connected with
economy. It was, therefore, still the custom in his house, as it had been
universal in Scotland about fifty years before, that the domestics, after
having placed the dinner on the table, sate down at the lower end of the
board, and partook of the share which was assigned to them, in company
with their masters. On the day, therefore, after Cuddie's arrival, being
the third from the opening of this narrative, old Robin, who was butler,
valet-de-chambre, footman, gardener, and what not, in the house of
Milnwood, placed on the table an immense charger of broth, thickened with
oatmeal and colewort, in which ocean of liquid was indistinctly
discovered, by close observers, two or three short ribs of lean mutton
sailing to and fro. Two huge baskets, one of bread made of barley and
pease, and one of oat-cakes, flanked this standing dish. A large boiled
salmon would now-a-days have indicated more liberal house-keeping; but at
that period salmon was caught in such plenty in the considerable rivers
in Scotland, that instead of being accounted a delicacy, it was generally
applied to feed the servants, who are said sometimes to have stipulated
that they should not be required to eat a food so luscious and surfeiting
in its quality above five times a-week. The large black jack, filled with
very small beer of Milnwood's own brewing, was allowed to the company at
discretion, as were the bannocks, cakes, and broth; but the mutton was
reserved for the heads of the family, Mrs Wilson included: and a measure
of ale, somewhat deserving the name, was set apart in a silver tankard
for their exclusive use. A huge kebbock, (a cheese, that is, made with
ewemilk mixed with cow's milk,) and a jar of salt butter, were in common
to the company.
To enjoy this exquisite cheer, was placed, at the head of the table, the
old Laird himself, with his nephew on the one side, and the favourite
housekeeper on the other. At a long interval, and beneath the salt of
course, sate old Robin, a meagre, half-starved serving-man, rendered
cross and cripple by rheumatism, and a dirty drab of a housemaid, whom
use had rendered callous to the daily exercitations which her temper
underwent at the hands of her master and Mrs Wilson. A barnman, a
white-headed cow-herd boy, with Cuddie the new ploughman and his mother,
completed the party. The other labourers belonging to the property
resided in their own houses, happy at least in this, that if their cheer
was not more delicate than that which we have described, they could eat
their fill, unwatched by the sharp, envious grey eyes of Milnwood, which
seemed to measure the quantity that each of his dependents swallowed, as
closely as if their glances attended each mouthful in its progress from
the lips to the stomach. This close inspection was unfavourable to
Cuddie, who sustained much prejudice in his new master's opinion, by the
silent celerity with which he caused the victuals to disappear before
him. And ever and anon Milnwood turned his eyes from the huge feeder to
cast indignant glances upon his nephew, whose repugnance to rustic labour
was the principal cause of his needing a ploughman, and who had been the
direct means of his hiring this very cormorant.
"Pay thee wages, quotha?" said Milnwood to himself,--"Thou wilt eat in a
week the value of mair than thou canst work for in a month."
These disagreeable ruminations were interrupted by a loud knocking at the
outer-gate. It was a universal custom in Scotland, that, when the family
was at dinner, the outer-gate of the courtyard, if there was one, and if
not, the door of the house itself, was always shut and locked, and only
guests of importance, or persons upon urgent business, sought or received
admittance at that time.
[Note: Locking the Door during Dinner. The custom of keeping the
door of a house or chateau locked during the time of dinner,
probably arose from the family being anciently assembled in the hall
at that meal, and liable to surprise. But it was in many instances
continued as a point of high etiquette, of which the following is an
A considerable landed proprietor in Dumfries-shire, being a
bachelor, without near relations, and determined to make his will,
resolved previously to visit his two nearest kinsmen, and decide
which should be his heir, according to the degree of kindness with
which he should be received. Like a good clansman, he first visited
his own chief, a baronet in rank, descendant and representative of
one of the oldest families in Scotland. Unhappily the dinner-bell
had rung, and the door of the castle had been locked before his
arrival. The visitor in vain announced his name and requested
admittance; but his chief adhered to the ancient etiquette, and
would on no account suffer the doors to be unbarred. Irritated at
this cold reception, the old Laird rode on to Sanquhar Castle, then
the residence of the Duke of Queensberry, who no sooner heard his
name, than, knowing well he had a will to make, the drawbridge
dropped, and the gates flew open--the table was covered anew--his
grace's bachelor and intestate kinsman was received with the utmost
attention and respect; and it is scarcely necessary to add, that
upon his death some years after, the visitor's considerable landed
property went to augment the domains of the Ducal House of
Queensberry. This happened about the end of the seventeenth
The family of Milnwood were therefore surprised, and, in the unsettled
state of the times, something alarmed, at the earnest and repeated
knocking with which the gate was now assailed. Mrs Wilson ran in person
to the door, and, having reconnoitred those who were so clamorous for
admittance, through some secret aperture with which most Scottish
door-ways were furnished for the express purpose, she returned wringing
her hands in great dismay, exclaiming, "The red-coats! the red-coats!"
"Robin--Ploughman--what ca' they ye?--Barnsman--Nevoy Harry--open the
door, open the door!" exclaimed old Milnwood, snatching up and slipping
into his pocket the two or three silver spoons with which the upper end
of the table was garnished, those beneath the salt being of goodly horn.
"Speak them fair, sirs--Lord love ye, speak them fair--they winna bide
thrawing--we're a' harried--we're a' harried!"
While the servants admitted the troopers, whose oaths and threats already
indicated resentment at the delay they had been put to, Cuddie took the
opportunity to whisper to his mother, "Now, ye daft auld carline, mak
yoursell deaf--ye hae made us a' deaf ere now--and let me speak for ye. I
wad like ill to get my neck raxed for an auld wife's clashes, though ye
be our mither."
"O, hinny, ay; I'se be silent or thou sall come to ill," was the
corresponding whisper of Mause "but bethink ye, my dear, them that deny
the Word, the Word will deny"--Her admonition was cut short by the
entrance of the Life-Guardsmen, a party of four troopers, commanded by
In they tramped, making a tremendous clatter upon the stone-floor with
the iron-shod heels of their large jack-boots, and the clash and clang of
their long, heavy, basket-hilted broadswords. Milnwood and his
housekeeper trembled, from wellgrounded apprehensions of the system of
exaction and plunder carried on during these domiciliary visits. Henry
Morton was discomposed with more special cause, for he remembered that he
stood answerable to the laws for having harboured Burley. The widow Mause
Headrigg, between fear for her son's life and an overstrained and
enthusiastic zeal, which reproached her for consenting even tacitly to
belie her religious sentiments, was in a strange quandary. The other
servants quaked for they knew not well what. Cuddie alone, with the look
of supreme indifference and stupidity which a Scottish peasant can at
times assume as a mask for considerable shrewdness and craft, continued
to swallow large spoonfuls of his broth, to command which he had drawn
within his sphere the large vessel that contained it, and helped himself,
amid the confusion, to a sevenfold portion.
"What is your pleasure here, gentlemen?" said Milnwood, humbling himself
before the satellites of power.
"We come in behalf of the king," answered Bothwell; "why the devil did
you keep us so long standing at the door?"
"We were at dinner," answered Milnwood, "and the door was locked, as is
usual in landward towns [Note: The Scots retain the use of the word town
in its comprehensive Saxon meaning, as a place of habitation. A mansion
or a farm house, though solitary, is called the town. A landward town is
a dwelling situated in the country.] in this country. I am sure,
gentlemen, if I had kend ony servants of our gude king had stood at the
door--But wad ye please to drink some ale--or some brandy--or a cup of
canary sack, or claret wine?" making a pause between each offer as long
as a stingy bidder at an auction, who is loath to advance his offer for a
"Claret for me," said one fellow.
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