To face the garment of rebellion
With some fine colour, that may please the eye
Of fickle changelings, and poor discontents,
Which gape and rub the elbow at the news
Of hurlyburly innovation.--HENRY THE FOURTH, PART II.
There had been great preparations made at Ellieslaw Castle for the
entertainment on this important day, when not only the gentlemen of note
in the neighbourhood, attached to the Jacobite interest, were expected
to rendezvous, but also many subordinate malecontents, whom difficulty
of circumstances, love of change, resentment against England, or any of
the numerous causes which inflamed men's passions at the time, rendered
apt to join in perilous enterprise. The men of rank and substance were
not many in number; for almost all the large proprietors stood aloof,
and most of the smaller gentry and yeomanry were of the Presbyterian
persuasion, and therefore, however displeased with the Union, unwilling
to engage in a Jacobite conspiracy. But there were some gentlemen of
property, who, either from early principle, from religious motives, or
sharing the ambitious views of Ellieslaw, had given countenance to his
scheme; and there were, also, some fiery young men, like Mareschal,
desirous of signalizing themselves by engaging in a dangerous
enterprise, by which they hoped to vindicate the independence of their
country. The other members of the party were persons of inferior rank
and desperate fortunes, who were now ready to rise in that part of the
country, as they did afterwards in the year 1715, under Forster and
Derwentwater, when a troop, commanded by a Border gentleman, named
Douglas, consisted almost entirely of freebooters, among whom the
notorious Luck-in-a-bag, as he was called, held a distinguished command.
We think it necessary to mention these particulars, applicable solely
to the province in which our scene lies; because, unquestionably, the
Jacobite party, in the other parts of the kingdom, consisted of much
more formidable, as well as much more respectable, materials.
One long table extended itself down the ample hall of Ellieslaw Castle,
which was still left much in the state in which it had been one hundred
years before, stretching, that is, in gloomy length, along the whole
side of the castle, vaulted with ribbed arches of freestone, the groins
of which sprung from projecting figures, that, carved into all the
wild forms which the fantastic imagination of a Gothic architect could
devise, grinned, frowned, and gnashed their tusks at the assembly below.
Long narrow windows lighted the banqueting room on both sides, filled
up with stained glass, through which the sun emitted a dusky and
discoloured light. A banner, which tradition averred to have been taken
from the English at the battle of Sark, waved over the chair in which
Ellieslaw presided, as if to inflame the courage of the guests, by
reminding them of ancient victories over their neighbours. He himself,
a portly figure, dressed on this occasion with uncommon care, and with
features, which, though of a stern and sinister expression, might well
be termed handsome, looked the old feudal baron extremely well. Sir
Frederick Langley was placed on his right hand, and Mr. Mareschal of
Mareschal-Wells on his left. Some gentlemen of consideration, with their
sons, brothers, and nephews, were seated at the upper end of the table,
and among these Mr. Ratcliffe had his place. Beneath the salt-cellar (a
massive piece of plate which occupied the midst of the table) sate the
SINE NOMINE TURBA, men whose vanity was gratified by holding even this
subordinate space at the social board, while the distinction observed in
ranking them was a salve to the pride of their superiors. That the lower
house was not very select must be admitted, since Willie of Westburnflat
was one of the party. The unabashed audacity of this fellow, in daring
to present himself in the house of a gentleman, to whom he had just
offered so flagrant an insult, can only be accounted for by supposing
him conscious that his share in carrying off Miss Vere was a secret,
safe in her possession and that of her father.
Before this numerous and miscellaneous party was placed a dinner,
consisting, not indeed of the delicacies of the season, as the
newspapers express it, but of viands, ample, solid, and sumptuous, under
which the very board groaned. But the mirth was not in proportion to the
good cheer. The lower end of the table were, for some time, chilled by
constraint and respect on finding themselves members of so august an
assembly; and those who were placed around it had those feelings of awe
with which P. P., clerk of the parish, describes himself oppressed,
when he first uplifted the psalm in presence of those persons of high
worship, the wise Mr. Justice Freeman, the good Lady Jones, and the
great Sir Thomas Truby. This ceremonious frost, however, soon gave way
before the incentives to merriment, which were liberally supplied,
and as liberally consumed by the guests of the lower description. They
became talkative, loud, and even clamorous in their mirth.
But it was not in the power of wine or brandy to elevate the spirits of
those who held the higher places at the banquet. They experienced the
chilling revulsion of spirits which often takes place, when men
are called upon to take a desperate resolution, after having placed
themselves in circumstances where it is alike difficult to advance or
to recede. The precipice looked deeper and more dangerous as they
approached the brink, and each waited with an inward emotion of awe,
expecting which of his confederates would set the example by plunging
himself down. This inward sensation of fear and reluctance acted
differently, according to the various habits and characters of the
company. One looked grave; another looked silly; a third gazed with
apprehension on the empty seats at the higher end of the table, designed
for members of the conspiracy whose prudence had prevailed over their
political zeal, and who had absented themselves from their consultations
at this critical period; and some seemed to be reckoning up in their
minds the comparative rank and prospects of those who were present and
absent. Sir Frederick Langley was reserved, moody, and discontented.
Ellieslaw himself made such forced efforts to raise the spirits of the
company, as plainly marked the flagging of his own. Ratcliffe watched
the scene with the composure of a vigilant but uninterested spectator.
Mareschal alone, true to the thoughtless vivacity of his character, ate
and drank, laughed and jested, and seemed even to find amusement in the
embarrassment of the company.
"What has damped our noble courage this morning?" he exclaimed. "We seem
to be met at a funeral, where the chief mourners must not speak above
their breath, while the mutes and the saulies (looking to the lower end
of the table) are carousing below. Ellieslaw, when will you LIFT?
[To LIFT, meaning to lift the coffin, is the common expression for
commencing a funeral.] where sleeps your spirit, man? and what has
quelled the high hope of the Knight of Langley-dale?"
"You speak like a madman," said Ellieslaw; "do you not see how many are
"And what of that?" said Mareschal. "Did you not know before, that
one-half of the world are better talkers than doers? For my part, I am
much encouraged by seeing at least two-thirds of our friends true to the
rendezvous, though I suspect one-half of these came to secure the dinner
in case of the worst."
"There is no news from the coast which can amount to certainty of the
King's arrival," said another of the company, in that tone of subdued
and tremulous whisper which implies a failure of resolution.
"Not a line from the Earl of D--, nor a single gentleman from the
southern side of the Border," said a third.
"Who is he that wishes for more men from England," exclaimed Mareschal,
in a theatrical tone of affected heroism,
"My cousin Ellieslaw? No, my fair cousin,
If we are doom'd to die--"
"For God's sake," said Ellieslaw, "spare us your folly at present,
"Well, then," said his kinsman, "I'll bestow my wisdom upon you instead,
such as it is. If we have gone forward like fools, do not let us go back
like cowards. We have done enough to draw upon us both the suspicion and
vengeance of the government; do not let us give up before we have done
something to deserve it.--What, will no one speak? Then I'll leap the
ditch the first." And, starting up, he filled a beer-glass to the brim
with claret, and waving his hand, commanded all to follow his example,
and to rise up from their seats. All obeyed-the more qualified guests as
if passively, the others with enthusiasm "Then, my friends, I give you
the pledge of the day--The independence of Scotland, and the health of
our lawful sovereign, King James the Eighth, now landed in Lothian, and,
as I trust and believe, in full possession of his ancient capital!"
He quaffed off the wine, and threw the glass over his head.
"It should never," he said, "be profaned by a meaner toast."
All followed his example, and, amid the crash of glasses and the shouts
of the company, pledged themselves to stand or fall with the principles
and political interest which their toast expressed.
"You have leaped the ditch with a witness," said Ellieslaw, apart to
Mareschal; "but I believe it is all for the best; at all events, we
cannot now retreat from our undertaking. One man alone" (looking at
Ratcliffe) "has refused the pledge; but of that by and by."
Then, rising up, he addressed the company in a style of inflammatory
invective against the government and its measures, but especially the
Union; a treaty, by means of which, he affirmed, Scotland had been at
once cheated of her independence, her commerce, and her honour, and laid
as a fettered slave at the foot of the rival against whom, through such
a length of ages, through so many dangers, and by so much blood, she had
honourably defended her rights. This was touching a theme which found a
responsive chord in the bosom of every man present.
"Our commerce is destroyed," hollowed old John Rewcastle, a Jedburgh
smuggler, from the lower end of the table.
"Our agriculture is ruined," said the Laird of Broken-girth-flow, a
territory which, since the days of Adam, had borne nothing but ling and
"Our religion is cut up, root and branch," said the pimple-nosed pastor
of the Episcopal meeting-house at Kirkwhistle.
"We shall shortly neither dare shoot a deer nor kiss a wench, without
a certificate from the presbytery and kirk-treasurer," said
"Or make a brandy jeroboam in a frosty morning, without license from a
commissioner of excise," said the smuggler.
"Or ride over the fell in a moonless night," said Westburnflat, "without
asking leave of young Earnscliff; or some Englified justice of the
peace: thae were gude days on the Border when there was neither peace
nor justice heard of."
"Let us remember our wrongs at Darien and Glencoe," continued Ellieslaw,
"and take arms for the protection of our rights, our fortunes, our
lives, and our families."
"Think upon genuine episcopal ordination, without which there can be no
lawful clergy," said the divine.
"Think of the piracies committed on our East-Indian trade by Green
and the English thieves," said William Willieson, half-owner and sole
skipper of a brig that made four voyages annually between Cockpool and
"Remember your liberties," rejoined Mareschal, who seemed to take a
mischievous delight in precipitating the movements of the enthusiasm
which he had excited, like a roguish boy, who, having lifted the sluice
of a mill-dam, enjoys the clatter of the wheels which he has put
in motion, without thinking of the mischief he may have occasioned.
"Remember your liberties," he exclaimed; "confound cess, press, and
presbytery, and the memory of old Willie that first brought them upon
"Damn the gauger!" echoed old John Rewcastle; "I'll cleave him wi' my
"And confound the country-keeper and the constable!" re-echoed
Westburnflat; "I'll weize a brace of balls through them before morning."
"We are agreed, then," said Ellieslaw, when the shouts had somewhat
subsided, "to bear this state of things no longer?"
"We are agreed to a man," answered his guests.
"Not literally so," said Mr. Ratcliffe; "for though I cannot hope to
assuage the violent symptoms which seem so suddenly to have seized
upon the company, yet I beg to observe, that so far as the opinion of a
single member goes, I do not entirely coincide in the list of grievances
which has been announced, and that I do utterly protest against the
frantic measures which you seem disposed to adopt for removing them. I
can easily suppose much of what has been spoken may have arisen out of
the heat of the moment, or have been said perhaps in jest. But there are
some jests of a nature very apt to transpire; and you ought to remember,
gentlemen, that stone-walls have ears."
"Stone-walls may have ears," returned Ellieslaw, eyeing him with a look
of triumphant malignity, "but domestic spies, Mr. Ratcliffe, will soon
find themselves without any, if any such dares to continue his abode
in a family where his coming was an unauthorized intrusion, where his
conduct has been that of a presumptuous meddler, and from which his
exit shall be that of a baffled knave, if he does not know how to take a
"Mr. Vere," returned Ratcliffe, with calm contempt, "I am fully aware,
that as soon as my presence becomes useless to you, which it must
through the rash step you are about to adopt, it will immediately become
unsafe to myself, as it has always been hateful to you. But I have one
protection, and it is a strong one; for you would not willingly hear me
detail before gentlemen, and men of honour, the singular circumstances
in which our connexion took its rise. As to the rest, I rejoice at its
conclusion; and as I think that Mr. Mareschal and some other gentlemen
will guarantee the safety of my ears and of my throat (for which last I
have more reason to be apprehensive) during the course of the night, I
shall not leave your castle till to-morrow morning."
"Be it so, sir," replied Mr. Vere; "you are entirely safe from my
resentment, because you are beneath it, and not because I am afraid of
your disclosing my family secrets, although, for your own sake, I warn
you to beware how you do so. Your agency and intermediation can be of
little consequence to one who will win or lose all, as lawful right or
unjust usurpation shall succeed in the struggle that is about to ensue.
Ratcliffe arose, and cast upon him a look, which Vere seemed to sustain
with difficulty, and, bowing to those around him, left the room.
This conversation made an impression on many of the company, which
Ellieslaw hastened to dispel, by entering upon the business of the day.
Their hasty deliberations went to organize an immediate insurrection.
Ellieslaw, Mareschal, and Sir Frederick Langley were chosen leaders,
with powers to direct their farther measures. A place of rendezvous was
appointed, at which all agreed to meet early on the ensuing day, with
such followers and friends to the cause as each could collect around
him. Several of the guests retired to make the necessary preparations;
and Ellieslaw made a formal apology to the others, who, with
Westburnflat and the old smuggler, continued to ply the bottle stanchly,
for leaving the head of the table, as he must necessarily hold a
separate and sober conference with the coadjutors whom they had
associated with him in the command. The apology was the more readily
accepted, as he prayed them, at the same time, to continue to amuse
themselves with such refreshments as the cellars of the castle afforded.
Shouts of applause followed their retreat; and the names of Vere,
Langley, and, above all, of Mareschal, were thundered forth in chorus,
and bathed with copious bumpers repeatedly, during the remainder of the
When the principal conspirators had retired into a separate apartment,
they gazed on each other for a minute with a sort of embarrassment,
which, in Sir Frederick's dark features, amounted to an expression of
discontented sullenness. Mareschal was the first to break the pause,
saying, with a loud burst of laughter,
--"Well! we are fairly embarked now, gentlemen--VOGUE LA GALERE!"
"We may thank you for the plunge," said Ellieslaw.
"Yes; but I don't know how far you will thank me," answered Mareschal,
"when I show you this letter which I received just before we sat down.
My servant told me it was delivered by a man he had never seen before,
who went off at the gallop, after charging him to put it into my own
Ellieslaw impatiently opened the letter, and read aloud--
HOND. SIR, Having obligations to your family, which shall be nameless,
and learning that you are one of the company of, adventurers doing
business for the house of James and Company, late merchants in London,
now in Dunkirk, I think it right to send you this early and private
information, that the vessels you expected have been driven off the
coast, without having been able to break bulk, or to land any part
of their cargo; and that the west-country partners have resolved to
withdraw their name from the firm, as it must prove a losing concern.
Having good hope you will avail yourself of this early information, to
do what is needful for your own security, I rest your humble servant,
FOR RALPH MARESCHAL, OF MARESCHAL-WELLS
--THESE WITH CARE AND SPEED.
Sir Frederick's jaw dropped, and his countenance blackened, as the
letter was read, and Ellieslaw exclaimed,--"Why, this affects the very
mainspring of our enterprise. If the French fleet, with the king on
board, has been chased off by the English, as this d--d scrawl seems to
intimate, where are we?"
"Just where we were this morning, I think," said Mareschal, still
"Pardon me, and a truce to your ill-timed mirth, Mr. Mareschal; this
morning we were not committed publicly, as we now stand committed by
your own mad act, when you had a letter in your pocket apprizing you
that our undertaking was desperate."
"Ay, ay, I expected you would say so. But, in the first place, my friend
Nihil Nameless and his letter may be all a flam; and, moreover, I would
have you know that I am tired of a party that does nothing but form
bold resolutions overnight, and sleep them away with their wine before
morning. The government are now unprovided of men and ammunition; in a
few weeks they will have enough of both: the country is now in a flame
against them; in a few weeks, betwixt the effects of self-interest, of
fear, and of lukewarm indifference, which are already so visible, this
first fervour will be as cold as Christmas. So, as I was determined to
go the vole, I have taken care you shall dip as deep as I; it signifies
nothing plunging. You are fairly in the bog, and must struggle through."
"You are mistaken with respect to one of us, Mr. Mareschal," said Sir
Frederick Langley; and, applying himself to the bell, he desired the
person who entered to order his servants and horses instantly.
"You must not leave us, Sir Frederick," said Ellieslaw; "if we have our
musters to go over."
"I will go to-night, Mr. Vere," said Sir Frederick, "and write you my
intentions in this matter when I am at home."
"Ay," said Mareschal, "and send them by a troop of horse from Carlisle
to make us prisoners? Look ye, Sir Frederick, I for one will neither be
deserted nor betrayed; and if you leave Ellieslaw Castle to-night, it
shall be by passing over my dead body."
"For shame! Mareschal," said Mr. Vere, "how can you so hastily
misinterpret our friend's intentions? I am sure Sir Frederick can
only be jesting with us; for, were he not too honourable to dream of
deserting the cause, he cannot but remember the full proofs we have of
his accession to it, and his eager activity in advancing it. He cannot
but be conscious, besides, that the first information will be readily
received by government, and that if the question be, which can first
lodge intelligence of the affair, we can easily save a few hours on
"You should say you, and not we, when you talk of priorities in such
a race of treachery; for my part, I won't enter my horse for such a
plate," said Mareschal; and added betwixit his teeth, "A pretty pair of
fellows to trust a man's neck with!"
"I am not to be intimidated from doing what I think proper," said Sir
Frederick Langley; "and my first step shall be to leave Ellieslaw. I
have no reason to keep faith with one" (looking at Vere) "who has kept
none with me."
"In what respect," said Ellieslaw, silencing, with a motion of his hand,
his impetuous kinsman--"how have I disappointed you, Sir Frederick?"
"In the nearest and most tender point--you have trifled with me
concerning our proposed alliance, which you well knew was the gage of
our political undertaking. This carrying off and this bringing back of
Miss Vere,--the cold reception I have met with from her, and the excuses
with which you cover it, I believe to be mere evasions, that you may
yourself retain possession of the estates which are hers by right,
and make me, in the meanwhile, a tool in your desperate enterprise,
by holding out hopes and expectations which you are resolved never to
"Sir Frederick, I protest, by all that is sacred--"
"I will listen to no protestations; I have been cheated with them too
long," answered Sir Frederick.
"If you leave us," said Ellieslaw, "you cannot but know both your ruin
and ours is certain; all depends on our adhering together."
"Leave me to take care of myself," returned the knight; "but were what
you say true, I would rather perish than be fooled any farther."
"Can nothing--no surety convince you of my sincerity?" said Ellieslaw,
anxiously; "this morning I should have repelled your unjust suspicions
as an insult; but situated as we now are--"
"You feel yourself compelled to be sincere?" retorted Sir Frederick.
"If you would have me think so, there is but one way to convince me of
it--let your daughter bestow her hand on me this evening."
"So soon?--impossible," answered Vere; "think of her late alarm--of our
"I will listen to nothing but to her consent, plighted at the altar.
You have a chapel in the castle--Doctor Hobbler is present among the
company-this proof of your good faith to-night, and we are again
joined in heart and hand. If you refuse me when it is so much for your
advantage to consent, how shall I trust you to-morrow, when I shall
stand committed in your undertaking, and unable to retract?"
"And I am to understand, that, if you can be made my son-in-law
to-night, our friendship is renewed?" said Ellieslaw.
"Most infallibly, and most inviolably," replied Sir Frederick.
"Then," said Vere, "though what you ask is premature, indelicate, and
unjust towards my character, yet, Sir Frederick, give me your hand--my
daughter shall be your wife."
"This very night," replied Ellieslaw, "before the clock strikes twelve."
"With her own consent, I trust," said Mareschal; "for I promise you
both, gentlemen, I will not stand tamely by, and see any violence put on
the will of my pretty kinswoman."
"Another pest in this hot-headed fellow," muttered Ellieslaw; and then
aloud, "With her own consent? For what do you take me, Mareschal, that
you should suppose your interference necessary to protect my daughter
against her father? Depend upon it, she has no repugnance to Sir
"Or rather to be called Lady Langley? faith, like enough--there are
many women might be of her mind; and I beg your pardon, but these sudden
demands and concessions alarmed me a little on her account."
"It is only the suddenness of the proposal that embarrasses me," said
Ellieslaw; "but perhaps if she is found intractable, Sir Frederick will
"I will consider nothing, Mr. Vere--your daughter's hand to-night, or I
depart, were it at midnight--there is my ultimatum."
"I embrace it," said Ellieslaw; "and I will leave you to talk upon our
military preparations, while I go to prepare my daughter for so sudden a
change of condition."
So saying, he left the company.