Rob Roy, Complete
Sir Walter Scott
Part 7 out of 10
I remembered the honest Bailie's parting charge, but did not conceive
there was any incivility in adding a kiss to the half-crown with which I
remunerated Mattie's attendance;--nor did her "Fie for shame, sir!"
express any very deadly resentment of the affront. Repeated knocking at
Mrs. Flyter's gate awakened in due order, first, one or two stray dogs,
who began to bark with all their might; next two or three night-capped
heads, which were thrust out of the neighbouring windows to reprehend me
for disturbing the solemnity of the Sunday night by that untimely noise.
While I trembled lest the thunders of their wrath might dissolve in
showers like that of Xantippe, Mrs. Flyter herself awoke, and began, in a
tone of objurgation not unbecoming the philosophical spouse of Socrates,
to scold one or two loiterers in her kitchen, for not hastening to the
door to prevent a repetition of my noisy summons.
These worthies were, indeed, nearly concerned in the fracas which their
laziness occasioned, being no other than the faithful Mr. Fairservice,
with his friend Mr. Hammorgaw, and another person, whom I afterwards
found to be the town-crier, who were sitting over a cog of ale, as they
called it (at my expense, as my bill afterwards informed me), in order to
devise the terms and style of a proclamation to be made through the
streets the next day, in order that "the unfortunate young gentleman," as
they had the impudence to qualify me, might be restored to his friends
without farther delay. It may be supposed that I did not suppress my
displeasure at this impertinent interference with my affairs; but Andrew
set up such ejaculations of transport at my arrival, as fairly drowned my
expressions of resentment. His raptures, perchance, were partly
political; and the tears of joy which he shed had certainly their source
in that noble fountain of emotion, the tankard. However, the tumultuous
glee which he felt, or pretended to feel, at my return, saved Andrew the
broken head which I had twice destined him;--first, on account of the
colloquy he had held with the precentor on my affairs; and secondly, for
the impertinent history he had thought proper to give of me to Mr.
Jarvie. I however contented myself with slapping the door of my bedroom
in his face as he followed me, praising Heaven for my safe return, and
mixing his joy with admonitions to me to take care how I walked my own
ways in future. I then went to bed, resolving my first business in the
morning should be to discharge this troublesome, pedantic, self-conceited
coxcomb, who seemed so much disposed to constitute himself rather a
preceptor than a domestic.
Accordingly in the morning I resumed my purpose, and calling Andrew into
my, apartment, requested to know his charge for guiding and attending me
as far as Glasgow. Mr. Fairservice looked very blank at this demand,
justly considering it as a presage to approaching dismission.
"Your honour," he said, after some hesitation, "wunna think--wunna
"Speak out, you rascal, or I'll break your head," said I, as Andrew,
between the double risk of losing all by asking too much, or a part, by
stating his demand lower than what I might be willing to pay, stood
gasping in the agony of doubt and calculation.
Out it came with a bolt, however, at my threat; as the kind violence of a
blow on the back sometimes delivers the windpipe from an intrusive
morsel.--"Aughteen pennies sterling per diem--that is, by the day--your
honour wadna think unconscionable."
"It is double what is usual, and treble what you merit, Andrew; but
there's a guinea for you, and get about your business."
"The Lord forgi'e us! Is your honour mad?" exclaimed Andrew.
"No; but I think you mean to make me so--I give you a third above your
demand, and you stand staring and expostulating there as if I were
cheating you. Take your money, and go about your business."
"Gude safe us!" continued Andrew, "in what can I hae offended your
honour? Certainly a' flesh is but as the flowers of the field; but if a
bed of camomile hath value in medicine, of a surety the use of Andrew
Fairservice to your honour is nothing less evident--it's as muckle as
your life's worth to part wi' me."
"Upon my honour," replied I, "it is difficult to say whether you are more
knave or fool. So you intend then to remain with me whether I like it or
"Troth, I was e'en thinking sae," replied Andrew, dogmatically; "for if
your honour disna ken when ye hae a gude servant, I ken when I hae a gude
master, and the deil be in my feet gin I leave ye--and there's the brief
and the lang o't besides I hae received nae regular warning to quit my
"Your place, sir!" said I;--"why, you are no hired servant of mine,--you
are merely a guide, whose knowledge of the country I availed myself of on
"I am no just a common servant, I admit, sir," remonstrated Mr.
Fairservice; "but your honour kens I quitted a gude place at an hour's
notice, to comply wi' your honour's solicitations. A man might make
honestly, and wi' a clear conscience, twenty sterling pounds per annum,
weel counted siller, o' the garden at Osbaldistone Hall, and I wasna
likely to gi'e up a' that for a guinea, I trow--I reckoned on staying wi'
your honour to the term's end at the least o't; and I account my wage,
board-wage, fee and bountith,--ay, to that length o't at the least."
"Come, come, sir," replied I, "these impudent pretensions won't serve
your turn; and if I hear any more of them, I shall convince you that
Squire Thorncliff is not the only one of my name that can use his
While I spoke thus, the whole matter struck me as so ridiculous, that,
though really angry, I had some difficulty to forbear laughing at the
gravity with which Andrew supported a plea so utterly extravagant. The
rascal, aware of the impression he had made on my muscles, was encouraged
to perseverance. He judged it safer, however, to take his pretensions a
peg lower, in case of overstraining at the same time both his plea and my
"Admitting that my honour could part with a faithful servant, that had
served me and mine by day and night for twenty years, in a strange place,
and at a moment's warning, he was weel assured," he said, "it wasna in my
heart, nor in no true gentleman's, to pit a puir lad like himself, that
had come forty or fifty, or say a hundred miles out o' his road purely to
bear my honour company, and that had nae handing but his penny-fee, to
sic a hardship as this comes to."
I think it was you, Will, who once told me, that, to be an obstinate man,
I am in certain things the most gullable and malleable of mortals. The
fact is, that it is only contradiction which makes me peremptory, and
when I do not feel myself called on to give battle to any proposition, I
am always willing to grant it, rather than give myself much trouble. I
knew this fellow to be a greedy, tiresome, meddling coxcomb; still,
however, I must have some one about me in the quality of guide and
domestic, and I was so much used to Andrew's humour, that on some
occasions it was rather amusing. In the state of indecision to which
these reflections led me, I asked Fairservice if he knew the roads,
towns, etc., in the north of Scotland, to which my father's concerns with
the proprietors of Highland forests were likely to lead me. I believe if
I had asked him the road to the terrestrial paradise, he would have at
that moment undertaken to guide me to it; so that I had reason afterwards
to think myself fortunate in finding that his actual knowledge did not
fall very much short of that which he asserted himself to possess. I
fixed the amount of his wages, and reserved to myself the privilege of
dismissing him when I chose, on paying him a week in advance. I gave him
finally a severe lecture on his conduct of the preceding day, and then
dismissed him rejoicing at heart, though somewhat crestfallen in
countenance, to rehearse to his friend the precentor, who was taking his
morning draught in the kitchen, the mode in which he had "cuitled up the
daft young English squire."
Agreeable to appointment, I went next to Bailie Nicol Jarvie's, where a
comfortable morning's repast was arranged in the parlour, which served as
an apartment of all hours, and almost all work, to that honest gentleman.
The bustling and benevolent magistrate had been as good as his word. I
found my friend Owen at liberty, and, conscious of the refreshments and
purification of brush and basin, was of course a very different person
from Owen a prisoner, squalid, heart-broken, and hopeless. Yet the sense
of pecuniary difficulties arising behind, before, and around him, had
depressed his spirit, and the almost paternal embrace which the good man
gave me, was embittered by a sigh of the deepest anxiety. And when he
sate down, the heaviness in his eye and manner, so different from the
quiet composed satisfaction which they usually exhibited, indicated that
he was employing his arithmetic in mentally numbering up the days, the
hours, the minutes, which yet remained as an interval between the
dishonour of bills and the downfall of the great commercial establishment
of Osbaldistone and Tresham. It was left to me, therefore, to do honour
to our landlord's hospitable cheer--to his tea, right from China, which
he got in a present from some eminent ship's-husband at Wapping--to his
coffee, from a snug plantation of his own, as he informed us with a wink,
called Saltmarket Grove, in the island of Jamaica--to his English toast
and ale, his Scotch dried salmon, his Lochfine herrings, and even to the
double-damask table-cloth, "wrought by no hand, as you may guess," save
that of his deceased father the worthy Deacon Jarvie.
Having conciliated our good-humoured host by those little attentions
which are great to most men, I endeavoured in my turn to gain from him
some information which might be useful for my guidance, as well as for
the satisfaction of my curiosity. We had not hitherto made the least
allusion to the transactions of the preceding night, a circumstance which
made my question sound somewhat abrupt, when, without any previous
introduction of the subject, I took advantage of a pause when the history
of the table-cloth ended, and that of the napkins was about to commence,
to inquire, "Pray, by the by, Mr. Jarvie, who may this Mr. Robert
Campbell be, whom we met with last night?"
The interrogatory seemed to strike the honest magistrate, to use the
vulgar phrase, "all of a heap," and instead of answering, he returned the
question--"Whae's Mr. Robert Campbell?--ahem! ahay! Whae's Mr. Robert
Campbell, quo' he?"
"Yes," said I, "I mean who and what is he?"
"Why, he's--ahay!--he's--ahem!--Where did ye meet with Mr. Robert
Campbell, as ye ca' him?"
"I met him by chance," I replied, "some months ago in the north of
"Ou then, Mr. Osbaldistone," said the Bailie, doggedly, "ye'll ken as
muckle about him as I do."
"I should suppose not, Mr. Jarvie," I replied;--"you are his relation, it
seems, and his friend."
"There is some cousin-red between us, doubtless," said the Bailie
reluctantly; "but we hae seen little o' ilk other since Rob gae tip the
cattle-line o' dealing, poor fallow! he was hardly guided by them might
hae used him better--and they haena made their plack a bawbee o't
neither. There's mony ane this day wad rather they had never chased puir
Robin frae the Cross o' Glasgow--there's mony ane wad rather see him
again at the tale o' three hundred kyloes, than at the head o' thirty
"All this explains nothing to me, Mr. Jarvie, of Mr. Campbell's rank,
habits of life, and means of subsistence," I replied.
"Rank?" said Mr. Jarvie; "he's a Hieland gentleman, nae doubt--better
rank need nane to be;--and for habit, I judge he wears the Hieland habit
amang the hills, though he has breeks on when he comes to Glasgow;--and
as for his subsistence, what needs we care about his subsistence, sae
lang as he asks naething frae us, ye ken? But I hae nae time for
clavering about him e'en now, because we maun look into your father's
concerns wi' all speed."
So saying, he put on his spectacles, and sate down to examine Mr. Owen's
states, which the other thought it most prudent to communicate to him
without reserve. I knew enough of business to be aware that nothing could
be more acute and sagacious than the views which Mr. Jarvie entertained
of the matters submitted to his examination; and, to do him justice, it
was marked by much fairness, and even liberality. He scratched his ear
indeed repeatedly on observing the balance which stood at the debit of
Osbaldistone and Tresham in account with himself personally.
"It may be a dead loss," he observed; "and, conscience! whate'er ane o'
your Lombard Street goldsmiths may say to it, it's a snell ane in the
Saut-Market* o' Glasgow. It will be a heavy deficit--a staff out o' my
bicker, I trow.
* [The Saltmarket. This ancient street, situate in the heart of Glasgow,
has of late been almost entirely renovated.]
But what then?--I trust the house wunna coup the crane for a' that's come
and gane yet; and if it does, I'll never bear sae base a mind as thae
corbies in the Gallowgate--an I am to lose by ye, I'se ne'er deny I hae
won by ye mony a fair pund sterling--Sae, an it come to the warst, I'se
een lay the head o' the sow to the tail o' the grice."*
* _Anglice,_ the head of the sow to the tail of the pig.
I did not altogether understand the proverbial arrangement with which Mr.
Jarvie consoled himself, but I could easily see that he took a kind and
friendly interest in the arrangement of my father's affairs, suggested
several expedients, approved several plans proposed by Owen, and by his
countenance and counsel greatly abated the gloom upon the brow of that
afflicted delegate of my father's establishment.
As I was an idle spectator on this occasion, and, perhaps, as I showed
some inclination more than once to return to the prohibited, and
apparently the puzzling subject of Mr. Campbell, Mr. Jarvie dismissed me
with little formality, with an advice to "gang up the gate to the
college, where I wad find some chields could speak Greek and Latin weel--
at least they got plenty o' siller for doing deil haet else, if they
didna do that; and where I might read a spell o' the worthy Mr. Zachary
Boyd's translation o' the Scriptures--better poetry need nane to be, as
he had been tell'd by them that ken'd or suld hae ken'd about sic
things." But he seasoned this dismission with a kind and hospitable
invitation "to come back and take part o' his family-chack at ane
preceesely--there wad be a leg o' mutton, and, it might be, a tup's head,
for they were in season;" but above all, I was to return at "ane o'clock
preceesely--it was the hour he and the deacon his father aye dined at--
they pat it off for naething nor for naebody."
So stands the Thracian herdsman with his spear
Full in the gap, and hopes the hunted bear;
And hears him in the rustling wood, and sees
His course at distance by the bending trees,
And thinks--Here comes my mortal enemy,
And either he must fall in fight, or I.
Palamon and Arcite.
I took the route towards the college, as recommended by Mr. Jarvie, less
with the intention of seeking for any object of interest or amusement,
than to arrange my own ideas, and meditate on my future conduct. I
wandered from one quadrangle of old-fashioned buildings to another, and
from thence to the College-yards, or walking ground, where, pleased with
the solitude of the place, most of the students being engaged in their
classes, I took several turns, pondering on the waywardness of my own
I could not doubt, from the circumstances attending my first meeting with
this person Campbell, that he was engaged in some strangely desperate
courses; and the reluctance with which Mr. Jarvie alluded to his person
or pursuits, as well as all the scene of the preceding night, tended to
confirm these suspicions. Yet to this man Diana Vernon had not, it would
seem, hesitated to address herself in my behalf; and the conduct of the
magistrate himself towards him showed an odd mixture of kindness, and
even respect, with pity and censure. Something there must be uncommon in
Campbell's situation and character; and what was still more
extraordinary, it seemed that his fate was doomed to have influence over,
and connection with, my own. I resolved to bring Mr. Jarvie to close
quarters on the first proper opportunity, and learn as much as was
possible on the subject of this mysterious person, in order that I might
judge whether it was possible for me, without prejudice to my reputation,
to hold that degree of farther correspondence with him to which he seemed
While I was musing on these subjects, my attention was attracted by three
persons who appeared at the upper end of the walk through which I was
sauntering, seemingly engaged in very earnest conversation. That
intuitive impression which announces to us the approach of whomsoever we
love or hate with intense vehemence, long before a more indifferent eye
can recognise their persons, flashed upon my mind the sure conviction
that the midmost of these three men was Rashleigh Osbaldistone. To
address him was my first impulse;--my second was, to watch him until he
was alone, or at least to reconnoitre his companions before confronting
him. The party was still at such distance, and engaged in such deep
discourse, that I had time to step unobserved to the other side of a
small hedge, which imperfectly screened the alley in which I was walking.
It was at this period the fashion of the young and gay to wear, in their
morning walks, a scarlet cloak, often laced and embroidered, above their
other dress, and it was the trick of the time for gallants occasionally
to dispose it so as to muffle a part of the face. The imitating this
fashion, with the degree of shelter which I received from the hedge,
enabled me to meet my cousin, unobserved by him or the others, except
perhaps as a passing stranger. I was not a little startled at recognising
in his companions that very Morris on whose account I had been summoned
before Justice Inglewood, and Mr. MacVittie the merchant, from whose
starched and severe aspect I had recoiled on the preceding day.
A more ominous conjunction to my own affairs, and those of my father,
could scarce have been formed. I remembered Morris's false accusation
against me, which he might be as easily induced to renew as he had been
intimidated to withdraw; I recollected the inauspicious influence of
MacVittie over my father's affairs, testified by the imprisonment of
Owen;--and I now saw both these men combined with one, whose talent for
mischief I deemed little inferior to those of the great author of all
ill, and my abhorrence of whom almost amounted to dread.
When they had passed me for some paces, I turned and followed them
unobserved. At the end of the walk they separated, Morris and MacVittie
leaving the gardens, and Rashleigh returning alone through the walks. I
was now determined to confront him, and demand reparation for the
injuries he had done my father, though in what form redress was likely to
be rendered remained to be known. This, however, I trusted to chance; and
flinging back the cloak in which I was muffled, I passed through a gap of
the low hedge, and presented myself before Rashleigh, as, in a deep
reverie, he paced down the avenue.
Rashleigh was no man to be surprised or thrown off his guard by sudden
occurrences. Yet he did not find me thus close to him, wearing
undoubtedly in my face the marks of that indignation which was glowing in
my bosom, without visibly starting at an apparition so sudden and
"You are well met, sir," was my commencement; "I was about to take a long
and doubtful journey in quest of you."
"You know little of him you sought then," replied Rashleigh, with his
usual undaunted composure. "I am easily found by my friends--still more
easily by my foes;--your manner compels me to ask in which class I must
rank Mr. Francis Osbaldistone?"
"In that of your foes, sir," I answered--"in that of your mortal foes,
unless you instantly do justice to your benefactor, my father, by
accounting for his property."
"And to whom, Mr. Osbaldistone," answered Rashleigh, "am I, a member of
your father's commercial establishment, to be compelled to give any
account of my proceedings in those concerns, which are in every respect
identified with my own?--Surely not to a young gentleman whose exquisite
taste for literature would render such discussions disgusting and
"Your sneer, sir, is no answer; I will not part with you until I have
full satisfaction concerning the fraud you meditate--you shall go with me
before a magistrate."
"Be it so," said Rashleigh, and made a step or two as if to accompany me;
then pausing, proceeded--"Were I inclined to do so as you would have me,
you should soon feel which of us had most reason to dread the presence of
a magistrate. But I have no wish to accelerate your fate. Go, young man!
amuse yourself in your world of poetical imaginations, and leave the
business of life to those who understand and can conduct it."
His intention, I believe, was to provoke me, and he succeeded. "Mr.
Osbaldistone," I said, "this tone of calm insolence shall not avail you.
You ought to be aware that the name we both bear never submitted to
insult, and shall not in my person be exposed to it."
"You remind me," said Rashleigh, with one of his blackest looks, "that it
was dishonoured in my person!--and you remind me also by whom! Do you
think I have forgotten the evening at Osbaldistone Hall when you cheaply
and with impunity played the bully at my expense? For that insult--never
to be washed out but by blood!--for the various times you have crossed my
path, and always to my prejudice--for the persevering folly with which
you seek to traverse schemes, the importance of which you neither know
nor are capable of estimating,--for all these, sir, you owe me a long
account, for which there shall come an early day of reckoning."
"Let it come when it will," I replied, "I shall be willing and ready to
meet it. Yet you seem to have forgotten the heaviest article--that I had
the pleasure to aid Miss Vernon's good sense and virtuous feeling in
extricating her from your infamous toils."
I think his dark eyes flashed actual fire at this home-taunt, and yet his
voice retained the same calm expressive tone with which he had hitherto
conducted the conversation.
"I had other views with respect to you, young man," was his answer: "less
hazardous for you, and more suitable to my present character and former
education. But I see you will draw on yourself the personal chastisement
your boyish insolence so well merits.Follow me to a more remote spot,
where we are less likely to be interrupted."
I followed him accordingly, keeping a strict eye on his motions, for I
believed him capable of the very worst actions. We reached an open spot
in a sort of wilderness, laid out in the Dutch taste, with clipped
hedges, and one or two statues. I was on my guard, and it was well with
me that I was so; for Rashleigh's sword was out and at my breast ere I
could throw down my cloak, or get my weapon unsheathed, so that I only
saved my life by springing a pace or two backwards. He had some advantage
in the difference of our weapons; for his sword, as I recollect, was
longer than mine, and had one of those bayonet or three-cornered blades
which are now generally worn; whereas mine was what we then called a
Saxon blade--narrow, flat, and two-edged, and scarcely so manageable as
that of my enemy. In other respects we were pretty equally matched: for
what advantage I might possess in superior address and agility, was fully
counterbalanced by Rashleigh's great strength and coolness. He fought,
indeed, more like a fiend than a man--with concentrated spite and desire
of blood, only allayed by that cool consideration which made his worst
actions appear yet worse from the air of deliberate premeditation which
seemed to accompany them. His obvious malignity of purpose never for a
moment threw him off his guard, and he exhausted every feint and
stratagem proper to the science of defence; while, at the same time, he
meditated the most desperate catastrophe to our rencounter.
On my part, the combat was at first sustained with more moderation. My
passions, though hasty, were not malevolent; and the walk of two or three
minutes' space gave me time to reflect that Rashleigh was my father's
nephew, the son of an uncle, who after his fashion had been kind to me,
and that his falling by my hand could not but occasion much family
distress. My first resolution, therefore, was to attempt to disarm my
antagonist--a manoeuvre in which, confiding in my superiority of skill
and practice, I anticipated little difficulty. I found, however, I had
met my match; and one or two foils which I received, and from the
consequences of which I narrowly escaped, obliged me to observe more
caution in my mode of fighting. By degrees I became exasperated at the
rancour with which Rashleigh sought my life, and returned his passes with
an inveteracy resembling in some degree his own; so that the combat had
all the appearance of being destined to have a tragic issue. That issue
had nearly taken place at my expense. My foot slipped in a full lounge
which I made at my adversary, and I could not so far recover myself as
completely to parry the thrust with which my pass was repaid. Yet it took
but partial effect, running through my waistcoat, grazing my ribs, and
passing through my coat behind. The hilt of Rashleigh's sword, so great
was the vigour of his thrust, struck against my breast with such force as
to give me great pain, and confirm me in the momentary belief that I was
mortally wounded. Eager for revenge, I grappled with my enemy, seizing
with my left hand the hilt of his sword, and shortening my own with the
purpose of running him through the body. Our death-grapple was
interrupted by a man who forcibly threw himself between us, and pushing
us separate from each other, exclaimed, in a loud and commanding voice,
"What! the sons of those fathers who sucked the same breast shedding each
others bluid as it were strangers'!--By the hand of my father, I will
cleave to the brisket the first man that mints another stroke!"
I looked up in astonishment. The speaker was no other than Campbell. He
had a basket-hilted broadsword drawn in his hand, which he made to
whistle around his head as he spoke, as if for the purpose of enforcing
his mediation. Rashleigh and I stared in silence at this unexpected
intruder, who proceeded to exhort us alternately:--"Do you, Maister
Francis, opine that ye will re-establish your father's credit by cutting
your kinsman's thrapple, or getting your ain sneckit instead thereof in
the College-yards of Glasgow?--Or do you, Mr Rashleigh, think men will
trust their lives and fortunes wi' ane, that, when in point of trust and
in point of confidence wi' a great political interest, gangs about
brawling like a drunken gillie?--Nay, never look gash or grim at me, man
--if ye're angry, ye ken how to turn the buckle o' your belt behind you."
"You presume on my present situation," replied Rashleigh, "or you would
have hardly dared to interfere where my honour is concerned."
"Hout! tout! tout!--Presume? And what for should it be presuming?--Ye may
be the richer man, Mr. Osbaldistone, as is maist likely; and ye may be
the mair learned man, whilk I dispute not: but I reckon ye are neither a
prettier man nor a better gentleman than mysell--and it will be news to
me when I hear ye are as gude. And _dare_ too? Muckle daring there's
about it--I trow, here I stand, that hae slashed as het a haggis as ony
o' the twa o' ye, and thought nae muckle o' my morning's wark when it was
dune. If my foot were on the heather as it's on the causeway, or this
pickle gravel, that's little better, I hae been waur mistrysted than if I
were set to gie ye baith your ser'ing o't."
Rashleigh had by this time recovered his temper completely. "My kinsman,"
he said, "will acknowledge he forced this quarrel on me. It was none of
my seeking. I am glad we are interrupted before I chastised his
forwardness more severely."
"Are ye hurt, lad?" inquired Campbell of me, with some appearance of
"A very slight scratch," I answered, "which my kind cousin would not long
have boasted of had not you come between us."
"In troth, and that's true, Maister Rashleigh," said Campbell; "for the
cauld iron and your best bluid were like to hae become acquaint when I
mastered Mr. Frank's right hand. But never look like a sow playing upon a
trump for the luve of that, man--come and walk wi' me. I hae news to tell
ye, and ye'll cool and come to yourself, like MacGibbon's crowdy, when he
set it out at the window-bole."
"Pardon me, sir," said I. "Your intentions have seemed friendly to me on
more occasions than one; but I must not, and will not, quit sight of this
person until he yields up to me those means of doing justice to my
father's engagements, of which he has treacherously possessed himself."
"Ye're daft, man," replied Campbell; "it will serve ye naething to follow
us e'enow; ye hae just enow o' ae man--wad ye bring twa on your head, and
might bide quiet?"
"Twenty," I replied, "if it be necessary."
I laid my hand on Rashleigh's collar, who made no resistance, but said,
with a sort of scornful smile, "You hear him, MacGregor! he rushes on his
fate--will it be my fault if he falls into it?--The warrants are by this
time ready, and all is prepared."
The Scotchman was obviously embarrassed. He looked around, and before,
and behind him, and then said--"The ne'er a bit will I yield my consent
to his being ill-guided for standing up for the father that got him--and
I gie God's malison and mine to a' sort o' magistrates, justices,
bailies., sheriffs, sheriff-officers, constables, and sic-like black
cattle, that hae been the plagues o' puir auld Scotland this hunder
year.--it was a merry warld when every man held his ain gear wi' his ain
grip, and when the country side wasna fashed wi' warrants and poindings
and apprizings, and a' that cheatry craft. And ance mair I say it, my
conscience winna see this puir thoughtless lad ill-guided, and especially
wi' that sort o' trade. I wad rather ye fell till't again, and fought it
out like douce honest men."
"Your conscience, MacGregor!" said Rashleigh; "you forget how long you
and I have known each other."
"Yes, my conscience," reiterated Campbell, or MacGregor, or whatever was
his name; "I hae such a thing about me, Maister Osbaldistone; and therein
it may weel chance that I hae the better o' you. As to our knowledge of
each other,--if ye ken what I am, ye ken what usage it was made me what I
am; and, whatever you may think, I would not change states with the
proudest of the oppressors that hae driven me to tak the heather-bush for
a beild. What _you_ are, Maister Rashleigh, and what excuse ye hae for
being _what_ you are, is between your ain heart and the lang day.--And
now, Maister Francis, let go his collar; for he says truly, that ye are
in mair danger from a magistrate than he is, and were your cause as
straight as an arrow, he wad find a way to put you wrang--So let go his
craig, as I was saying."
He seconded his words with an effort so sudden and unexpected, that he
freed Rashleigh from my hold, and securing me, notwithstanding my
struggles, in his own Herculean gripe, he called out--"Take the bent, Mr.
Rashleigh--Make ae pair o' legs worth twa pair o' hands; ye hae dune that
"You may thank this gentleman, kinsman," said Rashleigh, "if I leave any
part of my debt to you unpaid; and if I quit you now, it is only in the
hope we shall soon meet again without the possibility of interruption."
He took up his sword, wiped it, sheathed it, and was lost among the
The Scotchman, partly by force, partly by remonstrance, prevented my
following him; indeed I began to be of opinion my doing so would be to
"As I live by bread," said Campbell, when, after one or two struggles in
which he used much forbearance towards me, he perceived me inclined to
stand quiet, "I never saw sae daft a callant! I wad hae gien the best man
in the country the breadth o' his back gin he had gien me sic a kemping
as ye hae dune. What wad ye do?--Wad ye follow the wolf to his den? I
tell ye, man, he has the auld trap set for ye--He has got the
collector-creature Morris to bring up a' the auld story again, and ye
maun look for nae help frae me here, as ye got at Justice Inglewood's;--
it isna good for my health to come in the gate o' the whigamore bailie
bodies. Now gang your ways hame, like a gude bairn--jouk and let the jaw
gae by--Keep out o' sight o' Rashleigh, and Morris, and that MacVittie
animal--Mind the Clachan of Aberfoil, as I said before, and by the word
of a gentleman, I wunna see ye wranged. But keep a calm sough till we
meet again--I maun gae and get Rashleigh out o' the town afore waur comes
o't, for the neb o' him's never out o' mischief--Mind the Clachan of
He turned upon his heel, and left me to meditate on the singular events
which had befallen me. My first care was to adjust my dress and reassume
my cloak, disposing it so as to conceal the blood which flowed down my
right side. I had scarcely accomplished this, when, the classes of the
college being dismissed, the gardens began to be filled with parties of
the students. I therefore left them as soon as possible; and in my way
towards Mr. Jarvie's, whose dinner hour was now approaching, I stopped at
a small unpretending shop, the sign of which intimated the indweller to
be Christopher Neilson, surgeon and apothecary. I requested of a little
boy who was pounding some stuff in a mortar, that he would procure me an
audience of this learned pharmacopolist. He opened the door of the back
shop, where I found a lively elderly man, who shook his head
incredulously at some idle account I gave him of having been wounded
accidentally by the button breaking off my antagonist's foil while I was
engaged in a fencing match. When he had applied some lint and somewhat
else he thought proper to the trifling wound I had received, he observed
--"There never was button on the foil that made this hurt. Ah! young
blood! young blood!--But we surgeons are a secret generation--If it
werena for hot blood and ill blood, what wad become of the twa learned
With which moral reflection he dismissed me; and I experienced very
little pain or inconvenience afterwards from the scratch I had received.
An iron race the mountain-cliffs maintain,
Foes to the gentler genius of the plain.
Who while their rocky ramparts round they see,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
As lawless force from confidence will grow,
Insult the plenty of the vales below.
"What made ye sae late?" said Mr. Jarvie, as I entered the dining-parlour
of that honest gentleman; "it is chappit ane the best feek o' five
minutes by-gane. Mattie has been twice at the door wi' the dinner, and
weel for you it was a tup's head, for that canna suffer by delay. A
sheep's head ower muckle boiled is rank poison, as my worthy father used
to say--he likit the lug o' ane weel, honest man."
I made a suitable apology for my breach of punctuality, and was soon
seated at table, where Mr. Jarvie presided with great glee and
hospitality, compelling, however, Owen and myself to do rather more
justice to the Scottish dainties with which his board was charged, than
was quite agreeable to our southern palates. I escaped pretty well, from
having those habits of society which enable one to elude this species of
well-meant persecution. But it was ridiculous enough to see Owen, whose
ideas of politeness were more rigorous and formal, and who was willing,
in all acts of lawful compliance, to evince his respect for the friend of
the firm, eating with rueful complaisance mouthful after mouthful of
singed wool, and pronouncing it excellent, in a tone in which disgust
almost overpowered civility.
When the cloth was removed, Mr. Jarvie compounded with his own hands a
very small bowl of brandy-punch, the first which I had ever the fortune
"The limes," he assured us, "were from his own little farm yonder-awa"
(indicating the West Indies with a knowing shrug of his shoulders), "and
he had learned the art of composing the liquor from auld Captain
Coffinkey, who acquired it," he added in a whisper, "'as maist folk
thought, among the Buccaniers. But it's excellent liquor," said he,
helping us round; "and good ware has aften come frae a wicked market. And
as for Captain Coffinkey, he was a decent man when I kent him, only he
used to swear awfully--But he's dead, and gaen to his account, and I
trust he's accepted--I trust he's accepted."
We found the liquor exceedingly palatable, and it led to a long
conversation between Owen and our host on the opening which the Union had
afforded to trade between Glasgow and the British Colonies in America and
the West Indies, and on the facilities which Glasgow possessed of making
up sortable cargoes for that market. Mr. Jarvie answered some objection
which Owen made on the difficulty of sorting a cargo for America, without
buying from England, with vehemence and volubility.
"Na, na, sir, we stand on our ain bottom--we pickle in our ain pock-neuk
--We hae our Stirling serges, Musselburgh stuffs, Aberdeen hose,
Edinburgh shalloons, and the like, for our woollen or worsted goods--and
we hae linens of a' kinds better and cheaper than you hae in Lunnon
itsell--and we can buy your north o' England wares, as Manchester wares,
Sheffield wares, and Newcastle earthenware, as cheap as you can at
Liverpool--And we are making a fair spell at cottons and muslins--Na, na!
let every herring hing by its ain head, and every sheep by its ain shank,
and ye'll find, sir, us Glasgow folk no sae far ahint but what we may
follow.--This is but poor entertainment for you, Mr. Osbaldistone"
(observing that I had been for some time silent); "but ye ken cadgers
maun aye be speaking about cart-saddles."
I apologised, alleging the painful circumstances of my own situation, and
the singular adventures of the morning, as the causes of my abstraction
and absence of mind. In this manner I gained what I sought--an
opportunity of telling my story distinctly and without interruption. I
only omitted mentioning the wound I had received, which I did not think
worthy of notice. Mr. Jarvie listened with great attention and apparent
interest, twinkling his little grey eyes, taking snuff, and only
interrupting me by brief interjections. When I came to the account of the
rencounter, at which Owen folded his hands and cast up his eyes to
Heaven, the very image of woeful surprise, Mr. Jarvie broke in upon the
narration with "Wrang now--clean wrang--to draw a sword on your kinsman
is inhibited by the laws o' God and man; and to draw a sword on the
streets of a royal burgh is punishable by fine and imprisonment--and the
College-yards are nae better privileged--they should be a place of peace
and quietness, I trow. The College didna get gude L600 a year out o'
bishops' rents (sorrow fa' the brood o' bishops and their rents too!),
nor yet a lease o' the archbishopric o' Glasgow the sell o't, that they
suld let folk tuilzie in their yards, or the wild callants bicker there
wi' snaw-ba's as they whiles do, that when Mattie and I gae through, we
are fain to make a baik and a bow, or run the risk o' our harns being
knocked out--it suld be looked to.*--But come awa'wi' your tale--what
* The boys in Scotland used formerly to make a sort of Saturnalia in a
snow-storm, by pelting passengers with snowballs. But those exposed to
that annoyance were excused from it on the easy penalty of a baik
(courtesy) from a female, or a bow from a man. It was only the refractory
who underwent the storm.
On my mentioning the appearance of Mr. Campbell, Jarvie arose in great
surprise, and paced the room, exclaiming, "Robin again!--Robert's mad--
clean wud, and waur--Rob will be hanged, and disgrace a' his kindred, and
that will be seen and heard tell o'. My father the deacon wrought him his
first hose--Od, I am thinking Deacon Threeplie, the rape-spinner, will be
twisting his last cravat. Ay, ay, puir Robin is in a fair way o' being
hanged--But come awa', come awa'--let's hear the lave o't."
I told the whole story as pointedly as I could; but Mr. Jarvie still
found something lacking to make it clear, until I went back, though with
considerable reluctance, on the whole story of Morris, and of my meeting
with Campbell at the house of Justice Inglewood. Mr. Jarvie inclined a
serious ear to all this, and remained silent for some time after I had
finished my narrative.
"Upon all these matters I am now to ask your advice, Mr. Jarvie, which, I
have no doubt, will point out the best way to act for my father's
advantage and my own honour."
"Ye're right, young man--ye're right," said the Bailie. "Aye take the
counsel of those who are aulder and wiser than yourself, and binna like
the godless Rehoboam, who took the advice o' a wheen beardless callants,
neglecting the auld counsellors who had sate at the feet o' his father
Solomon, and, as it was weel put by Mr. Meiklejohn, in his lecture on the
chapter, were doubtless partakers of his sapience. But I maun hear
naething about honour--we ken naething here but about credit. Honour is a
homicide and a bloodspiller, that gangs about making frays in the street;
but Credit is a decent honest man, that sits at hame and makes the pat
"Assuredly, Mr. Jarvie," said our friend Owen, "credit is the sum total;
and if we can but save that, at whatever discount"--
"Ye are right, Mr. Owen--ye are right; ye speak weel and wisely; and I
trust bowls will row right, though they are a wee ajee e'enow. But
touching Robin, I am of opinion he will befriend this young man if it is
in his power. He has a gude heart, puir Robin; and though I lost a matter
o' twa hundred punds wi' his former engagements, and haena muckle
expectation ever to see back my thousand punds Scots that he promises me
e'enow, yet I will never say but what Robin means fair by men."
"I am then to consider him," I replied, "as an honest man?"
"Umph!" replied Jarvie, with a precautionary sort of cough--"Ay, he has a
kind o' Hieland honesty--he's honest after a sort, as they say. My father
the deacon used aye to laugh when he tauld me how that by-word came up.
Ane Captain Costlett was cracking crouse about his loyalty to King
Charles, and Clerk Pettigrew (ye'll hae heard mony a tale about him)
asked him after what manner he served the king, when he was fighting
again him at Wor'ster in Cromwell's army; and Captain Costlett was a
ready body, and said that he served him _after a sort._ My honest father
used to laugh weel at that sport--and sae the by-word came up."
"But do you think," I said, "that this man will be able to serve me after
a sort, or should I trust myself to this place of rendezvous which he has
"Frankly and fairly, it's worth trying. Ye see yourself there's some risk
in your staying here. This bit body Morris has gotten a custom-house
place doun at Greenock--that's a port on the Firth doun by here; and tho'
a' the world kens him to be but a twa-leggit creature, wi' a goose's head
and a hen's heart, that goes about on the quay plaguing folk about
permits, and cockits, and dockits, and a' that vexatious trade, yet if he
lodge an information--ou, nae doubt a man in magisterial duty maun attend
to it, and ye might come to be clapped up between four wa's, whilk wad be
ill-convenient to your father's affairs."
"True," I observed; "yet what service am I likely to render him by
leaving Glasgow, which, it is probable, will be the principal scene of
Rashleigh's machinations, and committing myself to the doubtful faith of
a man of whom I know little but that he fears justice, and has doubtless
good reasons for doing so; and that, for some secret, and probably
dangerous purpose, he is in close league and alliance with the very
person who is like to be the author of our ruin?"
"Ah, but ye judge Rob hardly," said the Bailie, "ye judge him hardly,
puir chield; and the truth is, that ye ken naething about our hill
country, or Hielands, as we ca' them. They are clean anither set frae the
like o' huz;--there's nae bailie-courts amang them--nae magistrates that
dinna bear the sword in vain, like the worthy deacon that's awa', and, I
may say't, like mysell and other present magistrates in this city--But
it's just the laird's command, and the loon maun loup; and the never
another law hae they but the length o' their dirks--the broadsword's
pursuer, or plaintiff, as you Englishers ca' it, and the target is
defender; the stoutest head bears langest out;--and there's a Hieland
plea for ye."
Owen groaned deeply; and I allow that the description did not greatly
increase my desire to trust myself in a country so lawless as he
described these Scottish mountains.
"Now, sir," said Jarvie, "we speak little o' thae things, because they
are familiar to oursells; and where's the use o' vilifying ane's country,
and bringing a discredit on ane's kin, before southrons and strangers?
It's an ill bird that files its ain nest."
"Well, sir, but as it is no impertinent curiosity of mine, but real
necessity, that obliges me to make these inquiries, I hope you will not
be offended at my pressing for a little farther information. I have to
deal, on my father's account, with several gentlemen of these wild
countries, and I must trust your good sense and experience for the
requisite lights upon the subject."
This little morsel of flattery was not thrown out in vain. "Experience!"
said the Bailie--"I hae had experience, nae doubt, and I hae made some
calculations--Ay, and to speak quietly amang oursells, I hae made some
perquisitions through Andrew Wylie, my auld clerk; he's wi' MacVittie &
Co. now--but he whiles drinks a gill on the Saturday afternoons wi' his
auld master. And since ye say ye are willing to be guided by the Glasgow
weaver-body's advice, I am no the man that will refuse it to the son of
an auld correspondent, and my father the deacon was nane sic afore me. I
have whiles thought o' letting my lights burn before the Duke of Argyle,
or his brother Lord Ilay (for wherefore should they be hidden under a
bushel?), but the like o' thae grit men wadna mind the like o' me, a puir
wabster body--they think mair o' wha says a thing, than o' what the thing
is that's said. The mair's the pity--mair's the pity. Not that I wad
speak ony ill of this MacCallum More--'Curse not the rich in your
bedchamber,' saith the son of Sirach, 'for a bird of the air shall carry
the clatter, and pint-stoups hae lang lugs.'"
I interrupted these prolegomena, in which Mr. Jarvie was apt to be
somewhat diffuse, by praying him to rely upon Mr. Owen and myself as
perfectly secret and safe confidants.
"It's no for that," he replied, "for I fear nae man--what for suld I?--I
speak nae treason--Only thae Hielandmen hae lang grips, and I whiles gang
a wee bit up the glens to see some auld kinsfolks, and I wadna willingly
be in bad blude wi' ony o' their clans. Howsumever, to proceed--ye maun
understand I found my remarks on figures, whilk as Mr. Owen here weel
kens, is the only true demonstrable root of human knowledge."
Owen readily assented to a proposition so much in his own way, and our
"These Hielands of ours, as we ca' them, gentlemen, are but a wild kind
of warld by themsells, full of heights and howes, woods, caverns, lochs,
rivers, and mountains, that it wad tire the very deevil's wings to flee
to the tap o' them. And in this country, and in the isles, whilk are
little better, or, to speak the truth, rather waur than the mainland,
there are about twa hunder and thirty parochines, including the Orkneys,
where, whether they speak Gaelic or no I wotna, but they are an
uncivilised people. Now, sirs, I sall haud ilk parochine at the moderate
estimate of eight hunder examinable persons, deducting children under
nine years of age, and then adding one-fifth to stand for bairns of nine
years auld, and under, the whole population will reach to the sum of--let
us add one-fifth to 800 to be the multiplier, and 230 being the
"The product," said Mr. Owen, who entered delightedly into these
statistics of Mr. Jarvie, "will be 230,000."
"Right, sir--perfectly right; and the military array of this Hieland
country, were a' the men-folk between aughteen and fifty-six brought out
that could bear arms, couldna come weel short of fifty-seven thousand
five hundred men. Now, sir, it's a sad and awfu' truth, that there is
neither wark, nor the very fashion nor appearance of wark, for the tae
half of thae puir creatures; that is to say, that the agriculture, the
pasturage, the fisheries, and every species of honest industry about the
country, cannot employ the one moiety of the population, let them work as
lazily as they like, and they do work as if a pleugh or a spade burnt
their fingers. Aweel, sir, this moiety of unemployed bodies, amounting
"To one hundred and fifteen thousand souls," said Owen, "being the half
of the above product."
"Ye hae't, Mr. Owen--ye hae't--whereof there may be twenty-eight thousand
seven hundred able-bodied gillies fit to bear arms, and that do bear
arms, and will touch or look at nae honest means of livelihood even if
they could get it--which, lack-a-day! they cannot."
"But is it possible," said I, "Mr. Jarvie, that this can be a just
picture of so large a portion of the island of Britain?"
"Sir, I'll make it as plain as Peter Pasley's pike-staff. I will allow
that ilk parochine, on an average, employs fifty pleughs, whilk is a
great proportion in sic miserable soil as thae creatures hae to labour,
and that there may be pasture enough for pleugh-horses, and owsen, and
forty or fifty cows; now, to take care o' the pleughs and cattle, we'se
allow seventy-five families of six lives in ilk family, and we'se add
fifty mair to make even numbers, and ye hae five hundred souls, the tae
half o' the population, employed and maintained in a sort o' fashion, wi'
some chance of sour-milk and crowdie; but I wad be glad to ken what the
other five hunder are to do?"
"In the name of God!" said I, "what _do_ they do, Mr. Jarvie? It makes me
shudder to think of their situation."
"Sir," replied the Bailie, "ye wad maybe shudder mair if ye were living
near hand them. For, admitting that the tae half of them may make some
little thing for themsells honestly in the Lowlands by shearing in harst,
droving, hay-making, and the like; ye hae still mony hundreds and
thousands o' lang-legged Hieland gillies that will neither work nor want,
and maun gang thigging and sorning* about on their acquaintance, or live
by doing the laird's bidding, be't right or be't wrang.
* _Thigging_ and _sorning_ was a kind of genteel begging, or rather
something between begging and robbing, by which the needy in Scotland
used to extort cattle, or the means of subsistence, from those who had
any to give.
And mair especially, mony hundreds o' them come down to the borders of
the low country, where there's gear to grip, and live by stealing,
reiving, lifting cows, and the like depredations--a thing deplorable in
ony Christian country!--the mair especially, that they take pride in it,
and reckon driving a spreagh (whilk is, in plain Scotch, stealing a herd
of nowte) a gallant, manly action, and mair befitting of pretty* men (as
sic reivers will ca' themselves), than to win a day's wage by ony honest
* The word _pretty_ is or was used in Scotch, in the sense of the German
_prachtig,_ and meant a gallant, alert fellow, prompt and ready at his
And the lairds are as bad as the loons; for if they dinna bid them gae
reive and harry, the deil a bit they forbid them; and they shelter them,
or let them shelter themselves, in their woods and mountains, and
strongholds, whenever the thing's dune. And every ane o' them will
maintain as mony o' his ane name, or his clan, as we say, as he can rap
and rend means for; or, whilk's the same thing, as mony as can in ony
fashion, fair or foul, mainteen themsells. And there they are wi' gun and
pistol, dirk and dourlach, ready to disturb the peace o' the country
whenever the laird likes; and that's the grievance of the Hielands, whilk
are, and hae been for this thousand years by-past, a bike o' the maist
lawless unchristian limmers that ever disturbed a douce, quiet,
God-fearing neighbourhood, like this o' ours in the west here."
"And this kinsman of yours, and friend of mine, is he one of those great
proprietors who maintain the household troops you speak of?" I inquired.
"Na, na," said Bailie Jarvie; "he's nane o' your great grandees o'
chiefs, as they ca' them, neither. Though he is weel born, and lineally
descended frae auld Glenstrae--I ken his lineage--indeed he is a near
kinsman, and, as I said, of gude gentle Hieland blude, though ye may
think weel that I care little about that nonsense--it's a' moonshine in
water--waste threads and thrums, as we say--But I could show ye letters
frae his father, that was the third aff Glenstrae, to my father Deacon
Jarvie (peace be wi' his memory!) beginning, Dear Deacon, and ending,
your loving kinsman to command,--they are amaist a' about borrowed
siller, sae the gude deacon, that's dead and gane, keepit them as
documents and evidents--He was a carefu' man."
"But if he is not," I resumed, "one of their chiefs or patriarchal
leaders, whom I have heard my father talk of, this kinsman of yours has,
at least, much to say in the Highlands, I presume?"
"Ye may say that--nae name better ken'd between the Lennox and
Breadalbane. Robin was ance a weel-doing, painstaking drover, as ye wad
see amang ten thousand--It was a pleasure to see him in his belted plaid
and brogues, wi' his target at his back, and claymore and dirk at his
belt, following a hundred Highland stots, and a dozen o' the gillies, as
rough and ragged as the beasts they drave. And he was baith civil and
just in his dealings; and if he thought his chapman had made a hard
bargain, he wad gie him a luck-penny to the mends. I hae ken'd him gie
back five shillings out o' the pund sterling."
"Twenty-five per cent," said Owen--"a heavy discount."
"He wad gie it though, sir, as I tell ye; mair especially if he thought
the buyer was a puir man, and couldna stand by a loss. But the times cam
hard, and Rob was venturesome. It wasna my faut--it wasna my faut; he
canna wyte me--I aye tauld him o't--And the creditors, mair especially
some grit neighbours o' his, gripped to his living and land; and they say
his wife was turned out o' the house to the hill-side, and sair misguided
to the boot. Shamefu'! shamefu'!--I am a peacefu' man and a magistrate,
but if ony ane had guided sae muckle as my servant quean, Mattie, as it's
like they guided Rob's wife, I think it suld hae set the shabble* that my
father the deacon had at Bothwell brig a-walking again.
Weel, Rob cam hame, and fand desolation, God pity us! where he left
plenty; he looked east, west, south, north, and saw neither hauld nor
hope--neither beild nor shelter; sae he e'en pu'd the bonnet ower his
brow, belted the broadsword to his side, took to the brae-side, and
became a broken man."*
* An outlaw.
The voice of the good citizen was broken by his contending feelings. He
obviously, while he professed to contemn the pedigree of his Highland
kinsman, attached a secret feeling of consequence to the connection, and
he spoke of his friend in his prosperity with an overflow of affection,
which deepened his sympathy for his misfortunes, and his regret for their
"Thus tempted and urged by despair," said I, seeing Mr. Jarvie did not
proceed in his narrative, "I suppose your kinsman became one of those
depredators you have described to us?"
"No sae bad as that," said the Glaswegian,--"no a'thegither and outright
sae bad as that; but he became a levier of black-mail, wider and farther
than ever it was raised in our day, a through the Lennox and Menteith,
and up to the gates o' Stirling Castle."
"Black-mail?--I do not understand the phrase," I remarked.
"Ou, ye see, Rob soon gathered an unco band o' blue-bonnets at his back,
for he comes o' a rough name when he's kent by his ain, and a name that's
held its ain for mony a lang year, baith again king and parliament, and
kirk too, for aught I ken--an auld and honourable name, for as sair as it
has been worried and hadden down and oppressed. My mother was a
MacGregor--I carena wha kens it--And Rob had soon a gallant band; and as
it grieved him (he said) to see sic _hership_ and waste and depredation
to the south o' the Hieland line, why, if ony heritor or farmer wad pay
him four punds Scots out of each hundred punds of valued rent, whilk was
doubtless a moderate consideration, Rob engaged to keep them scaithless;
--let them send to him if they lost sae muckle as a single cloot by
thieving, and Rob engaged to get them again, or pay the value--and he aye
keepit his word--I canna deny but he keepit his word--a' men allow Rob
keeps his word."
"This is a very singular contract of assurance," said Mr. Owen.
"It's clean again our statute law, that must be owned," said Jarvie,
"clean again law; the levying and the paying black-mail are baith
punishable: but if the law canna protect my barn and byre, whatfor suld I
no engage wi' a Hieland gentleman that can?--answer me that."
"But," said I, "Mr. Jarvie, is this contract of black-mail, as you call
it, completely voluntary on the part of the landlord or farmer who pays
the insurance? or what usually happens, in case any one refuses payment
of this tribute?"
"Aha, lad!" said the Bailie, laughing, and putting his finger to his
nose, "ye think ye hae me there. Troth, I wad advise ony friends o' mine
to gree wi' Rob; for, watch as they like, and do what they like, they are
sair apt to be harried* when the lang nights come on.
Some o' the Grahame and Cohoon gentry stood out; but what then?--they
lost their haill stock the first winter; sae maist folks now think it
best to come into Rob's terms. He's easy wi' a' body that will be easy
wi' him; but if ye thraw him, ye had better thraw the deevil."
"And by his exploits in these vocations," I continued, "I suppose he has
rendered himself amenable to the laws of the country?"
"Amenable?--ye may say that; his craig wad ken the weight o' his hurdies
if they could get haud o' Rob. But he has gude friends amang the grit
folks; and I could tell ye o' ae grit family that keeps him up as far as
they decently can, to be a them in the side of another. And then he's sic
an auld-farran lang-headed chield as never took up the trade o' cateran
in our time; mony a daft reik he has played--mair than wad fill a book,
and a queer ane it wad be--as gude as Robin Hood, or William Wallace--a'
fu' o' venturesome deeds and escapes, sic as folk tell ower at a winter
ingle in the daft days. It's a queer thing o' me, gentlemen, that am a
man o' peace mysell, and a peacefu man's son--for the deacon my father
quarrelled wi' nane out o the town-council--it's a queer thing, I say,
but I think the Hieland blude o' me warms at thae daft tales, and whiles
I like better to hear them than a word o' profit, gude forgie me! But
they are vanities--sinfu' vanities--and, moreover, again the statute law
--again the statute and gospel law."
I now followed up my investigation, by inquiring what means of influence
this Mr. Robert Campbell could possibly possess over my affairs, or those
of my father.
"Why, ye are to understand," said Mr. Jarvie in a very subdued tone--"I
speak amang friends, and under the rose--Ye are to understand, that the
Hielands hae been keepit quiet since the year aughty-nine--that was
Killiecrankie year. But how hae they been keepit quiet, think ye? By
siller, Mr. Owen--by siller, Mr. Osbaldistone. King William caused
Breadalbane distribute twenty thousand oude punds sterling amang them,
and it's said the auld Hieland Earl keepit a lang lug o't in his ain
sporran. And then Queen Anne, that's dead, gae the chiefs bits o'
pensions, sae they had wherewith to support their gillies and caterans
that work nae wark, as I said afore; and they lay by quiet eneugh, saying
some spreagherie on the Lowlands, whilk is their use and wont, and some
cutting o' thrapples amang themsells, that nae civilised body kens or
cares onything anent.--Weel, but there's a new warld come up wi' this
King George (I say, God bless him, for ane)--there's neither like to be
siller nor pensions gaun amang them; they haena the means o' mainteening
the clans that eat them up, as ye may guess frae what I said before;
their credit's gane in the Lowlands; and a man that can whistle ye up a
thousand or feifteen hundred linking lads to do his will, wad hardly get
fifty punds on his band at the Cross o' Glasgow--This canna stand lang--
there will be an outbreak for the Stuarts--there will be an outbreak--
they will come down on the low country like a flood, as they did in the
waefu' wars o' Montrose, and that will be seen and heard tell o' ere a
twalmonth gangs round."
"Yet still," I said, "I do not see how this concerns Mr. Campbell, much
less my father's affairs."
"Rob can levy five hundred men, sir, and therefore war suld concern him
as muckle as maist folk," replied the Bailie; "for it is a faculty that
is far less profitable in time o' peace. Then, to tell ye the truth, I
doubt he has been the prime agent between some o' our Hieland chiefs and
the gentlemen in the north o' England. We a' heard o' the public money
that was taen frae the chield Morris somewhere about the fit o' Cheviot
by Rob and ane o' the Osbaldistone lads; and, to tell ye the truth, word
gaed that it was yoursell Mr. Francis,--and sorry was I that your
father's son suld hae taen to sic practices--Na, ye needna say a word
about it--I see weel I was mistaen; but I wad believe onything o' a
stage-player, whilk I concluded ye to be. But now, I doubtna, it has been
Rashleigh himself or some other o' your cousins--they are a' tarred wi'
the same stick--rank Jacobites and papists, and wad think the government
siller and government papers lawfu' prize. And the creature Morris is sic
a cowardly caitiff, that to this hour he daurna say that it was Rob took
the portmanteau aff him; and troth he's right, for your custom-house and
excise cattle are ill liket on a' sides, and Rob might get a back-handed
lick at him, before the Board, as they ca't, could help him."
"I have long suspected this, Mr. Jarvie," said I, "and perfectly agree
with you. But as to my father's affairs"--
"Suspected it?--it's certain--it's certain--I ken them that saw some of
the papers that were taen aff Morris--it's needless to say where. But to
your father's affairs--Ye maun think that in thae twenty years by-gane,
some o' the Hieland lairds and chiefs hae come to some sma' sense o'
their ain interest--your father and others hae bought the woods of
Glen-Disseries, Glen Kissoch, Tober-na-Kippoch, and mony mair besides,
and your father's house has granted large bills in payment,--and as the
credit o' Osbaldistone and Tresham was gude--for I'll say before Mr.
Owen's face, as I wad behind his back, that, bating misfortunes o' the
Lord's sending, nae men could be mair honourable in business--the Hieland
gentlemen, holders o' thae bills, hae found credit in Glasgow and
Edinburgh--(I might amaist say in Glasgow wholly, for it's little the
pridefu' Edinburgh folk do in real business)--for all, or the greater
part of the contents o' thae bills. So that--Aha! d'ye see me now?"
I confessed I could not quite follow his drift.
"Why," said he, "if these bills are not paid, the Glasgow merchant comes
on the Hieland lairds, whae hae deil a boddle o' siller, and will like
ill to spew up what is item a' spent--They will turn desperate--five
hundred will rise that might hae sitten at hame--the deil will gae ower
Jock Wabster--and the stopping of your father's house will hasten the
outbreak that's been sae lang biding us."
"You think, then," said I, surprised at this singular view of the case,
"that Rashleigh Osbaldistone has done this injury to my father, merely to
accelerate a rising in the Highlands, by distressingthe gentlemen to whom
these bills were originally granted?"
"Doubtless--doubtless--it has been one main reason, Mr. Osbaldistone. I
doubtna but what the ready money he carried off wi' him might be another.
But that makes comparatively but a sma' part o' your father's loss,
though it might make the maist part o' Rashleigh's direct gain. The
assets he carried off are of nae mair use to him than if he were to light
his pipe wi' them. He tried if MacVittie & Co. wad gie him siller on
them--that I ken by Andro Wylie--but they were ower auld cats to draw
that strae afore them--they keepit aff, and gae fair words. Rashleigh
Osbaldistone is better ken'd than trusted in Glasgow, for he was here
about some jacobitical papistical troking in seventeen hundred and seven,
and left debt ahint him. Na, na--he canna pit aff the paper here; folk
will misdoubt him how he came by it. Na, na--he'll hae the stuff safe at
some o' their haulds in the Hielands, and I daur say my cousin Rob could
get at it gin he liked."
"But would he be disposed to serve us in this pinch, Mr. Jarvie?" said I.
"You have described him as an agent of the Jacobite party, and deeply
connected in their intrigues: will he be disposed for my sake, or, if you
please, for the sake of justice, to make an act of restitution, which,
supposing it in his power, would, according to your view of the case,
materially interfere with their plans?"
"I canna preceesely speak to that: the grandees among them are doubtfu'
o' Rob, and he's doubtfu' o' them.--And he's been weel friended wi' the
Argyle family, wha stand for the present model of government. If he was
freed o' his hornings and captions, he would rather be on Argyle's side
than he wad be on Breadalbane's, for there's auld ill-will between the
Breadalbane family and his kin and name. The truth is, that Rob is for
his ain hand, as Henry Wynd feught*--he'll take the side that suits him
best; if the deil was laird, Rob wad be for being tenant; and ye canna
blame him, puir fallow, considering his circumstances.
* Two great clans fought out a quarrel with thirty men of a side, in
presence ot the king, on the North Inch of Perth, on or about the year
1392; a man was amissing on one side, whose room was filled by a little
bandy-legged citizen of Perth. This substitute, Henry Wynd--or, as the
Highlanders called him, _Gow Chrom,_ that is, the bandy-legged smith--
fought well, and contributed greatly to the fate of the battle, without
knowing which side he fought on;--so, "To fight for your own hand, like
Henry Wynd," passed into a proverb. [This incident forms a conspicuous
part of the subsequent novel, "The Fair Maid of Perth."]
But there's ae thing sair again ye--Rob has a grey mear in his stable at
"A grey mare?" said I. "What is that to the purpose?"
"The wife, man--the wife,--an awfu' wife she is. She downa bide the sight
o' a kindly Scot, if he come frae the Lowlands, far less of an Inglisher,
and she'll be keen for a' that can set up King James, and ding down King
"It is very singular," I replied, "that the mercantile transactions of
London citizens should become involved with revolutions and rebellions."
"Not at a', man--not at a'," returned Mr. Jarvie; "that's a' your silly
prejudications. I read whiles in the lang dark nights, and I hae read in
Baker's Chronicle* that the merchants o'London could gar the Bank of
Genoa break their promise to advance a mighty sum to the King o' Spain,
whereby the sailing of the Grand Spanish Armada was put aff for a haill
year--What think you of that, sir?"
* [_The Chronicle of the Kings of England,_ by Sir Richard Baker, with
continuations, passed through several editions between 1641 and 1733.
Whether any of them contain the passage alluded to is doubtful.]
"That the merchants did their country golden service, which ought to be
honourably remembered in our histories."
"I think sae too; and they wad do weel, and deserve weal baith o' the
state and o' humanity, that wad save three or four honest Hieland
gentlemen frae louping heads ower heels into destruction, wi' a' their
puir sackless* followers, just because they canna pay back the siller
they had reason to count upon as their ain--and save your father's
credit--and my ain gude siller that Osbaldistone and Tresham awes me into
* Sackless, that is, innocent.
I say, if ane could manage a' this, I think it suld be done and said unto
him, even if he were a puir ca'-the-shuttle body, as unto one whom the
king delighteth to honour."
"I cannot pretend to estimate the extent of public gratitude," I replied;
"but our own thankfulness, Mr. Jarvie, would be commensurate with the
extent of the obligation."
"Which," added Mr. Owen, "we would endeavour to balance with a _per
contra,_ the instant our Mr. Osbaldistone returns from Holland."
"I doubtna--I doubtna--he is a very worthy gentleman, and a sponsible,
and wi' some o' my lights might do muckle business in Scotland--Weel,
sir, if these assets could be redeemed out o' the hands o' the
Philistines, they are gude paper--they are the right stuff when they are
in the right hands, and that's yours, Mr. Owen. And I'se find ye three
men in Glasgow, for as little as ye may think o' us, Mr. Owen--that's
Sandie Steenson in the Trade's-Land, and John Pirie in Candleriggs, and
another that sall be nameless at this present, sall advance what soums
are sufficient to secure the credit of your house, and seek nae better
Owen's eyes sparkled at this prospect of extrication; but his countenance
instantly fell on recollecting how improbable it was that the recovery of
the assets, as he technically called them, should be successfully
"Dinna despair, sir--dinna despair," said Mr. Jarvie; "I hae taen sae
muckle concern wi' your affairs already, that it maun een be ower shoon
ower boots wi' me now. I am just like my father the deacon (praise be wi'
him!) I canna meddle wi' a friend's business, but I aye end wi' making it
my ain--Sae, I'll e'en pit on my boots the morn, and be jogging ower
Drymen Muir wi' Mr. Frank here; and if I canna mak Rob hear reason, and
his wife too, I dinna ken wha can--I hae been a kind freend to them afore
now, to say naething o' ower-looking him last night, when naming his name
wad hae cost him his life--I'll be hearing o' this in the council maybe
frae Bailie Grahame. and MacVittie, and some o' them. They hae coost up
my kindred to Rob to me already--set up their nashgabs! I tauld them I
wad vindicate nae man's faults; but set apart what he had done again the
law o' the country, and the hership o' the Lennox, and the misfortune o'
some folk losing life by him, he was an honester man than stood on ony o'
their shanks--And whatfor suld I mind their clavers? If Rob is an outlaw,
to himsell be it said--there is nae laws now about reset of
inter-communed persons, as there was in the ill times o' the last
Stuarts--I trow I hae a Scotch tongue in my head--if they speak, I'se
It was with great pleasure that I saw the Bailie gradually surmount the
barriers of caution, under the united influence of public spirit and
good-natured interest in our affairs, together with his natural wish to
avoid loss and acquire gain, and not a little harmless vanity. Through
the combined operation of these motives, he at length arrived at the
doughty resolution of taking the field in person, to aid in the recovery
of my father's property. His whole information led me to believe, that if
the papers were in possession of this Highland adventurer, it might be
possible to induce him to surrender what he could not keep with any
prospect of personal advantage; and I was conscious that the presence of
his kinsman was likely to have considerable weight with him. I therefore
cheerfully acquiesced in Mr. Jarvie's proposal that we should set out
early next morning.
That honest gentleman was indeed as vivacious and alert in preparing to
carry his purpose into execution, as he had been slow and cautious in
forming it. He roared to Mattie to "air his trot-cosey, to have his
jack-boots greased and set before the kitchen-fire all night, and to see
that his beast be corned, and a' his riding gear in order." Having agreed
to meet him at five o'clock next morning, and having settled that Owen,
whose presence could be of no use to us upon this expedition, should
await our return at Glasgow, we took a kind farewell of this unexpectedly
zealous friend. I installed Owen in an apartment in my lodgings,
contiguous to my own, and, giving orders to Andrew Fairservice to attend
me next morning at the hour appointed, I retired to rest with better
hopes than it had lately been my fortune to entertain.
Far as the eye could reach no tree was seen,
Earth, clad in russet, scorned the lively green;
No birds, except as birds of passage flew;
No bee was heard to hum, no dove to coo;
No streams, as amber smooth-as amber clear,
Were seen to glide, or heard to warble here.
Prophecy of Famine.
It was in the bracing atmosphere of a harvest morning, that I met by
appointment Fairservice, with the horses, at the door of Mr. Jarvie's
house, which was but little space distant from Mrs. Flyter's hotel. The
first matter which caught my attention was, that whatever were the
deficiencies of the pony which Mr. Fairservice's legal adviser, Clerk
Touthope, generously bestowed upon him in exchange for Thorncliff's mare,
he had contrived to part with it, and procure in its stead an animal with
so curious and complete a lameness, that it seemed only to make use of
three legs for the purpose of progression, while the fourth appeared as
if meant to be flourished in the air by way of accompaniment. "What do
you mean by bringing such a creature as that here, sir? and where is the
pony you rode to Glasgow upon?" were my very natural and impatient
"I sell't it, sir. It was a slink beast, and wad hae eaten its head aff,
standing at Luckie Flyter's at livery. And I hae bought this on your
honour's account. It's a grand bargain--cost but a pund sterling the
foot--that's four a'thegither. The stringhalt will gae aff when it's gaen
a mile; it's a weel-ken'd ganger; they call it Souple Tam."
"On my soul, sir," said I, "you will never rest till my supple-jack and
your shoulders become acquainted, If you do not go instantly and procure
the other brute, you shall pay the penalty of your ingenuity."
Andrew, notwithstanding my threats, continued to battle the point, as he
said it would cost him a guinea of rue-bargain to the man who had bought
his pony, before he could get it back again. Like a true Englishman,
though sensible I was duped by the rascal, I was about to pay his
exaction rather than lose time, when forth sallied Mr. Jarvie, cloaked,
mantled, hooded, and booted, as if for a Siberian winter, while two
apprentices, under the immediate direction of Mattie, led forth the
decent ambling steed which had the honour on such occasions to support
the person of the Glasgow magistrate. Ere he "clombe to the saddle," an
expression more descriptive of the Bailie's mode of mounting than that of
the knights-errant to whom Spenser applies it, he inquired the cause of
the dispute betwixt my servant and me. Having learned the nature of
honest Andrew's manoeuvre he instantly cut short all debate, by
pronouncing, that if Fairservice did not forthwith return the
three-legged palfrey, and produce the more useful quadruped which he had
discarded, he would send him to prison, and amerce him in half his wages.
"Mr. Osbaldistone," said he, "contracted for the service of both your
horse and you--twa brutes at ance--ye unconscionable rascal!--but I'se
look weel after you during this journey."
"It will be nonsense fining me," said Andrew, doughtily, "that hasna a
grey groat to pay a fine wi'--it's ill taking the breeks aff a
"If ye hae nae purse to fine, ye hae flesh to pine," replied the Bailie,
"and I will look weel to ye getting your deserts the tae way or the
To the commands of Mr. Jarvie, therefore, Andrew was compelled to submit,
only muttering between his teeth, "Ower mony maisters,--ower mony
maisters, as the paddock said to the harrow, when every tooth gae her a
Apparently he found no difficulty in getting rid of Supple Tam, and
recovering possession of his former Bucephalus, for he accomplished the
exchange without being many minutes absent; nor did I hear further of his
having paid any smart-money for breach of bargain.
We now set forward, but had not reached the top of the street in which
Mr. Jarvie dwelt, when a loud hallooing and breathless call of "Stop,
stop!" was heard behind us. We stopped accordingly, and were overtaken by
Mr. Jarvie's two lads, who bore two parting tokens of Mattie's care for
her master. The first was conveyed in the form of a voluminous silk
handkerchief, like the mainsail of one of his own West-Indiamen, which
Mrs. Mattie particularly desired he would put about his neck, and which,
thus entreated, he added to his other integuments. The second youngster
brought only a verbal charge (I thought I saw the rogue disposed to laugh
as he delivered it) on the part of the housekeeper, that her master would
take care of the waters. "Pooh! pooh! silly hussy," answered Mr. Jarvie;
but added, turning to me, "it shows a kind heart though--it shows a kind
heart in sae young a quean--Mattie's a carefu' lass." So speaking, he
pricked the sides of his palfrey, and we left the town without farther
While we paced easily forward, by a road which conducted us
north-eastward from the town, I had an opportunity to estimate and admire
the good qualities of my new friend. Although, like my father, he
considered commercial transactions the most important objects of human
life, he was not wedded to them so as to undervalue more general
knowledge. On the contrary, with much oddity and vulgarity of manner,--
with a vanity which he made much more ridiculous by disguising it now and
then under a thin veil of humility, and devoid as he was of all the
advantages of a learned education, Mr. Jarvie's conversation showed
tokens of a shrewd, observing, liberal, and, to the extent of its
opportunities, a well-improved mind. He was a good local antiquary, and
entertained me, as we passed along, with an account of remarkable events
which had formerly taken place in the scenes through which we passed. And
as he was well acquainted with the ancient history of his district, he
saw with the prospective eye of an enlightened patriot, the buds of many
of those future advantages which have only blossomed and ripened within
these few years. I remarked also, and with great pleasure, that although
a keen Scotchman, and abundantly zealous for the honour of his country,
he was disposed to think liberally of the sister kingdom. When Andrew
Fairservice (whom, by the way, the Bailie could not abide) chose to
impute the accident of one of the horses casting his shoe to the
deteriorating influence of the Union, he incurred a severe rebuke from
"Whisht, sir!--whisht! it's ill-scraped tongues like yours, that make
mischief atween neighbourhoods and nations. There's naething sae gude on
this side o' time but it might hae been better, and that may be said o'
the Union. Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their
rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them now-a-days.
But it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude--Let ilka ane roose the ford as
they find it--I say let Glasgow flourish! whilk is judiciously and
elegantly putten round the town's arms, by way of by-word.--Now, since
St. Mungo catched herrings in the Clyde, what was ever like to gar us
flourish like the sugar and tobacco trade? Will onybody tell me that, and
grumble at the treaty that opened us a road west-awa' yonder?"
Andrew Fairservice was far from acquiescing in these arguments of
expedience, and even ventured to enter a grumbling protest, "That it was
an unco change to hae Scotland's laws made in England; and that, for his
share, he wadna for a' the herring-barrels in Glasgow, and a' the
tobacco-casks to boot, hae gien up the riding o' the Scots Parliament, or
sent awa' our crown, and our sword, and our sceptre, and Mons Meg,* to be
keepit by thae English pock-puddings in the Tower o' Lunnon.
* Note G. Mons Meg.
What wad Sir William Wallace, or auld Davie Lindsay, hae said to the
Union, or them that made it?"
The road which we travelled, while diverting the way with these
discussions, had become wild and open, as soon as we had left Glasgow a
mile or two behind us, and was growing more dreary as we advanced. Huge
continuous heaths spread before, behind, and around us, in hopeless
barrenness--now level and interspersed with swamps, green with
treacherous verdure, or sable with turf, or, as they call them in
Scotland, peat-bogs,--and now swelling into huge heavy ascents, which
wanted the dignity and form of hills, while they were still more toilsome
to the passenger. There were neither trees nor bushes to relieve the eye
from the russet livery of absolute sterility. The very heath was of that
stinted imperfect kind which has little or no flower, and affords the
coarsest and meanest covering, which, as far as my experience enables me
to judge, mother Earth is ever arrayed in. Living thing we saw none,
except occasionally a few straggling sheep of a strange diversity of
colours, as black, bluish, and orange. The sable hue predominated,
however, in their faces and legs. The very birds seemed to shun these
wastes, and no wonder, since they had an easy method of escaping from
them;--at least I only heard the monotonous and plaintive cries of the
lapwing and curlew, which my companions denominated the peasweep and
At dinner, however, which we took about noon, at a most miserable
alehouse, we had the good fortune to find that these tiresome screamers
of the morass were not the only inhabitants of the moors. The goodwife
told us, that "the gudeman had been at the hill;" and well for us that he
had been so, for we enjoyed the produce of his _chasse_ in the shape of
some broiled moor-game,--a dish which gallantly eked out the ewe-milk
cheese, dried salmon, and oaten bread, being all besides that the house
afforded. Some very indifferent two-penny ale, and a glass of excellent
brandy, crowned our repast; and as our horses had, in the meantime,
discussed their corn, we resumed our journey with renovated vigour.
I had need of all the spirits a good dinner could give, to resist the
dejection which crept insensibly on my mind, when I combined the strange
uncertainty of my errand with the disconsolate aspect of the country
through which it was leading me. Our road continued to be, if possible,
more waste and wild than that we had travelled in the forenoon. The few
miserable hovels that showed some marks of human habitation, were now of
still rarer occurrence; and at length, as we began to ascend an
uninterrupted swell of moorland, they totally disappeared. The only
exercise which my imagination received was, when some particular turn of
the road gave us a partial view, to the left, of a large assemblage of
dark-blue mountains stretching to the north and north-west, which
promised to include within their recesses a country as wild perhaps, but
certainly differing greatly in point of interest, from that which we now
travelled. The peaks of this screen of mountains were as wildly varied
and distinguished, as the hills which we had seen on the right were tame
and lumpish; and while I gazed on this Alpine region, I felt a longing to
explore its recesses, though accompanied with toil and danger, similar to
that which a sailor feels when he wishes for the risks and animation of a
battle or a gale, in exchange for the insupportable monotony of a
protracted calm. I made various inquiries of my friend Mr. Jarvie
respecting the names and positions of these remarkable mountains; but it
was a subject on which he had no information, or did not choose to be
communicative. "They're the Hieland hills--the Hieland hills--Ye'll see
and hear eneugh about them before ye see Glasgow Cross again--I downa
look at them--I never see them but they gar me grew. It's no for fear--no
for fear, but just for grief, for the puir blinded half-starved creatures
that inhabit them--but say nae mair about it--it's ill speaking o'
Hielandmen sae near the line. I hae ken'd mony an honest man wadna hae
ventured this length without he had made his last will and testament--
Mattie had ill-will to see me set awa' on this ride, and grat awee, the
sillie tawpie; but it's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet than to see
a goose gang barefit."
I next attempted to lead the discourse on the character and history of
the person whom we were going to visit; but on this topic Mr. Jarvie was
totally inaccessible, owing perhaps in part to the attendance of Mr.
Andrew Fairservice, who chose to keep so close in our rear that his ears
could not fail to catch every word which was spoken, while his tongue
assumed the freedom of mingling in our conversation as often as he saw an
opportunity. For this he occasionally incurred Mr. Jarvie's reproof.
"Keep back, sir, as best sets ye," said the Bailie, as Andrew pressed
forward to catch the answer to some question I had asked about Campbell.
--"ye wad fain ride the fore-horse, an ye wist how.--That chield's aye
for being out o' the cheese-fat he was moulded in.--Now, as for your
questions, Mr. Osbaldistone, now that chield's out of ear-shot, I'll just
tell you it's free to you to speer, and it's free to me to answer, or no
--Gude I canna say muckle o' Rob, puir chield; ill I winna say o' him,
for, forby that he's my cousin, we're coming near his ain country, and
there may be ane o' his gillies ahint every whin-bush, for what I ken--
And if ye'll be guided by my advice, the less ye speak about him, or
where we are gaun, or what we are gaun to do, we'll be the mair likely to
speed us in our errand. For it's like we may fa' in wi' some o' his
unfreends--there are e'en ower mony o' them about--and his bonnet sits
even on his brow yet for a' that; but I doubt they'll be upsides wi' Rob
at the last--air day or late day, the fox's hide finds aye the flaying
"I will certainly," I replied, "be entirely guided by your experience."
"Right, Mr. Osbaldistone--right. But I maun speak to this gabbling skyte
too, for bairns and fules speak at the Cross what they hear at the
ingle-side.--D'ye hear, you, Andrew--what's your name?--Fairservice!"
Andrew, who at the last rebuff had fallen a good way behind, did not
choose to acknowledge the summons.
"Andrew, ye scoundrel!" repeated Mr. Jarvie; "here, sir here!"
"Here is for the dog." said Andrew, coming up sulkily.
"I'll gie you dog's wages, ye rascal, if ye dinna attend to what I say
t'ye--We are gaun into the Hielands a bit"--
"I judged as muckle," said Andrew.
"Haud your peace, ye knave, and hear what I have to say till ye--We are
gaun a bit into the Hielands"--
"Ye tauld me sae already," replied the incorrigible Andrew.
"I'll break your head," said the Bailie, rising in wrath, "if ye dinna
haud your tongue."
"A hadden tongue," replied Andrew, "makes a slabbered mouth."
It was now necessary I should interfere, which I did by commanding
Andrew, with an authoritative tone, to be silent at his peril.
"I am silent," said Andrew. "I'se do a' your lawfu' bidding without a
nay-say. My puir mother used aye to tell me,
Be it better, be it worse,
Be ruled by him that has the purse.
Sae ye may e'en speak as lang as ye like, baith the tane and the tither
o' you, for Andrew."
Mr. Jarvie took the advantage of his stopping after quoting the above
proverb, to give him the requisite instructions. "Now, sir, it's as
muckle as your life's worth--that wad be dear o' little siller, to be
sure--but it is as muckle as a' our lives are worth, if ye dinna mind
what I sae to ye. In this public whar we are gaun to, and whar it is like
we may hae to stay a' night, men o' a' clans and kindred--Hieland and
Lawland--tak up their quarters--And whiles there are mair drawn dirks
than open Bibles amang them, when the usquebaugh gets uppermost. See ye
neither meddle nor mak, nor gie nae offence wi' that clavering tongue o'
yours, but keep a calm sough, and let ilka cock fight his ain battle."
"Muckle needs to tell me that," said Andrew, contemptuously, "as if I had
never seen a Hielandman before, and ken'd nae how to manage them. Nae man
alive can cuitle up Donald better than mysell--I hae bought wi' them,
sauld wi' them, eaten wi' them, drucken wi' them"--
"Did ye ever fight wi' them?" said Mr. Jarvie.
"Na, na," answered Andrew, "I took care o' that: it wad ill hae set me,
that am an artist and half a scholar to my trade, to be fighting amang a
wheen kilted loons that dinna ken the name o' a single herb or flower in
braid Scots, let abee in the Latin tongue."
"Then," said Mr. Jarvie, "as ye wad keep either your tongue in your
mouth, or your lugs in your head (and ye might miss them, for as saucy
members as they are), I charge ye to say nae word, gude or bad, that ye
can weel get by, to onybody that may be in the Clachan. And ye'll
specially understand that ye're no to be bleezing and blasting about your
master's name and mine, or saying that this is Mr. Bailie Nicol Jarvie o'
the Saut Market, son o' the worthy Deacon Nicol Jarvie, that a' body has
heard about; and this is Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, son of the managing
partner of the great house of Osbaldistone and Tresham, in the City."
"Eneueh said," answered Andrew--"eneueh said. What need ye think I wad be
speaking about your names for?--I hae mony things o' mair importance to
speak about, I trow."
"It's thae very things of importance that I am feared for, ye blethering
goose; ye maunna speak ony thing, gude or bad, that ye can by any
"If ye dinna think me fit," replied Andrew, in a huff, "to speak like
ither folk, gie me my wages and my board-wages, and I'se gae back to
Glasgow--There's sma' sorrow at our parting, as the auld mear said to the
Finding Andrew's perverseness again rising to a point which threatened to
occasion me inconvenience, I was under the necessity of explaining to
him, that he might return if he thought proper, but that in that case I
would not pay him a single farthing for his past services. The argument
_ad crumenam,_ as it has been called by jocular logicians, has weight
with the greater part of mankind, and Andrew was in that particular far
from affecting any trick of singularity. He "drew in his horns," to use
the Bailie's phrase, on the instant, professed no intention whatever to
disoblige, and a resolution to be guided by my commands, whatever they
Concord being thus happily restored to our small party, we continued to
pursue our journey. The road, which had ascended for six or seven English
miles, began now to descend for about the same space, through a country
which neither in fertility nor interest could boast any advantage over
that which we had passed already, and which afforded no variety, unless
when some tremendous peak of a Highland mountain appeared at a distance.
We continued, however, to ride on without pause and even when night fell
and overshadowed the desolate wilds which we traversed, we were, as I
understood from Mr. Jarvie, still three miles and a bittock distant from
the place where we were to spend the night.
Baron of Bucklivie,
May the foul fiend drive ye,
And a' to pieces rive ye,
For building sic a town,
Where there's neither horse meat,
Nor man's meat,
Nor a chair to sit down.
Scottish Popular Rhymes on a bad Inn.
The night was pleasant, and the moon afforded us good light for our
journey. Under her rays, the ground over which we passed assumed a more
interesting appearance than during the broad daylight, which discovered
the extent of its wasteness. The mingled light and shadows gave it an
interest which naturally did not belong to it; and, like the effect of a
veil flung over a plain woman, irritated our curiosity on a subject which
had in itself nothing gratifying.
The descent, however, still continued, turned, winded, left the more open
heaths, and got into steeper ravines, which promised soon to lead us to
the banks of some brook or river, and ultimately made good their presage.
We found ourselves at length on the bank of a stream, which rather
resembled one of my native English rivers than those I had hitherto seen
in Scotland. It was narrow, deep, still, and silent; although the
imperfect light, as it gleamed on its placid waters, showed also that we
were now among the lofty mountains which formed its cradle. "That's the
Forth," said the Bailie, with an air of reverence, which I have observed
the Scotch usually pay to their distinguished rivers. The Clyde, the
Tweed, the Forth, the Spey, are usually named by those who dwell on their
banks with a sort of respect and pride, and I have known duels occasioned
by any word of disparagement. I cannot say I have the least quarrel with
this sort of harmless enthusiasm. I received my friend's communication
with the importance which he seemed to think appertained to it. In fact,
I was not a little pleased, after so long and dull a journey, to approach
a region which promised to engage the imagination. My faithful squire,
Andrew, did not seem to be quite of the same opinion, for he received the
solemn information, "That is the Forth," with a "Umph!--an he had said
that's the public-house, it wad hae been mair to the purpose."
The Forth, however, as far as the imperfect light permitted me to judge,
seemed to merit the admiration of those who claimed an interest in its
stream. A beautiful eminence of the most regular round shape, and clothed
with copsewood of hazels, mountain-ash, and dwarf-oak, intermixed with a
few magnificent old trees, which, rising above the underwood, exposed
their forked and bared branches to the silver moonshine, seemed to
protect the sources from which the river sprung. If I could trust the
tale of my companion, which, while professing to disbelieve every word of
it, he told under his breath, and with an air of something like
intimidation, this hill, so regularly formed, so richly verdant, and
garlanded with such a beautiful variety of ancient trees and thriving
copsewood, was held by the neighbourhood to contain, within its unseen
caverns, the palaces of the fairies--a race of airy beings, who formed an
intermediate class between men and demons, and who, if not positively
malignant to humanity, were yet to be avoided and feared, on account of
their capricious, vindictive, and irritable disposition.*
* Note H. Fairy Superstition.
"They ca' them," said Mr. Jarvie, in a whisper, "_Daoine Schie,_--whilk
signifies, as I understand, men of peace; meaning thereby to make their
gudewill. And we may e'en as weel ca' them that too, Mr. Osbaldistone,
for there's nae gude in speaking ill o' the laird within his ain bounds."
But he added presently after, on seeing one or two lights which twinkled
before us, "It's deceits o' Satan, after a', and I fearna to say it--for
we are near the manse now, and yonder are the lights in the Clachan of
I own I was well pleased at the circumstance to which Mr. Jarvie alluded;
not so much that it set his tongue at liberty, in his opinion, with all
safety to declare his real sentiments with respect to the _Daoine Schie,_
or fairies, as that it promised some hours' repose to ourselves and our
horses, of which, after a ride of fifty miles and upwards, both stood in
We crossed the infant Forth by an old-fashioned stone bridge, very high
and very narrow. My conductor, however, informed me, that to get through
this deep and important stream, and to clear all its tributary
dependencies, the general pass from the Highlands to the southward lay by
what was called the Fords of Frew, at all times deep and difficult of
passage, and often altogether unfordable. Beneath these fords, there was
no pass of general resort until so far east as the bridge of Stirling; so
that the river of Forth forms a defensible line between the Highlands and
Lowlands of Scotland, from its source nearly to the Firth, or inlet of
the ocean, in which it terminates. The subsequent events which we
witnessed led me to recall with attention what the shrewdness of Bailie
Jarvie suggested in his proverbial expression, that "Forth bridles the
About half a mile's riding, after we crossed the bridge, placed us at the
door of the public-house where we were to pass the evening. It was a
hovel rather worse than better than that in which we had dined; but its
little windows were lighted up, voices were heard from within, and all
intimated a prospect of food and shelter, to which we were by no means
indifferent. Andrew was the first to observe that there was a peeled
willow-wand placed across the half-open door of the little inn. He hung
back and advised us not to enter. "For," said Andrew, "some of their
chiefs and grit men are birling at the usquebaugh in by there, and dinna
want to be disturbed; and the least we'll get, if we gang ramstam in on
them, will be a broken head, to learn us better havings, if we dinna come
by the length of a cauld dirk in our wame, whilk is just as likely."
I looked at the Bailie, who acknowledged, in a whisper, "that the gowk
had some reason for singing, ance in the year."
Meantime a staring half-clad wench or two came out of the inn and the
neighbouring cottages, on hearing the sound of our horses' feet. No one
bade us welcome, nor did any one offer to take our horses, from which we
had alighted; and to our various inquiries, the hopeless response of "Ha
niel Sassenach," was the only answer we could extract. The Bailie,
however, found (in his experience) a way to make them speak English. "If
I gie ye a bawbee," said he to an urchin of about ten years old, with a
fragment of a tattered plaid about him, "will you understand Sassenach?"
"Ay, ay, that will I," replied the brat, in very decent English. "Then
gang and tell your mammy, my man, there's twa Sassenach gentlemen come to
speak wi' her."
The landlady presently appeared, with a lighted piece of split fir
blazing in her hand. The turpentine in this species of torch (which is
generally dug from out the turf-bogs) makes it blaze and sparkle readily,
so that it is often used in the Highlands in lieu of candles. On this
occasion such a torch illuminated the wild and anxious features of a
female, pale, thin, and rather above the usual size, whose soiled and
ragged dress, though aided by a plaid or tartan screen, barely served the
purposes of decency, and certainly not those of comfort. Her black hair,
which escaped in uncombed elf-locks from under her coif, as well as the
strange and embarrassed look with which she regarded us, gave me the idea
of a witch disturbed in the midst of her unlawful rites. She plainly
refused to admit us into the house. We remonstrated anxiously, and
pleaded the length of our journey, the state of our horses, and the
certainty that there was not another place where we could be received
nearer than Callander, which the Bailie stated to be seven Scots miles
distant. How many these may exactly amount to in English measurement, I
have never been able to ascertain, but I think the double _ratio_ may be
pretty safely taken as a medium computation. The obdurate hostess treated
our expostulation with contempt." Better gang farther than fare waur,"
she said, speaking the Scottish Lowland dialect, and being indeed a
native of the Lennox district--"Her house was taen up wi' them wadna like
to be intruded on wi' strangers. She didna ken wha mair might be there--
red-coats, it might be, frae the garrison." (These last words she spoke
under her breath, and with very strong emphasis.) "The night," she said,
"was fair abune head--a night amang the heather wad caller our bloods--we
might sleep in our claes, as mony a gude blade does in the scabbard--
there wasna muckle flowmoss in the shaw, if we took up our quarters
right, and we might pit up our horses to the hill, naebody wad say
naething against it."
"But, my good woman," said I, while the Bailie groaned and remained
undecided, "it is six hours since we dined, and we have not taken a
morsel since. I am positively dying with hunger, and I have no taste for
taking up my abode supperless among these mountains of yours. I
positively must enter; and make the best apology you can to your guests
for adding a stranger or two to their number. Andrew, you will see the
horses put up."
The Hecate looked at me with surprise, and then ejaculated--"A wilfu' man
will hae his way--them that will to Cupar maun to Cupar!--To see thae
English belly-gods! he has had ae fu' meal the day already, and he'll
venture life and liberty, rather than he'll want a het supper! Set
roasted beef and pudding on the opposite side o' the pit o' Tophet, and
an Englishman will mak a spang at it--But I wash my hands o't--Follow me
sir" (to Andrew), "and I'se show ye where to pit the beasts."
I own I was somewhat dismayed at my landlady's expressions, which seemed
to be ominous of some approaching danger. I did not, however, choose to
shrink back after having declared my resolution, and accordingly I boldly
entered the house; and after narrowly escaping breaking my shins over a
turf back and a salting tub, which stood on either side of the narrow
exterior passage, I opened a crazy half-decayed door, constructed not of
plank, but of wicker, and, followed by the Bailie, entered into the
principal apartment of this Scottish caravansary.
The interior presented a view which seemed singular enough to southern
eyes. The fire, fed with blazing turf and branches of dried wood, blazed
merrily in the centre; but the smoke, having no means to escape but
through a hole in the roof, eddied round the rafters of the cottage, and
hung in sable folds at the height of about five feet from the floor. The
space beneath was kept pretty clear by innumerable currents of air which
rushed towards the fire from the broken panel of basket-work which served
as a door--from two square holes, designed as ostensible windows, through
one of which was thrust a plaid, and through the other a tattered
great-coat--and moreover, through various less distinguishable apertures
in the walls of the tenement, which, being built of round stones and
turf, cemented by mud, let in the atmosphere at innumerable crevices.
At an old oaken table, adjoining to the fire, sat three men, guests
apparently, whom it was impossible to regard with indifference. Two were
in the Highland dress; the one, a little dark-complexioned man, with a
lively, quick, and irritable expression of features, wore the trews, or
close pantaloons wove out of a sort of chequered stocking stuff. The
Bailie whispered me, that "he behoved to be a man of some consequence,
for that naebody but their Duinhe'wassels wore the trews--they were ill
to weave exactly to their Highland pleasure."
The other mountaineer was a very tall, strong man, with a quantity of
reddish hair, freckled face, high cheek-bones, and long chin--a sort of
caricature of the national features of Scotland. The tartan which he wore
differed from that of his companion, as it had much more scarlet in it,
whereas the shades of black and dark-green predominated in the chequers
of the other. The third, who sate at the same table, was in the Lowland
dress,--a bold, stout-looking man, with a cast of military daring in his
eye and manner, his riding-dress showily and profusely laced, and his
cocked hat of formidable dimensions. His hanger and a pair of pistols lay
on the table before him. Each of the Highlanders had their naked dirks
stuck upright in the board beside him,--an emblem, I was afterwards
informed, but surely a strange one, that their computation was not to be
interrupted by any brawl. A mighty pewter measure, containing about an
English quart of usquebaugh, a liquor nearly as strong as brandy, which
the Highlanders distil from malt, and drink undiluted in excessive
quantities, was placed before these worthies. A broken glass, with a
wooden foot, served as a drinking cup to the whole party, and circulated
with a rapidity, which, considering the potency of the liquor, seemed
absolutely marvellous. These men spoke loudly and eagerly together,
sometimes in Gaelic, at other times in English. Another Highlander, wrapt
in his plaid, reclined on the floor, his head resting on a stone, from
which it was only separated by a wisp of straw, and slept or seemed to
sleep, without attending to what was going on around him, He also was
probably a stranger, for he lay in full dress, and accoutred with the
sword and target, the usual arms of his countrymen when on a journey.
Cribs there were of different dimensions beside the walls, formed, some
of fractured boards, some of shattered wicker-work or plaited boughs, in
which slumbered the family of the house, men, women, and children, their
places of repose only concealed by the dusky wreaths of vapour which
arose above, below, and around them.
Our entrance was made so quietly, and the carousers I have described were
so eagerly engaged in their discussions, that we escaped their notice for
a minute or two. But I observed the Highlander who lay beside the fire
raise himself on his elbow as we entered, and, drawing his plaid over the
lower part of his face, fix his look on us for a few seconds, after which
he resumed his recumbent posture, and seemed again to betake himself to
the repose which our entrance had interrupted,
We advanced to the fire, which was an agreeable spectacle after our late
ride, during the chillness of an autumn evening among the mountains, and
first attracted the attention of the guests who had preceded us, by
calling for the landlady. She approached, looking doubtfully and timidly,
now at us, now at the other party, and returned a hesitating and doubtful
answer to our request to have something to eat.
"She didna ken," she said, "she wasna sure there was onything in the
house," and then modified her refusal with the qualification--"that is,
onything fit for the like of us."
I assured her we were indifferent to the quality of our supper; and
looking round for the means of accommodation, which were not easily to be
found, I arranged an old hen-coop as a seat for Mr. Jarvie, and turned
down a broken tub to serve for my own. Andrew Fairservice entered
presently afterwards, and took a place in silence behind our backs. The
natives, as I may call them, continued staring at us with an air as if
confounded by our assurance, and we, at least I myself, disguised as well
as we could, under an appearance of indifference, any secret anxiety we
might feel concerning the mode in which we were to be received by those
whose privacy we had disturbed.
At length, the lesser Highlander, addressing himself to me said, in very
good English, and in a tone of great haughtiness, "Ye make yourself at
home, sir, I see."
"I usually do so," I replied, "when I come into a house of public
"And did she na see," said the taller man, "by the white wand at the
door, that gentlemans had taken up the public-house on their ain
"I do not pretend to understand the customs of this country but I am yet
to learn," I replied, "how three persons should be entitled to exclude
all other travellers from the only place of shelter and refreshment for
"There's nae reason for't, gentlemen," said the Bailie; "we mean nae
offence--but there's neither law nor reason for't; but as far as a stoup
o' gude brandy wad make up the quarrel, we, being peaceable folk, wad be
"Damn your brandy, sir!" said the Lowlander, adjusting his cocked hat
fiercely upon his head; "we desire neither your brandy nor your company,"
and up he rose from his seat. His companions also arose, muttering to
each other, drawing up their plaids, and snorting and snuffing the air
after the mariner of their countrymen when working themselves into a
"I tauld ye what wad come, gentlemen," said the landlady, "an ye wad hae
been tauld:--get awa' wi' ye out o' my house, and make nae disturbance
here--there's nae gentleman be disturbed at Jeanie MacAlpine's an she can
hinder. A wheen idle English loons, gaun about the country under cloud o'
night, and disturbing honest peaceable gentlemen that are drinking their
drap drink at the fireside!"
At another time I should have thought of the old Latin adage,
"Dat veniam corvis, vexat censure columbas"--
But I had not any time for classical quotation, for there was obviously a
fray about to ensue, at which, feeling myself indiginant at the
inhospitable insolence with which I was treated, I was totally
indifferent, unless on the Bailie's account, whose person and qualities
were ill qualified for such an adventure. I started up, however, on
seeing the others rise, and dropped my. cloak from my shoulders, that I
might be ready to stand on the defensive.
"We are three to three," said the lesser Highlander, glancing his eyes at
our party: "if ye be pretty men, draw!" and unsheathing his broadsword,
he advanced on me. I put myself in a posture of defence, and aware of the
superiority of my weapon, a rapier or small-sword, was little afraid of
the issue of the contest. The Bailie behaved with unexpected mettle. As
he saw the gigantic Highlander confront him with his weapon drawn, he
tugged for a second or two at the hilt of his _shabble,_ as he called it;
but finding it loth to quit the sheath, to which it had long been secured
by rust and disuse, he seized, as a substitute, on the red-hot coulter of
a plough which had been employed in arranging the fire by way of a poker,
and brandished it with such effect, that at the first pass he set the
Highlander's plaid on fire, and compelled him to keep a respectful
distance till he could get it extinguished. Andrew, on the contrary, who
ought to have faced the Lowland champion, had, I grieve to say it,
vanished at the very commencement of the fray. But his antagonist, crying
"Fair play, fair play!" seemed courteously disposed to take no share in
the scuffle. Thus we commenced our rencontre on fair terms as to numbers.
My own aim was, to possess myself, if possible, of my antagonist's
weapon; but I was deterred from closing, for fear of the dirk which he
held in his left hand, and used in parrying the thrusts of my rapier.
Meantime the Bailie, notwithstanding the success of his first onset, was
sorely bested. The weight of his weapon, the corpulence of his person,
the very effervescence of his own passions, were rapidly exhausting both
his strength and his breath, and he was almost at the mercy of his
antagonist, when up started the sleeping Highlander from the floor on
which he reclined, with his naked sword and target in his hand, and threw
himself between the discomfited magistrate and his assailant, exclaiming,
"Her nainsell has eaten the town pread at the Cross o' Glasgow, and py
her troth she'll fight for Bailie Sharvie at the Clachan of Aberfoil--tat
will she e'en!" And seconding his words with deeds, this unexpected
auxiliary made his sword whistle about the ears of his tall countryman,
who, nothing abashed, returned his blows with interest. But being both
accoutred with round targets made of wood, studded with brass, and
covered with leather, with which they readily parried each other's
strokes, their combat was attended with much more noise and clatter than
serious risk of damage. It appeared, indeed, that there was more of
bravado than of serious attempt to do us any injury; for the Lowland
gentleman, who, as I mentioned, had stood aside for want of an antagonist
when the brawl commenced, was now pleased to act the part of moderator
"Hand your hands! haud your hands!--eneugh done!--eneugh done! the
quarrel's no mortal. The strange gentlemen have shown themselves men of
honour, and gien reasonable satisfaction. I'll stand on mine honour as
kittle as ony man, but I hate unnecessary bloodshed."
It was not, of course, my wish to protract the fray--my adversary seemed
equally disposed to sheathe his sword--the Bailie, gasping for breath,
might be considered as _hors de combat,_ and our two sword-and-buckler
men gave up their contest with as much indifference as they had entered
"And now," said the worthy gentleman who acted as umpire, "let us drink
and gree like honest fellows--The house will haud us a'. I propose that
Back to Full Books