Imágenes de páginas

over his face, so that he saw as little in front as he did in rear. Indeed, if he could, it would have availed him little in the circumstances; for his horse, as if in league with the disaffected, ran full tilt towards the solemn equipage of the Duke, which the projecting lance threatened to perforate from window to window, at the risk of transfixing as many, in its passage as the celebrated thrust of Orlando, which, according to the ftalian epic poet, broached as many Moors as a Frenchman spits frogs.

« On beholding the bent of this misdirected career, a panic shout of mingled terror and m'rath was set up by the whole equipage, insides and outsides, at once, which had the blessed effect of averting the threatened inisfortune. The capricious horse of Goose Gibbie was terrified by the noise, and stumbling as he turned short round, kicked and plunged violently so soon as he recovered. The jack boots, the original cause of the disaster, maintaining the reputation they had acquired when worn by better cavaliers, answered every plunge by a fresh prick of the spurs, and, by their ponderous 'weight, kept their place in the stirrups. Not so Goose Gibbie, who was fairly spurned out of those wide and ponderous greaves, and precipitated over the horse's head, to the infinite amusement of all the spectators. His Jance and helmet had forsaken him in his fall, and, for the completion of his disgrace, Lady Margaret Bellenden, not perfectly aware that it was one of her warriors who was furnishing so much entertainment, came up in time to see her diminutive man-at-urms stripped of his lion's hide, of the buff coat, that is, in which he was muffled.' - vol. ii. pp. 61-64.

Upon this ludicrous incident turns the fate, as we shall presently see, of the principal personages of the drama. These are Edith Bellenden, the grand-daughter and heiress of Lady Margaret, and a youth of the Presbyterian persuasion, named Morton, son of a gallant officer who had served the Scotch parliament, in the former civil wars, but by his death had become the dependent of a sordid. and avaricious uncle, the Laird of Milnwood. This young gentleman gains the prize at the shooting match, and proceeds to entertain his friends and competitors at a neighbouring public house. The barmony of the meeting is disturbed by a fray which arises between a serjeant of the King's Life-guards, a man of high descent, but of brutal and insolent manners, nick-named Bothwell, from being derived from the last Scottish earls of that and a stranger, of a dark and sullen aspect, great strength of body and severity of manners, who proves afterwards to be one

of the outlawed Presbyterians, nained John Balfour, of Burley, at this in circumstances of peculiar danger, being in the act of flight, in consequence of bis share in the assassination of James Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrews. Bothwell is foiled, and thrown upon the floor of the tavern by the strong-limbed covenanter. • His comrade, Halliday, immediately drew his sword: “You have


[ocr errors]

killed my serjeant," he exclaimed to the victorious wrestler, “and by all that's sacred you shall answer it!"

“ Stand back!” cried Morton and his companions, “ it was all fair play; your comrade sought a fall, and he has got it."

“ That is true enough," said Bothwell, as he slowly rose; “put up your bilbo, Tom. I did not think there was a crop-ear of them all could have laid the best cap and feather in the King's Life Guards on the floor of a rascally change-house.- Hark ye, friend, give me your hand." The stranger helt out his hand. ".1 promise ybin," said Bothwell, squeezing his hand very hard," that the tiine-shall come when we will meet again, and try this game over in a more earnest manner."

• "And I'll promise you,” said the stranger, returning the grasp with equal firmness," that, when we next meet, I will lay your head as - low as it lay even now, when you shall lack the power to lift it up again."

Well, beloved," answered Bothwell, “ if thou be'st a whig, thou art a stout and a brave one, and so good even to thee--- Had'st best take thy nag before the cornet makes his round; for, I promise thee, he has stay'd less suspicious-looking persons." ;:' The stranger seemed to think that the hint was not to be neglected; che flung down his reckoning, and going into the stable, saddled and brought out a powerful black horse, now recruited by rest and forage, and turning to Morton, observed, “ I ride towards Milnwood, which I "hear is your home; will you give me the advantage and protection of your company?"

Certainly,” said Morton, although there was something of gloomy and relentless severity in the man's manner from which his mind recoiled. His companions, after a courteous good night, broke up and went off in different directions, some keeping them company for about a mile, until they dropped off one by one, and the travellers were left alone.'_vol ii. pp, '83-85.

We may here briefly notice that Francis Stewart, the grandson and representative of the last Earl of Bothwell, who was himself a grandson of James V. of Sçotland, was so much reduced in circumstances, as actually to ride a private in the Life-guards at this period, as we learn from the Memoirs of Creighton, who was his comrade. Nothing else is known of him, and the character assigned to him in the novel is purely imaginary.

Balfour and Morton having left the village together, the former in the course of their journey discovers himself to Morton as an ancient comrade of his father, and on hearing the kettle-drums and trumpets of a body of horse approaching, prevails upon him to give him refuge in his uncle's house of Milnwood. "And here, like Don Quixote, when he censured the anachronisms of Mr. Peter's puppet-show, we beg to inform our novelist that cavalry never march to the sound of music by night, any more than the Moors of Jansuena used bells. FP 2


It must be remarked that by the cruel and arbitrary laws of the time, Morton, in affording to the comrade of his father a protection which he could not in humanity refuse him, incurred the heavy penalty attached to receiving or sheltering intercommuned persons. There was, by the severity of government, a ban put upon the refractory calvinists, equal to the aqua et ignis interdictio of the civil law, and whoever transgressed it by relieving the unhappy fugitive, involved himself in his crime and punishment. Another circumstance added to the hazard which Morton thus incurred. The ploughman of Lady Margaret Bellenden, Cuddie Headrigg by name, had been, with his mother, expelled from the castle of Tillietudlem, on account of his refusing to bear arms at the 'weaponshowing, and thereby occasioning the substitution of Goose-Gibbie, to the disgrace, as we have already seen, of Lady Margaret's troop. The old woman is described as a zealous extra-presbyterian; the son as an old-fashioned Scotch boor, sly and shrewd in his own concerns, dull and indifferent to all other matters; reverencing his mother, and loving his mistress, a pert serving damsel in the castle, better than was uniformly expressed by his language. The submission of this honest countryman, upon a martial summons, to petticoat influence, was not peculiar to his rank of life. We leara from Fountainhall, that when thirty-five heritors of the kingdom of Fife were summoned to appear before the council for neglecting to join the King's host, in 1680, with their horses and arms, some of their apologies were similar to those which Cuddie might have preferred for himself. Balcanquhal of that ilk alleged that bis horses were robbed, but shunned to take the declaration for fear of disquiet from his wife.'--' And Young of Kirkton stated his lady's dangerous sickness, and bitter curses if he should leave her; and the appearance of abortion on his offering to go from her.' Now as there was a private understanding between Morton and the fair Edith Bellenden, the former is induced, at the request of the young lady, to use his interest with his uncle and his uncle's favourite housekeeper to receive the two exiles as menials into the house of Milnwood. The family there are seated at dinner when they are disturbed by one of those tyrannical domiciliary visits which the soldiers were authorized and encouraged to commit. · The scene may very well be extracted as a specimen of the author's colouring and outline.

· While the servants admitted the troopers, whose oaths and threats already indicated resentment at the delay they had been put to, Cuddie took the opportunity to whisper to his mother, “Now ye daft auld carline, mak yoursel deaf--ye hae made us a' deaf ere now-and let me speak for ye. I wad like ill to get my neck raxed, for an auld wife's clashes, though ye be our mither."

«« O, hinny,

““ O, hinny, ay; l'se be silent or thou salli come to ill,” was the corresponding whipser of Mause ; “ but bethink ye, my dear, them that deny the Word, the Word will deny" —

• Her admonition was cut short by the entrance of the Life Guard'smen, a party of four troopers commanded by Bothwell.

• In they tramped, making a tremendous clatter upon the stone floor with the iron-shod heels of their large jack-boots, and the clash and clang of their long, heavy, basket-hilted broad-swords... Milnwood and his housekeeper trembled, from well-grounded apprehension of the system of exaction and plunder carried on during these domiciliary visitsHenry Morton was discomposed with more special cause, for he remembered that he stood answerable to the laws for having harboured, Burley. The widow Mause Headrigg, between sear for her son's life, and an overstrained and enthusiastic zeal, which reproached her for consenting even tacitly to belie her religious sentiments, was in a strange quandary. The other servants quaked for they knew not well what. Cụddie alone, with the look of supreme indifference and stupidity which a Scotch peasant can at times assume as a masque for considerable shrewdness and craft, continued to swallow large spoonfuls of his broth, to command which, he had drawn within his sphere the large vessel that contained it, and helped himself, amid the confusion, to a sevenfold portioni",

* What is your pleasure here, gentlemen ?" said Milnwood, humbling himself before the satellites of power.

. We come in behalf of the king,” answered Bothwell. “ devil did you keep us so long standing at the door?”

"" We were at dinner," answered Milnwood, " and the door was locked, as is usual in landward towns in this country. I am sure, gentlemen, if I had kenn'd ony servants of our gude king had stood at the door-But wad ye please to drink some ale-or some brandy--or a cup of canary sack, or claret wine!" making a pause between each offer as long as a stingy bidder at an auction, who is loth to advance his offer for a favourite lot.

“Claret for me," said one fellow.

€“ I like ale better,” said another, “ provided it is right juice of John Barleycorn."

« « 'Better never was malted,” said Milnwood; " I can hardly sae say muckle for the claret. It's thin and cauld, gentlemen.”

Brandy will cure that,” said a third fellow; a glass of brandy to three glasses of wine prevents the curmurring in the stomach.”.

"“ Brandy, ale, wine, sack, and claret, - we'll try them all,” said Bothwell, “and stick to that which is best. There's good sense in that, if the damn’dest whig in Scotland had said it.”—pp. 176, 177.

The military intruder proceeds with much insolence to enforce the King's health, which was one of the various indirect modes they 'had of ascertaining the political principles of those they conversed with. cor Well,” said Bothwell,“ have ye all drunk the toast?- What is that IF 3


Why the

[ocr errors]

old wife about? Give her a glass of brandy, she shall drink the king's health, by !"" If your honour pleases," said Cuddie, with great stolidity of aspect,

this is my mither, stir; and she's as deaf as Corralinn; we canna make her hear day nor door; but if your honour pleases, I am ready to drink the King's health for her in as mony glasses of brandy as ye think neshessary."

1." dare swear you are,” answered Bothwell, “ you look like a fellow that would stick to brandy--help thyself, man; all's free where'er I come.---Tom, help the maid to a comfortable cup, though she's but a dirty jilt neither." Fill round once more-Here's to our noble commander, Colonel Graham of Claverhouse! What the devil is the old woman groaning for? She looks as very a whig as ever sate on a hill side-Do you renounce the Covenant, good woman?' }r.

““ Whilk Covenant is your honour meaning ? Is it the Covenant of Works, or the Covenant of Grace?" said Cuddie, interposing.

Any covenant; all covenants that ever were hatched," answered the trooper.

"“ Mither," cried Cuddie, affecting to speak as to a deaf person, 'the gentleman wants to ken if ye will-renounce the Covenant of Works?

« “ With all my heart, Cuddie,” said Mause, and pray that my feet may be delivered from the snare thereof.'

€“ Come," said Bothwell, . the old dame has come more frankly off than I expected. Another cup round, and then we'll proceed to business. You have all heard, I suppose, of the horrid and barbarous murder committed upon the person of the Archbishop of St. Andrews, by ten or eleven armed fanatics ?' -vol. ii. pp. 180, 181.'

This question enforced and persisted in, at length produces the discovery, that Morton had privately received Balfour, one of the assassins, into the house of his uncle on the preceding evening, Still, although Bothwell prepares to take him into custody, it appears that the high-born serjeant is not unwilling to overlook this deceit, if the inhabitants of the family will take the test-oath, and if his uncle will pay a fine of twenty pounds, for the use of

the party.

• Old Milnwood cast a rueful look upon his adviser, and moved off, like a piece of Dutch clock-work, to set at liberty his imprisoned angels in this dire emergency. Meanwhile, Serjeant Bothwell began to put the test-oath with such a degree of solemn reverence as might have been expected, being just about the same which is used to this day in his Majesty's Custom house.

Ö- You-what's your name, woman ?" 6" Alison Wilson, sir.”

€“ You, Alison Wilson, solemnly swear, certify, and declare, that you judge it unlawful for subjects under pretext of reformation, or any other pretext whatsoever, to enter into Leagues and Covenants"


« AnteriorContinuar »