Rob Roy, Complete, Illustrated
Sir Walter Scott
Part 10 out of 10
shook his head--"I see how it is--I see how it is. But say naething about
it--there's a gude callant; and charge that lang-tongued, conceited,
upsetting serving man o' yours, to sae naething neither. I wadna for ever
sae muckle that even the lassock Mattie ken'd onything about it. I wad
never hear an end o't."
He was obviously relieved from his impending fears of ridicule, when I
told him it was my father's intention to leave Glasgow almost
immediately. Indeed he had now no motive for remaining, since the most
valuable part of the papers carried off by Rashleigh had been recovered.
For that portion which he had converted into cash and expended in his own
or on political intrigues, there was no mode of recovering it but by a
suit at law, which was forthwith commenced, and proceeded, as our
law-agents assured us, with all deliberate speed.
We spent, accordingly, one hospitable day with the Bailie, and took leave
of him, as this narrative now does. He continued to grow in wealth,
honour, and credit, and actually rose to the highest civic honours in his
native city. About two years after the period I have mentioned, he tired
of his bachelor life, and promoted Mattie from her wheel by the kitchen
fire to the upper end of his table, in the character of Mrs. Jarvie.
Bailie Grahame, the MacVitties, and others (for all men have their
enemies, especially in the council of a royal burgh), ridiculed this
transformation. "But," said Mr. Jarvie, "let them say their say. I'll
ne'er fash mysell, nor lose my liking for sae feckless a matter as a nine
days' clash. My honest father the deacon had a byword,
Brent brow and lily skin,
A loving heart, and a leal within,
Is better than gowd or gentle kin.
Besides," as he always concluded, "Mattie was nae ordinary lassock-quean;
she was akin to the Laird o' Limmerfield."
Whether it was owing to her descent or her good gifts, I do not presume
to decide; but Mattie behaved excellently in her exaltation, and relieved
the apprehensions of some of the Bailie's friends, who had deemed his
experiment somewhat hazardous. I do not know that there was any other
incident of his quiet and useful life worthy of being particularly
"Come ye hither my 'six' good sons,
Gallant men I trow ye be,
How many of you, my children dear,
Will stand by that good Earl and me?"
"Five" of them did answer make--
"Five" of them spoke hastily,
"O father, till the day we die,
We'll stand by that good Earl and thee."
The Rising in the North.
On the morning when we were to depart from Glasgow, Andrew Fairservice
bounced into my apartment like a madman, jumping up and down, and
singing, with more vehemence than tune,
The kiln's on fire--the kiln's on fire--
The kiln's on fire--she's a' in a lowe.
With some difficulty I prevailed on him to cease his confounded clamour,
and explain to me what the matter was. He was pleased to inform me, as if
he had been bringing the finest news imaginable, "that the Hielands were
clean broken out, every man o' them, and that Rob Roy, and a' his
breekless bands, wad be down upon Glasgow or twenty-four hours o' the
clock gaed round."
"Hold your tongue," said I, "you rascal! You must be drunk or mad; and if
there is any truth in your news, is it a singing matter, you scoundrel?"
"Drunk or mad? nae doubt," replied Andrew, dauntlessly; "ane's aye drunk
or mad if he tells what grit folks dinna like to hear--Sing? Od, the
clans will make us sing on the wrang side o' our mouth, if we are sae
drunk or mad as to bide their coming."
I rose in great haste, and found my father and Owen also on foot, and in
Andrew's news proved but too true in the main. The great rebellion which
agitated Britain in the year 1715 had already broken out, by the
unfortunate Earl of Mar's setting up the standard of the Stuart family in
an ill-omened hour, to the ruin of many honourable families, both in
England and Scotland. The treachery of some of the Jacobite agents
(Rashleigh among the rest), and the arrest of others, had made George the
First's Government acquainted with the extensive ramifications of a
conspiracy long prepared, and which at last exploded prematurely, and in
a part of the kingdom too distant to have any vital effect upon the
country, which, however, was plunged into much confusion.
This great public event served to confirm and elucidate the obscure
explanations I had received from MacGregor; and I could easily see why
the westland clans, who were brought against him, should have waived
their private quarrel, in consideration that they were all shortly to be
engaged in the same public cause. It was a more melancholy reflection to
my mind, that Diana Vernon was the wife of one of those who were most
active in turning the world upside down, and that she was herself exposed
to all the privations and perils of her husband's hazardous trade.
We held an immediate consultation on the measures we were to adopt in
this crisis, and acquiesced in my father's plan, that we should instantly
get the necessary passports, and make the best of our way to London. I
acquainted my father with my wish to offer my personal service to the
Government in any volunteer corps, several being already spoken of. He
readily acquiesced in my proposal; for though he disliked war as a
profession, yet, upon principle, no man would have exposed his life more
willingly in defence of civil and religious liberty.
We travelled in haste and in peril through Dumfriesshire and the
neighbouring counties of England. In this quarter, gentlemen of the Tory
interest were already in motion, mustering men and horses, while the
Whigs assembled themselves in the principal towns, armed the inhabitants,
and prepared for civil war. We narrowly escaped being stopped on more
occasions than one, and were often compelled to take circuitous routes to
avoid the points where forces were assembling.
When we reached London, we immediately associated with those bankers and
eminent merchants who agreed to support the credit of Government, and to
meet that run upon the funds, on which the conspirators had greatly
founded their hopes of furthering their undertaking, by rendering the
Government, as it were, bankrupt. My father was chosen one of the members
of this formidable body of the monied interest, as all had the greatest
confidence in his zeal, skill, and activity. He was also the organ by
which they communicated with Government, and contrived, from funds
belonging to his own house, or over which he had command, to find
purchasers for a quantity of the national stock, which was suddenly flung
into the market at a depreciated price when the rebellion broke out. I
was not idle myself, but obtained a commission, and levied, at my
father's expense, about two hundred men, with whom I joined General
The rebellion, in the meantime, had extended itself to England. The
unfortunate Earl of Derwentwater had taken arms in the cause, along with
General Foster. My poor uncle, Sir Hildebrand, whose estate was reduced
to almost nothing by his own carelessness and the expense and debauchery
of his sons and household, was easily persuaded to join that unfortunate
standard. Before doing so, however, he exhibited a degree of precaution
of which no one could have suspected him--he made his will!
By this document he devised his estates at Osbaldistone Hall, and so
forth, to his sons successively, and their male heirs, until he came to
Rashleigh, whom, on account of the turn he had lately taken in politics,
he detested with all his might,--he cut him off with a shilling, and
settled the estate on me as his next heir. I had always been rather a
favourite of the old gentleman; but it is probable that, confident in the
number of gigantic youths who now armed around him, he considered the
destination as likely to remain a dead letter, which he inserted chiefly
to show his displeasure at Rashleigh's treachery, both public and
domestic. There was an article, by which he, bequeathed to the niece of
his late wife, Diana Vernon, now Lady Diana Vernon Beauchamp, some
diamonds belonging to her late aunt, and a great silver ewer, having the
arms of Vernon and Osbaldistone quarterly engraven upon it.
But Heaven had decreed a more speedy extinction of his numerous and
healthy lineage, than, most probably, he himself had reckoned on. In the
very first muster of the conspirators, at a place called Green-Rigg,
Thorncliff Osbaldistone quarrelled about precedence with a gentleman of
the Northumbrian border, to the full as fierce and intractable as
himself. In spite of all remonstrances, they gave their commander a
specimen of how far their discipline might be relied upon, by fighting it
out with their rapiers, and my kinsman was killed on the spot. His death
was a great loss to Sir Hildebrand, for, notwithstanding his infernal
temper, he had a grain or two of more sense than belonged to the rest of
the brotherhood, Rashleigh always excepted.
Perceval, the sot, died also in his calling. He had a wager with another
gentleman (who, from his exploits in that line, had acquired the
formidable epithet of Brandy Swalewell), which should drink the largest
cup of strong liquor when King James was proclaimed by the insurgents at
Morpeth. The exploit was something enormous. I forget the exact quantity
of brandy which Percie swallowed, but it occasioned a fever, of which he
expired at the end of three days, with the word, _water, water,_
perpetually on his tongue.
Dickon broke his neck near Warrington Bridge, in an attempt to show off a
foundered blood-mare which he wished to palm upon a Manchester merchant
who had joined the insurgents. He pushed the animal at a five-barred
gate; she fell in the leap, and the unfortunate jockey lost his life.
Wilfred the fool, as sometimes befalls, had the best fortune of the
family. He was slain at Proud Preston, in Lancashire, on the day that
General Carpenter attacked the barricades, fighting with great bravery,
though I have heard he was never able exactly to comprehend the cause of
quarrel, and did not uniformly remember on which king's side he was
engaged. John also behaved very boldly in the same engagement, and
received several wounds, of which he was not happy enough to die on the
Old Sir Hildebrand, entirely brokenhearted by these successive losses,
became, by the next day's surrender, one of the unhappy prisoners, and
was lodged in Newgate with his wounded son John.
I was now released from my military duty, and lost no time, therefore, in
endeavouring to relieve the distresses of these new relations. My
father's interest with Government, and the general compassion excited by
a parent who had sustained the successive loss of so many sons within so
short a time, would have prevented my uncle and cousin from being brought
to trial for high treason. But their doom was given forth from a greater
tribunal. John died of his wounds in Newgate, recommending to me in his
last breath, a cast of hawks which he had at the Hall, and a black
spaniel bitch called Lucy.
My poor uncle seemed beaten down to the very earth by his family
calamities, and the circumstances in which he unexpectedly found himself.
He said little, but seemed grateful for such attentions as circumstances
permitted me to show him. I did not witness his meeting with my father
for the first time for so many years, and under circumstances so
melancholy; but, judging from my father's extreme depression of spirits,
it must have been melancholy in the last degree. Sir Hildebrand spoke
with great bitterness against Rashleigh, now his only surviving child;
laid upon him the ruin of his house, and the deaths of all his brethren,
and declared, that neither he nor they would have plunged into political
intrigue, but for that very member of his family, who had been the first
to desert them. He once or twice mentioned Diana, always with great
affection; and once he said, while I sate by his bedside--"Nevoy, since
Thorncliff and all of them are dead, I am sorry you cannot have her."
The expression affected me much at the time; for it was a usual custom of
the poor old baronet's, when joyously setting forth upon the morning's
chase, to distinguish Thorncliff, who was a favourite, while he summoned
the rest more generally; and the loud jolly tone in which he used to
hollo, "Call Thornie--call all of them," contrasted sadly with the
woebegone and self-abandoning note in which he uttered the disconsolate
words which I have above quoted. He mentioned the contents of his will,
and supplied me with an authenticated copy;--the original he had
deposited with my old acquaintance Mr. Justice Inglewood, who, dreaded by
no one, and confided in by all as a kind of neutral person, had become,
for aught I know, the depositary of half the wills of the fighting men of
both factions in the county of Northumberland.
The greater part of my uncle's last hours were spent in the discharge of
the religious duties of his church, in which he was directed by the
chaplain of the Sardinian ambassador, for whom, with some difficulty, we
obtained permission to visit him. I could not ascertain by my own
observation, or through the medical attendants, that Sir Hildebrand
Osbaldistone died of any formed complaint bearing a name in the science
of medicine. He seemed to me completely worn out and broken down by
fatigue of body and distress of mind, and rather ceased to exist, than
died of any positive struggle,--just as a vessel, buffeted and tossed by
a succession of tempestuous gales, her timbers overstrained, and her
joints loosened, will sometimes spring a leak and founder, when there are
no apparent causes for her destruction.
It was a remarkable circumstance that my father, after the last duties
were performed to his brother, appeared suddenly to imbibe a strong
anxiety that I should act upon the will, and represent his father's
house, which had hitherto seemed to be the thing in the world which had
least charms for him. But formerly, he had been like the fox in the
fable, contemning what was beyond his reach; and, moreover, I doubt not
that the excessive dislike which he entertained against Rashleigh (now
Sir Rashleigh) Osbaldistone, who loudly threatened to attack his father
Sir Hildebrand's will and settlement, corroborated my father's desire to
"He had been most unjustly disinherited," he said, "by his own
father--his brother's will had repaired the disgrace, if not the injury,
by leaving the wreck of his property to Frank, the natural heir, and he
was determined the bequest should take effect."
In the meantime, Rashleigh was not altogether a contemptible personage as
an opponent. The information he had given to Government was critically
well-timed, and his extreme plausibility, with the extent of his
intelligence, and the artful manner in which he contrived to assume both
merit and influence, had, to a certain extent, procured him patrons among
Ministers. We were already in the full tide of litigation with him on the
subject of his pillaging the firm of Osbaldistone and Tresham; and,
judging from the progress we made in that comparatively simple lawsuit,
there was a chance that this second course of litigation might be drawn
out beyond the period of all our natural lives.
To avert these delays as much as possible, my father, by the advice of
his counsel learned in the law, paid off and vested in my person the
rights to certain large mortgages affecting Osbaldistone Hall. Perhaps,
however, the opportunity to convert a great share of the large profits
which accrued from the rapid rise of the funds upon the suppression of
the rebellion, and the experience he had so lately had of the perils of
commerce, encouraged him to realise, in this manner, a considerable part
of his property. At any rate, it so chanced, that, instead of commanding
me to the desk, as I fully expected, having intimated my willingness to
comply with his wishes, however they might destine me, I received his
directions to go down to Osbaldistone Hall, and take possession of it as
the heir and representative of the family. I was directed to apply to
Squire Inglewood for the copy of my uncle's will deposited with him, and
take all necessary measures to secure that possession which sages say
makes nine points of the law.
At another time I should have been delighted with this change of
destination. But now Osbaldistone Hall was accompanied with many painful
recollections. Still, however, I thought, that in that neighbourhood only
I was likely to acquire some information respecting the fate of Diana
Vernon. I had every reason to fear it must be far different from what I
could have wished it. But I could obtain no precise information on the
It was in vain that I endeavoured, by such acts of kindness as their
situation admitted, to conciliate the confidence of some distant
relations who were among the prisoners in Newgate. A pride which I could
not condemn, and a natural suspicion of the Whig Frank Osbaldistone,
cousin to the double-distilled traitor Rashleigh, closed every heart and
tongue, and I only received thanks, cold and extorted, in exchange for
such benefits as I had power to offer. The arm of the law was also
gradually abridging the numbers of those whom I endeavoured to serve, and
the hearts of the survivors became gradually more contracted towards all
whom they conceived to be concerned with the existing Government. As they
were led gradually, and by detachments, to execution, those who survived
lost interest in mankind, and the desire of communicating with them. I
shall long remember what one of them, Ned Shafton by name, replied to my
anxious inquiry, whether there was any indulgence I could procure him?
"Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, I must suppose you mean me kindly, and therefore
I thank you. But, by G--, men cannot be fattened like poultry, when they
see their neighbours carried off day by day to the place of execution,
and know that their own necks are to be twisted round in their turn."
Upon the whole, therefore, I was glad to escape from London, from
Newgate, and from the scenes which both exhibited, to breathe the free
air of Northumberland. Andrew Fairservice had continued in my service
more from my father's pleasure than my own. At present there seemed a
prospect that his local acquaintance with Osbaldistone Hall and its
vicinity might be useful; and, of course, he accompanied me on my
journey, and I enjoyed the prospect of getting rid of him, by
establishing him in his old quarters. I cannot conceive how he could
prevail upon my father to interest himself in him, unless it were by the
art, which he possessed in no inconsiderable degree, of affecting an
extreme attachment to his master; which theoretical attachment he made
compatible in practice with playing all manner of tricks without scruple,
providing only against his master being cheated by any one but himself.
We performed our journey to the North without any remarkable adventure,
and we found the country, so lately agitated by rebellion, now peaceful
and in good order. The nearer we approached to Osbaldistone Hall, the
more did my heart sink at the thought of entering that deserted mansion;
so that, in order to postpone the evil day, I resolved first to make my
visit at Mr. Justice Inglewood's.
That venerable person had been much disturbed with thoughts of what he
had been, and what he now was; and natural recollections of the past had
interfered considerably with the active duty which in his present
situation might have been expected from him. He was fortunate, however,
in one respect; he had got rid of his clerk Jobson, who had finally left
him in dudgeon at his inactivity, and become legal assistant to a certain
Squire Standish, who had lately commenced operations in those parts as a
justice, with a zeal for King George and the Protestant succession,
which, very different from the feelings of his old patron, Mr. Jobson had
more occasion to restrain within the bounds of the law, than to stimulate
Old Justice Inglewood received me with great courtesy, and readily
exhibited my uncle's will, which seemed to be without a flaw. He was for
some time in obvious distress, how he should speak and act in my
presence; but when he found, that though a supporter of the present
Government upon principle, I was disposed to think with pity on those who
had opposed it on a mistaken feeling of loyalty and duty, his discourse
became a very diverting medley of what he had done, and what he had left
undone,--the pains he had taken to prevent some squires from joining, and
to wink at the escape of others, who had been so unlucky as to engage in
We were _tete-a'-tete,_ and several bumpers had been quaffed by the
Justice's special desire, when, on a sudden, he requested me to fill a
_bona fide_ brimmer to the health of poor dear Die Vernon, the rose of
the wilderness, the heath-bell of Cheviot, and the blossom that's
transplanted to an infernal convent.
"Is not Miss Vernon married, then?" I exclaimed, in great astonishment.
"I thought his Excellency"--
"Pooh! pooh! his Excellency and his Lordship's all a humbug now, you
know--mere St. Germains titles--Earl of Beauchamp, and ambassador
plenipotentiary from France, when the Duke Regent of Orleans scarce knew
that he lived, I dare say. But you must have seen old Sir Frederick
Vernon at the Hall, when he played the part of Father Vaughan?"
"Good Heavens! then Vaughan was Miss Vernon's father?"
"To be sure he was," said the Justice coolly;--"there's no use in
keeping the secret now, for he must be out of the country by this
time--otherwise, no doubt, it would be my duty to apprehend him.--Come,
off with your bumper to my dear lost Die!
And let her health go round, around, around,
And let her health go round;
For though your stocking be of silk,
Your knees near kiss the ground, aground, aground."*
* This pithy verse occurs, it is believed, in Shadwell's play of Bury
I was unable, as the reader may easily conceive, to join in the Justice's
jollity. My head swam with the shock I had received. "I never heard," I
said, "that Miss Vernon's father was living."
"It was not our Government's fault that he is," replied Inglewood, "for
the devil a man there is whose head would have brought more money. He was
condemned to death for Fenwick's plot, and was thought to have had some
hand in the Knightsbridge affair, in King William's time; and as he had
married in Scotland a relation of the house of Breadalbane, he possessed
great influence with all their chiefs. There was a talk of his being
demanded to be given up at the peace of Ryswick, but he shammed ill, and
his death was given publicly out in the French papers. But when he came
back here on the old score, we old cavaliers knew him well,--that is to
say, I knew him, not as being a cavalier myself, but no information being
lodged against the poor gentleman, and my memory being shortened by
frequent attacks of the gout, I could not have sworn to him, you know."
"Was he, then, not known at Osbaldistone Hall?" I inquired.
"To none but to his daughter, the old knight, and Rashleigh, who had got
at that secret as he did at every one else, and held it like a twisted
cord about poor Die's neck. I have seen her one hundred times she would
have spit at him, if it had not been fear for her father, whose life
would not have been worth five minutes' purchase if he had been
discovered to the Government.--But don't mistake me, Mr. Osbaldistone; I
say the Government is a good, a gracious, and a just Government; and if
it has hanged one-half of the rebels, poor things, all will acknowledge
they would not have been touched had they staid peaceably at home."
Waiving the discussion of these political questions, I brought back Mr.
Inglewood to his subject, and I found that Diana, having positively
refused to marry any of the Osbaldistone family, and expressed her
particular detestation of Rashleigh, he had from that time begun to cool
in zeal for the cause of the Pretender; to which, as the youngest of six
brethren, and bold, artful, and able, he had hitherto looked forward as
the means of making his fortune. Probably the compulsion with which he
had been forced to render up the spoils which he had abstracted from my
father's counting-house by the united authority of Sir Frederick Vernon
and the Scottish Chiefs, had determined his resolution to advance his
progress by changing his opinions and betraying his trust. Perhaps
also--for few men were better judges where his interest was concerned--he
considered their means and talents to be, as they afterwards proved,
greatly inadequate to the important task of overthrowing an established
Government. Sir Frederick Vernon, or, as he was called among the
Jacobites, his Excellency Viscount Beauchamp, had, with his daughter,
some difficulty in escaping the consequences of Rashleigh's information.
Here Mr. Inglewood's information was at fault; but he did not doubt,
since we had not heard of Sir Frederick being in the hands of the
Government, he must be by this time abroad, where, agreeably to the cruel
bond he had entered into with his brother-in-law, Diana, since she had
declined to select a husband out of the Osbaldistone family, must be
confined to a convent. The original cause of this singular agreement Mr.
Inglewood could not perfectly explain; but he understood it was a family
compact, entered into for the purpose of securing to Sir Frederick the
rents of the remnant of his large estates, which had been vested in the
Osbaldistone family by some legal manoeuvre; in short, a family compact,
in which, like many of those undertaken at that time of day, the feelings
of the principal parties interested were no more regarded than if they
had been a part of the live-stock upon the lands.
I cannot tell,--such is the waywardness of the human heart,--whether this
intelligence gave me joy or sorrow. It seemed to me, that, in the
knowledge that Miss Vernon was eternally divided from me, not by marriage
with another, but by seclusion in a convent, in order to fulfil an absurd
bargain of this kind, my regret for her loss was aggravated rather than
diminished. I became dull, low-spirited, absent, and unable to support
the task of conversing with Justice Inglewood, who in his turn yawned,
and proposed to retire early. I took leave of him overnight, determining
the next day, before breakfast, to ride over to Osbaldistone Hall.
Mr. Inglewood acquiesced in my proposal. "It would be well," he said,
"that I made my appearance there before I was known to be in the country,
the more especially as Sir Rashleigh Osbaldistone was now, he understood,
at Mr. Jobson's house, hatching some mischief, doubtless. They were fit
company," he added, "for each other, Sir Rashleigh having lost all right
to mingle in the society of men of honour; but it was hardly possible two
such d--d rascals should collogue together without mischief to honest
He concluded, by earnestly recommending a toast and tankard, and an
attack upon his venison pasty, before I set out in the morning, just to
break the cold air on the words.
His master's gone, and no one now
Dwells in the halls of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead,
He is the sole survivor.
There are few more melancholy sensations than those with which we regard
scenes of past pleasure when altered and deserted. In my ride to
Osbaldistone Hall, I passed the same objects which I had seen in company
with Miss Vernon on the day of our memorable ride from Inglewood Place.
Her spirit seemed to keep me company on the way; and when I approached
the spot where I had first seen her, I almost listened for the cry of the
hounds and the notes of the horn, and strained my eye on the vacant
space, as if to descry the fair huntress again descend like an apparition
from the hill. But all was silent, and all was solitary. When I reached
the Hall, the closed doors and windows, the grass-grown pavement, the
courts, which were now so silent, presented a strong contrast to the gay
and bustling scene I had so often seen them exhibit, when the merry
hunters were going forth to their morning sport, or returning to the
daily festival. The joyous bark of the fox-hounds as they were uncoupled,
the cries of the huntsmen, the clang of the horses' hoofs, the loud laugh
of the old knight at the head of his strong and numerous descendants,
were all silenced now and for ever.
While I gazed round the scene of solitude and emptiness, I was
inexpressibly affected, even by recollecting those whom, when alive, I
had no reason to regard with affection. But the thought that so many
youths of goodly presence, warm with life, health, and confidence, were
within so short a time cold in the grave, by various, yet all violent and
unexpected modes of death, afforded a picture of mortality at which the
mind trembled. It was little consolation to me, that I returned a
proprietor to the halls which I had left almost like a fugitive. My mind
was not habituated to regard the scenes around as my property, and I felt
myself an usurper, at least an intruding stranger, and could hardly
divest myself of the idea, that some of the bulky forms of my deceased
kinsmen were, like the gigantic spectres of a romance, to appear in the
gateway, and dispute my entrance.
While I was engaged in these sad thoughts, my follower Andrew, whose
feelings were of a very different nature, exerted himself in thundering
alternately on every door in the building, calling, at the same time, for
admittance, in a tone so loud as to intimate, that _he,_ at least, was
fully sensible of his newly acquired importance, as squire of the body to
the new lord of the manor. At length, timidly and reluctantly, Anthony
Syddall, my uncle's aged butler and major-domo, presented himself at a
lower window, well fenced with iron bars, and inquired our business.
"We are come to tak your charge aff your hand, my auld friend," said
Andrew Fairservice; "ye may gie up your keys as sune as ye like--ilka dog
has his day. I'll tak the plate and napery aff your hand. Ye hae had your
ain time o't, Mr. Syddall; but ilka bean has its black, and ilka path has
its puddle; and it will just set you henceforth to sit at the board-end,
as weel as it did Andrew lang syne."
Checking with some difficulty the forwardness of my follower, I explained
to Syddall the nature of my right, and the title I had to demand
admittance into the Hall, as into my own property. The old man seemed
much agitated and distressed, and testified manifest reluctance to give
me entrance, although it was couched in a humble and submissive tone. I
allowed for the agitation of natural feelings, which really did the old
man honour; but continued peremptory in my demand of admittance,
explaining to him that his refusal would oblige me to apply for Mr.
Inglewood's warrant, and a constable.
"We are come from Mr. Justice Inglewood's this morning," said Andrew, to
enforce the menace;--"and I saw Archie Rutledge, the constable, as I came
up by;--the country's no to be lawless as it has been, Mr. Syddall,
letting rebels and papists gang on as they best listed."
The threat of the law sounded dreadful in the old man's ears, conscious
as he was of the suspicion under which he himself lay, from his religion
and his devotion to Sir Hildebrand and his sons. He undid, with fear and
trembling, one of the postern entrances, which was secured with many a
bolt and bar, and humbly hoped that I would excuse him for fidelity in
the discharge of his duty.--I reassured him, and told him I had the
better opinion of him for his caution.
"Sae have not I," said Andrew; "Syddall is an auld sneck-drawer; he wadna
be looking as white as a sheet, and his knees knocking thegither, unless
it were for something mair than he's like to tell us."
"Lord forgive you, Mr. Fairservice," replied the butler, "to say such
things of an old friend and fellow-servant!--Where"--following me humbly
along the passage--"where would it be your honour's pleasure to have a
fire lighted? I fear me you will find the house very dull and dreary--But
perhaps you mean to ride back to Inglewood Place to dinner?"
"Light a fire in the library," I replied.
"In the library!" answered the old man;--"nobody has sat there this many
a day, and the room smokes, for the daws have built in the chimney this
spring, and there were no young men about the Hall to pull them down."
"Our ain reekes better than other folk's fire," said Andrew. "His honour
likes the library;--he's nane o' your Papishers, that delight in blinded
ignorance, Mr. Syddall."
Very reluctantly as it appeared to me, the butler led the way to the
library, and, contrary to what he had given me to expect, the interior of
the apartment looked as if it had been lately arranged, and made more
comfortable than usual. There was a fire in the grate, which burned
clearly, notwithstanding what Syddall had reported of the vent. Taking up
the tongs, as if to arrange the wood, but rather perhaps to conceal his
own confusion, the butler observed, "it was burning clear now, but had
smoked woundily in the morning."
Wishing to be alone, till I recovered myself from the first painful
sensations which everything around me recalled, I desired old Syddall to
call the land-steward, who lived at about a quarter of a mile from the
Hall. He departed with obvious reluctance. I next ordered Andrew to
procure the attendance of a couple of stout fellows upon whom he could
rely, the population around being Papists, and Sir Rashleigh, who was
capable of any desperate enterprise, being in the neighbourhood. Andrew
Fairservice undertook this task with great cheerfulness, and promised to
bring me up from Trinlay-Knowe, "twa true-blue Presbyterians like
himself, that would face and out-face baith the Pope, the Devil, and the
Pretender--and blythe will I be o' their company mysell, for the very
last night that I was at Osbaldistone Hall, the blight be on ilka blossom
in my bit yard, if I didna see that very picture" (pointing to the
full-length portrait of Miss Vernon's grandfather) "walking by moonlight
in the garden! I tauld your honour I was fleyed wi' a bogle that night,
but ye wadna listen to me--I aye thought there was witchcraft and
deevilry amang the Papishers, but I ne'er saw't wi' bodily een till that
"Get along, sir," said I, "and bring the fellows you talk of; and see
they have more sense than yourself, and are not frightened at their own
"I hae been counted as gude a man as my neighbours ere now," said Andrew,
petulantly; "but I dinna pretend to deal wi' evil spirits." And so he
made his exit, as Wardlaw the land-steward made his appearance.
He was a man of sense and honesty, without whose careful management my
uncle would have found it difficult to have maintained himself a
housekeeper so long as he did. He examined the nature of my right of
possession carefully, and admitted it candidly. To any one else the
succession would have been a poor one, so much was the land encumbered
with debt and mortgage. Most of these, however, were already vested in my
father's person, and he was in a train of acquiring the rest; his large
gains by the recent rise of the funds having made it a matter of ease and
convenience for him to pay off the debt which affected his patrimony.
I transacted much necessary business with Mr. Wardlaw, and detained him
to dine with me. We preferred taking our repast in the library, although
Syddall strongly recommended our removing to the stone-hall, which he had
put in order for the occasion. Meantime Andrew made his appearance with
his true-blue recruits, whom he recommended in the highest terms, as
"sober decent men, weel founded in doctrinal points, and, above all, as
bold as lions." I ordered them something to drink, and they left the
room. I observed old Syddall shake his head as they went out, and
insisted upon knowing the reason.
"I maybe cannot expect," he said, "that your honour should put confidence
in what I say, but it is Heaven's truth for all that--Ambrose Wingfield
is as honest a man as lives, but if there is a false knave in the
country, it is his brother Lancie;--the whole country knows him to be a
spy for Clerk Jobson on the poor gentlemen that have been in trouble--But
he's a dissenter, and I suppose that's enough now-a-days."
Having thus far given vent to his feelings,--to which, however, I was
little disposed to pay attention,--and having placed the wine on the
table, the old butler left the apartment.
Mr. Wardlaw having remained with me until the evening was somewhat
advanced, at length bundled up his papers, and removed himself to his own
habitation, leaving me in that confused state of mind in which we can
hardly say whether we desire company or solitude. I had not, however, the
choice betwixt them; for I was left alone in the room of all others most
calculated to inspire me with melancholy reflections.
As twilight was darkening the apartment, Andrew had the sagacity to
advance his head at the door,--not to ask if I wished for lights, but to
recommend them as a measure of precaution against the bogles which still
haunted his imagination. I rejected his proffer somewhat peevishly,
trimmed the wood-fire, and placing myself in one of the large leathern
chairs which flanked the old Gothic chimney, I watched unconsciously the
bickering of the blaze which I had fostered. "And this," said I alone,
"is the progress and the issue of human wishes! Nursed by the merest
trifles, they are first kindled by fancy--nay, are fed upon the vapour of
hope, till they consume the substance which they inflame; and man, and
his hopes, passions, and desires, sink into a worthless heap of embers
There was a deep sigh from the opposite side of the room, which seemed to
reply to my reflections. I started up in amazement--Diana Vernon stood
before me, resting on the arm of a figure so strongly resembling that of
the portrait so often mentioned, that I looked hastily at the frame,
expecting to see it empty. My first idea was, either that I had gone
suddenly distracted, or that the spirits of the dead had arisen and been
placed before me. A second glance convinced me of my being in my senses,
and that the forms which stood before me were real and substantial. It
was Diana herself, though paler and thinner than her former self; and it
was no tenant of the grave who stood beside her, but Vaughan, or rather
Sir Frederick Vernon, in a dress made to imitate that of his ancestor, to
whose picture his countenance possessed a family resemblance. He was the
first that spoke, for Diana kept her eyes fast fixed on the ground, and
astonishment actually riveted my tongue to the roof of my mouth.
"We are your suppliants, Mr. Osbaldistone," he said, "and we claim the
refuge and protection of your roof till we can pursue a journey where
dungeons and death gape for me at every step."
"Surely," I articulated with great difficulty--"Miss Vernon cannot
suppose--you, sir, cannot believe, that I have forgot your interference
in my difficulties, or that I am capable of betraying any one, much less
"I know it," said Sir Frederick; "yet it is with the most inexpressible
reluctance that I impose on you a confidence, disagreeable
perhaps--certainly dangerous--and which I would have specially wished
to have conferred on some one else. But my fate, which has chased me
through a life of perils and escapes, is now pressing me hard, and I
have no alternative."
At this moment the door opened, and the voice of the officious Andrew was
heard--"A'm bringin' in the caunles--Ye can light them gin ye like--Can
do is easy carried about wi' ane."
I ran to the door, which, as I hoped, I reached in time to prevent his
observing who were in the apartment, I turned him out with hasty
violence, shut the door after him, and locked it--then instantly
remembering his two companions below, knowing his talkative humour, and
recollecting Syddall's remark, that one of them was supposed to be a spy,
I followed him as fast as I could to the servants' hall, in which they
were assembled. Andrew's tongue was loud as I opened the door, but my
unexpected appearance silenced him.
"What is the matter with you, you fool?" said I; "you stare and look
wild, as if you had seen a ghost."
"N--n--no--nothing," said Andrew.--"but your worship was pleased to be
"Because you disturbed me out of a sound sleep, you fool. Syddall tells
me he cannot find beds for these good fellows tonight, and Mr. Wardlaw
thinks there will be no occasion to detain them. Here is a crown-piece
for them to drink my health, and thanks for their good-will. You will
leave the Hall immediately, my good lads."
The men thanked me for my bounty, took the silver, and withdrew,
apparently unsuspicious and contented. I watched their departure until I
was sure they could have no further intercourse that night with honest
Andrew. And so instantly had I followed on his heels, that I thought he
could not have had time to speak two words with them before I interrupted
him. But it is wonderful what mischief may be done by only two words. On
this occasion they cost two lives.
Having made these arrangements, the best which occurred to me upon the
pressure of the moment, to secure privacy for my guests, I returned to
report my proceedings, and added, that I had desired Syddall to answer
every summons, concluding that it was by his connivance they had been
secreted in the Hall. Diana raised her eyes to thank me for the caution.
"You now understand my mystery," she said;--"you know, doubtless, how
near and dear that relative is, who has so often found shelter here; and
will be no longer surprised that Rashleigh, having such a secret at his
command, should rule me with a rod of iron."
Her father added, "that it was their intention to trouble me with their
presence as short a time as was possible."
I entreated the fugitives to waive every consideration but what affected
their safety, and to rely on my utmost exertions to promote it. This led
to an explanation of the circumstances under which they stood.
"I always suspected Rashleigh Osbaldistone," said Sir Frederick; "but his
conduct towards my unprotected child, which with difficulty I wrung from
her, and his treachery in your father's affairs, made me hate and despise
him. In our last interview I concealed not my sentiments, as I should in
prudence have attempted to do; and in resentment of the scorn with which
I treated him, he added treachery and apostasy to his catalogue of
crimes. I at that time fondly hoped that his defection would be of little
consequence. The Earl of Mar had a gallant army in Scotland, and Lord
Derwentwater, with Forster, Kenmure, Winterton, and others, were
assembling forces on the Border. As my connections with these English
nobility and gentry were extensive, it was judged proper that I should
accompany a detachment of Highlanders, who, under Brigadier MacIntosh of
Borlum, crossed the Firth of Forth, traversed the low country of
Scotland, and united themselves on the Borders with the English
insurgents. My daughter accompanied me through the perils and fatigues of
a march so long and difficult."
"And she will never leave her dear father!" exclaimed Miss Vernon,
clinging fondly to his arm.
"I had hardly joined our English friends, when I became sensible that our
cause was lost. Our numbers diminished instead of increasing, nor were we
joined by any except of our own persuasion. The Tories of the High Church
remained in general undecided, and at length we were cooped up by a
superior force in the little town of Preston. We defended ourselves
resolutely for one day. On the next, the hearts of our leaders failed,
and they resolved to surrender at discretion. To yield myself up on such
terms, were to have laid my head on the block. About twenty or thirty
gentlemen were of my mind: we mounted our horses, and placed my daughter,
who insisted on sharing my fate, in the centre of our little party. My
companions, struck with her courage and filial piety, declared that they
would die rather than leave her behind. We rode in a body down a street
called Fishergate, which leads to a marshy ground or meadow, extending to
the river Ribble, through which one of our party promised to show us a
good ford. This marsh had not been strongly invested by the enemy, so
that we had only an affair with a patrol of Honeywood's dragoons, whom we
dispersed and cut to pieces. We crossed the river, gained the high road
to Liverpool, and then dispersed to seek several places of concealment
and safety. My fortune led me to Wales, where there are many gentlemen of
my religious and political opinions. I could not, however, find a safe
opportunity of escaping by sea, and found myself obliged again to draw
towards the North. A well-tried friend has appointed to meet me in this
neighbourhood, and guide me to a seaport on the Solway, where a sloop is
prepared to carry me from my native country for ever. As Osbaldistone
Hall was for the present uninhabited, and under the charge of old
Syddall, who had been our confidant on former occasions, we drew to it as
to a place of known and secure refuge. I resumed a dress which had been
used with good effect to scare the superstitious rustics, or domestics,
who chanced at any time to see me; and we expected from time to time to
hear by Syddall of the arrival of our friendly guide, when your sudden
coming hither, and occupying this apartment, laid us under the necessity
of submitting to your mercy."
Thus ended Sir Fredericks story, whose tale sounded to me like one told
in a vision; and I could hardly bring myself to believe that I saw his
daughter's form once more before me in flesh and blood, though with
diminished beauty and sunk spirits. The buoyant vivacity with which she
had resisted every touch of adversity, had now assumed the air of
composed and submissive, but dauntless resolution and constancy. Her
father, though aware and jealous of the effect of her praises on my mind,
could not forbear expatiating upon them.
"She has endured trials," he said, "which might have dignified the
history of a martyr;--she has faced danger and death in various
shapes;--she has undergone toil and privation, from which men of the
strongest frame would have shrunk;--she has spent the day in darkness,
and the night in vigil, and has never breathed a murmur of weakness or
complaint. In a word, Mr. Osbaldistone," he concluded, "she is a worthy
offering to that God, to whom" (crossing himself) "I shall dedicate her,
as all that is left dear or precious to Frederick Vernon."
There was a silence after these words, of which I well understood the
mournful import. The father of Diana was still as anxious to destroy my
hopes of being united to her now as he had shown himself during our brief
meeting in Scotland.
"We will now," said he to his daughter, "intrude no farther on Mr.
Osbaldistone's time, since we have acquainted him with the circumstances
of the miserable guests who claim his protection."
I requested them to stay, and offered myself to leave the apartment. Sir
Frederick observed, that my doing so could not but excite my attendant's
suspicion; and that the place of their retreat was in every respect
commodious, and furnished by Syddall with all they could possibly want.
"We might perhaps have even contrived to remain there, concealed from
your observation; but it would have been unjust to decline the most
absolute reliance on your honour."
"You have done me but justice," I replied.--"To you, Sir Frederick, I am
but little known; but Miss Vernon, I am sure, will bear me witness that"--
"I do not want my daughter's evidence," he said, politely, but yet with
an air calculated to prevent my addressing myself to Diana, "since I am
prepared to believe all that is worthy of Mr. Francis Osbaldistone.
Permit us now to retire; we must take repose when we can, since we are
absolutely uncertain when we may be called upon to renew our perilous
He drew his daughter's arm within his, and with a profound reverence,
disappeared with her behind the tapestry.
But now the hand of fate is on the curtain,
And gives the scene to light.
I felt stunned and chilled as they retired. Imagination, dwelling on an
absent object of affection, paints her not only in the fairest light, but
in that in which we most desire to behold her. I had thought of Diana as
she was, when her parting tear dropped on my cheek--when her parting
token, received from the wife of MacGregor, augured her wish to convey
into exile and conventual seclusion the remembrance of my affection. I
saw her; and her cold passive manner, expressive of little except
composed melancholy, disappointed, and, in some degree, almost offended
In the egotism of my feelings, I accused her of indifference--of
insensibility. I upbraided her father with pride--with cruelty--with
fanaticism,--forgetting that both were sacrificing their interest, and
Diana her inclination, to the discharge of what they regarded as their
Sir Frederick Vernon was a rigid Catholic, who thought the path of
salvation too narrow to be trodden by an heretic; and Diana, to whom her
father's safety had been for many years the principal and moving spring
of thoughts, hopes, and actions, felt that she had discharged her duty in
resigning to his will, not alone her property in the world, but the
dearest affections of her heart. But it was not surprising that I could
not, at such a moment, fully appreciate these honourable motives; yet my
spleen sought no ignoble means of discharging itself.
"I am contemned, then," I said, when left to run over the tenor of Sir
Frederick's communications--"I am contemned, and thought unworthy even to
exchange words with her. Be it so; they shall not at least prevent me
from watching over her safety. Here will I remain as an outpost, and,
while under my roof at least, no danger shall threaten her, if it be such
as the arm of one determined man can avert."
I summoned Syddall to the library. He came, but came attended by the
eternal Andrew, who, dreaming of great things in consequence of my taking
possession of the Hall and the annexed estates, was resolved to lose
nothing for want of keeping himself in view; and, as often happens to men
who entertain selfish objects, overshot his mark, and rendered his
attentions tedious and inconvenient.
His unrequired presence prevented me from speaking freely to Syddall, and
I dared not send him away for fear of increasing such suspicions as he
might entertain from his former abrupt dismissal from the library. "I
shall sleep here, sir," I said, giving them directions to wheel nearer to
the fire an old-fashioned day-bed, or settee. "I have much to do, and
shall go late to bed."
Syddall, who seemed to understand my look, offered to procure me the
accommodation of a mattress and some bedding. I accepted his offer,
dismissed my attendant, lighted a pair of candles, and desired that I
might not be disturbed till seven in the ensuing morning.
The domestics retired, leaving me to my painful and ill-arranged
reflections, until nature, worn out, should require some repose.
I endeavoured forcibly to abstract my mind from the singular
circumstances in which I found myself placed. Feelings which I had
gallantly combated while the exciting object was remote, were now
exasperated by my immediate neighbourhood to her whom I was so soon to
part with for ever. Her name was written in every book which I attempted
to peruse; and her image forced itself on me in whatever train of thought
I strove to engage myself. It was like the officious slave of Prior's
Abra was ready ere I named her name,
And when I called another, Abra came.
I alternately gave way to these thoughts, and struggled against them,
sometimes yielding to a mood of melting tenderness of sorrow which was
scarce natural to me, sometimes arming myself with the hurt pride of one
who had experienced what he esteemed unmerited rejection. I paced the
library until I had chafed myself into a temporary fever. I then threw
myself on the couch, and endeavoured to dispose myself to sleep;--but it
was in vain that I used every effort to compose myself--that I lay
without movement of finger or of muscle, as still as if I had been
already a corpse--that I endeavoured to divert or banish disquieting
thoughts, by fixing my mind on some act of repetition or arithmetical
process. My blood throbbed, to my feverish apprehension, in pulsations
which resembled the deep and regular strokes of a distant fulling-mill,
and tingled in my veins like streams of liquid fire.
At length I arose, opened the window, and stood by it for some time in
the clear moonlight, receiving, in part at least, that refreshment and
dissipation of ideas from the clear and calm scene, without which they
had become beyond the command of my own volition. I resumed my place on
the couch--with a heart, Heaven knows, not lighter but firmer, and more
resolved for endurance. In a short time a slumber crept over my senses;
still, however, though my senses slumbered, my soul was awake to the
painful feelings of my situation, and my dreams were of mental anguish
and external objects of terror.
I remember a strange agony, under which I conceived myself and Diana in
the power of MacGregor's wife, and about to be precipitated from a rock
into the lake; the signal was to be the discharge of a cannon, fired by
Sir Frederick Vernon, who, in the dress of a Cardinal, officiated at the
ceremony. Nothing could be more lively than the impression which I
received of this imaginary scene. I could paint, even at this moment, the
mute and courageous submission expressed in Diana's features--the wild
and distorted faces of the executioners, who crowded around us with
"mopping and mowing;" grimaces ever changing, and each more hideous than
that which preceded. I saw the rigid and inflexible fanaticism painted in
the face of the father--I saw him lift the fatal match--the deadly signal
exploded--It was repeated again and again and again, in rival thunders,
by the echoes of the surrounding cliffs, and I awoke from fancied horror
to real apprehension.
The sounds in my dream were not ideal. They reverberated on my waking
ears, but it was two or three minutes ere I could collect myself so as
distinctly to understand that they proceeded from a violent knocking at
the gate. I leaped from my couch in great apprehension, took my sword
under my arm, and hastened to forbid the admission of any one. But my
route was necessarily circuitous, because the library looked not upon the
quadrangle, but into the gardens. When I had reached a staircase, the
windows of which opened upon the entrance court, I heard the feeble and
intimidated tones of Syddall expostulating with rough voices, which
demanded admittance, by the warrant of Justice Standish, and in the
King's name, and threatened the old domestic with the heaviest penal
consequences if he refused instant obedience. Ere they had ceased, I
heard, to my unspeakable provocation, the voice of Andrew bidding Syddall
stand aside, and let him open the door.
"If they come in King George's name, we have naething to fear--we hae
spent baith bluid and gowd for him--We dinna need to darn ourselves like
some folks, Mr. Syddall--we are neither Papists nor Jacobites, I trow."
It was in vain I accelerated my pace down stairs; I heard bolt after bolt
withdrawn by the officious scoundrel, while all the time he was boasting
his own and his master's loyalty to King George; and I could easily
calculate that the party must enter before I could arrive at the door to
replace the bars. Devoting the back of Andrew Fairservice to the cudgel
so soon as I should have time to pay him his deserts, I ran back to the
library, barricaded the door as I best could, and hastened to that by
which Diana and her father entered, and begged for instant admittance.
Diana herself undid the door. She was ready dressed, and betrayed neither
perturbation nor fear.
"Danger is so familiar to us," she said, "that we are always prepared to
meet it. My father is already up--he is in Rashleigh's apartment. We will
escape into the garden, and thence by the postern-gate (I have the key
from Syddall in case of need.) into the wood--I know its dingles better
than any one now alive. Keep them a few minutes in play. And, dear, dear
Frank, once more fare-thee-well!"
She vanished like a meteor to join her father, and the intruders were
rapping violently, and attempting to force the library door by the time I
had returned into it.
"You robber dogs!" I exclaimed, wilfully mistaking the purpose of their
disturbance, "if you do not instantly quit the house I will fire my
blunderbuss through the door."
"Fire a fule's bauble!" said Andrew Fairservice; "it's Mr. Clerk Jobson,
with a legal warrant"--
"To search for, take, and apprehend," said the voice of that execrable
pettifogger, "the bodies of certain persons in my warrant named, charged
of high treason under the 13th of King William, chapter third."
And the violence on the door was renewed. "I am rising, gentlemen," said
I, desirous to gain as much time as possible--"commit no violence--give
me leave to look at your warrant, and, if it is formal and legal, I shall
not oppose it."
"God save great George our King!" ejaculated Andrew. "I tauld ye that ye
would find nae Jacobites here."
Spinning out the time as much as possible, I was at length compelled to
open the door, which they would otherwise have forced.
Mr. Jobson entered, with several assistants, among whom I discovered the
younger Wingfield, to whom, doubtless, he was obliged for his
information, and exhibited his warrant, directed not only against
Frederick Vernon, an attainted traitor, but also against Diana Vernon,
spinster, and Francis Osbaldistone, gentleman, accused of misprision of
treason. It was a case in which resistance would have been madness; I
therefore, after capitulating for a few minutes' delay, surrendered
myself a prisoner.
I had next the mortification to see Jobson go straight to the chamber of
Miss Vernon, and I learned that from thence, without hesitation or
difficulty, he went to the room where Sir Frederick had slept. "The hare
has stolen away," said the brute, "but her form is warm--the greyhounds
will have her by the haunches yet."
A scream from the garden announced that he prophesied too truly. In the
course of five minutes, Rashleigh entered the library with Sir Frederick
Vernon and his daughter as prisoners.
"The fox," he said, "knew his old earth, but he forgot it could be
stopped by a careful huntsman.--I had not forgot the garden-gate, Sir
Frederick--or, if that title suits you better, most noble Lord
"Rashleigh," said Sir Frederick, "thou art a detestable villain!"
"I better deserved the name, Sir Knight, or my Lord, when, under the
direction of an able tutor, I sought to introduce civil war into the
bosom of a peaceful country. But I have done my best," said he, looking
upwards, "to atone for my errors."
I could hold no longer. I had designed to watch their proceedings in
silence, but I felt that I must speak or die. "If hell," I said, "has one
complexion more hideous than another, it is where villany is masked by
"Ha! my gentle cousin," said Rashleigh, holding a candle towards me, and
surveying me from head to foot; "right welcome to Osbaldistone Hall!--I
can forgive your spleen--It is hard to lose an estate and a mistress in
one night; for we shall take possession of this poor manor-house in the
name of the lawful heir, Sir Rashleigh Osbaldistone."
While Rashleigh braved it out in this manner, I could see that he put a
strong force upon his feelings, both of anger and shame. But his state of
mind was more obvious when Diana Vernon addressed him. "Rashleigh," she
said, "I pity you--for, deep as the evil is which you have laboured to do
me, and the evil you have actually done, I cannot hate you so much as I
scorn and pity you. What you have now done may be the work of an hour,
but will furnish you with reflection for your life--of what nature I
leave to your own conscience, which will not slumber for ever."
Rashleigh strode once or twice through the room, came up to the
side-table, on which wine was still standing, and poured out a large
glass with a trembling hand; but when he saw that we observed his tremor,
he suppressed it by a strong effort, and, looking at us with fixed and
daring composure, carried the bumper to his head without spilling a drop.
"It is my father's old burgundy," he said, looking to Jobson; "I am glad
there is some of it left.--You will get proper persons to take care of
old butler, and that foolish Scotch rascal. Meanwhile we will convey
these persons to a more proper place of custody. I have provided the old
family coach for your convenience," he said, "though I am not ignorant
that even the lady could brave the night-air on foot or on horseback,
were the errand more to her mind."
Andrew wrung his hands.--"I only said that my master was surely speaking
to a ghaist in the library--and the villain Lancie to betray an auld
friend, that sang aff the same Psalm-book wi' him every Sabbath for
He was turned out of the house, together with Syddall, without being
allowed to conclude his lamentation. His expulsion, however, led to some
singular consequences. Resolving, according to his own story, to go down
for the night where Mother Simpson would give him a lodging for old
acquaintance' sake, he had just got clear of the avenue, and into the old
wood, as it was called, though it was now used as a pasture-ground rather
than woodland, when he suddenly lighted on a drove of Scotch cattle,
which were lying there to repose themselves after the day's journey. At
this Andrew was in no way surprised, it being the well-known custom of
his countrymen, who take care of those droves, to quarter themselves
after night upon the best unenclosed grass-ground they can find, and
depart before day-break to escape paying for their night's lodgings. But
he was both surprised and startled, when a Highlander, springing up,
accused him of disturbing the cattle, and refused him to pass forward
till he had spoken to his master. The mountaineer conducted Andrew into a
thicket, where he found three or four more of his countrymen. "And," said
Andrew, "I saw sune they were ower mony men for the drove; and from the
questions they put to me, I judged they had other tow on their rock."
They questioned him closely about all that had passed at Osbaldistone
Hall, and seemed surprised and concerned at the report he made to them.
"And troth," said Andrew, "I tauld them a' I ken'd; for dirks and pistols
were what I could never refuse information to in a' my life."
They talked in whispers among themselves, and at length collected their
cattle together, and drove them close up to the entrance of the avenue,
which might be half a mile distant from the house. They proceeded to drag
together some felled trees which lay in the vicinity, so as to make a
temporary barricade across the road, about fifteen yards beyond the
avenue. It was now near daybreak, and there was a pale eastern gleam
mingled with the fading moonlight, so that objects could be discovered
with some distinctness. The lumbering sound of a coach drawn by four
horses, and escorted by six men on horseback, was heard coming up the
avenue. The Highlanders listened attentively. The carriage contained Mr.
Jobson and his unfortunate prisoners. The escort consisted of Rashleigh,
and of several horsemen, peace-officers and their assistants. So soon as
we had passed the gate at the head of the avenue, it was shut behind the
cavalcade by a Highland-man, stationed there for that purpose. At the
same time the carriage was impeded in its farther progress by the cattle,
amongst which we were involved, and by the barricade in front. Two of the
escort dismounted to remove the felled trees, which they might think were
left there by accident or carelessness. The others began with their whips
to drive the cattle from the road.
"Who dare abuse our cattle?" said a rough voice.--"Shoot him, Angus!"
Rashleigh instantly called out--"A rescue! a rescue!" and, firing a
pistol, wounded the man who spoke.
"_Claymore!_" cried the leader of the Highlanders, and a scuffle
instantly commenced. The officers of the law, surprised at so sudden an
attack, and not usually possessing the most desperate bravery, made but
an imperfect defence, considering the superiority of their numbers. Some
attempted to ride back to the Hall, but on a pistol being fired from
behind the gate, they conceived themselves surrounded, and at length
galloped of in different directions. Rashleigh, meanwhile, had
dismounted, and on foot had maintained a desperate and single-handed
conflict with the leader of the band. The window of the carriage, on my
side, permitted me to witness it. At length Rashleigh dropped.
"Will you ask forgiveness for the sake of God, King James, and auld
friendship?" said a voice which I knew right well.
"No, never!" said Rashleigh, firmly.
"Then, traitor, die in your treason!" retorted MacGregor, and plunged his
sword in his prostrate antagonist.
In the next moment he was at the carriage door--handed out Miss Vernon,
assisted her father and me to alight, and dragging out the attorney, head
foremost, threw him under the wheel.
"Mr. Osbaldistone," he said, in a whisper, "you have nothing to
fear--I must look after those who have--Your friends will soon be in
safety--Farewell, and forget not the MacGregor."
He whistled--his band gathered round him, and, hurrying Diana and her
father along with him, they were almost instantly lost in the glades of
the forest. The coachman and postilion had abandoned their horses, and
fled at the first discharge of firearms; but the animals, stopped by the
barricade, remained perfectly still; and well for Jobson that they did
so, for the slightest motion would have dragged the wheel over his body.
My first object was to relieve him, for such was the rascal's terror that
he never could have risen by his own exertions. I next commanded him to
observe, that I had neither taken part in the rescue, nor availed myself
of it to make my escape, and enjoined him to go down to the Hall, and
call some of his party, who had been left there, to assist the wounded.--
But Jobson's fears had so mastered and controlled every faculty of his
mind, that he was totally incapable of moving. I now resolved to go
myself, but in my way I stumbled over the body of a man, as I thought,
dead or dying. It was, however, Andrew Fairservice, as well and whole as
ever he was in his life, who had only taken this recumbent posture to
avoid the slashes, stabs, and pistol-balls, which for a moment or two
were flying in various directions. I was so glad to find him, that I did
not inquire how he came thither, but instantly commanded his assistance.
Rashleigh was our first object. He groaned when I approached him, as much
through spite as through pain, and shut his eyes, as if determined, like
Iago, to speak no word more. We lifted him into the carriage, and
performed the same good office to another wounded man of his party, who
had been left on the field. I then with difficulty made Jobson understand
that he must enter the coach also, and support Sir Rashleigh upon the
seat. He obeyed, but with an air as if he but half comprehended my
meaning. Andrew and I turned the horses' heads round, and opening the
gate of the avenue, led them slowly back to Osbaldistone Hall.
Some fugitives had already reached the Hall by circuitous routes, and
alarmed its garrison by the news that Sir Rashleigh, Clerk Jobson, and
all their escort, save they who escaped to tell the tale, had been cut to
pieces at the head of the avenue by a whole regiment of wild Highlanders.
When we reached the mansion, therefore, we heard such a buzz as arises
when bees are alarmed, and mustering in their hives. Mr. Jobson, however,
who had now in some measure come to his senses, found voice enough to
make himself known. He was the more anxious to be released from the
carriage, as one of his companions (the peace-officer) had, to his
inexpressible terror, expired by his side with a hideous groan.
Sir Rashleigh Osbaldistone was still alive, but so dreadfully wounded
that the bottom of the coach was filled with his blood, and long traces
of it left from the entrance-door into the stone-hall, where he was
placed in a chair, some attempting to stop the bleeding with cloths,
while others called for a surgeon, and no one seemed willing to go to
fetch one. "Torment me not," said the wounded man--"I know no assistance
can avail me--I am a dying man." He raised himself in his chair, though
the damps and chill of death were already on his brow, and spoke with a
firmness which seemed beyond his strength. "Cousin Francis," he said,
"draw near to me." I approached him as he requested.--"I wish you only to
know that the pangs of death do not alter I one iota of my feelings
towards you. I hate you!" he said, the expression of rage throwing a
hideous glare into the eyes which were soon to be closed for ever--"I
hate you with a hatred as intense, now while I lie bleeding and dying
before you, as if my foot trode on your neck."
"I have given you no cause, sir," I replied,--"and for your own sake I
could wish your mind in a better temper."
"You _have_ given me cause," he rejoined. "In love, in ambition, in the
paths of interest, you have crossed and blighted me at every turn. I was
born to be the honour of my father's house--I have been its disgrace--and
all owing to you. My very patrimony has become yours--Take it," he said,
"and may the curse of a dying man cleave to it!"
[Illustration: The Death of Rashleigh--338]
In a moment after he had uttered this frightful wish, he fell back in the
chair; his eyes became glazed, his limbs stiffened, but the grin and
glare of mortal hatred survived even the last gasp of life. I will dwell
no longer on so painful a picture, nor say any more of the death of
Rashleigh, than that it gave me access to my rights of inheritance
without farther challenge, and that Jobson found himself compelled to
allow, that the ridiculous charge of misprision of high treason was got
up on an affidavit which he made with the sole purpose of favouring
Rashleigh's views, and removing me from Osbaldistone Hall. The rascal's
name was struck off the list of attorneys, and he was reduced to poverty
I returned to London when I had put my affairs in order at Osbaldistone
Hall, and felt happy to escape from a place which suggested so many
painful recollections. My anxiety was now acute to learn the fate of
Diana and her father. A French gentleman who came to London on commercial
business, was intrusted with a letter to me from Miss Vernon, which put
my mind at rest respecting their safety.
It gave me to understand that the opportune appearance of MacGregor and
his party was not fortuitous. The Scottish nobles and gentry engaged in
the insurrection, as well as those of England, were particularly anxious
to further the escape of Sir Frederick Vernon, who, as an old and trusted
agent of the house of Stuart, was possessed of matter enough to have
ruined half Scotland. Rob Roy, of whose sagacity and courage they had
known so many proofs, was the person whom they pitched upon to assist his
escape, and the place of meeting was fixed at Osbaldistone Hall. You have
already heard how nearly the plan had been disconcerted by the unhappy
Rashleigh. It succeeded, however, perfectly; for when once Sir Frederick
and his daughter were again at large, they found horses prepared for
them, and, by MacGregor's knowledge of the country--for every part of
Scotland, and of the north of England, was familiar to him--were
conducted to the western sea-coast, and safely embarked for France. The
same gentleman told me that Sir Frederick was not expected to survive for
many months a lingering disease, the consequence of late hardships and
privations. His daughter was placed in a convent, and although it was her
father's wish she should take the veil, he was understood to refer the
matter entirely to her own inclinations.
When these news reached me, I frankly told the state of my affections to
my father, who was not a little startled at the idea of my marrying a
Roman Catholic. But he was very desirous to see me "settled in life," as
he called it; and he was sensible that, in joining him with heart and
hand in his commercial labours, I had sacrificed my own inclinations.
After a brief hesitation, and several questions asked and answered to his
satisfaction, he broke out with--"I little thought a son of mine should
have been Lord of Osbaldistone Manor, and far less that he should go to a
French convent for a spouse. But so dutiful a daughter cannot but prove a
good wife. You have worked at the desk to please me, Frank; it is but
fair you should wive to please yourself."
How I sped in my wooing, Will Tresham, I need not tell you. You know,
too, how long and happily I lived with Diana. You know how I lamented
her; but you do not--cannot know, how much she deserved her husband's
I have no more of romantic adventure to tell, nor, indeed, anything to
communicate farther, since the latter incidents of my life are so well
known to one who has shared, with the most friendly sympathy, the joys,
as well as the sorrows, by which its scenes have been chequered. I often
visited Scotland, but never again saw the bold Highlander who had such an
influence on the early events of my life. I learned, however, from time
to time, that he continued to maintain his ground among the mountains of
Loch Lomond, in despite of his powerful enemies, and that he even
obtained, to a certain degree, the connivance of Government to his
self-elected office of protector of the Lennox, in virtue of which he
levied black-mail with as much regularity as the proprietors did their
ordinary rents. It seemed impossible that his life should have concluded
without a violent end. Nevertheless he died in old age and by a peaceful
death, some time about the year 1733, and is still remembered in his
country as the Robin Hood of Scotland--the dread of the wealthy, but the
friend of the poor--and possessed of many qualities, both of head and
heart, which would have graced a less equivocal profession than that to
which his fate condemned him.
Old Andrew Fairservice used to say, that "There were many things ower bad
for blessing, and ower gude for banning, like Rob Roy."
_Here the original manuscript ends somewhat abruptly. I have reason to
think that what followed related to private a affairs._
The second article of the Appendix to the Introduction to Rob Roy
contains two curious letters respecting the arrest of Mr. Grahame of
Killearn by that daring freebooter, while levying the Duke of Montrose's
rents. These were taken from scroll copies in the possession of his Grace
the present Duke, who kindly permitted the use of them in the present
publication.--The Novel had but just passed through the press, when the
Right Honourable Mr. Peel--whose important state avocations do not avert
his attention from the interests of literature--transmitted to the author
copies of the original letters and enclosure, of which he possessed only
the rough draught. The originals were discovered in the State Paper
Office, by the indefatigable researches of Mr. Lemon, who is daily
throwing more light on that valuable collection of records. From the
documents with which the Author has been thus kindly favoured, he is
enabled to fill up the addresses which were wanting in the scrolls. That
of the 21st Nov. 1716 is addressed to Lord Viscount Townshend, and is
accompanied by one of the same date to Robert Pringle, Esquire,
Under-Secretary of State, which is here inserted as relative to so
curious an incident:--
_Letter from the Duke of Montrose, to Robert Pringle, Esq.,
Under-Secretary to Lord Viscount Townshend._
"Sr,_Glasgow,_ 21 _Nov._ 1716.
"Haveing had so many dispatches to make this night, I hope ye'l excuse me
that I make use of another hand to give yow a short account of the
occasion of this express, by which I have written to my Ld. Duke of
Roxburgh, and my Lord Townshend, which I hope ye'l gett carefully
"Mr. Graham, younger of Killearn, being on Munday last in Menteith att a
country house, collecting my rents, was about nine o'clock that same
night surprised by Rob Roy with a party of his men in arms, who haveing
surrounded the house and secured the avenues, presented their guns in at
the windows, while he himself entered the room with some others with cokt
pistolls, and seased Killearn with all his money, books, papers, and
bonds, and carryed all away with him to the hills, at the same time
ordering Killearn to write a letter to me (of which ye have the copy
inclosed), proposeing a very honourable treaty to me. I must say this
story was as surprising to me as it was insolent; and it must bring a
very great concern upon me, that this gentleman, my near relation, should
be brought to suffer all the barbaritys and crueltys, which revenge and
mallice may suggest to these miscreants, for his haveing acted a
faithfull part in the service of the Government, and his affection to me
in my concerns.
"I need not be more particular to you, since I know that my Letter to my
Lord Townshend will come into your hands, so shall only now give you the
assurances of my being, with great sincerity,
"Sr, yr most humble servant,
"I long exceedingly for a return of my former dispatches to the
Secretary's about Methven and Colll Urquhart, and my wife's cousins,
Balnamoon and Phinaven.
"I must beg yow'll give my humble service to Mr. Secretary Methven, and
tell him that I must refer him to what I have written to My Lord
Townshend in this affair of Rob Roy, believing it was needless to trouble
both with letters."
_Deputy Keeper of State Papers._
STATE PAPER OFFICE,
_Nov._ 4, 1829
Note.--The enclosure referred to in the preceding letter is another copy
of the letter which Mr. Grahame of Killearn was compelled by Rob Roy to
write to the Duke of Montrose, and is exactly the same as the one
enclosed in his Grace's letter to Lord Townshend, dated November 21st,
The last letter in the Appendix No. II. (28th November), acquainting the
Government with Killearn's being set at liberty, is also addressed to the
Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Pringle.
The Author may also here remark, that immediately previous to the
insurrection of 1715, he perceives, from some notes of information given
to Government, that Rob Roy appears to have been much employed and
trusted by the Jacobite party, even in the very delicate task of
transporting specie to the Earl of Breadalbane, though it might have
somewhat resembled trusting Don Raphael and Ambrose de Lamela with the
NOTES TO ROB ROY.
Note A.--The Grey Stone of MacGregor.
I have been informed that, at no very remote period, it was proposed to
take this large stone, which marks the grave of Dugald Ciar Mhor, and
convert it to the purpose of the lintel of a window, the threshold of a
door, or some such mean use. A man of the clan MacGregor, who was
somewhat deranged, took fire at this insult; and when the workmen came to
remove the stone, planted himself upon it, with a broad axe in his hand,
swearing he would dash out the brains of any one who should disturb the
monument. Athletic in person, and insane enough to be totally regardless
of consequences, it was thought best to give way to his humour; and the
poor madman kept sentinel on the stone day and night, till the proposal
of removing it was entirely dropped.
Note B.--Dugald Ciar Mhor.
The above is the account which I find in a manuscript history of the clan
MacGregor, of which I was indulged with a perusal by Donald MacGregor,
Esq., late Major of the 33d regiment, where great pains have been taken
to collect traditions and written documents concerning the family. But an
ancient and constant tradition, preserved among the inhabitants of the
country, and particularly those of the clan MacFarlane, relieves Dugald
Ciar Mhor of the guilt of murdering the youths, and lays the blame on a
certain Donald or Duncan Lean, who performed the act of cruelty, with the
assistance of a gillie who attended him, named Charlioch, or Charlie.
They say that the homicides dared not again join their clan, but that
they resided in a wild and solitary state as outlaws, in an unfrequented
part of the MacFarlanes' territory. Here they lived for some time
undisturbed, till they committed an act of brutal violence on two
defenceless women, a mother and daughter of the MacFarlane clan. In
revenge of this atrocity, the MacFarlanes hunted them down, and shot
them. It is said that the younger ruffian, Charlioch, might have escaped,
being remarkably swift of foot. But his crime became his punishment, for
the female whom he had outraged had defended herself desperately, and had
stabbed him with his own dirk in the thigh. He was lame from the wound,
and was the more easily overtaken and killed.
I always inclined to think this last the true edition of the story, and
that the guilt was transferred to Dugald Ciar Mhor, as a man of higher
name, but I have learned that Dugald was in truth dead several years
before the battle--my authority being his representative, Mr. Gregorson
of Ardtornish. [See also note to introduction, "Legend of Montrose," vol.
Note C.--The Loch Lomond Expedition.
The Loch Lomond expedition was judged worthy to form a separate pamphlet,
which I have not seen; but, as quoted by the historian Rae, it must be
"On the morrow, being Thursday the 13th, they went on their expedition,
and about noon came to Inversnaid, the place of danger, where the Paisley
men and those of Dumbarton, and several of the other companies, to the
number of an hundred men, with the greatest intrepidity leapt on shore,
got up to the top of the mountains, and stood a considerable time,
beating their drums all the while; but no enemy appearing, they went in
quest of their boats, which the rebels had seized, and having casually
lighted on some ropes and oars hid among the shrubs, at length they found
the boats drawn up a good way on the land, which they hurled down to the
loch. Such of them as were not damaged they carried off with them, and
such as were, they sank and hewed to pieces. That same night they
returned to Luss, and thence next day to Dumbarton, from whence they had
at first set out, bringing along with them the whole boats they found in
their way on either side of the loch, and in the creeks of the isles, and
mooring them under the cannon of the castle. During this expedition, the
pinnaces discharging their patararoes, and the men their small-arms, made
such a thundering noise, through the multiplied rebounding echoes of the
vast mountains on both sides of the loch, that the MacGregors were cowed
and frighted away to the rest of the rebels who were encamped at Strath
Fillan."--_Rae's History of the Rebellion,_ 4to, p. 287.
Note D.--Author's Expedition against the MacLarens.
The Author is uncertain whether it is worth while to mention, that he had
a personal opportunity of observing, even in his own time, that the
king's writ did not pass quite current in the Brass of Balquhidder. There
were very considerable debts due by Stewart of Appin (chiefly to the
author's family), which were likely to be lost to the creditors, if they
could not be made available out of this same farm of Invernenty, the
scene of the murder done upon MacLaren.
His family, consisting of several strapping deer-stalkers, still
possessed the farm, by virtue of a long lease, for a trifling rent. There
was no chance of any one buying it with such an encumbrance, and a
transaction was entered into by the MacLarens, who, being desirous to
emigrate to America, agreed to sell their lease to the creditors for
L500, and to remove at the next term of Whitsunday. But whether they
repented their bargain, or desired to make a better, or whether from a
mere point of honour, the MacLarens declared they would not permit a
summons of removal to be executed against them, which was necessary for
the legal completion of the bargain. And such was the general impression
that they were men capable of resisting the legal execution of warning by
very effectual means, no king's messenger would execute the summons
without the support of a military force. An escort of a sergeant and six
men was obtained from a Highland regiment lying in Stirling; and the
Author, then a writer's apprentice, equivalent to the honourable
situation of an attorney's clerk, was invested with the superintendence
of the expedition, with directions to see that the messenger discharged
his duty fully, and that the gallant sergeant did not exceed his part by
committing violence or plunder. And thus it happened, oddly enough, that
the Author first entered the romantic scenery of Loch Katrine, of which
he may perhaps say he has somewhat extended the reputation, riding in all
the dignity of danger, with a front and rear guard, and loaded arms. The
sergeant was absolutely a Highland Sergeant Kite, full of stories of Rob
Roy and of himself, and a very good companion. We experienced no
interruption whatever, and when we came to Invernenty, found the house
deserted. We took up our quarters for the night, and used some of the
victuals which we found there. On the morning we returned as unmolested
as we came.
The MacLarens, who probably never thought of any serious opposition,
received their money and went to America, where, having had some slight
share in removing them from their _paupera regna,_ I sincerely hope they
The rent of Invernenty instantly rose from L10 to L70 or L80; and when
sold, the farm was purchased (I think by the late Laird of MacNab) at a
price higher in proportion than what even the modern rent authorised the
parties interested to hope for.
Note E.--Allan Breck Stewart.
Allan Breck Stewart was a man likely in such a matter to keep his word.
James Drummond MacGregor and he, like Katherine and Petruchio, were well
matched "for a couple of quiet ones." Allan Breck lived till the
beginning of the French Revolution. About 1789, a friend of mine, then
residing at Paris, was invited to see some procession which was supposed
likely to interest him, from the windows of an apartment occupied by a
Scottish Benedictine priest. He found, sitting by the fire, a tall, thin,
raw-boned, grim-looking, old man, with the petit croix of St. Louis. His
visage was strongly marked by the irregular projections of the
cheek-bones and chin. His eyes were grey. His grizzled hair exhibited
marks of having been red, and his complexion was weather-beaten, and
remarkably freckled. Some civilities in French passed between the old man
and my friend, in the course of which they talked of the streets and
squares of Paris, till at length the old soldier, for such he seemed, and
such he was, said with a sigh, in a sharp Highland accent, "Deil ane o'
them a' is worth the Hie Street of Edinburgh!" On inquiry, this admirer
of Auld Reekie, which he was never to see again, proved to be Allan Breck
Stewart. He lived decently on his little pension, and had, in no
subsequent period of his life, shown anything of the savage mood in which
he is generally believed to have assassinated the enemy and oppressor, as
he supposed him, of his family and clan.
Note F.--The Abbess of Wilton.
The nunnery of Wilton was granted to the Earl of Pembroke upon its
dissolution, by the magisterial authority of Henry VIII., or his son
Edward VI. On the accession of Queen Mary, of Catholic memory, the Earl
found it necessary to reinstate the Abbess and her fair recluses, which
he did with many expressions of his remorse, kneeling humbly to the
vestals, and inducting them into the convent and possessions from which
he had expelled them. With the accession of Elizabeth, the accommodating
Earl again resumed his Protestant faith, and a second time drove the nuns
from their sanctuary. The remonstrances of the Abbess, who reminded him
of his penitent expressions on the former occasion, could wring from him
no other answer than that in the text--"Go spin, you jade!--Go spin!"
Note G.--Mons Meg.
Mons Meg was a large old-fashioned piece of ordnance, a great favourite
with the Scottish common people; she was fabricated at Mons, in Flanders,
in the reign of James IV. or V. of Scotland. This gun figures frequently
in the public accounts of the time, where we find charges for grease, to
grease Meg's mouth withal (to increase, as every schoolboy knows, the
loudness of the report), ribands to deck her carriage, and pipes to play
before her when she was brought from the Castle to accompany the Scottish
army on any distant expedition. After the Union, there was much popular
apprehension that the Regalia of Scotland, and the subordinate Palladium,
Mons Meg, would be carried to England to complete the odious surrender of
national independence. The Regalia, sequestered from the sight of the
public, were generally supposed to have been abstracted in this manner.
As for Mons Meg, she remained in the Castle of Edinburgh, till, by order
of the Board of Ordnance, she was actually removed to Woolwich about
1757. The Regalia, by his Majesty's special command, have been brought
forth from their place of concealment in 1818, and exposed to the view of
the people, by whom they must be looked upon with deep associations; and,
in this very winter of 1828-9, Mons Meg has been restored to the country,
where that, which in every other place or situation was a mere mass of
rusty iron, becomes once more a curious monument of antiquity.
Note H.---Fairy Superstition.
The lakes and precipices amidst which the Avon-Dhu, or River Forth, has
its birth, are still, according to popular tradition, haunted by the
Elfin people, the most peculiar, but most pleasing, of the creations of
Celtic superstitions. The opinions entertained about these beings are
much the same with those of the Irish, so exquisitely well narrated by
Mr. Crofton Croker. An eminently beautiful little conical hill, near the
eastern extremity of the valley of Aberfoil, is supposed to be one of
their peculiar haunts, and is the scene which awakens, in Andrew
Fairservice, the terror of their power. It is remarkable, that two
successive clergymen of this parish of Aberfoil have employed themselves
in writing about this fairy superstition. The eldest of these was Robert
Kirke, a man of some talents, who translated the Psalms into Gaelic
verse. He had formerly been minister at the neighbouring parish of
Balquhidder, and died at Aberfoil in 1688, at the early age of forty-two.
He was author of the Secret Commonwealth, which was printed after his
death in 1691--(an edition which I have never seen)--and was reprinted in
Edinburgh, 1815. This is a work concerning the fairy people, in whose
existence Mr. Kirke appears to have been a devout believer. He describes
them with the usual powers and qualities ascribed to such beings in
But what is sufficiently singular, the Rev. Robert Kirke, author of the
said treatise, is believed himself to have been taken away by the
fairies,--in revenge, perhaps, for having let in too much light upon the
secrets of their commonwealth. We learn this catastrophe from the
information of his successor, the late amiable and learned Dr. Patrick
Grahame, also minister at Aberfoil, who, in his Sketches of Perthshire,
has not forgotten to touch upon the _Daoine Schie,_ or men of peace.
The Rev. Robert Kirke was, it seems, walking upon a little eminence to
the west of the present manse, which is still held a _Dun Shie,_ or fairy
mound, when he sunk down, in what seemed to mortals a fit, and was
supposed to be dead. This, however, was not his real fate.
"Mr. Kirke was the near relation of Graham of Duchray, the ancestor of
the present General Graham Stirling. Shortly after his funeral, he
appeared, in the dress in which he had sunk down, to a medical relation
of his own, and of Duchray. 'Go,' said he to him, 'to my cousin Duchray,
and tell him that I am not dead. I fell down in a swoon, and was carried
into Fairyland, where I now am. Tell him, that when he and my friends are
assembled at the baptism of my child (for he had left his wife pregnant),
I will appear in the room, and that if he throws the knife which he holds
in his hand over my head, I will be released and restored to human
society.' The man, it seems, neglected, for some time, to deliver the
message. Mr. Kirke appeared to him a second time, threatening to haunt
him night and day till he executed his commission, which at length he
did. The time of the baptism arrived. They were seated at table; the
figure of Mr. Kirke entered, but the Laird of Duchray, by some
unaccountable fatality, neglected to perform the prescribed ceremony. Mr.
Kirke retired by another door, and was seen no wore. It is firmly
believed that he is, at this day, in Fairyland."--(_Sketches of
Perthshire,_ p. 254.)
[The treatise by Robert Kirke, here mentioned, was written in the year
1691, but not printed till 1815.]
Note I.--Clachan of Aberfoil.
I do not know how this might stand in Mr. Osbaldistone's day, but I can
assure the reader, whose curiosity may lead him to visit the scenes of
these romantic adventures, that the Clachan of Aberfoil now affords a
very comfortable little inn. If he chances to be a Scottish antiquary, it
will be an additional recommendation to him, that he will find himself in
the vicinity of the Rev. Dr. Patrick Grahame, minister of the gospel at
Aberfoil, whose urbanity in communicating information on the subject of
national antiquities, is scarce exceeded even by the stores of legendary
lore which he has accumulated.--_Original Note._ The respectable
clergyman alluded to has been dead for some years. [See note H.]
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