The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Volume 2, Illustrated
Sir Walter Scott
Part 3 out of 7
"O sir," said Jeanie, "did the Scripture never come into your mind,
'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay it?'"
"Scripture! Why, I had not opened a Bible for five years," answered
"Wae's me, sirs," said Jeanie--"and a minister's son too!"
"It is natural for you to say so; yet do not interrupt me, but let me
finish my most accursed history. The beast, Porteous, who kept firing on
the people long after it had ceased to be necessary, became the object of
their hatred for having overdone his duty, and of mine for having done it
too well. We that is, I and the other determined friends of Wilson,
resolved to be avenged--but caution was necessary. I thought I had been
marked by one of the officers, and therefore continued to lurk about the
vicinity of Edinburgh, but without daring to venture within the walls. At
length I visited, at the hazard of my life, the place where I hoped to
find my future wife and my son--they were both gone. Dame Murdockson
informed me, that so soon as Effie heard of the miscarriage of the
attempt to rescue Wilson, and the hot pursuit after me, she fell into a
brain fever; and that being one day obliged to go out on some necessary
business and leave her alone, she had taken that opportunity to escape,
and she had not seen her since. I loaded her with reproaches, to which
she listened with the most provoking and callous composure; for it is one
of her attributes, that, violent and fierce as she is upon most
occasions, there are some in which she shows the most imperturbable
calmness. I threatened her with justice; she said I had more reason to
fear justice than she had. I felt she was right, and was silenced. I
threatened her with vengeance; she replied in nearly the same words,
that, to judge by injuries received, I had more reason to fear her
vengeance, than she to dread mine. She was again right, and I was left
without an answer. I flung myself from her in indignation, and employed a
comrade to make inquiry in the neighbourhood of Saint Leonard's
concerning your sister; but ere I received his answer, the opening quest
of a well-scented terrier of the law drove me from the vicinity of
Edinburgh, to a more distant and secluded place of concealment. A secret
and trusty emissary at length brought me the account of Porteous's
condemnation, and of your sister's imprisonment on a criminal charge;
thus astounding one of mine ears, while he gratified the other.
"I again ventured to the Pleasance--again charged Murdockson with
treachery to the unfortunate Effie and her child, though I could conceive
no reason, save that of appropriating the whole of the money I had lodged
with her. Your narrative throws light on this, and shows another motive,
not less powerful because less evident--the desire of wreaking vengeance
on the seducer of her daughter,--the destroyer at once of her reason and
reputation. Great God! how I wish that, instead of the revenge she made
choice of, she had delivered me up to the cord!"
"But what account did the wretched woman give of Effie and the bairn?"
said Jeanie, who, during this long and agitating narrative, had firmness
and discernment enough to keep her eye on such points as might throw
light on her sister's misfortunes.
"She would give none," said Staunton; "she said the mother made a
moonlight flitting from her house, with the infant in her arms--that she
had never seen either of them since--that the lass might have thrown the
child into the North Loch or the Quarry Holes for what she knew, and it
was like enough she had done so."
"And how came you to believe that she did not speak the fatal truth?"
said Jeanie, trembling.
"Because, on this second occasion, I saw her daughter, and I understood
from her, that, in fact, the child had been removed or destroyed during
the illness of the mother. But all knowledge to be got from her is so
uncertain and indirect, that I could not collect any farther
circumstances. Only the diabolical character of old Murdockson makes me
augur the worst."
"The last account agrees with that given by my poor sister," said Jeanie;
"but gang on wi' your ain tale, sir."
"Of this I am certain," said Staunton, "that Effie, in her senses, and
with her knowledge, never injured living creature.--But what could I do
in her exculpation?--Nothing--and, therefore, my whole thoughts were
turned toward her safety. I was under the cursed necessity of suppressing
my feelings towards Murdockson; my life was in the hag's hand--that I
cared not for; but on my life hung that of your sister. I spoke the
wretch fair; I appeared to confide in her; and to me, so far as I was
personally concerned, she gave proofs of extraordinary fidelity. I was at
first uncertain what measures I ought to adopt for your sister's
liberation, when the general rage excited among the citizens of Edinburgh
on account of the reprieve, of Porteous, suggested to me the daring idea
of forcing the jail, and at once carrying off your sister from the
clutches of the law, and bringing to condign punishment a miscreant, who
had tormented the unfortunate Wilson, even in the hour of death as if he
had been a wild Indian taken captive by a hostile tribe. I flung myself
among the multitude in the moment of fermentation--so did others among
Wilson's mates, who had, like me, been disappointed in the hope of
glutting their eyes with Porteous's execution. All was organised, and I
was chosen for the captain. I felt not--I do not now feel, compunction
for what was to be done, and has since been executed."
"O, God forgive ye, sir, and bring ye to a better sense of your ways!"
exclaimed Jeanie, in horror at the avowal of such violent sentiments.
"Amen," replied Staunton, "if my sentiments are wrong. But I repeat,
that, although willing to aid the deed, I could have wished them to have
chosen another leader; because I foresaw that the great and general duty
of the night would interfere with the assistance which I proposed to
render Effie. I gave a commission however, to a trusty friend to protect
her to a place of safety, so soon as the fatal procession had left the
jail. But for no persuasions which I could use in the hurry of the
moment, or which my comrade employed at more length, after the mob had
taken a different direction, could the unfortunate girl be prevailed upon
to leave the prison. His arguments were all wasted upon the infatuated
victim, and he was obliged to leave her in order to attend to his own
safety. Such was his account; but, perhaps, he persevered less steadily
in his attempts to persuade her than I would have done."
"Effie was right to remain," said Jeanie; "and I love her the better for
"Why will you say so?" said Staunton.
"You cannot understand my reasons, sir, if I should render them,"
answered Jeanie composedly; "they that thirst for the blood of their
enemies have no taste for the well-spring of life."
"My hopes," said Staunton, "were thus a second time disappointed. My next
efforts were to bring her through her trial by means of yourself. How I
urged it, and where, you cannot have forgotten. I do not blame you for
your refusal; it was founded, I am convinced, on principle, and not on
indifference to your sister's fate. For me, judge of me as a man frantic;
I knew not what hand to turn to, and all my efforts were unavailing. In
this condition, and close beset on all sides, I thought of what might be
done by means of my family, and their influence. I fled from Scotland--I
reached this place--my miserably wasted and unhappy appearance procured
me from my father that pardon, which a parent finds it so hard to refuse,
even to the most undeserving son. And here I have awaited in anguish of
mind, which the condemned criminal might envy, the event of your sister's
"Without taking any steps for her relief?" said Jeanie.
"To the last I hoped her ease might terminate more favourably; and it is
only two days since that the fatal tidings reached me. My resolution was
instantly taken. I mounted my best horse with the purpose of making the
utmost haste to London and there compounding with Sir Robert Walpole for
your sister's safety, by surrendering to him, in the person of the heir
of the family of Willingham, the notorious George Robertson, the
accomplice of Wilson, the breaker of the Tolbooth prison, and the
well-known leader of the Porteous mob."
"But would that save my sister?" said Jeanie, in astonishment.
"It would, as I should drive my bargain," said Staunton. "Queens love
revenge as well as their subjects--Little as you seem to esteem it, it is
a poison which pleases all palates, from the prince to the peasant. Prime
ministers love no less the power of gratifying sovereigns by gratifying
their passions.--The life of an obscure village girl! Why, I might ask
the best of the crown-jewels for laying the head of such an insolent
conspiracy at the foot of her majesty, with a certainty of being
gratified. All my other plans have failed, but this could not--Heaven is
just, however, and would not honour me with making this voluntary
atonement for the injury I have done your sister. I had not rode ten
miles, when my horse, the best and most sure-footed animal in this
country, fell with me on a level piece of road, as if he had been struck
by a cannon-shot. I was greatly hurt, and was brought back here in the
condition in which you now see me."
As young Staunton had come to the conclusion, the servant opened the
door, and, with a voice which seemed intended rather for a signal, than
merely the announcing of a visit, said, "His Reverence, sir, is coming up
stairs to wait upon you."
"For God's sake, hide yourself, Jeanie," exclaimed Staunton, "in that
"No, sir," said Jeanie; "as I am here for nae ill, I canna take the shame
of hiding mysell frae the master of the house."
"But, good Heavens!" exclaimed George Staunton, "do but consider--"
Ere he could complete the sentence, his father entered the apartment.
And now, will pardon, comfort, kindness, draw
The youth from vice? will honour, duty, law?
Jeanie arose from her seat, and made her quiet reverence, when the elder
Mr. Staunton entered the apartment. His astonishment was extreme at
finding his son in such company.
"I perceive, madam, I have made a mistake respecting you, and ought to
have left the task of interrogating you, and of righting your wrongs, to
this young man, with whom, doubtless, you have been formerly acquainted."
"It's unwitting on my part that I am here;" said Jeanie; "the servant
told me his master wished to speak with me."
"There goes the purple coat over my ears," murmured Tummas. "D--n her,
why must she needs speak the truth, when she could have as well said
anything else she had a mind?"
"George," said Mr. Staunton, "if you are still, as you have ever
been,--lost to all self-respect, you might at least have spared your
father and your father's house, such a disgraceful scene as this."
"Upon my life--upon my soul, sir!" said George, throwing his feet over
the side of the bed, and starting from his recumbent posture.
"Your life, sir?" interrupted his father, with melancholy
sternness,--"What sort of life has it been?--Your soul! alas! what
regard have you ever paid to it? Take care to reform both ere offering
either as pledges of your sincerity."
"On my honour, sir, you do me wrong," answered George Staunton; "I have
been all that you can call me that's bad, but in the present instance you
do me injustice. By my honour you do!"
"Your honour!" said his father, and turned from him, with a look of the
most upbraiding contempt, to Jeanie. "From you, young woman, I neither
ask nor expect any explanation; but as a father alike and as a clergyman,
I request your departure from this house. If your romantic story has been
other than a pretext to find admission into it (which, from the society
in which you first appeared, I may be permitted to doubt), you will find
a justice of peace within two miles, with whom, more properly than with
me, you may lodge your complaint."
"This shall not be," said George Staunton, starting up to his feet.
"Sir, you are naturally kind and humane--you shall not become cruel
and inhospitable on my account. Turn out that eaves-dropping rascal,"
pointing to Thomas, "and get what hartshorn drops, or what better receipt
you have against fainting, and I will explain to you in two words the
connection betwixt this young woman and me. She shall not lose her fair
character through me. I have done too much mischief to her family
already, and I know too well what belongs to the loss of fame."
"Leave the room, sir," said the Rector to the servant; and when the man
had obeyed, he carefully shut the door behind him. Then, addressing his
son, he said sternly, "Now, sir, what new proof of your infamy have you
to impart to me?"
Young Staunton was about to speak, but it was one of those moments when
those, who, like Jeanie Deans, possess the advantage of a steady courage
and unruffled temper, can assume the superiority over more ardent but
less determined spirits.
"Sir," she said to the elder Staunton, "ye have an undoubted right to ask
your ain son to render a reason of his conduct. But respecting me, I am
but a wayfaring traveller, no ways obligated or indebted to you, unless
it be for the meal of meat which, in my ain country, is willingly gien by
rich or poor, according to their ability, to those who need it; and for
which, forby that, I am willing to make payment, if I didna think it
would be an affront to offer siller in a house like this--only I dinna
ken the fashions of the country."
"This is all very well, young woman," said the Rector, a good deal
surprised, and unable to conjecture whether to impute Jeanie's language
to simplicity or impertinence; "this may be all very well--but let me
bring it to a point. Why do you stop this young man's mouth, and prevent
his communicating to his father and his best friend, an explanation
(since he says he has one) of circumstances which seem in themselves not
a little suspicious?"
"He may tell of his ain affairs what he likes," answered Jeanie; "but my
family and friends have nae right to hae ony stories told anent them
without their express desire; and, as they canna be here to speak for
themselves, I entreat ye wadna ask Mr. George Rob--I mean Staunton, or
whatever his name is, ony questions anent me or my folk; for I maun be
free to tell you, that he will neither have the bearing of a Christian or
a gentleman, if he answers you against my express desire."
"This is the most extraordinary thing I ever met with," said the Rector,
as, after fixing his eyes keenly on the placid, yet modest countenance of
Jeanie, he turned them suddenly upon his son. "What have you to say,
"That I feel I have been too hasty in my promise, sir," answered George
Staunton; "I have no title to make any communications respecting the
affairs of this young person's family without her assent."
The elder Mr. Staunton turned his eyes from one to the other with marks
"This is more, and worse, I fear," he said, addressing his son, "than one
of your frequent and disgraceful connections--I insist upon knowing the
"I have already said, sir," replied his son, rather sullenly, "that I
have no title to mention the affairs of this young woman's family without
"And I hae nae mysteries to explain, sir," said Jeanie, "but only to pray
you, as a preacher of the gospel and a gentleman, to permit me to go safe
to the next public-house on the Lunnon road."
"I shall take care of your safety," said young Staunton "you need ask
that favour from no one."
"Do you say so before my face?" said the justly-incensed father.
"Perhaps, sir, you intend to fill up the cup of disobedience and
profligacy by forming a low and disgraceful marriage? But let me bid you
"If you were feared for sic a thing happening wi' me, sir," said Jeanie,
"I can only say, that not for all the land that lies between the twa ends
of the rainbow wad I be the woman that should wed your son."
"There is something very singular in all this," said the elder Staunton;
"follow me into the next room, young woman."
"Hear me speak first," said the young man. "I have but one word to say. I
confide entirely in your prudence; tell my father as much or as little of
these matters as you will, he shall know neither more nor less from me."
His father darted at him a glance of indignation, which softened into
sorrow as he saw him sink down on the couch, exhausted with the scene he
had undergone. He left the apartment, and Jeanie followed him, George
Staunton raising himself as she passed the door-way, and pronouncing the
word, "Remember!" in a tone as monitory as it was uttered by Charles I.
upon the scaffold. The elder Staunton led the way into a small parlour,
and shut the door.
"Young woman," said he, "there is something in your face and appearance
that marks both sense and simplicity, and, if I am not deceived,
innocence also--Should it be otherwise, I can only say, you are the most
accomplished hypocrite I have ever seen.--I ask to know no secret that
you have unwillingness to divulge, least of all those which concern my
son. His conduct has given me too much unhappiness to permit me to hope
comfort or satisfaction from him. If you are such as I suppose you,
believe me, that whatever unhappy circumstances may have connected you
with George Staunton, the sooner you break them through the better."
"I think I understand your meaning, sir," replied Jeanie; "and as ye are
sae frank as to speak o' the young gentleman in sic a way, I must needs
say that it is but the second time of my speaking wi' him in our lives,
and what I hae heard frae him on these twa occasions has been such that I
never wish to hear the like again."
"Then it is your real intention to leave this part of the country, and
proceed to London?" said the Rector.
"Certainly, sir; for I may say, in one sense, that the avenger of blood
is behind me; and if I were but assured against mischief by the way"
"I have made inquiry," said the clergyman, "after the suspicious
characters you described. They have left their place of rendezvous; but
as they may be lurking in the neighbourhood, and as you say you have
special reason to apprehend violence from them, I will put you under the
charge of a steady person, who will protect you as far as Stamford, and
see you into a light coach, which goes from thence to London."
"A coach is not for the like of me, sir," said Jeanie, to whom the idea
of a stage-coach was unknown, as, indeed, they were then only used in the
neighbourhood of London.
Mr. Staunton briefly explained that she would find that mode of
conveyance more commodious, cheaper, and more safe, than travelling on
horseback. She expressed her gratitude with so much singleness of heart,
that he was induced to ask her whether she wanted the pecuniary means of
prosecuting her journey. She thanked him, but said she had enough for her
purpose; and, indeed, she had husbanded her stock with great care. This
reply served also to remove some doubts, which naturally enough still
floated in Mr. Staunton's mind, respecting her character and real
purpose, and satisfied him, at least, that money did not enter into her
scheme of deception, if an impostor she should prove. He next requested
to know what part of the city she wished to go to.
"To a very decent merchant, a cousin o' my ain, a Mrs. Glass, sir, that
sells snuff and tobacco, at the sign o' the Thistle, somegate in the
Jeanie communicated this intelligence with a feeling that a connection so
respectable ought to give her consequence in the eyes of Mr. Staunton;
and she was a good deal surprised when he answered--
"And is this woman your only acquaintance in London, my poor girl? and
have you really no better knowledge where she is to be found?"
"I was gaun to see the Duke of Argyle, forby Mrs. Glass," said Jeanie;
"and if your honour thinks it would be best to go there first, and get
some of his Grace's folk to show me my cousin's shop"
"Are you acquainted with any of the Duke of Argyle's people?" said the
"Her brain must be something touched after all, or it would be impossible
for her to rely on such introductions.--Well," said he aloud, "I must not
inquire into the cause of your journey, and so I cannot be fit to give
you advice how to manage it. But the landlady of the house where the
coach stops is a very decent person; and as I use her house sometimes, I
will give you a recommendation to her."
Jeanie thanked him for his kindness with her best courtesy, and said,
"That with his honour's line, and ane from worthy Mrs. Bickerton, that
keeps the Seven Stars at York, she did not doubt to be well taken out in
"And now," said he, "I presume you will be desirous to set out
"If I had been in an inn, sir, or any suitable resting-place," answered
Jeanie, "I wad not have presumed to use the Lord's day for travelling but
as I am on a journey of mercy, I trust my doing so will not be imputed."
"You may, if you choose, remain with Mrs. Dalton for the evening; but I
desire you will have no farther correspondence with my son, who is not a
proper counsellor for a person of your age, whatever your difficulties
"Your honour speaks ower truly in that," said Jeanie; "it was not with my
will that I spoke wi' him just now, and--not to wish the gentleman
onything but gude--I never wish to see him between the een again."
"If you please," added the Rector, "as you seem to be a seriously
disposed young woman, you may attend family worship in the hall this
"I thank your honour," said Jeanie; "but I am doubtful if my attendance
would be to edification."
"How!" said the Rector; "so young, and already unfortunate enough to have
doubts upon the duties of religion!"
"God forbid, sir," replied Jeanie; "it is not for that; but I have been
bred in the faith of the suffering remnant of the Presbyterian doctrine
in Scotland, and I am doubtful if I can lawfully attend upon your fashion
of worship, seeing it has been testified against by many precious souls
of our kirk, and specially by my worthy father."
"Well, my good girl," said the Rector, with a good-humoured smile, "far
be it from me to put any force upon your conscience; and yet you ought to
recollect that the same divine grace dispenses its streams to other
kingdoms as well as to Scotland. As it is as essential to our spiritual,
as water to our earthly wants, its springs, various in character, yet
alike efficacious in virtue, are to be found in abundance throughout the
"Ah, but," said Jeanie, "though the waters may be alike, yet, with your
worship's leave, the blessing upon them may not be equal. It would have
been in vain for Naaman the Syrian leper to have bathed in Pharpar and
Abana, rivers of Damascus, when it was only the waters of Jordon that
were sanctified for the cure."
"Well," said the Rector, "we will not enter upon the great debate betwixt
our national churches at present. We must endeavour to satisfy you, that,
at least, amongst our errors, we preserve Christian charity, and a desire
to assist our brethren."
He then ordered Mrs. Dalton into his presence, and consigned Jeanie to
her particular charge, with directions to be kind to her, and with
assurances, that, early in the morning, a trusty guide and a good horse
should be ready to conduct her to Stamford. He then took a serious and
dignified, yet kind leave of her, wishing her full success in the objects
of her journey, which he said he doubted not were laudable, from the
soundness of thinking which she had displayed in conversation.
Jeanie was again conducted by the housekeeper to her own apartment. But
the evening was not destined to pass over without farther torment from
young Staunton. A paper was slipped into her hand by the faithful Tummas,
which intimated his young master's desire, or rather demand, to see her
instantly, and assured her he had provided against interruption.
"Tell your young master," said Jeanie, openly, and regardless of all the
winks and signs by which Tummas strove to make her comprehend that Mrs.
Dalton was not to be admitted into the secret of the correspondence,
"that I promised faithfully to his worthy father that I would not see him
"Tummas," said Mrs. Dalton, "I think you might be much more creditably
employed, considering the coat you wear, and the house you live in, than
to be carrying messages between your young master and girls that chance
to be in this house."
"Why, Mrs. Dalton, as to that, I was hired to carry messages, and not to
ask any questions about them; and it's not for the like of me to refuse
the young gentleman's bidding, if he were a little wildish or so. If
there was harm meant, there's no harm done, you see."
"However," said Mrs. Dalton, "I gie you fair warning, Tummas Ditton, that
an I catch thee at this work again, his Reverence shall make a clear
house of you."
Thomas retired, abashed and in dismay. The rest of the evening passed
away without anything worthy of notice.
Jeanie enjoyed the comforts of a good bed and a sound sleep with grateful
satisfaction, after the perils and hardships of the preceding day; and
such was her fatigue, that she slept soundly until six o'clock, when she
was awakened by Mrs. Dalton, who acquainted her that her guide and horse
were ready, and in attendance. She hastily rose, and, after her morning
devotions, was soon ready to resume her travels. The motherly care of the
housekeeper had provided an early breakfast, and, after she had partaken
of this refreshment, she found herself safe seated on a pillion behind a
stout Lincolnshire peasant, who was, besides, armed with pistols, to
protect her against any violence which might be offered.
They trudged along in silence for a mile or two along a country road,
which conducted them, by hedge and gate-way, into the principal highway,
a little beyond Grantham. At length her master of the horse asked her
whether her name was not Jean, or Jane, Deans. She answered in the
affirmative, with some surprise. "Then here's a bit of a note as concerns
you," said the man, handing it over his left shoulder. "It's from young
master, as I judge, and every man about Willingham is fain to pleasure
him either for love or fear; for he'll come to be landlord at last, let
them say what they like."
Jeanie broke the seal of the note, which was addressed to her, and read
"You refuse to see me. I suppose you are shocked at my character: but, in
painting myself such as I am, you should give me credit for my sincerity.
I am, at least, no hypocrite. You refuse, however, to see me, and your
conduct may be natural--but is it wise? I have expressed my anxiety to
repair your sister's misfortunes at the expense of my honour,--my
family's honour--my own life, and you think me too debased to be admitted
even to sacrifice what I have remaining of honour, fame, and life, in her
cause. Well, if the offerer be despised, the victim is still equally at
hand; and perhaps there may be justice in the decree of Heaven, that I
shall not have the melancholy credit of appearing to make this sacrifice
out of my own free good-will. You, as you have declined my concurrence,
must take the whole upon yourself. Go, then, to the Duke of Argyle, and,
when other arguments fail you, tell him you have it in your power to
bring to condign punishment the most active conspirator in the Porteous
mob. He will hear you on this topic, should he be deaf to every other.
Make your own terms, for they will be at your own making. You know where
I am to be found; and you may be assured I will not give you the dark
side of the hill, as at Muschat's Cairn; I have no thoughts of stirring
from the house I was born in; like the hare, I shall be worried in the
seat I started from. I repeat it--make your own terms. I need not remind
you to ask your sister's life, for that you will do of course; but make
terms of advantage for yourself--ask wealth and reward--office and income
for Butler--ask anything--you will get anything--and all for delivering
to the hands of the executioner a man most deserving of his office;--one
who, though young in years, is old in wickedness, and whose most earnest
desire is, after the storms of an unquiet life, to sleep and be at rest."
This extraordinary letter was subscribed with the initials G. S.
Jeanie read it over once or twice with great attention, which the slow
pace of the horse, as he stalked through a deep lane, enabled her to do
When she had perused this billet, her first employment was to tear it
into as small pieces as possible, and disperse these pieces in the air by
a few at a time, so that a document containing so perilous a secret might
not fall into any other person's hand.
The question how far, in point of extremity, she was entitled to save her
sister's life by sacrificing that of a person who, though guilty towards
the state, had done her no injury, formed the next earnest and most
painful subject of consideration. In one sense, indeed, it seemed as if
denouncing the guilt of Staunton, the cause of her sister's errors and
misfortunes, would have been an act of just, and even providential
retribution. But Jeanie, in the strict and severe tone of morality in
which she was educated, had to consider not only the general aspect of a
proposed action, but its justness and fitness in relation to the actor,
before she could be, according to her own phrase, free to enter upon it.
What right had she to make a barter between the lives of Staunton and of
Effie, and to sacrifice the one for the safety of the other? His
guilt--that guilt for which he was amenable to the laws--was a crime
against the public indeed, but it was not against her.
Neither did it seem to her that his share in the death of Porteous,
though her mind revolted at the idea of using violence to any one, was in
the relation of a common murder, against the perpetrator of which every
one is called to aid the public magistrate. That violent action was
blended with many circumstances, which, in the eyes of those in Jeanie's
rank of life, if they did not altogether deprive it of the character of
guilt, softened, at least, its most atrocious features. The anxiety of
the government to obtain conviction of some of the offenders, had but
served to increase the public feeling which connected the action, though
violent and irregular, with the idea of ancient national independence.
The rigorous measures adopted or proposed against the city of Edinburgh,
the ancient metropolis of Scotland--the extremely unpopular and
injudicious measure of compelling the Scottish clergy, contrary to their
principles and sense of duty, to promulgate from the pulpit the reward
offered for the discovery of the perpetrators of this slaughter, had
produced on the public mind the opposite consequences from what were
intended; and Jeanie felt conscious, that whoever should lodge
information concerning that event, and for whatsoever purpose it might be
done, it would be considered as an act of treason against the
independence of Scotland. With the fanaticism of the Scottish
Presbyterians, there was always mingled a glow of national feeling, and
Jeanie, trembled at the idea of her name being handed down to posterity
with that of the "fause Monteath," and one or two others, who, having
deserted and betrayed the cause of their country, are damned to perpetual
remembrance and execration among its peasantry. Yet, to part with Effie's
life once more, when a word spoken might save it, pressed severely on the
mind of her affectionate sister.
"The Lord support and direct me!" said Jeanie, "for it seems to be His
will to try me with difficulties far beyond my ain strength."
While this thought passed through Jeanie's mind, her guard, tired of
silence, began to show some inclination to be communicative. He seemed a
sensible, steady peasant, but not having more delicacy or prudence than
is common to those in his situation, he, of course, chose the Willingham
family as the subject of his conversation. From this man Jeanie learned
some particulars of which she had hitherto been ignorant, and which we
will briefly recapitulate for the information of the reader.
The father of George Staunton had been bred a soldier, and during service
in the West Indies, had married the heiress of a wealthy planter. By this
lady he had an only child, George Staunton, the unhappy young, man who
has been so often mentioned in this narrative. He passed the first part
of his early youth under the charge of a doting mother, and in the
society of negro slaves, whose study it was to gratify his every caprice.
His father was a man of worth and sense; but as he alone retained
tolerable health among the officers of the regiment he belonged to, he
was much engaged with his duty. Besides, Mrs. Staunton was beautiful and
wilful, and enjoyed but delicate health; so that it was difficult for a
man of affection, humanity, and a quiet disposition, to struggle with her
on the point of her over-indulgence to an only child. Indeed, what Mr.
Staunton did do towards counteracting the baneful effects of his wife's
system, only tended to render it more pernicious; for every restraint
imposed on the boy in his father's presence, was compensated by treble
license during his absence. So that George Staunton acquired, even in
childhood, the habit of regarding his father as a rigid censor, from
whose severity he was desirous of emancipating himself as soon and
absolutely as possible.
When he was about ten years old, and when his mind had received all the
seeds of those evil weeds which afterwards grew apace, his mother died,
and his father, half heart-broken, returned to England. To sum up her
imprudence and unjustifiable indulgence, she had contrived to place a
considerable part of her fortune at her son's exclusive control or
disposal, in consequence of which management, George Staunton had not
been long in England till he learned his independence, and how to abuse
it. His father had endeavoured to rectify the defects of his education by
placing him in a well-regulated seminary. But although he showed some
capacity for learning, his riotous conduct soon became intolerable to his
teachers. He found means (too easily afforded to all youths who have
certain expectations) of procuring such a command of money as enabled him
to anticipate in boyhood the frolics and follies of a more mature age,
and, with these accomplishments, he was returned on his father's hands as
a profligate boy, whose example might ruin a hundred.
The elder Mr. Staunton, whose mind, since his wife's death, had been
tinged with a melancholy, which certainly his son's conduct did not tend
to dispel, had taken orders, and was inducted by his brother Sir William
Staunton into the family living of Willingham. The revenue was a matter
of consequence to him, for he derived little advantage from the estate of
his late wife; and his own fortune was that of a younger brother.
He took his son to reside with him at the rectory, but he soon found that
his disorders rendered him an intolerable inmate. And as the young men of
his own rank would not endure the purse-proud insolence of the Creole, he
fell into that taste for low society, which is worse than "pressing to
death, whipping, or hanging." His father sent him abroad, but he only
returned wilder and more desperate than before. It is true, this unhappy
youth was not without his good qualities. He had lively wit, good temper,
reckless generosity, and manners, which, while he was under restraint,
might pass well in society. But all these availed him nothing. He was so
well acquainted with the turf, the gaming-table, the cock-pit, and every
worse rendezvous of folly and dissipation, that his mother's fortune was
spent before he was twenty-one, and he was soon in debt and in distress.
His early history may be concluded in the words of our British Juvenal,
when describing a similar character:--
Headstrong, determined in his own career,
He thought reproof unjust, and truth severe.
The soul's disease was to its crisis come,
He first abused, and then abjured, his home;
And when he chose a vagabond to be,
He made his shame his glory, "I'll be free!"*
[Crabbe's _Borough,_ Letter xii.]
"And yet 'tis pity on Measter George, too," continued the honest boor,
"for he has an open hand, and winna let a poor body want an he has it."
The virtue of profuse generosity, by which, indeed, they themselves are
most directly advantaged, is readily admitted by the vulgar as a cloak
for many sins.
At Stamford our heroine was deposited in safety by her communicative
guide. She obtained a place in the coach, which, although termed a light
one, and accommodated with no fewer than six horses, only reached London
on the afternoon of the second day. The recommendation of the elder Mr.
Staunton procured Jeanie a civil reception at the inn where the carriage
stopped, and, by the aid of Mrs. Bickerton's correspondent, she found out
her friend and relative Mrs. Glass, by whom she was kindly received and
My name is Argyle, you may well think it strange,
To live at the court and never to change.
Few names deserve more honourable mention in the history of Scotland,
during this period, than that of John, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich. His
talents as a statesman and a soldier were generally admitted; he was not
without ambition, but "without the illness that attends it"--without that
irregularity of thought and aim, which often excites great men, in his
peculiar situation, (for it was a very peculiar one), to grasp the means
of raising themselves to power, at the risk of throwing a kingdom into
confusion. Pope has distinguished him as
Argyle, the state's whole thunder born to wield,
And shake alike the senate and the field.
He was alike free from the ordinary vices of statesmen, falsehood,
namely, and dissimulation; and from those of warriors, inordinate and
violent thirst after self-aggrandisement.
Scotland, his native country, stood at this time in a very precarious and
doubtful situation. She was indeed united to England, but the cement had
not had time to acquire consistence. The irritation of ancient wrongs
still subsisted, and betwixt the fretful jealousy of the Scottish, and
the supercilious disdain of the English, quarrels repeatedly occurred, in
the course of which the national league, so important to the safety of
both, was in the utmost danger of being dissolved. Scotland had, besides,
the disadvantage of being divided into intestine factions, which hated
each other bitterly, and waited but a signal to break forth into action.
In such circumstances, another man, with the talents and rank of Argyle,
but without a mind so happily regulated, would have sought to rise from
the earth in the whirlwind, and direct its fury. He chose a course more
safe and more honourable. Soaring above the petty distinctions of
faction, his voice was raised, whether in office or opposition, for those
measures which were at once just and lenient. His high military talents
enabled him, during the memorable year 1715, to render such services to
the House of Hanover, as, perhaps, were too great to be either
acknowledged or repaid. He had employed, too, his utmost influence in
softening the consequences of that insurrection to the unfortunate
gentlemen whom a mistaken sense of loyalty had engaged in the affair, and
was rewarded by the esteem and affection of his country in an uncommon
degree. This popularity, with a discontented and warlike people, was
supposed to be a subject of jealousy at court, where the power to become
dangerous is sometimes of itself obnoxious, though the inclination is not
united with it. Besides, the Duke of Argyle's independent and somewhat
haughty mode of expressing himself in Parliament, and acting in public,
were ill calculated to attract royal favour. He was, therefore, always
respected, and often employed; but he was not a favourite of George the
Second, his consort, or his ministers. At several different periods in
his life, the Duke might be considered as in absolute disgrace at court,
although he could hardly be said to be a declared member of opposition.
This rendered him the dearer to Scotland, because it was usually in her
cause that he incurred the displeasure of his sovereign; and upon this
very occasion of the Porteous mob, the animated and eloquent opposition
which he had offered to the severe measures which were about to be
adopted towards the city of Edinburgh, was the more gratefully received
in that metropolis, as it was understood that the Duke's interposition
had given personal offence to Queen Caroline.
His conduct upon this occasion, as, indeed, that of all the Scottish
members of the legislature, with one or two unworthy exceptions, had been
in the highest degree spirited. The popular tradition, concerning his
reply to Queen Caroline, has been given already, and some fragments of
his speech against the Porteous Bill are still remembered. He retorted
upon the Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke, the insinuation that he had stated
himself in this case rather as a party than as a judge:--"I appeal," said
Argyle, "to the House--to the nation, if I can be justly branded with the
infamy of being a jobber or a partisan. Have I been a briber of votes?--a
buyer of boroughs?--the agent of corruption for any purpose, or on behalf
of any party?--Consider my life; examine my actions in the field and in
the cabinet, and see where there lies a blot that can attach to my
honour. I have shown myself the friend of my country--the loyal subject
of my king. I am ready to do so again, without an instant's regard to the
frowns or smiles of a court. I have experienced both, and am prepared
with indifference for either. I have given my reasons for opposing this
bill, and have made it appear that it is repugnant to the international
treaty of union, to the liberty of Scotland, and, reflectively, to that
of England, to common justice, to common sense, and to the public
interest. Shall the metropolis of Scotland, the capital of an independent
nation, the residence of a long line of monarchs, by whom that noble city
was graced and dignified--shall such a city, for the fault of an obscure
and unknown body of rioters, be deprived of its honours and its
privileges--its gates and its guards?--and shall a native Scotsman tamely
behold the havoc? I glory, my Lords, in opposing such unjust rigour, and
reckon it my dearest pride and honour to stand up in defence of my native
country while thus laid open to undeserved shame, and unjust spoliation."
Other statesmen and orators, both Scottish and English, used the same
arguments, the bill was gradually stripped of its most oppressive and
obnoxious clauses, and at length ended in a fine upon the city of
Edinburgh in favour of Porteous's widow. So that, as somebody observed at
the time, the whole of these fierce debates ended in making the fortune
of an old cook-maid, such having been the good woman's original capacity.
The court, however, did not forget the baffle they had received in this
affair, and the Duke of Argyle, who had contributed so much to it, was
thereafter considered as a person in disgrace. It is necessary to place
these circumstances under the reader's observation, both because they are
connected with the preceding and subsequent part of our narrative.
The Duke was alone in his study, when one of his gentlemen acquainted
him, that a country-girl, from Scotland, was desirous of speaking with
"A country-girl, and from Scotland!" said the Duke; "what can have
brought the silly fool to London?--Some lover pressed and sent to sea, or
some stock sank in the South-Sea funds, or some such hopeful concern, I
suppose, and then nobody to manage the matter but MacCallummore,--Well,
this same popularity has its inconveniences.--However, show our
countrywoman up, Archibald--it is ill manners to keep her in attendance."
A young woman of rather low stature, and whose countenance might be
termed very modest and pleasing in expression, though sun-burnt, somewhat
freckled, and not possessing regular features, was ushered into the
splendid library. She wore the tartan plaid of her country, adjusted so
as partly to cover her head, and partly to fall back over her shoulders.
A quantity of fair hair, disposed with great simplicity and neatness,
appeared in front of her round and good-humoured face, to which the
solemnity of her errand, and her sense of the Duke's rank and importance,
gave an appearance of deep awe, but not of slavish fear, or fluttered
bashfulness. The rest of Jeanie's dress was in the style of Scottish
maidens of her own class; but arranged with that scrupulous attention to
neatness and cleanliness, which we often find united with that purity of
mind, of which it is a natural emblem.
She stopped near the entrance of the room, made her deepest reverence,
and crossed her hands upon her bosom, without uttering a syllable. The
Duke of Argyle advanced towards her; and, if she admired his graceful
deportment and rich dress, decorated with the orders which had been
deservedly bestowed on him, his courteous manner, and quick and
intelligent cast of countenance, he on his part was not less, or less
deservedly, struck with the quiet simplicity and modesty expressed in the
dress, manners, and countenance of his humble countrywoman.
"Did you wish to speak with me, my bonny lass?" said the Duke, using the
encouraging epithet which at once acknowledged the connection betwixt
them as country-folk; "or did you wish to see the Duchess?"
"My business is with your honour, my Lord--I mean your Lordship's Grace."
"And what is it, my good girl?" said the Duke, in the same mild and
encouraging tone of voice. Jeanie looked at the attendant. "Leave us,
Archibald," said the Duke, "and wait in the anteroom." The domestic
retired. "And now sit down, my good lass," said the Duke; "take your
breath--take your time, and tell me what you have got to say. I guess by
your dress, you are just come up from poor Scotland--Did you come through
the streets in your tartan plaid?"
"No, sir," said Jeanie; "a friend brought me in ane o' their street
coaches--a very decent woman," she added, her courage increasing as she
became familiar with the sound of her own voice in such a presence; "your
Lordship's Grace kens her--it's Mrs. Glass, at the sign o' the Thistle."
"O, my worthy snuff-merchant--I have always a chat with Mrs. Glass when
I purchase my Scots high-dried. Well, but your business, my bonny
woman--time and tide, you know, wait for no one."
"Your honour--I beg your Lordship's pardon--I mean your Grace,"--for it
must be noticed, that this matter of addressing the Duke by his
appropriate title had been anxiously inculcated upon Jeanie by her friend
Mrs. Glass, in whose eyes it was a matter of such importance, that her
last words, as Jeanie left the coach, were, "Mind to say your Grace;" and
Jeanie, who had scarce ever in her life spoke to a person of higher
quality than the Laird of Dumbiedikes, found great difficulty in
arranging her language according to the rules of ceremony.
The Duke, who saw her embarrassment, said, with his usual affability,
"Never mind my grace, lassie; just speak out a plain tale, and show you
have a Scots tongue in your head."
"Sir, I am muckle obliged--Sir, I am the sister of that poor unfortunate
criminal, Effie Deans, who is ordered for execution at Edinburgh."'
"Ah!" said the Duke, "I have heard of that unhappy story, I think--a case
of child-murder, under a special act of parliament--Duncan Forbes
mentioned it at dinner the other day."
"And I was come up frae the north, sir, to see what could be done for her
in the way of getting a reprieve or pardon, sir, or the like of that."
"Alas! my poor girl," said the Duke; "you have made a long and a sad
journey to very little purpose--Your sister is ordered for execution."
"But I am given to understand that there is law for reprieving her, if it
is in the king's pleasure," said Jeanie.
"Certainly, there is," said the Duke; "but that is purely in the king's
breast. The crime has been but too common--the Scots crown-lawyers think
it is right there should be an example. Then the late disorders in
Edinburgh have excited a prejudice in government against the nation at
large, which they think can only be managed by measures of intimidation
and severity. What argument have you, my poor girl, except the warmth of
your sisterly affection, to offer against all this?--What is your
interest?--What friends have you at court?"
"None, excepting God and your Grace," said Jeanie, still keeping her
ground resolutely, however.
"Alas!" said the Duke, "I could almost say with old Ormond, that there
could not be any, whose influence was smaller with kings and ministers.
It is a cruel part of our situation, young woman--I mean of the situation
of men in my circumstances, that the public ascribe to them influence
which they do not possess; and that individuals are led to expect from
them assistance which we have no means of rendering. But candour and
plain dealing is in the power of every one, and I must not let you
imagine you have resources in my influence, which do not exist, to make
your distress the heavier--I have no means of averting your sister's
fate--She must die."
"We must a' die, sir," said Jeanie; "it is our common doom for our
father's transgression; but we shouldna hasten ilk other out o' the
world, that's what your honour kens better than me."
"My good young woman," said the Duke, mildly, "we are all apt to blame
the law under which we immediately suffer; but you seem to have been well
educated in your line of life, and you must know that it is alike the law
of God and man, that the murderer shall surely die."
"But, sir, Effie--that is, my poor sister, sir--canna be proved to be a
murderer; and if she be not, and the law take her life notwithstanding,
wha is it that is the murderer then?"
"I am no lawyer," said the Duke; "and I own I think the statute a very
"You are a law-maker, sir, with your leave; and, therefore, ye have power
over the law," answered Jeanie.
"Not in my individual capacity," said the Duke; "though, as one of a
large body, I have a voice in the legislation. But that cannot serve
you--nor have I at present, I care not who knows it, so much personal
influence with the sovereign, as would entitle me to ask from him the
most insignificant favour. What could tempt you, young woman, to address
yourself to me?"
"It was yourself, sir."
"Myself?" he replied--"I am sure you have never seen me before."
"No, sir; but a' the world kens that the Duke of Argyle is his country's
friend; and that ye fight for the right, and speak for the right, and
that there's nane like you in our present Israel, and so they that think
themselves wranged draw to refuge under your shadow; and if ye wunna stir
to save the blood of an innocent countrywoman of your ain, what should we
expect frae southerns and strangers? And maybe I had another reason for
troubling your honour."
"And what is that?" asked the Duke.
"I hae understood from my father, that your honour's house, and
especially your gudesire and his father, laid down their lives on the
scaffold in the persecuting time. And my father was honoured to gie his
testimony baith in the cage and in the pillory, as is specially mentioned
in the books of Peter Walker the packman, that your honour, I dare say,
kens, for he uses maist partly the westland of Scotland. And, sir,
there's ane that takes concern in me, that wished me to gang to your
Grace's presence, for his gudesire had done your gracious gudesire some
good turn, as ye will see frae these papers."
With these words, she delivered to the Duke the little parcel which she
had received from Butler. He opened it, and, in the envelope, read with
some surprise, "'Musterroll of the men serving in the troop of that godly
gentleman, Captain Salathiel Bangtext.--Obadiah Muggleton, Sin-Despise
Double-knock, Stand-fast-in-faith Gipps, Turn-to-the-right Thwack-away'--
What the deuce is this? A list of Praise-God Barebone's Parliament I
think, or of old Noll's evangelical army--that last fellow should
understand his wheelings, to judge by his name.--But what does all this
mean, my girl?"
"It was the other paper, sir," said Jeanie, somewhat abashed at the
"O, this is my unfortunate grandfather's hand sure enough--'To all who
may have friendship for the house of Argyle, these are to certify, that
Benjamin Butler, of Monk's regiment of dragoons, having been, under God,
the means of saving my life from four English troopers who were about, to
slay me, I, having no other present means of recompense in my power, do
give him this acknowledgment, hoping that it may be useful to him or his
during these troublesome times; and do conjure my friends, tenants,
kinsmen, and whoever will do aught for me, either in the Highlands or
Lowlands, to protect and assist the said Benjamin Butler, and his friends
or family, on their lawful occasions, giving them such countenance,
maintenance, and supply, as may correspond with the benefit he hath
bestowed on me; witness my hand--Lorne.'
"This is a strong injunction--This Benjamin Butler was your grandfather,
I suppose?--You seem too young to have been his daughter."
"He was nae akin to me, sir--he was grandfather to ane--to a neighbour's
son--to a sincere weel-wisher of mine, sir," dropping her little courtesy
as she spoke.
"O, I understand," said the Duke--"a true-love affair. He was the
grandsire of one you are engaged to?"
"One I _was_ engaged to, sir," said Jeanie, sighing; "but this unhappy
business of my poor sister"
"What!" said the Duke, hastily--"he has not deserted you on that account,
"No, sir; he wad be the last to leave a friend in difficulties," said
Jeanie; "but I maun think for him as weel as for mysell. He is a
clergyman, sir, and it would not beseem him to marry the like of me, wi'
this disgrace on my kindred."
"You are a singular young woman," said the Duke. "You seem to me to think
of every one before yourself. And have you really come up from Edinburgh
on foot, to attempt this hopeless solicitation for your sister's life?"
"It was not a'thegither on foot, sir," answered Jeanie; "for I sometimes
got a cast in a waggon, and I had a horse from Ferrybridge, and then the
"Well, never mind all that," interrupted the Duke--"What reason have you
for thinking your sister innocent?"
"Because she has not been proved guilty, as will appear from looking at
She put into his hand a note of the evidence, and copies of her sister's
declaration. These papers Butler had procured after her departure, and
Saddletree had them forwarded to London, to Mrs. Glass's care, so that
Jeanie found the documents, so necessary for supporting her suit, lying
in readiness at her arrival.
"Sit down in that chair, my good girl," said the Duke,--"until I glance
over the papers."
She obeyed, and watched with the utmost anxiety each change in his
countenance as he cast his eye through the papers briefly, yet with
attention, and making memoranda as he went along. After reading them
hastily over, he looked up, and seemed about to speak, yet changed his
purpose, as if afraid of committing himself by giving too hasty an
opinion, and read over again several passages which he had marked as
being most important. All this he did in shorter time than can be
supposed by men of ordinary talents; for his mind was of that acute and
penetrating character which discovers, with the glance of intuition, what
facts bear on the particular point that chances to be subjected to
consideration. At length he rose, after a few minutes' deep reflection.--
"Young woman," said he, "your sister's case must certainly be termed a
"God bless you, sir, for that very word!" said Jeanie.
"It seems contrary to the genius of British law," continued the Duke, "to
take that for granted which is not proved, or to punish with death for a
crime, which, for aught the prosecutor has been able to show, may not
have been committed at all."
"God bless you, sir!" again said Jeanie, who had risen from her seat,
and, with clasped hands, eyes glittering through tears, and features
which trembled with anxiety, drank in every word which the Duke uttered.
"But, alas! my poor girl," he continued, "what good will my opinion do
you, unless I could impress it upon those in whose hands your sister's
life is placed by the law? Besides, I am no lawyer; and I must speak with
some of our Scottish gentlemen of the gown about the matter."
"O, but, sir, what seems reasonable to your honour, will certainly be the
same to them," answered Jeanie.
"I do not know that," replied the Duke; "ilka man buckles his belt his
ain gate--you know our old Scots proverb?--But you shall not have placed
this reliance on me altogether in vain. Leave these papers with me, and
you shall hear from me to-morrow or next day. Take care to be at home at
Mrs. Glass's, and ready to come to me at a moment's warning. It will be
unnecessary for you to give Mrs. Glass the trouble to attend you;--and by
the by, you will please to be dressed just as you are at present."
"I wad hae putten on a cap, sir," said Jeanie, "but your honour kens it
isna the fashion of my country for single women; and I judged that, being
sae mony hundred miles frae hame, your Grace's heart wad warm to the
tartan," looking at the corner of her plaid.
"You judged quite right," said the Duke. "I know the full value of the
snood; and MacCallummore's heart will be as cold as death can make it,
when it does _not_ warm to the tartan. Now, go away, and don't be out of
the way when I send."
Jeanie replied,--"There is little fear of that, sir, for I have little
heart to go to see sights amang this wilderness of black houses. But if I
might say to your gracious honour, that if ye ever condescend to speak to
ony ane that is of greater degree than yoursell, though maybe it isna
civil in me to say sae, just if you would think there can be nae sic odds
between you and them, as between poor Jeanie Deans from St. Leonard's and
the Duke of Argyle; and so dinna be chappit back or cast down wi' the
first rough answer."
"I am not apt," said the Duke, laughing, "to mind rough answers much--Do
not you hope too much from what I have promised. I will do my best, but
God has the hearts of Kings in his own hand."
Jeanie courtesied reverently and withdrew, attended by the Duke's
gentleman, to her hackney-coach, with a respect which her appearance did
not demand, but which was perhaps paid to the length of the interview
with which his master had honoured her.
While radiant summer opens all its pride,
Thy hill, delightful Shene! Here let us sweep
The boundless landscape.
From her kind and officious, but somewhat gossiping friend, Mrs. Glass,
Jeanie underwent a very close catechism on their road to the Strand,
where the Thistle of the good lady flourished in full glory, and, with
its legend of _Nemo me impune,_ distinguished a shop then well known to
all Scottish folk of high and low degree.
"And were you sure aye to _say your_ Grace to him?" said the good old
lady; "for ane should make a distinction between MacCallummore and the
bits o' southern bodies that they ca' lords here--there are as mony o'
them, Jeanie, as would gar ane think they maun cost but little fash in
the making--some of them I wadna trust wi' six pennies-worth of
black-rappee--some of them I wadna gie mysell the trouble to put up a
hapnyworth in brown paper for--But I hope you showed your breeding to the
Duke of Argyle, for what sort of folk would he think your friends in
London, if you had been lording him, and him a Duke?"
"He didna seem muckle to mind," said Jeanie; "he kend that I was landward
"Weel, weel," answered the good lady. "His Grace kens me weel; so I am
the less anxious about it. I never fill his snug-box but he says, 'How
d'ye do, good Mrs. Glass?--How are all our friends in the North?' or it
may be--'Have ye heard from the North lately?' And you may be sure, I
make my best courtesy, and answer, 'My Lord Duke, I hope your Grace's
noble Duchess, and your Grace's young ladies, are well; and I hope the
snuff continues to give your Grace satisfaction.' And then ye will see
the people in the shop begin to look about them; and if there's a
Scotsman, as there may be three or half-a-dozen, aff go the hats, and
mony a look after him, and 'There goes the Prince of Scotland, God bless
him!' But ye have not told me yet the very words he said t'ye."
Jeanie had no intention to be quite so communicative. She had, as the
reader may have observed, some of the caution and shrewdness, as well as
of the simplicity of her country. She answered generally, that the Duke
had received her very compassionately, and had promised to interest
himself in her sister's affair, and to let her hear from him in the
course of the next day, or the day after. She did not choose to make any
mention of his having desired her to be in readiness to attend him, far
less of his hint, that she should not bring her landlady. So that honest
Mrs. Glass was obliged to remain satisfied with the general intelligence
above mentioned, after having done all she could to extract more.
It may easily be conceived, that, on the next day, Jeanie declined all
invitations and inducements, whether of exercise or curiosity, to walk
abroad, and continued to inhale the close, and somewhat professional
atmosphere of Mrs. Glass's small parlour. The latter flavour it owed to a
certain cupboard, containing, among other articles, a few canisters of
real Havannah, which, whether from respect to the manufacture, or out of
a reverend fear of the exciseman, Mrs. Glass did not care to trust in the
open shop below, and which communicated to the room a scent, that,
however fragrant to the nostrils of the connoisseur, was not very
agreeable to those of Jeanie.
"Dear sirs," she said to herself, "I wonder how my cousin's silk manty,
and her gowd watch, or ony thing in the world, can be worth sitting
sneezing all her life in this little stilling room, and might walk on
green braes if she liked."
Mrs. Glass was equally surprised at her cousin's reluctance to stir
abroad, and her indifference to the fine sights of London. "It would
always help to pass away the time," she said, "to have something to look
at, though ane was in distress." But Jeanie was unpersuadable.
The day after her interview with the Duke was spent in that "hope
delayed, which maketh the heart sick." Minutes glided after
minutes--hours fled after hours--it became too late to have any
reasonable expectation of hearing from the Duke that day; yet the hope
which she disowned, she could not altogether relinquish, and her heart
throbbed, and her ears tingled, with every casual sound in the shop
below. It was in vain. The day wore away in the anxiety of protracted
and fruitless expectation.
The next morning commenced in the same manner. But before noon, a
well-dressed gentleman entered Mrs. Glass's shop, and requested to see a
young woman from Scotland.
"That will be my cousin Jeanie Deans, Mr. Archibald," said Mrs. Glass,
with a courtesy of recognisance. "Have you any message for her from his
Grace the Duke of Argyle, Mr. Archibald? I will carry it to her in a
"I believe I must give her the trouble of stepping down, Mrs. Glass."
"Jeanie--Jeanie Deans!" said Mrs. Glass, screaming at the bottom of the
little staircase, which ascended from the corner of the shop to the
higher regions. "Jeanie--Jeanie Deans, I say! come down stairs instantly;
here is the Duke of Argyle's groom of the chambers desires to see you
directly." This was announced in a voice so loud, as to make all who
chanced to be within hearing aware of the important communication.
It may easily be supposed, that Jeanie did not tarry long in adjusting
herself to attend the summons, yet her feet almost failed her as she came
"I must ask the favour of your company a little way," said Archibald,
"I am quite ready, sir," said Jeanie.
"Is my cousin going out, Mr. Archibald? then I will hae to go wi' her, no
doubt.--James Rasper--Look to the shop, James.--Mr. Archibald," pushing a
jar towards him, "you take his Grace's mixture, I think. Please to fill
your box, for old acquaintance' sake, while I get on my things."
Mr. Archibald transferred a modest parcel of snuff from the jar to his
own mull, but said he was obliged to decline the pleasure of Mrs. Glass's
company, as his message was particularly to the young person.
"Particularly to the young person?" said Mrs. Glass; "is not that
uncommon, Mr. Archibald? But his Grace is the best judge; and you are a
steady person, Mr. Archibald. It is not every one that comes from a great
man's house I would trust my cousin with.--But, Jeanie, you must not go
through the streets with Mr. Archibald with your tartan what-d'ye-call-it
there upon your shoulders, as if you had come up with a drove of Highland
cattle. Wait till I bring down my silk cloak. Why, we'll have the mob
"I have a hackney-coach in waiting, madam," said Mr. Archibald,
interrupting the officious old lady, from whom Jeanie might otherwise
have found it difficult to escape; "and, I believe, I must not allow her
time for any change of dress."
So saying, he hurried Jeanie into the coach, while she internally praised
and wondered at the easy manner in which he shifted off Mrs. Glass's
officious offers and inquiries, without mentioning his master's orders,
or entering into any explanation,
On entering the coach, Mr. Archibald seated himself in the front seat
opposite to our heroine, and they drove on in silence. After they had
driven nearly half-an-hour, without a word on either side, it occurred to
Jeanie, that the distance and time did not correspond with that which had
been occupied by her journey on the former occasion, to and from the
residence of the Duke of Argyle. At length she could not help asking her
taciturn companion, "Whilk way they were going?"
"My Lord Duke will inform you himself, madam," answered Archibald, with
the same solemn courtesy which marked his whole demeanour. Almost as he
spoke, the hackney-coach drew up, and the coachman dismounted and opened
the door. Archibald got out, and assisted Jeanie to get down. She found
herself in a large turnpike road, without the bounds of London, upon the
other side of which road was drawn up a plain chariot and four horses,
the panels without arms, and the servants without liveries.
"You have been punctual, I see, Jeanie," said the Duke of Argyle, as
Archibald opened the carriage-door. "You must be my companion for the
rest of the way. Archibald will remain here with the hackney-coach till
Ere Jeanie could make answer, she found herself, to her no small
astonishment, seated by the side of a duke, in a carriage which rolled
forward at a rapid yet smooth rate, very different in both particulars
from the lumbering, jolting vehicle which she had just left; and which,
lumbering and jolting as it was, conveyed to one who had seldom been in a
coach before a certain feeling of dignity and importance.
"Young woman," said the Duke, "after thinking as attentively on your
sister's case as is in my power, I continue to be impressed with the
belief that great injustice may be done by the execution of her sentence.
So are one or two liberal and intelligent lawyers of both countries whom
I have spoken with.--Nay, pray hear me out before you thank me.--I have
already told you my personal conviction is of little consequence, unless
I could impress the same upon others. Now I have done for you what I
would certainly not have done to serve any purpose of my own--I have
asked an audience of a lady whose interest with the king is deservedly
very high. It has been allowed me, and I am desirous that you should see
her and speak for yourself. You have no occasion to be abashed; tell your
story simply, as you did to me."
"I am much obliged to your Grace," said Jeanie, remembering Mrs. Glass's
charge, "and I am sure, since I have had the courage to speak to your
Grace in poor Effie's cause, I have less reason to be shame-faced in
speaking to a leddy. But, sir, I would like to ken what to ca' her,
whether your grace or your honour, or your leddyship, as we say to lairds
and leddies in Scotland, and I will take care to mind it; for I ken
leddies are full mair particular than gentlemen about their titles of
"You have no occasion to call her anything but Madam. Just say what you
think is likely to make the best impression--look at me from time to
time--and if I put my hand to my cravat so--(showing her the motion)--you
will stop; but I shall only do this when you say anything that is not
likely to please."
"But, sir, your Grace," said Jeanie, "if it wasna ower muckle trouble,
wad it no be better to tell me what I should say, and I could get it by
"No, Jeanie, that would not have the same effect--that would be like
reading a sermon, you know, which we good Presbyterians think has less
unction than when spoken without book," replied the Duke. "Just speak as
plainly and boldly to this lady, as you did to me the day before
yesterday, and if you can gain her consent, I'll wad ye a plack, as we
say in the north, that you get the pardon from the king."
As he spoke, he took a pamphlet from his pocket, and began to read.
Jeanie had good sense and tact, which constitute betwixt them that which
is called natural good breeding. She interpreted the Duke's manoeuvre as
a hint that she was to ask no more questions, and she remained silent
The carriage rolled rapidly onwards through fertile meadows, ornamented
with splendid old oaks, and catching occasionally a glance of the
majestic mirror of a broad and placid river. After passing through a
pleasant village, the equipage stopped on a commanding eminence, where
the beauty of English landscape was displayed in its utmost luxuriance.
Here the Duke alighted, and desired Jeanie to follow him. They paused for
a moment on the brow of a hill, to gaze on the unrivalled landscape which
it presented. A huge sea of verdure, with crossing and intersecting
promontories of massive and tufted groves, was tenanted by numberless
flocks and herds, which seemed to wander unrestrained and unbounded
through the rich pastures. The Thames, here turreted with villas, and
there garlanded with forests, moved on slowly and placidly, like the
mighty monarch of the scene, to whom all its other beauties were but
accessories, and bore on its bosom an hundred barks and skiffs, whose
white sails and gaily fluttering pennons gave life to the whole.
The Duke of Argyle was, of course, familiar with this scene; but to a man
of taste it must be always new. Yet, as he paused and looked on this
inimitable landscape, with the feeling of delight which it must give to
the bosom of every admirer of nature, his thoughts naturally reverted to
his own more grand, and scarce less beautiful, domains of Inverary.--
"This is a fine scene," he said to his companion, curious, perhaps, to
draw out her sentiments; "we have nothing like it in Scotland."
"It's braw rich feeding for the cows, and they have a fine breed o'
cattle here," replied Jeanie; "but I like just as weel to look at the
craigs of Arthur's Seat, and the sea coming in ayont them as at a' thae
The Duke smiled at a reply equally professional and national, and made a
signal for the carriage to remain where it was. Then adopting an
unfrequented footpath, he conducted Jeanie through several complicated
mazes to a postern-door in a high brick wall.
It was shut; but as the Duke tapped slightly at it, a person in waiting
within, after reconnoitring through a small iron grate, contrived for the
purpose, unlocked the door and admitted them. They entered, and it was
immediately closed and fastened behind them. This was all done quickly,
the door so instantly closing, and the person who opened it so suddenly
disappearing, that Jeanie could not even catch a glimpse of his exterior.
They found themselves at the extremity of a deep and narrow alley,
carpeted with the most verdant and close-shaven turf, which felt like
velvet under their feet, and screened from the sun by the branches of the
lofty elms which united over the path, and caused it to resemble, in the
solemn obscurity of the light which they admitted, as well as from the
range of columnar stems, and intricate union of their arched branches,
one of the narrow side aisles in an ancient Gothic cathedral.
I beseech you--
These tears beseech you, and these chaste hands woo you
That never yet were heaved but to things holy--
Things like yourself--You are a God above us;
Be as a God, then, full of saving mercy!
The Bloody Brother.
Encouraged as she was by the courteous manners of her noble countryman,
it was not without a feeling of something like terror that Jeanie felt
herself in a place apparently so lonely with a man of such high rank.
That she should have been permitted to wait on the Duke in his own house,
and have been there received to a private interview, was in itself an
uncommon and distinguished event in the annals of a life so simple as
hers; but to find herself his travelling companion in a journey, and then
suddenly to be left alone with him in so secluded a situation, had
something in it of awful mystery. A romantic heroine might have suspected
and dreaded the power of her own charms; but Jeanie was too wise to let
such a silly thought intrude on her mind. Still, however, she had a most
eager desire to know where she now was, and to whom she was to be
She remarked that the Duke's dress, though still such as indicated rank
and fashion (for it was not the custom of men of quality at that time to
dress themselves like their own coachmen or grooms), was nevertheless
plainer than that in which she had seen him upon a former occasion, and
was divested, in particular, of all those badges of external decoration
which intimated superior consequence. In short, he was attired as plainly
as any gentleman of fashion could appear in the streets of London in a
morning; and this circumstance helped to shake an opinion which Jeanie
began to entertain, that, perhaps, he intended she should plead her cause
in the presence of royalty itself. "But surely," said she to, herself,
"he wad hae putten on his braw star and garter, an he had thought o'
coming before the face of majesty--and after a', this is mair like a
gentleman's policy than a royal palace."
There was some sense in Jeanie's reasoning; yet she was not sufficiently
mistress either of the circumstances of etiquette, or the particular
relations which existed betwixt the government and the Duke of Argyle, to
form an accurate judgment. The Duke, as we have said, was at this time in
open opposition to the administration of Sir Robert Walpole, and was
understood to be out of favour with the royal family, to whom he had
rendered such important services. But it was a maxim of Queen Caroline to
bear herself towards her political friends with such caution, as if there
was a possibility of their one day being her enemies, and towards
political opponents with the same degree of circumspection, as if they
might again become friendly to her measures, Since Margaret of Anjou, no
queen-consort had exercised such weight in the political affairs of
England, and the personal address which she displayed on many occasions,
had no small share in reclaiming from their political heresy many of
those determined Tories, who, after the reign of the Stuarts had been
extinguished in the person of Queen Anne, were disposed rather to
transfer their allegiance to her brother the Chevalier de St. George,
than to acquiesce in the settlement of the crown on the Hanover family.
Her husband, whose most shining quality was courage in the field of
battle, and who endured the office of King of England, without ever being
able to acquire English habits, or any familiarity with English
dispositions, found the utmost assistance from the address of his
partner, and while he jealously affected to do everything according to
his own will and pleasure, was in secret prudent enough to take and
follow the advice of his more adroit consort. He intrusted to her the
delicate office of determining the various degrees of favour necessary to
attach the wavering, or to confirm such as were already friendly, or to
regain those whose good-will had been lost.
With all the winning address of an elegant, and, according to the times,
an accomplished woman, Queen Caroline possessed the masculine soul of the
other sex. She was proud by nature, and even her policy could not always
temper her expressions of displeasure, although few were more ready at
repairing any false step of this kind, when her prudence came up to the
aid of her passions. She loved the real possession of power rather than
the show of it, and whatever she did herself that was either wise or
popular, she always desired that the King should have the full credit as
well as the advantage of the measure, conscious that, by adding to his
respectability, she was most likely to maintain her own. And so desirous
was she to comply with all his tastes, that, when threatened with the
gout, she had repeatedly had recourse to checking the fit, by the use of
the cold bath, thereby endangering her life, that she might be able to
attend the king in his walks.
It was a very consistent part of Queen Caroline's character, to keep up
many private correspondences with those to whom in public she seemed
unfavourable, or who, for various reasons, stood ill with the court. By
this means she kept in her hands the thread of many a political intrigue,
and, without pledging herself to anything, could often prevent discontent
from becoming hatred, and opposition from exaggerating itself into
rebellion. If by any accident her correspondence with such persons
chanced to be observed or discovered, which she took all possible pains
to prevent, it was represented as a mere intercourse of society, having
no reference to politics; an answer with which even the prime minister,
Sir Robert Walpole, was compelled to remain satisfied, when he discovered
that the Queen had given a private audience to Pulteney, afterwards Earl
of Bath, his most formidable and most inveterate enemy.
In thus maintaining occasional intercourse with several persons who
seemed most alienated from the crown, it may readily be supposed that
Queen Caroline had taken care not to break entirely with the Duke of
Argyle. His high birth, his great talents, the estimation in which he was
held in his own country, the great services which he had rendered the
house of Brunswick in 1715, placed him high in that rank of persons who
were not to be rashly neglected. He had, almost by his single and
unassisted talents, stopped the irruption of the banded force of all the
Highland chiefs; there was little doubt, that, with the slightest
encouragement, he could put them all in motion, and renew the civil war;
and it was well known that the most flattering overtures had been
transmitted to the Duke from the court of St. Germains. The character and
temper of Scotland was still little known, and it was considered as a
volcano, which might, indeed, slumber for a series of years, but was
still liable, at a moment the least expected, to break out into a
wasteful irruption. It was, therefore, of the highest importance to
retain come hold over so important a personage as the Duke of Argyle, and
Caroline preserved the power of doing so by means of a lady, with whom,
as wife of George II., she might have been supposed to be on less
It was not the least instance of the Queen's address, that she had
contrived that one of her principal attendants, Lady Suffolk, should
unite in her own person the two apparently inconsistent characters, of
her husband's mistress, and her own very obsequious and complaisant
confidant. By this dexterous management the Queen secured her power
against the danger which might most have threatened it--the thwarting
influence of an ambitious rival; and if she submitted to the
mortification of being obliged to connive at her husband's infidelity,
she was at least guarded against what she might think its most dangerous
effects, and was besides at liberty, now and then, to bestow a few civil
insults upon "her good Howard," whom, however, in general, she treated
with great decorum.*
* See Horace Walpole's Reminiscences.
Lady Suffolk lay under strong obligations to the Duke of Argyle, for
reasons which may be collected from Horace Walpole's Reminiscences of
that reign, and through her means the Duke had some occasional
correspondence with Queen Caroline, much interrupted, however, since the
part he had taken in the debate concerning the Porteous mob, an affair
which the Queen, though somewhat unreasonably, was disposed to resent,
rather as an intended and premeditated insolence to her own person and
authority, than as a sudden ebullition of popular vengeance. Still,
however, the communication remained open betwixt them, though it had been
of late disused on both sides. These remarks will be found necessary to
understand the scene which is about to be presented to the reader.
From the narrow alley which they had traversed, the Duke turned into one
of the same character, but broader and still longer. Here, for the first
time since they had entered these gardens, Jeanie saw persons approaching
They were two ladies; one of whom walked a little behind the other, yet
not so much as to prevent her from hearing and replying to whatever
observation was addressed to her by the lady who walked foremost, and
that without her having the trouble to turn her person. As they advanced
very slowly, Jeanie had time to study their features and appearance. The
Duke also slackened his pace, as if to give her time to collect herself,
and repeatedly desired her not to be afraid. The lady who seemed the
principal person had remarkably good features, though somewhat injured by
the small-pox, that venomous scourge which each village Esculapius
(thanks to Jenner) can now tame as easily as their tutelary deity subdued
the Python. The lady's eyes were brilliant, her teeth good, and her
countenance formed to express at will either majesty or courtesy. Her
form, though rather _embonpoint,_ was nevertheless graceful; and the
elasticity and firmness of her step gave no room to suspect, what was
actually the case, that she suffered occasionally from a disorder the
most unfavourable to pedestrian exercise. Her dress was rather rich than
gay, and her manner commanding and noble.
Her companion was of lower stature, with light brown hair and expressive
blue eyes. Her features, without being absolutely regular, were perhaps
more pleasing than if they had been critically handsome. A melancholy, or
at least a pensive expression, for which her lot gave too much cause,
predominated when she was silent, but gave way to a pleasing and
good-humoured smile when she spoke to any one.
When they were within twelve or fifteen yards of these ladies, the Duke
made a sign that Jeanie should stand still, and stepping forward himself,
with the grace which was natural to him, made a profound obeisance, which
was formally, yet in a dignified manner, returned by the personage whom
"I hope," she said, with an affable and condescending smile, "that I see
so great a stranger at court, as the Duke of Argyle has been of late, in
as good health as his friends there and elsewhere could wish him to
The Duke replied, "That he had been perfectly well;" and added, "that the
necessity of attending to the public business before the House, as well
as the time occupied by a late journey to Scotland, had rendered him less
assiduous in paying his duty at the levee and drawing-room than he could
"When your Grace _can_ find time for a duty so frivolous," replied the
Queen, "you are aware of your title to be well received. I hope my
readiness to comply with the wish which you expressed yesterday to Lady
Suffolk, is, a sufficient proof that one of the royal family, at least,
has not forgotten ancient and important services, in resenting something
which resembles recent neglect." This was said apparently with great good
humour, and in a tone which expressed a desire of conciliation.
The Duke replied, "That he would account himself the most unfortunate of
men, if he could be supposed capable of neglecting his duty, in modes and
circumstances when it was expected, and would have been agreeable. He was
deeply gratified by the honour which her Majesty was now doing to him
personally; and he trusted she would soon perceive that it was in a
matter essential to his Majesty's interest that he had the boldness to
give her this trouble."
"You cannot oblige me more, my Lord Duke," replied the Queen, "than by
giving me the advantage of your lights and experience on any point of the
King's service. Your Grace is aware, that I can only be the medium
through which the matter is subjected to his Majesty's superior wisdom;
but if it is a suit which respects your Grace personally, it shall lose
no support by being preferred through me."
"It is no suit of mine, madam," replied the Duke; "nor have I any to
prefer for myself personally, although I feel in full force my obligation
to your Majesty. It is a business which concerns his Majesty, as a lover
of justice and of mercy, and which, I am convinced, may be highly useful
in conciliating the unfortunate irritation which at present subsists
among his Majesty's good subjects in Scotland."
There were two parts of this speech disagreeable to Caroline. In the
first place, it removed the flattering notion she had adopted, that
Argyle designed to use her personal intercession in making his peace with
the administration, and recovering the employments of which he had been
deprived; and next, she was displeased that he should talk of the
discontents in Scotland as irritations to be conciliated, rather than
Under the influence of these feelings, she answered hastily, "That his
Majesty has good subjects in England, my Lord Duke, he is bound to thank
God and the laws--that he has subjects in Scotland, I think he may thank
God and his sword."
The Duke, though a courtier, coloured slightly, and the Queen, instantly
sensible of her error, added, without displaying the least change of
countenance, and as if the words had been an original branch of the
sentence--"And the swords of those real Scotchmen who are friends to the
House of Brunswick, particularly that of his Grace of Argyle."
"My sword, madam," replied the Duke, "like that of my fathers, has been
always at the command of my lawful king, and of my native country--I
trust it is impossible to separate their real rights and interests. But
the present is a matter of more private concern, and respects the person
of an obscure individual."
"What is the affair, my Lord?" said the Queen. "Let us find out what we
are talking about, lest we should misconstrue and misunderstand each
"The matter, madam," answered the Duke of Argyle, "regards the fate of an
unfortunate young woman in Scotland, now lying under sentence of death,
for a crime of which I think it highly probable that she is innocent. And
my humble petition to your Majesty is, to obtain your powerful
intercession with the King for a pardon."
It was now the Queen's turn to colour, and she did so over cheek and
brow, neck and bosom. She paused a moment as if unwilling to trust her
voice with the first expression of her displeasure; and on assuming the
air of dignity and an austere regard of control, she at length replied,
"My Lord Duke, I will not ask your motives for addressing to me a
request, which circumstances have rendered such an extraordinary one.
Your road to the King's closet, as a peer and a privy-councillor,
entitled to request an audience, was open, without giving me the pain of
this discussion. _I,_ at least, have had enough of Scotch pardons."
The Duke was prepared for this burst of indignation, and he was not
shaken by it. He did not attempt a reply while the Queen was in the first
heat of displeasure, but remained in the same firm, yet respectful
posture, which he had assumed during the interview. The Queen, trained
from her situation to self-command, instantly perceived the advantage she
might give against herself by yielding to passion; and added, in the same
condescending and affable tone in which she had opened the interview,
"You must allow me some of the privileges of the sex, my Lord; and do not
judge uncharitably of me, though I am a little moved at the recollection
of the gross insult and outrage done in your capital city to the royal
authority, at the very time when it was vested in my unworthy person.
Your Grace cannot be surprised that I should both have felt it at the
time, and recollected it now."
"It is certainly a matter not speedily to be forgotten," answered the
Duke. "My own poor thoughts of it have been long before your Majesty, and
I must have expressed myself very ill if I did not convey my detestation
of the murder which was committed under such extraordinary circumstances.
I might, indeed, be so unfortunate as to differ with his Majesty's
advisers on the degree in which it was either just or politic to punish
the innocent instead of the guilty. But I trust your Majesty will permit
me to be silent on a topic in which my sentiments have not the good
fortune to coincide with those of more able men."
"We will not prosecute a topic on which we may probably differ," said the
Queen. "One word, however, I may say in private--you know our good Lady
Suffolk is a little deaf--the Duke of Argyle, when disposed to renew his
acquaintance with his master and mistress, will hardly find many topics
on which we should disagree."
"Let me hope," said the Duke, bowing profoundly to so flattering an
intimation, "that I shall not be so unfortunate as to have found one on
the present occasion."
"I must first impose on your Grace the duty of confession," said the
Queen, "before I grant you absolution. What is your particular interest
in this young woman? She does not seem" (and she scanned Jeanie, as she
said this, with the eye of a connoisseur) "much qualified to alarm my
friend the Duchess's jealousy."
"I think your Majesty," replied the Duke, smiling in his turn, "will
allow my taste may be a pledge for me on that score."
"Then, though she has not much the air _d'une grande dame,_ I suppose she
is some thirtieth cousin in the terrible
CHAPTER of Scottish genealogy?"
"No, madam," said the Duke; "but I wish some of my nearer relations had
half her worth, honesty, and affection."
"Her name must be Campbell, at least?" said Queen Caroline.
"No, madam; her name is not quite so distinguished, if I may be permitted
to say so," answered the Duke.
"Ah! but she comes from Inverary or Argyleshire?" said the Sovereign.
"She has never been farther north in her life than Edinburgh, madam."
"Then my conjectures are all ended," said the Queen, "and your Grace must
yourself take the trouble to explain the affair of your prote'ge'e."
With that precision and easy brevity which is only acquired by habitually
conversing in the higher ranks of society, and which is the diametrical
opposite of that protracted style of disquisition,
Which squires call potter, and which men call prose,
the Duke explained the singular law under which Effie Deans had received
sentence of death, and detailed the affectionate exertions which Jeanie
had made in behalf of a sister, for whose sake she was willing to
sacrifice all but truth and conscience.
Queen Caroline listened with attention; she was rather fond, it must be
remembered, of an argument, and soon found matter in what the Duke told
her for raising difficulties to his request.
"It appears to me, my Lord," she replied, "that this is a severe law. But
still it is adopted upon good grounds, I am bound to suppose, as the law
of the country, and the girl has been convicted under it. The very
presumptions which the law construes into a positive proof of guilt exist
in her case; and all that your Grace has said concerning the possibility
of her innocence may be a very good argument for annulling the Act of
Parliament, but cannot, while it stands good, be admitted in favour of
any individual convicted upon the statute."
The Duke saw and avoided the snare, for he was conscious, that, by
replying to the argument, he must have been inevitably led to a
discussion, in the course of which the Queen was likely to be hardened
in her own opinion, until she became obliged, out of mere respect to
consistency, to let the criminal suffer.
[Illustration: Jeanie and Queen Caroline--194]
"If your Majesty," he said, "would condescend to hear my poor
countrywoman herself, perhaps she may find an advocate in your own heart,
more able than I am, to combat the doubts suggested by your
The Queen seemed to acquiesce, and the Duke made a signal for Jeanie to
advance from the spot where she had hitherto remained watching
countenances, which were too long accustomed to suppress all apparent
signs of emotion, to convey to her any interesting intelligence. Her
Majesty could not help smiling at the awe-struck manner in which the
quiet demure figure of the little Scotchwoman advanced towards her, and
yet more at the first sound of her broad northern accent. But Jeanie had
a voice low and sweetly toned, an admirable thing in woman, and eke
besought "her Leddyship to have pity on a poor misguided young creature,"
in tones so affecting, that, like the notes of some of her native songs,
provincial vulgarity was lost in pathos.
"Stand up, young woman," said the Queen, but in a kind tone, "and tell me
what sort of a barbarous people your country-folk are, where child-murder
is become so common as to require the restraint of laws like yours?"
"If your Leddyship pleases," answered Jeanie, "there are mony places
besides Scotland where mothers are unkind to their ain flesh and blood."
It must be observed, that the disputes between George the Second and
Frederick Prince of Wales were then at the highest, and that the
good-natured part of the public laid the blame on the Queen. She coloured
highly, and darted a glance of a most penetrating character first at
Jeanie, and then at the Duke. Both sustained it unmoved; Jeanie from
total unconsciousness of the offence she had given, and the Duke from his
habitual composure. But in his heart he thought, My unlucky _protegee_
has with this luckless answer shot dead, by a kind of chance-medley, her
only hope of success.
Lady Suffolk, good-humouredly and skilfully, interposed in this awkward
crisis. "You should tell this lady," she said to Jeanie, "the particular
causes which render this crime common in your country."
"Some thinks it's the Kirk-session--that is--it's the--it's the
cutty-stool, if your Leddyship pleases," said Jeanie, looking down and
"The what?" said Lady Suffolk, to whom the phrase was new, and who
besides was rather deaf.
"That's the stool of repentance, madam, if it please your Leddyship,"
answered Jeanie, "for light life and conversation, and for breaking the
seventh command." Here she raised her eyes to the Duke, saw his hand at
his chin, and, totally unconscious of what she had said out of joint,
gave double effect to the innuendo, by stopping short and looking
As for Lady Suffolk, she retired like a covering party, which, having
interposed betwixt their retreating friends and the enemy, have suddenly
drawn on themselves a fire unexpectedly severe.
The deuce take the lass, thought the Duke of Argyle to himself; there
goes another shot--and she has hit with both barrels right and left!
Indeed the Duke had himself his share of the confusion, for, having acted
as master of ceremonies to this innocent offender, he felt much in the
circumstances of a country squire, who, having introduced his spaniel
into a well-appointed drawing-room, is doomed to witness the disorder and
damage which arises to china and to dress-gowns, in consequence of its
untimely frolics. Jeanie's last chance-hit, however, obliterated the ill
impression which had arisen from the first; for her Majesty had not so
lost the feelings of a wife in those of a Queen, but that she could enjoy
a jest at the expense of "her good Suffolk." She turned towards the Duke
of Argyle with a smile, which marked that she enjoyed the triumph, and
observed, "The Scotch are a rigidly moral people." Then, again applying
herself to Jeanie, she asked how she travelled up from Scotland.
"Upon my foot mostly, madam," was the reply.
"What, all that immense way upon foot?--How far can you walk in a day."
"Five-and-twenty miles and a bittock."
"And a what?" said the Queen, looking towards the Duke of Argyle.
"And about five miles more," replied the Duke.
"I thought I was a good walker," said the Queen, "but this shames me
"May your Leddyship never hae sae weary a heart, that ye canna be
sensible of the weariness of the limbs," said Jeanie. That came better
off, thought the Duke; it's the first thing she has said to the purpose.
"And I didna just a'thegither walk the haill way neither, for I had
whiles the cast of a cart; and I had the cast of a horse from
Ferrybridge--and divers other easements," said Jeanie, cutting short her
story, for she observed the Duke made the sign he had fixed upon.
"With all these accommodations," answered the Queen, "you must have had a
very fatiguing journey, and, I fear, to little purpose; since, if the
King were to pardon your sister, in all probability it would do her
little good, for I suppose your people of Edinburgh would hang her out of
She will sink herself now outright, thought the Duke.
But he was wrong. The shoals on which Jeanie had touched in this delicate
conversation lay under ground, and were unknown to her; this rock was
above water, and she avoided it.
"She was confident," she said, "that baith town and country wad rejoice
to see his Majesty taking compassion on a poor unfriended creature."
"His Majesty has not found it so in a late instance," said the Queen;
"but I suppose my Lord Duke would advise him to be guided by the votes of
the rabble themselves, who should be hanged and who spared?"
"No, madam," said the Duke; "but I would advise his Majesty to be guided
by his own feelings, and those of his royal consort; and then I am sure
punishment will only attach itself to guilt, and even then with cautious
"Well, my Lord," said her Majesty, "all these fine speeches do not
convince me of the propriety of so soon showing any mark of favour to
your--I suppose I must not say rebellious?--but, at least, your very
disaffected and intractable metropolis. Why, the whole nation is in a
league to screen the savage and abominable murderers of that unhappy man;
otherwise, how is it possible but that, of so many perpetrators, and
engaged in so public an action for such a length of time, one at least
must have been recognised? Even this wench, for aught I can tell, may be
a depositary of the secret.--Hark you, young woman, had you any friends
engaged in the Porteous mob?"
"No, madam," answered Jeanie, happy that the question was so framed that
she could, with a good conscience, answer it in the negative.
"But I suppose," continued the Queen, "if you were possessed of such a
secret, you would hold it a matter of conscience to keep it to yourself?"
"I would pray to be directed and guided what was the line of duty,
madam," answered Jeanie.
"Yes, and take that which suited your own inclinations," replied her
"If it like you, madam," said Jeanie, "I would hae gaen to the end of the
earth to save the life of John Porteous, or any other unhappy man in his
condition; but I might lawfully doubt how far I am called upon to be the
avenger of his blood, though it may become the civil magistrate to do so.
He is dead and gane to his place, and they that have slain him must
answer for their ain act. But my sister, my puir sister, Effie, still
lives, though her days and hours are numbered! She still lives, and a
word of the King's mouth might restore her to a brokenhearted auld man,
that never in his daily and nightly exercise, forgot to pray that his
Majesty might be blessed with a long and a prosperous reign, and that his
throne, and the throne of his posterity, might be established in
righteousness. O madam, if ever ye kend what it was to sorrow for and
with a sinning and a suffering creature, whose mind is sae tossed that
she can be neither ca'd fit to live or die, have some compassion on our
misery!--Save an honest house from dishonour, and an unhappy girl, not
eighteen years of age, from an early and dreadful death! Alas! it is not
when we sleep soft and wake merrily ourselves that we think on other
people's sufferings. Our hearts are waxed light within us then, and we
are for righting our ain wrangs and fighting our ain battles. But when
the hour of trouble comes to the mind or to the body--and seldom may it
visit your Leddyship--and when the hour of death comes, that comes to
high and low--lang and late may it be yours!--Oh, my Leddy, then it isna
what we hae dune for oursells, but what we hae dune for others, that we
think on maist pleasantly. And the thoughts that ye hae intervened to
spare the puir thing's life will be sweeter in that hour, come when it
may, than if a word of your mouth could hang the haill Porteous mob at
the tail of ae tow."
Tear followed tear down Jeanie's cheeks, as, her features glowing and
quivering with emotion, she pleaded her sister's cause with a pathos
which was at once simple and solemn.
"This is eloquence," said her Majesty to the Duke of Argyle. "Young
woman," she continued, addressing herself to Jeanie, "_I_ cannot grant a
pardon to your sister--but you shall not want my warm intercession with
his Majesty. Take this house-wife case," she continued, putting a small
embroidered needle-case into Jeanie's hands; "do not open it now, but at
your leisure--you will find something in it which will remind you that
you have had an interview with Queen Caroline."
Jeanie, having her suspicions thus confirmed, dropped on her knees, and
would have expanded herself in gratitude; but the Duke who was upon
thorns lest she should say more or less than just enough, touched his
chin once more.
"Our business is, I think, ended for the present, my Lord Duke," said the
Queen, "and, I trust, to your satisfaction. Hereafter I hope to see your
Grace more frequently, both at Richmond and St. James's.--Come Lady
Suffolk, we must wish his Grace good-morning."
They exchanged their parting reverences, and the Duke, so soon as the
ladies had turned their backs, assisted Jeanie to rise from the ground,
and conducted her back through the avenue, which she trode with the
feeling of one who walks in her sleep.
So soon as I can win the offended king,
I will be known your advocate.
The Duke of Argyle led the way in silence to the small postern by which
they had been admitted into Richmond Park, so long the favourite
residence of Queen Caroline. It was opened by the same half-seen janitor,
and they found themselves beyond the precincts of the royal demesne.
Still not a word was spoken on either side. The Duke probably wished to
allow his rustic prote'ge'e time to recruit her faculties, dazzled and
sunk with colloquy sublime; and betwixt what she had guessed, had heard,
and had seen, Jeanie Deans's mind was too much agitated to permit her to
ask any questions.
They found the carriage of the Duke in the place where they had left it;
and when they resumed their places, soon began to advance rapidly on
their return to town.
"I think, Jeanie," said the Duke, breaking silence, "you have every
reason to congratulate yourself on the issue of your interview with her
"And that leddy was the Queen herself?" said Jeanie; "I misdoubted it
when I saw that your honour didna put on your hat--And yet I can hardly
believe it, even when I heard her speak it herself."
"It was certainly Queen Caroline," replied the Duke. "Have you no
curiosity to see what is in the little pocket-book?"
"Do you think the pardon will be in it, sir?" said Jeanie, with the eager
animation of hope.
"Why, no," replied the Duke; "that is unlikely. They seldom carry these
things about them, unless they were likely to be wanted; and, besides,
her Majesty told you it was the King, not she, who was to grant it."
"That is true, too," said Jeanie; "but I am so confused in my mind--But
does your honour think there is a certainty of Effie's pardon then?"
continued she, still holding in her hand the unopened pocket-book.
"Why, kings are kittle cattle to shoe behind, as we say in the north,"
replied the Duke; "but his wife knows his trim, and I have not the least
doubt that the matter is quite certain."
"Oh, God be praised! God be praised!" ejaculated Jeanie; "and may the
gude leddy never want the heart's ease she has gien me at this moment!--
And God bless you too, my Lord!--without your help I wad ne'er hae won
The Duke let her dwell upon this subject for a considerable time,
curious, perhaps, to see how long the feelings of gratitude would
continue to supersede those of curiosity. But so feeble was the latter
feeling in Jeanie's mind, that his Grace, with whom, perhaps, it was for
the time a little stronger, was obliged once more to bring forward the
subject of the Queen's present. It was opened accordingly. In the inside
of the case was the usual assortment of silk and needles, with scissors,
tweezers, etc.; and in the pocket was a bank-bill for fifty pounds.
The Duke had no sooner informed Jeanie of the value of this last
document, for she was unaccustomed to see notes for such sums, than she
expressed her regret at the mistake which had taken place. "For the hussy
itsell," she said, "was a very valuable thing for a keepsake,
with the Queen's name written in the inside with her ain hand
doubtless--_Caroline_--as plain as could be, and a crown drawn aboon it."
She therefore tendered the bill to the Duke, requesting him to find some
mode of returning it to the royal owner.
"No, no, Jeanie," said the Duke, "there is no mistake in the case. Her
Majesty knows you have been put to great expense, and she wishes to make
it up to you."
"I am sure she is even ower gude," said Jeanie, "and it glads me muckle
that I can pay back Dumbiedikes his siller, without distressing my
father, honest man."
"Dumbiedikes! What, a freeholder of Mid-Lothian, is he not?" said his
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