NOTES TO THE HEART OF MID-LOTHIAN.
NOTE A--Author's connection with Quakerism.
It is an old proverb, that "many a true word is spoken in jest." The existence of Walter Scott, third son of Sir William Scott of Harden, is instructed, as it is called, by a charter under the great seal, Domino Willielmo Scott de Harden Militi, et Waltero Scott suo filio legitimo tertio genito, terrarum de Roberton.*
* See Douglas's _Baronage,_ page 215.
The munificent old gentleman left all his four sons considerable estates. and settled those of Eilrig and Raeburn, together with valuable possessions around Lessuden, upon Walter, his third son, who is ancestor of the Scotts of Raeburn, and of the Author of Waverley. He appears to have become a convert to the doctrine of the Quakers, or Friends, and a great assertor of their peculiar tenets. This was probably at the time when George Fox, the celebrated apostle of the sect, made an expedition into the south of Scotland about 1657, on which occasion, he boasts, that "as he first set his horse's feet upon Scottish ground, he felt the seed of grace to sparkle about him like innumerable sparks of fire." Upon the same occasion, probably, Sir Gideon Scott of Highchester, second son of Sir William, immediate elder brother of Walter, and ancestor of the author's friend and kinsman, the present representative of the family of Harden, also embraced the tenets of Quakerism. This last convert, Gideon, entered into a controversy with the Rev. James Kirkton, author of the _Secret and True History of the Church of Scotland,_ which is noticed by my ingenious friend Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, in his valuable and curious edition of that work, 4to, 1817. Sir William Scott, eldest of the brothers, remained, amid the defection of his two younger brethren, an orthodox member of the Presbyterian Church, and used such means for reclaiming Walter of Raeburn from his heresy, as savoured far more of persecution than persuasion. In this he was assisted by MacDougal of Makerston, brother to Isabella MacDougal, the wife of the said Walter, and who, like her husband, had conformed to the Quaker tenets.
The interest possessed by Sir William Scott and Makerston was powerful enough to procure the two following acts of the Privy Council of Scotland, directed against Walter of Raeburn as an heretic and convert to Quakerism, appointing him to be imprisoned first in Edinburgh jail, and then in that of Jedburgh; and his children to be taken by force from the society and direction of their parents, and educated at a distance from them, besides the assignment of a sum for their maintenance, sufficient in those times to be burdensome to a moderate Scottish estate.
"Apud Edin., vigesimo Junii 1665.
"The Lords of his Magesty's Privy Council having receaved information that Scott of Raeburn, and Isobel Mackdougall, his wife, being infected with the error of Quakerism, doe endeavour to breid and trains up William, Walter, and Isobel Scotts, their children, in the same profession, doe therefore give order and command to Sir William Scott of Harden, the said Raeburn's brother, to seperat and take away the saids children from the custody and society of the saids parents, and to cause educat and bring them up in his owne house, or any other convenient place, and ordaines letters to be direct at the said Sir William's instance against Raeburn, for a maintenance to the saids children, and that the said Sir Wm. give ane account of his diligence with all conveniency."
"Edinburgh, 5th July 1666.
"Anent a petition presented be Sir Wm. Scott of Harden, for himself and in name and behalf of the three children of Walter Scott of Raeburn, his brother, showing that the Lords of Councill, by ane act of the 22d day of Junii 1665, did grant power and warrand to the petitioner, to separat and take away Raeburn's children, from his family and education, and to breed them in some convenient place, where they might be free from all infection in their younger years, from the principalls of Quakerism, and, for maintenance of the saids children, did ordain letters to be direct against Raeburn; and, seeing the Petitioner, in obedience to the said order, did take away the saids children, being two sonnes and a daughter, and after some paines taken upon them in his owne family, hes sent them to the city of Glasgow, to be bread at schooles, and there to be principled with the knowledge of the true religion, and that it is necessary the Councill determine what shall be the maintenance for which Raeburn's three children may be charged, as likewise that Raeburn himself, being now in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, where he dayley converses with all the Quakers who are prisoners there, and others who daily resort to them, whereby he is hardened in his pernitious opinions and principles, without all hope of recovery, unlesse he be separat from such pernitious company, humbly therefore, desyring that the Councell might determine upon the soume of money to be payed be Raeburn, for the education of his children, to the petitioner, who will be countable therefor; and that, in order to his conversion, the place of his imprisonment may be changed. The Lords of his Maj. Privy Councell having at length heard and considered the foresaid petition, doe modifie the soume of two thousand pounds Scots, to be payed yearly at the terms of Whitsunday be the said Walter Scott of Raeburn, furth of his estate to the petitioner, for the entertainment and education of the said children, beginning the first termes payment therof at Whitsunday last for the half year preceding, and so furth yearly, at the said terme of Whitsunday in tym comeing till furder orders; and ordaines the said Walter Scott of Raeburn to be transported from the tolbooth of Edinburgh to the prison of Jedburgh, where his friends and others may have occasion to convert him. And to the effect he may be secured from the practice of other Quakers, the said Lords doe hereby discharge the magistrates of Jedburgh to suffer any persons suspect of these principles to have access to him; and in case any contraveen, that they secure ther persons till they be therfore puneist; and ordaines letters to be direct heirupon in form, as effeirs."
Both the sons, thus harshly separated from their father, proved good scholars. The eldest, William, who carried on the line of Raeburn, was, like his father, a deep Orientalist; the younger, Walter, became a good classical scholar, a great friend and correspondent of the celebrated Dr. Pitcairn, and a Jacobite so distinguished for zeal, that he made a vow never to shave his beard till the restoration of the exiled family. This last Walter Scott was the author's great-grandfather.
There is yet another link betwixt the author and the simple-minded and excellent Society of Friends, through a proselyte of much more importance than Walter Scott of Raeburn. The celebrated John Swinton, of Swinton, nineteenth baron in descent of that ancient and once powerful family, was, with Sir William Lockhart of Lee, the person whom Cromwell chiefly trusted in the management of the Scottish affairs during his usurpation. After the Restoration, Swinton was devoted as a victim to the new order of things, and was brought down in the same vessel which conveyed the Marquis of Argyle to Edinburgh, where that nobleman was tried and executed. Swinton was destined to the same fate. He had assumed the habit, and entered into the Society of the Quakers, and appeared as one of their number before the Parliament of Scotland. He renounced all legal defence, though several pleas were open to him, and answered, in conformity to the principles of his sect, that at the time these crimes were imputed to him, he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; but that God Almighty having since called him to the light, he saw and acknowledged these errors, and did not refuse to pay the forfeit of them, even though, in the judgment of the Parliament, it should extend to life itself.
Respect to fallen greatness, and to the patience and calm resignation with which a man once in high power expressed himself under such a change of fortune, found Swinton friends; family connections, and some interested considerations of Middleton the Commissioner, joined to procure his safety, and he was dismissed, but after a long imprisonment, and much dilapidation of his estates. It is said that Swinton's admonitions, while confined in the Castle of Edinburgh, had a considerable share in converting to the tenets of the Friends Colonel David Barclay, then lying there in the garrison. This was the father of Robert Barclay, author of the celebrated _Apology for the Quakers._ It may be observed among the inconsistencies of human nature, that Kirkton, Wodrow, and other Presbyterian authors, who have detailed the sufferings of their own sect for nonconformity with the established church, censure the government of the time for not exerting the civil power against the peaceful enthusiasts we have treated of, and some express particular chagrin at the escape of Swinton. Whatever might be his motives for assuming the tenets of the Friends, the old man retained them faithfully till the close of his life.
Jean Swinton, grand-daughter of Sir John Swinton, son of Judge Swinton, as the Quaker was usually termed, was mother of Anne Rutherford, the author's mother.
And thus, as in the play of the Anti-Jacobin, the ghost of the author's grandmother having arisen to speak the Epilogue, it is full time to conclude, lest the reader should remonstrate that his desire to know the Author of Waverley never included a wish to be acquainted with his whole ancestry.
NOTE B.--TOMBSTONE TO HELEN WALKER.
On Helen Walker's tombstone in Irongray churchyard, Dumfriesshire, there is engraved the following epitaph, written by Sir Walter Scott:
THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY
TO THE MEMORY OF HELEN WALKER,
WHO DIED IN THE YEAR OF GOD 1791.
THIS HUMBLE INDIVIDUAL PRACTISED IN REAL LIFE THE VIRTUES WITH WHICH FICTION HAS INVESTED
THE IMAGINARY CHARACTER OF
REFUSING THE SLIGHTEST DEPARTURE FROM VERACITY, EVEN TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A SISTER,
SHE NEVERTHELESS SHOWED HER KINDNESS AND FORTITUDE, IN RESCUING HER FROM THE SEVERITY OF THE LAW AT THE EXPENSE OF PERSONAL EXERTIONS WHICH THE TIME RENDERED AS DIFFICULT AS THE MOTIVE WAS LAUDABLE.
RESPECT THE GRAVE OF POVERTY WHEN COMBINED WITH LOVE OF TRUTH AND DEAR AFFECTION.
Erected October 1831.
NOTE C.--THE OLD TOLBOOTH.
The ancient Tolbooth of Edinburgh, Situated as described in this CHAPTER, was built by the citizens in 1561, and destined for the accommodation of Parliament, as well as of the High Courts of Justice;* and at the same time for the confinement of prisoners for debt, or on criminal charges. Since the year 1640, when the present Parliament House was erected, the Tolbooth was occupied as a prison only.
* [This is not so certain. Few persons now living are likely to remember the interior of the old Tolbooth, with narrow staircase, thick walls, and small apartments, nor to imagine that it could ever have been used for these purposes. Robert Chambers, in his _Minor Antiquities_ of Edinburgh, has preserved ground-plans or sections, which clearly show this,--the largest hall was on the second floor, and measuring 27 feet by 20, and 12 feet high. It may have been intended for the meetings of Town Council, while the Parliament assembled, after 1560, in what was called the Upper Tolbooth, that is the south-west portion of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles, until the year 1640, when the present Parliament House was completed. Being no longer required for such a purpose, it was set apart by the Town Council on the 24th December 1641 as a distinct church, with the name of the Tolbooth parish, and therefore could not have derived the name from its vicinity to the Tolbooth, as usually stated.]
Gloomy and dismal as it was, the situation in the centre of the High Street rendered it so particularly well-aired, that when the plague laid waste the city in 1645, it affected none within these melancholy precincts. The Tolbooth was removed, with the mass of buildings in which it was incorporated, in the autumn of the year 1817. At that time the kindness of his old schoolfellow and friend, Robert Johnstone, Esquire, then Dean of Guild of the city, with the liberal acquiescence of the persons who had contracted for the work, procured for the Author of Waverley the stones which composed the gateway, together with the door, and its ponderous fastenings, which he employed in decorating the entrance of his kitchen-court at Abbotsford. "To such base offices may we return." The application of these relies of the Heart of Mid-Lothian to serve as the postern-gate to a court of modern offices, may be justly ridiculed as whimsical; but yet it is not without interest, that we see the gateway through which so much of the stormy politics of a rude age, and the vice and misery of later times, had found their passage, now occupied in the service of rural economy. Last year, to complete the change, a tomtit was pleased to build her nest within the lock of the Tolbooth,--a strong temptation to have committed a sonnet, had the Author, like Tony Lumpkin, been in a concatenation accordingly.
It is worth mentioning, that an act of beneficence celebrated the demolition of the Heart of Mid-Lothian. A subscription, raised and applied by the worthy Magistrate above mentioned, procured the manumission of most of the unfortunate debtors confined in the old jail, so that there were few or none transferred to the new place of confinement.
[The figure of a Heart upon the pavement between St. Giles's Church and the Edinburgh County Hall, now marks the site of the Old Tolbooth.]
NOTE D--THE PORTEOUS MOB.
The following interesting and authentic account of the inquiries made by Crown Counsel into the affair of the Porteous Mob, seems to have been drawn up by the Solicitor-General. The office was held in 1737 by Charles Erskine, Esq.
I owe this curious illustration to the kindness of a professional friend. It throws, indeed, little light on the origin of the tumult; but shows how profound the darkness must have been, which so much investigation could not dispel.
"Upon the 7th of September last, when the unhappy wicked murder of Captain Porteus was committed, His Majesty's Advocate and Solicitor were out of town; the first beyond Inverness, and the other in Annandale, not far from Carlyle; neither of them knew anything of the reprieve, nor did they in the least suspect that any disorder was to happen.
"When the disorder happened, the magistrates and other persons concerned in the management of the town, seemed to be all struck of a heap; and whether, from the great terror that had seized all the inhabitants, they thought ane immediate enquiry would be fruitless, or whether, being a direct insult upon the prerogative of the crown, they did not care rashly to intermeddle; but no proceedings was had by them. Only, soon after, ane express was sent to his Majestie's Solicitor, who came to town as soon as was possible for him; but, in the meantime, the persons who had been most guilty, had either ran off, or, at least, kept themselves upon the wing until they should see what steps were taken by the Government.
"When the Solicitor arrived, he perceived the whole inhabitants under a consternation. He had no materials furnished him; nay, the inhabitants were so much afraid of being reputed informers, that very few people had so much as the courage to speak with him on the streets. However, having received her Majestie's orders, by a letter from the Duke of New castle, he resolved to sett about the matter in earnest, and entered upon ane enquiry, gropeing in the dark. He had no assistance from the magistrates worth mentioning, but called witness after witness in the privatest manner, before himself in his own house, and for six weeks time, from morning to evening, went on in the enquiry without taking the least diversion, or turning his thoughts to any other business.
"He tried at first what he could do by declarations, by engaging secresy, so that those who told the truth should never be discovered; made use of no clerk, but wrote all the declarations with his own hand, to encourage them to speak out. After all, for some time, he could get nothing but ends of stories which, when pursued, broke off; and those who appeared and knew anything of the matter, were under the utmost terror, lest it should take air that they had mentioned any one man as guilty.
"During the course of the enquiry, the run of the town, which was strong for the villanous actors, begun to alter a little, and when they saw the King's servants in earnest to do their best, the generality, who before had spoke very warmly in defence of the wickedness, began to be silent, and at that period more of the criminals began to abscond.
"At length the enquiry began to open a little, and the Sollicitor was under some difficulty how to proceed. He very well saw that the first warrand that was issued out would start the whole gang; and as he had not come at any of the most notorious offenders, he was unwilling, upon the slight evidence he had, to begin. However, upon notice given him by Generall Moyle, that one King, a butcher in the Canongate, had boasted, in presence of Bridget Knell, a soldier's wife, the morning after Captain Porteus was hanged, that he had a very active hand in the mob, a warrand was issued out, and King was apprehended, and imprisoned in the Canongate Tolbooth.
"This obliged the Sollicitor immediately to take up those against whom he had any information. By a signed declaration, William Stirling, apprentice to James Stirling, merchant in Edinburgh, was charged as haveing been at the Nether-Bow, after the gates were shutt, with a Lochaber-ax or halbert in his hand, and haveing begun a huzza, marched upon the head of the mob towards the Guard.
"James Braidwood, son to a candlemaker in town, was, by a signed declaration, charged as haveing been at the Tolbooth door, giveing directions to the mob about setting fire to the door, and that the mob named him by his name, and asked his advice.
"By another declaration, one Stoddart, a journeyman smith, was charged of having boasted publickly, in a smith's shop at Leith, that he had assisted in breaking open the Tolbooth door.
"Peter Traill, a journeyman wright, (by one of the declarations) was also accused of haveing lockt the Nether-Bow Port, when it was shutt by the mob.
"His Majestie's Sollicitor having these informations, implored privately such persons as he could best rely on, and the truth was, there were very few in whom he could repose confidence. But he was, indeed, faithfully served by one Webster, a soldier in the Welsh fuzileers, recommended him by Lieutenant Alshton, who, with very great address, informed himself, and really run some risque in getting his information, concerning the places where the persons informed against used to haunt, and how they might be seized. In consequence of which, a party of the Guard from the Canongate was agreed on to march up at a certain hour, when a message should be sent. The Sollicitor wrote a letter and gave it to one of the town officers, ordered to attend Captain Maitland, one of the town Captains, promoted to that command since the unhappy accident, who, indeed, was extremely diligent and active throughout the whole; and haveing got Stirling and Braidwood apprehended, dispatched the officer with the letter to the military in the Canongate, who immediately begun their march, and by the time the Sollicitor had half examined the said two persons in the Burrow-room, where the Magistrates were present, a party of fifty men, drums beating, marched into the Parliament close, and drew up, which was the first thing that struck a terror, and from that time forward, the insolence was succeeded by fear.
"Stirling and Braidwood were immediately sent to the Castle and imprisoned. That same night, Stoddart, the smith, was seized, and he was committed to the Castle also; as was likewise Traill, the journeyman wright, who were all severally examined, and denyed the least accession.
"In the meantime, the enquiry was going on, and it haveing cast up in one of the declarations, that a hump'd backed creature marched with a gun as one of the guards to Porteus when he went up to the Lawn Markett, the person who emitted this declaration was employed to walk the streets to see if he could find him out; at last he came to the Sollicitor and told him he had found him, and that he was in a certain house. Whereupon a warrand was issued out against him, and he was apprehended and sent to the Castle, and he proved to be one Birnie, a helper to the Countess of Weemys's coachman.
"Thereafter, ane information was given in against William M'Lauchlan, ffootman to the said Countess, he haveing been very active in the mob; ffor sometime he kept himself out of the way, but at last he was apprehended and likewise committed to the Castle.
"And these were all the prisoners who were putt under confinement in that place.
"There were other persons imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and severalls against whom warrands were issued, but could not be apprehended, whose names and cases shall afterwards be more particularly taken notice of.
"The ffriends of Stirling made an application to the Earl of Islay, Lord Justice-Generall, setting furth, that he was seized with a bloody fflux; that his life was in danger; and that upon ane examination of witnesses whose names were given in, it would appear to conviction, that he had not the least access to any of the riotous proceedings of that wicked mob.
"This petition was by his Lordship putt in the hands of his Majestie's Sollicitor, who examined the witnesses; and by their testimonies it appeared, that the young man, who was not above eighteen years of age, was that night in company with about half a dozen companions, in a public house in Stephen Law's closs, near the back of the Guard, where they all remained untill the noise came to the house, that the mob had shut the gates and seized the Guard, upon which the company broke up, and he, and one of his companions, went towards his master's house; and, in the course of the after examination, there was a witness who declared, nay, indeed swore (for the Sollicitor, by this time, saw it necessary to put those he examined upon oath), that he met him [Stirling] after he entered into the alley where his master lives, going towards his house; and another witness, fellow-prentice with Stirling, declares, that after the mob had seized the Guard, he went home, where he found Stirling before him; and, that his master lockt the door, and kept them both at home till after twelve at night: upon weighing of which testimonies, and upon consideration had, That he was charged by the declaration only of one person, who really did not appear to be a witness of the greatest weight, and that his life was in danger from the imprisonment, he was admitted to baill by the Lord Justice-Generall, by whose warrand he was committed.
"Braidwood's friends applyed in the same manner; but as he stood charged by more than one witness, he was not released--tho', indeed, the witnesses adduced for him say somewhat in his exculpation--that he does not seem to have been upon any original concert; and one of the witnesses says he was along with him at the Tolbooth door, and refuses what is said against him, with regard to his having advised the burning of the Tolbooth door. But he remains still in prison.
"As to Traill, the journeyman wright, he is charged by the same witness who declared against Stirling, and there is none concurrs with him and, to say the truth concerning him, he seemed to be the most ingenuous of any of them whom the Solicitor examined, and pointed out a witness by whom one of the first accomplices was discovered, and who escaped when the warrand was to be putt in execution against them. He positively denys his having shutt the gate, and 'tis thought Traill ought to be admitted to baill.
"As to Birnie, he is charged only by one witness, who had never seen him before, nor knew his name; so, tho' I dare say the witness honestly mentioned him, 'tis possible he may be mistaken; and in the examination of above 200 witnesses there is no body concurrs with him, and he is ane insignificant little creature.
"With regard to M'Lauchlan, the proof is strong against him by one witness, that he acted as a serjeant, or sort of commander, for some time, of a Guard, that stood cross between the upper end of the Luckenbooths and the north side of the street, to stop all but friends from going towards the Tolbooth; and by other witnesses, that he was at the Tolbooth door with a link in his hand, while the operation of beating and burning it was going on; that he went along with the mob with a halbert in his hand, untill he came to the gallows stone in the Grassmarket, and that he stuck the halbert into the hole of the gallows stone: that afterwards he went in amongst the mob when Captain Porteus was carried to the dyer's tree; so that the proof seems very heavy against him.
"To sum up this matter with regard to the prisoners in the Castle, 'tis believed there is strong proof against M'Lauchlan; there is also proof against Braidwood. But, as it consists only in emission of words said to have been had by him while at the Tolbooth door, and that he is ane insignificant pitifull creature, and will find people to swear heartily in his favours, 'tis at best doubtfull whether a jury will be got to condemn him.
"As to those in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, John Crawford, who had for some time been employed to ring the bells in the steeple of the New Church of Edinburgh, being in company with a soldier accidentally, the discourse falling in concerning the Captain Porteus and his murder, as he appears to be a light-headed fellow, he said, that he knew people that were more guilty than any that were putt in prison. Upon this information, Crawford was seized, and being examined, it appeared, that when the mob begun, as he was comeing down from the steeple, the mob took the keys from him; that he was that night in several corners, and did indeed delate severall persons whom he saw there, and immediately warrands were despatched, and it was found they had absconded and fled. But there was no evidence against him of any kind. Nay, on the contrary, it appeared, that he had been with the Magistrates in Clerk's, the vintner's, relating to them what he had seen in the streets. Therefore, after haveing detained him in prison ffor a very considerable time, his Majestie's Advocate and Sollicitor signed a warrand for his liberation.
"There was also one James Wilson incarcerated in the said Tolbooth, upon the declaration of one witness, who said he saw him on the streets with a gun; and there he remained for some time, in order to try if a concurring witness could be found, or that he acted any part in the tragedy and wickedness. But nothing farther appeared against him; and being seized with a severe sickness, he is, by a warrand signed by his Majestie's Advocate and Sollicitor, liberated upon giveing sufficient baill.
"As to King, enquiry was made, and the ffact comes out beyond all exception, that he was in the lodge at the Nether-Bow with Lindsay the waiter, and several other people, not at all concerned in the mob. But after the affair was over, he went up towards the guard, and having met with Sandie the Turk and his wife, who escaped out of prison, they returned to his house at the Abbey, and then 'tis very possible he may have thought fitt in his beer to boast of villany, in which he could not possibly have any share for that reason; he was desired to find baill and he should be set at liberty. But he is a stranger and a fellow of very indifferent character, and 'tis believed it won't be easy for him to find baill. Wherefore, it's thought he must be sett at liberty without it. Because he is a burden upon the Government while kept in confinement, not being able to maintain himself.
"What is above is all that relates to persons in custody. But there are warrands out against a great many other persons who had fled, particularly against one William White, a journeyman baxter, who, by the evidence, appears to have been at the beginning of the mob, and to have gone along with the drum, from the West-Port to the Nether-Bow, and is said to have been one of those who attacked the guard, and probably was as deep as any one there.
"Information was given that he was lurking at Falkirk, where he was born. Whereupon directions were sent to the Sheriff of the County, and a warrand from his Excellency Generall Wade, to the commanding officers at Stirling and Linlithgow, to assist, and all possible endeavours were used to catch hold of him, and 'tis said he escaped very narrowly, having been concealed in some outhouse; and the misfortune was, that those who were employed in the search did not know him personally. Nor, indeed, was it easy to trust any of the acquaintances of so low, obscure a fellow with the secret of the warrand to be putt in execution.
"There was also strong evidence found against Robert Taylor, servant to William and Charles Thomsons, periwig-makers, that he acted as ane officer among the mob, and he was traced from the guard to the well at the head of Forester's Wynd, where he stood and had the appellation of Captain from the mob, and from that walking down the Bow before Captain Porteus, with his Lochaber axe; and, by the description given of one who hawl'd the rope by which Captain Porteus was pulled up, 'tis believed Taylor was the person; and 'tis farther probable, that the witness who debated Stirling had mistaken Taylor for him, their stature and age (so far as can be gathered from the description) being the same.
"A great deal of pains were taken, and no charge was saved, in order to have catched hold of this Taylor, and warrands were sent to the country where he was born; but it appears he had shipt himself off for Holland, where it is said he now is.
"There is strong evidence also against Thomas Burns, butcher, that he was ane active person from the beginning of the mob to the end of it. He lurkt for some time amongst those of his trade; and artfully enough a train was laid to catch him, under pretence of a message that had come from his father in Ireland, so that he came to a blind alehouse in the Flesh-market close, and, a party being ready, was, by Webster the soldier, who was upon this exploit, advertised to come down. However, Burns escaped out at a back-window, and hid himself in some of the houses which are heaped together upon one another in that place, so that it was not possible to catch him. 'Tis now said he is gone to Ireland to his father who lives there.
"There is evidence also against one Robert Anderson, journeyman and servant to Colin Alison, wright; and against Thomas Linnen and James Maxwell, both servants also to the said Colin Alison, who all seem to have been deeply concerned in the matter. Anderson is one of those who putt the rope upon Captain Porteus's neck. Linnen seems also to have been very active; and Maxwell (which is pretty remarkable) is proven to have come to a shop upon the Friday before, and charged the journeymen and prentices there to attend in the Parliament close on Tuesday night, to assist to hang Captain Porteus. These three did early abscond, and, though warrands had been issued out against them, and all endeavours used to apprehend them, could not be found.
"One Waldie, a servant to George Campbell, wright, has also absconded, and many others, and 'tis informed that numbers of them have shipt themselves off ffor the Plantations; and upon an information that a ship was going off ffrom Glasgow, in which severall of the rogues were to transport themselves beyond seas, proper warrands were obtained, and persons despatched to search the said ship, and seize any that can be found.
"The like warrands had been issued with regard to ships from Leith. But whether they had been scard, or whether the information had been groundless, they had no effect.
"This is a summary of the enquiry, ffrom which it appears there is no prooff on which one can rely, but against M'Lauchlan. There is a prooff also against Braidwood, but more exceptionable. His Majestie's Advocate, since he came to town, has join'd with the Sollicitor, and has done his utmost to gett at the bottom of this matter, but hitherto it stands as is above represented. They are resolved to have their eyes and their ears open, and to do what they can. But they laboured exceedingly against the stream; and it may truly be said, that nothing was wanting on their part. Nor have they declined any labour to answer the commands laid upon them to search the matter to the bottom."
THE PORTEOUS MOB.
In the preceding CHAPTERs (I. to VI.) the circumstances of that extraordinary riot and conspiracy, called the Porteous Mob, are given with as much accuracy as the author was able to collect them. The order, regularity, and determined resolution with which such a violent action was devised and executed, were only equalled by the secrecy which was observed concerning the principal actors.
Although the fact was performed by torch-light, and in presence of a great multitude, to some of whom, at least, the individual actors must have been known, yet no discovery was ever made concerning any of the perpetrators of the slaughter.
Two men only were brought to trial for an offence which the Government were so anxious to detect and punish. William M'Lauchlan, footman to the Countess of Wemyss, who is mentioned in the report of the Solicitor-General, against whom strong evidence had been obtained, was brought to trial in March 1737, charged as having been accessory to the riot, armed with a Lochaber axe. But this man (who was at all times a silly creature) proved, that he was in a state of mortal intoxication during the time he was present with the rabble, incapable of giving them either advice or assistance, or, indeed, of knowing what he or they were doing. He was also able to prove, that he was forced into the riot, and upheld while there by two bakers, who put a Lochaber axe into his hand. The jury, wisely judging this poor creature could be no proper subject of punishment, found the panel Not Guilty. The same verdict was given in the case of Thomas Linning, also mentioned in the Solicitor's memorial, who was tried in 1738. In short, neither then, nor for a long period afterwards, was anything discovered relating to the organisation of the Porteous Plot.
The imagination of the people of Edinburgh was long irritated, and their curiosity kept awake, by the mystery attending this extraordinary conspiracy. It was generally reported of such natives of Edinburgh as, having left the city in youth, returned with a fortune amassed in foreign countries, that they had originally fled on account of their share in the Porteous Mob. But little credit can be attached to these surmises, as in most of the cases they are contradicted by dates, and in none supported by anything but vague rumours, grounded on the ordinary wish of the vulgar, to impute the success of prosperous men to some unpleasant source. The secret history of the Porteous Mob has been till this day unravelled; and it has always been quoted as a close, daring, and calculated act of violence, of a nature peculiarly characteristic of the Scottish people.
Nevertheless, the author, for a considerable time, nourished hopes to have found himself enabled to throw some light on this mysterious story. An old man, who died about twenty years ago, at the advanced age of ninety-three, was said to have made a communication to the clergyman who attended upon his death-bed, respecting the origin of the Porteous Mob. This person followed the trade of a carpenter, and had been employed as such on the estate of a family of opulence and condition. His character in his line of life and amongst his neighbours, was excellent, and never underwent the slightest suspicion. His confession was said to have been to the following purpose: That he was one of twelve young men belonging to the village of Pathhead, whose animosity against Porteous, on account of the execution of Wilson, was so extreme, that they resolved to execute vengeance on him with their own hands, rather than he should escape punishment. With this resolution they crossed the Forth at different ferries, and rendezvoused at the suburb called Portsburgh, where their appearance in a body soon called numbers around them. The public mind was in such a state of irritation, that it only wanted a single spark to create an explosion; and this was afforded by the exertions of the small and determined band of associates. The appearance of premeditation and order which distinguished the riot, according to his account, had its origin, not in any previous plan or conspiracy, but in the character of those who were engaged in it. The story also serves to show why nothing of the origin of the riot has ever been discovered, since though in itself a great conflagration, its source, according to this account, was from an obscure and apparently inadequate cause.
I have been disappointed, however, in obtaining the evidence on which this story rests. The present proprietor of the estate on which the old man died (a particular friend of the author) undertook to question the son of the deceased on the subject. This person follows his father's trade, and holds the employment of carpenter to the same family. He admits that his father's going abroad at the time of the Porteous Mob was popularly attributed to his having been concerned in that affair; but adds that, so far as is known to him, the old man had never made any confession to that effect; and, on the contrary, had uniformly denied being present. My kind friend, therefore, had recourse to a person from whom he had formerly heard the story; but who, either from respect to an old friend's memory, or from failure of his own, happened to have forgotten that ever such a communication was made. So my obliging correspondent (who is a fox-hunter) wrote to me that he was completely _planted;_ and all that can be said with respect to the tradition is, that it certainly once existed, and was generally believed.
[_N.B._--The Rev. Dr. Carlyle, minister of Inveresk, in his _Autobiography,_ gives some interesting particulars relating to the Porteous Mob, from personal recollections. He happened to be present in the Tolbooth Church when Robertson made his escape, and also at the execution of Wilson in the Grassmarket, when Captain Porteous fired upon the mob, and several persons were killed. Edinburgh 1860, 8vo, pp. 30-42.]
NOTE E.--CARSPHARN JOHN.
John Semple, called Carspharn John, because minister of the parish in Galloway so called, was a Presbyterian clergyman of singular piety and great zeal, of whom Patrick Walker records the following passage: "That night after his wife died, he spent the whole ensuing night in prayer and meditation in his garden. The next morning, one of his elders coming to see him, and lamenting his great loss and want of rest, he replied,--'I declare I have not, all night, had one thought of the death of my wife, I have been so taken up in meditating on heavenly things. I have been this night on the banks of Ulai, plucking an apple here and there.'"-- _Walker's Remarkable Passages of the Life and Death of Mr. John Semple._
NOTE F.--PETER WALKER.
This personage, whom it would be base ingratitude in the author to pass over without some notice, was by far the most zealous and faithful collector and recorder of the actions and opinions of the Cameronians. He resided, while stationary, at the Bristo Port of Edinburgh, but was by trade an itinerant merchant, or pedlar, which profession he seems to have exercised in Ireland as well as Britain. He composed biographical notices of Alexander Peden, John Semple, John Welwood, and Richard Cameron, all ministers of the Cameronian persuasion, to which the last mentioned member gave the name.
It is from such tracts as these, written in the sense, feeling, and spirit of the sect, and not from the sophisticated narratives of a later period, that the real character of the persecuted class is to be gathered. Walker writes with a simplicity which sometimes slides into the burlesque, and sometimes attains a tone of simple pathos, but always expressing the most daring confidence in his own correctness of creed and sentiments, sometimes with narrow-minded and disgusting bigotry. His turn for the marvellous was that of his time and sect; but there is little room to doubt his veracity concerning whatever he quotes on his own knowledge. His small tracts now bring a very high price, especially the earlier and authentic editions. The tirade against dancing, pronounced by David Deans, is, as intimated in the text, partly borrowed from Peter Walker. He notices, as a foul reproach upon the name of Richard Cameron, that his memory was vituperated, "by pipers and fiddlers playing the Cameronian march--carnal vain springs, which too many professors of religion dance to; a practice unbecoming the professors of Christianity to dance to any spring, but somewhat more to this. Whatever," he proceeds, "be the many foul blots recorded of the saints in Scripture, none of them is charged with this regular fit of distraction. We find it has been practised by the wicked and profane, as the dancing at that brutish, base action of the calf-making; and it had been good for that unhappy lass, who danced off the head of John the Baptist, that she had been born a cripple, and never drawn a limb to her. Historians say, that her sin was written upon her judgment, who some time thereafter was dancing upon the ice, and it broke, and snapt the head off her; her head danced above, and her feet beneath. There is ground to think and conclude, that when the world's wickedness was great, dancing at their marriages was practised; but when the heavens above, and the earth beneath, were let loose upon them with that overflowing flood, their mirth was soon staid; and when the Lord in holy justice rained fire and brimstone from heaven upon that wicked people and city Sodom, enjoying fulness of bread and idleness, their fiddle-strings and hands went all in a flame; and the whole people in thirty miles of length, and ten of breadth, as historians say, were all made to fry in their skins and at the end, whoever are giving in marriages and dancing when all will go in a flame, they will quickly change their note.
"I have often wondered thorow my life, how any that ever knew what it was to bow a knee in earnest to pray, durst crook a hough to fyke and fling at a piper's and fiddler's springs. I bless the Lord that ordered my lot so in my dancing days, that made the fear of the bloody rope and bullets to my neck and head, the pain of boots, thumikens, and irons, cold and hunger, wetness and weariness, to stop the lightness of my head, and the wantonness of my feet. What the never-to-be-forgotten Man of God, John Knox, said to Queen Mary, when she gave him that sharp challenge, which would strike our mean-spirited, tongue-tacked ministers dumb, for his giving public faithful warning of the danger of the church and nation, through her marrying the Dauphine of France, when he left her bubbling and greeting, and came to an outer court, where her Lady Maries were fyking and dancing, he said, 'O brave ladies, a brave world, if it would last, and heaven at the hinder end! But fye upon the knave Death, that will seize upon those bodies of yours; and where will all your fiddling and flinging be then?' Dancing being such a common evil, especially amongst young professors, that all the lovers of the Lord should hate, has caused me to insist the more upon it, especially that foolish spring the Cameronian march!"--_Life and Death of Three Famous Worthies,_ etc., collected and printed for Patrick Walker, Edin. 1727, 12mo, p. 59.
It may be here observed, that some of the milder class of Cameronians made a distinction between the two sexes dancing separately, and allowed of it as a healthy and not unlawful exercise; but when men and women mingled in sport, it was then called _promiscuous dancing,_ and considered as a scandalous enormity.
NOTE G.--MUSCHAT'S CAIRN.
Nichol Muschat, a debauched and profligate wretch, having conceived a hatred against his wife, entered into a conspiracy with another brutal libertine and gambler, named Campbell of Burnbank (repeatedly mentioned in Pennycuick's satirical poems of the time), by which Campbell undertook to destroy the woman's character, so as to enable Muschat, on false pretences to obtain a divorce from her. The brutal devices to which these worthy accomplices resorted for that purpose having failed, they endeavoured to destroy her by administering medicine of a dangerous kind, and in extraordinary quantities.
This purpose also failing, Nichol Muschat, or Muschet, did finally, on the 17th October 1720, carry his wife under cloud of night to the King's Park, adjacent to what is called the Duke's Walk, near Holyrood Palace, and there took her life by cutting her throat almost quite through, and inflicting other wounds. He pleaded guilty to the indictment, for which he suffered death. His associate, Campbell, was sentenced to transportation, for his share in the previous conspiracy. See _MacLaurin's Criminal Cases,_pp. 64 and 738.
In memory, and at the same time execration, of the deed, a _cairn,_ or pile of stones, long marked the spot. It is now almost totally removed, in consequence of an alteration on the road in that place.
NOTE H.--HANGMAN, OR LOCKMAN.
_Lockman,_ so called from the small quantity of meal (Scottice, _lock_) which he was entitled to take out of every boll exposed to market in the city. In Edinburgh, the duty has been very long commuted; but in Dumfries, the finisher of the law still exercises, or did lately exercise, his privilege, the quantity taken being regulated by a small iron ladle, which he uses as the measure of his perquisite. The expression _lock,_ for a small quantity of any readily divisible dry substance, as corn, meal, flax, or the like, is still preserved, not only popularly, but in a legal description, as the _lock_ and _gowpen,_ or small quantity and handful, payable in thirlage cases, as in town multure.
NOTE I.--THE FAIRY BOY OF LEITH,
This legend was in former editions inaccurately said to exist in Baxter's "World of Spirits;" but is, in fact, to be found, in "Pandaemonium, or the Devil's Cloyster; being a further blow to Modern Sadduceism," by Richard Bovet, Gentleman, 12mo, 1684. The work is inscribed to Dr. Henry More. The story is entitled, "A remarkable passage of one named the Fairy Boy of Leith, in Scotland, given me by my worthy friend, Captain George Burton, and attested under his hand;" and is as follows:--
"About fifteen years since, having business that detained me for some time in Leith, which is near Edenborough, in the kingdom of Scotland, I often met some of my acquaintance at a certain house there, where we used to drink a glass of wine for our refection. The woman which kept the house was of honest reputation amongst the neighbours, which made me give the more attention to what she told me one day about a Fairy Boy (as they called him) who lived about that town. She had given me so strange an account of him, that I desired her I might see him the first opportunity, which she promised; and not long after, passing that way, she told me there was the Fairy Boy but a little before I came by; and casting her eye into the street, said, 'Look you, sir, yonder he is at play with those other boys,' and designing him to me. I went, and by smooth words, and a piece of money, got him to come into the house with me; where, in the presence of divers people, I demanded of him several astrological questions, which he answered with great subtility, and through all his discourse carried it with a cunning much beyond his years, which seemed not to exceed ten or eleven. He seemed to make a motion like drumming upon the table with his fingers, upon which I asked him, whether he could beat a drum, to which he replied, 'Yes, sir, as well as any man in Scotland; for every Thursday night I beat all points to a sort of people that use to meet under yon hill" (pointing to the great hill between Edenborough and Leith). 'How, boy,' quoth I; 'what company have you there?'--'There are, sir,' said he, 'a great company both of men and women, and they are entertained with many sorts of music besides my drum; they have, besides, plenty variety of meats and wine; and many times we are carried into France or Holland in a night, and return again; and whilst we are there, we enjoy all the pleasures the country doth afford.' I demanded of him, how they got under that hill? To which he replied, 'that there were a great pair of gates that opened to them, though they were invisible to others, and that within there were brave large rooms, as well accommodated as most in Scotland.' I then asked him, how I should know what he said to be true? upon which he told me he would read my fortune, saying I should have two wives, and that he saw the forms of them sitting on my shoulders; that both would be very handsome women.
"As he was thus speaking, a woman of the neighbourhood, coming into the room, demanded of him what her fortune should be? He told her that she had two bastards before she was married; which put her in such a rage, that she desired not to hear the rest. The woman of the house told me that all the people in Scotland could not keep him from the rendezvous on Thursday night; upon which, by promising him some more money, I got a promise of him to meet me at the same place, in the afternoon of the Thursday following, and so dismissed him at that time. The boy came again at the place and time appointed, and I had prevailed with some friends to continue with me, if possible, to prevent his moving that night; he was placed between us, and answered many questions, without offering to go from us, until about eleven of the clock, he was got away unperceived of the company; but I suddenly missing him, hasted to the door, and took hold of him, and so returned him into the same room; we all watched him, and on a sudden he was again out of the doors. I followed him close, and he made a noise in the street as if he had been set upon; but from that time I could never see him.
[A copy of this rare little volume is in the library at Abbotsford.]
NOTE J.--INTERCOURSE OF THE COVENANTERS WITH THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
The gloomy, dangerous, and constant wanderings of the persecuted sect of Cameronians, naturally led to their entertaining with peculiar credulity the belief that they were sometimes persecuted, not only by the wrath of men, but by the secret wiles and open terrors of Satan. In fact, a flood could not happen, a horse cast a shoe, or any other the most ordinary interruption thwart a minister's wish to perform service at a particular spot, than the accident was imputed to the immediate agency of fiends. The encounter of Alexander Peden with the Devil in the cave, and that of John Sample with the demon in the ford, are given by Peter Walker almost in the language of the text.
The Scottish Statute Book, anno 1690, CHAPTER 21, in consequence of the great increase of the crime of child-murder, both from the temptations to commit the offence and the difficulty of discovery enacted a certain set of presumptions, which, in the absence of direct proof, the jury were directed to receive as evidence of the crime having actually been committed. The circumstances selected for this purpose were, that the woman should have concealed her situation during the whole period of pregnancy; that she should not have called for help at her delivery; and that, combined with these grounds of suspicion, the child should be either found dead or be altogether missing. Many persons suffered death during the last century under this severe act. But during the author's memory a more lenient course was followed, and the female accused under the act, and conscious of no competent defence, usually lodged a petition to the Court of Justiciary, denying, for form's sake, the tenor of the indictment, but stating, that as her good name had been destroyed by the charge, she was willing to submit to sentence of banishment, to which the crown counsel usually consented. This lenity in practice, and the comparative infrequency of the crime since the doom of public ecclesiastical penance has been generally dispensed with, have led to the abolition of the Statute of William, and Mary, which is now replaced by another, imposing banishment in those circumstances in which the crime was formerly capital. This alteration took place in 1803.
NOTE L.--CALUMNIATOR OF THE FAIR SEX.
The journal of Graves, a Bow Street officer, despatched to Holland to obtain the surrender of the unfortunate William Brodie, bears a reflection on the ladies somewhat like that put in the mouth of the police-officer Sharpitlaw. It had been found difficult to identify the unhappy criminal; and when a Scotch gentleman of respectability had seemed disposed to give evidence on the point required, his son-in-law, a clergyman in Amsterdam, and his daughter, were suspected by Graves to have used arguments with the witness to dissuade him from giving his testimony. On which subject the journal of the Bow Street officer proceeds thus:--
"Saw then a manifest reluctance in Mr. -------, and had no doubt the daughter and parson would endeavour to persuade him to decline troubling himself in the matter, but judged he could not go back from what he had said to Mr. Rich.--Nota Bene. _No mischief but a woman or a priest in it_--here both."
NOTE M.--Sir William Dick of Braid.
This gentleman formed a striking example of the instability of human prosperity. He was once the wealthiest man of his time in Scotland, a merchant in an extensive line of commerce, and a farmer of the public revenue; insomuch that, about 1640, he estimated his fortune at two hundred thousand pounds sterling. Sir William Dick was a zealous Covenanter; and in the memorable year 1641, he lent the Scottish Convention of Estates one hundred thousand merks at once, and thereby enabled them to support and pay their army, which must otherwise have broken to pieces. He afterwards advanced L20,000 for the service of King Charles, during the usurpation; and having, by owning the royal cause, provoked the displeasure of the ruling party, he was fleeced of more money, amounting in all to L65,000 sterling.
Being in this manner reduced to indigence, he went to London to try to recover some part of the sums which had been lent on Government security. Instead of receiving any satisfaction, the Scottish Croesus was thrown into prison, in which he died, 19th December 1655. It is said his death was hastened by the want of common necessaries. But this statement is somewhat exaggerated, if it be true, as is commonly said, that though he was not supplied with bread, he had plenty of pie-crust, thence called "Sir William Dick's Necessity."
The changes of fortune are commemorated in a folio pamphlet, entitled, "The Lamentable Estate and distressed Case of Sir William Dick" [Lond. 1656]. It contains three copper-plates, one representing Sir William on horseback, and attended with guards as Lord Provost of Edinburgh, superintending the unloading of one of his rich argosies. A second exhibiting him as arrested, and in the hands of the bailiffs. A third presents him dead in prison. The tract is esteemed highly valuable by collectors of prints. The only copy I ever saw upon sale, was rated at L30. (In London sales, copies have varied in price from L15 to L52: 10s.)
NOTE N.--Doomster, or Dempster, of Court.
The name of this officer is equivalent to the pronouncer of doom or sentence. In this comprehensive sense, the Judges of the Isle of Man were called Dempsters. But in Scotland the word was long restricted to the designation of an official person, whose duty it was to recite the sentence after it had been pronounced by the Court, and recorded by the clerk; on which occasion the Dempster legalised it by the words of form, "_And this I pronounce for doom._" For a length of years, the office, as mentioned in the text, was held in commendam with that of the executioner; for when this odious but necessary officer of justice received his appointment, he petitioned the Court of Justiciary to be received as their Dempster, which was granted as a matter of course.
The production of the executioner in open court, and in presence of the wretched criminal, had something in it hideous and disgusting to the more refined feelings of later times. But if an old tradition of the Parliament House of Edinburgh may be trusted, it was the following anecdote which occasioned the disuse of the Dempster's office.
It chanced at one time that the office of public executioner was vacant. There was occasion for some one to act as Dempster, and, considering the party who generally held the office, it is not wonderful that a locum tenens was hard to be found. At length, one Hume, who had been sentenced to transportation, for an attempt to burn his own house, was induced to consent that he would pronounce the doom on this occasion. But when brought forth to officiate, instead of repeating the doom to the criminal, Mr. Hume addressed himself to their lordships in a bitter complaint of the injustice of his own sentence. It was in vain that he was interrupted, and reminded of the purpose for which he had come hither; "I ken what ye want of me weel eneugh," said the fellow, "ye want me to be your Dempster; but I am come to be none of your Dempster, I am come to summon you, Lord T, and you, Lord E, to answer at the bar of another world for the injustice you have done me in this." In short, Hume had only made a pretext of complying with the proposal, in order to have an opportunity of reviling the Judges to their faces, or giving them, in the phrase of his country, "a sloan." He was hurried off amid the laughter of the audience, but the indecorous scene which had taken place contributed to the abolition of the office of Dempster. The sentence is now read over by the clerk of court, and the formality of pronouncing doom is altogether omitted.
[The usage of calling the Dempster into court by the ringing of a hand-bell, to repeat the sentence on a criminal, is said to have been abrogated in March 1773.]
NOTE O.--John Duke of Argyle and Greenwich.
This nobleman was very dear to his countrymen, who were justly proud of his military and political talents, and grateful for the ready zeal with which he asserted the rights of his native country. This was never more conspicuous than in the matter of the Porteous Mob, when the ministers brought in a violent and vindictive bill, for declaring the Lord Provost of Edinburgh incapable of bearing any public office in future, for not foreseeing a disorder which no one foresaw, or interrupting the course of a riot too formidable to endure opposition. The same bill made provision for pulling down the city gates, and abolishing the city guard,--rather a Hibernian mode of enabling their better to keep the peace within burgh in future.
The Duke of Argyle opposed this bill as a cruel, unjust, and fanatical proceeding, and an encroachment upon the privileges of the royal burghs of Scotland, secured to them by the treaty of Union. "In all the proceedings of that time," said his Grace, "the nation of Scotland treated with the English as a free and independent people; and as that treaty, my Lords, had no other guarantee for the due performance of its articles, but the faith and honour of a British Parliament, it would be both unjust and ungenerous, should this House agree to any proceedings that have a tendency to injure it."
Lord Hardwicke, in reply to the Duke of Argyle, seemed to insinuate, that his Grace had taken up the affair in a party point of view, to which the nobleman replied in the spirited language quoted in the text. Lord Hardwicke apologised. The bill was much modified, and the clauses concerning the dismantling the city, and disbanding the guard, were departed from. A fine of L2000 was imposed on the city for the benefit of Porteous's widow. She was contented to accept three-fourths of the sum, the payment of which closed the transaction. It is remarkable, that, in our day, the Magistrates of Edinburgh have had recourse to both those measures, hold in such horror by their predecessors, as necessary steps for the improvement of the city.
It may be here noticed, in explanation of another circumstance mentioned in the text, that there is a tradition in Scotland, that George II., whose irascible temper is said sometimes to have hurried him into expressing his displeasure _par voie du fait,_ offered to the Duke of Argyle in angry audience, some menace of this nature, on which he left the presence in high disdain, and with little ceremony. Sir Robert Walpole, having met the Duke as he retired, and learning the cause of his resentment and discomposure, endeavoured to reconcile him to what had happened by saying, "Such was his Majesty's way, and that he often took such liberties with himself without meaning any harm." This did not mend matters in MacCallummore's eyes, who replied, in great disdain, "You will please to remember, Sir Robert, the infinite distance there is betwixt you and me." Another frequent expression of passion on the part of the same monarch, is alluded to in the old Jacobite song--
The fire shall get both hat and wig, As oft-times they've got a' that.
NOTE P.--Expulsion of the Bishops from the Scottish Convention.
For some time after the Scottish Convention had commenced its sittings, the Scottish prelates retained their seats, and said prayers by rotation to the meeting, until the character of the Convention became, through the secession of Dundee, decidedly Presbyterian. Occasion was then taken on the Bishop of Ross mentioning King James in his prayer, as him for whom they watered their couch with tears. On this the Convention exclaimed, they had no occasion for spiritual Lords, and commanded the Bishops to depart and return no more, Montgomery of Skelmorley breaking at the same time a coarse jest upon the scriptural expression used by the prelate. Davie Deans's oracle, Patrick Walker, gives this account of their dismission.
"When they came out, some of the Convention said they wished the honest lads knew they were put out, for then they would not get away with haill (whole) gowns. All the fourteen gathered together with pale faces, and stood in a cloud in the Parliament Close; James Wilson, Robert Neilson, Francis Hislop, and myself, were standing close by them; Francis Hislop with force thrust Robert Neilson upon them, their heads went hard on one another. But there being so many enemies in the city fretting and gnashing the teeth, waiting for an occasion to raise a mob, when undoubtedly blood would have been shed, and having laid down conclusions amongst ourselves to avoid giving the least occasion to all mobs, kept us from tearing off their gowns.
"Their graceless Graces went quickly off, and there was neither bishop nor curate seen in the street--this was a surprising sudden change not to be forgotten. Some of us would have rejoiced near them in large sums to have seen these Bishops sent legally down the Bow that they might have found the weight of their tails in a tow to dry their tow-soles; that they might know what hanging was, they having been active for themselves and the main instigators to all the mischiefs, cruelties, and bloodshed of that time, wherein the streets of Edinburgh and other places of the land did run with the innocent precious dear blood of the Lord's people."--_Life and Death of three famous Worthies_ (Semple, etc.), by Patrick Walker. Edin. 1727, pp. 72, 73.
NOTE Q.--Half-hanged Maggie Dickson.
[In the Statistical Account of the Parish of Inveresk (vol. xvi. p. 34), Dr. Carlyle says, "No person has been convicted of a capital felony since the year 1728, when the famous Maggy Dickson was condemned and executed for child-murder in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, and was restored to life in a cart on her way to Musselburgh to be buried . . . . . She kept an ale-house in a neighbouring parish for many years after she came to life again, which was much resorted to from curiosity." After the body was cut down and handed over to her relatives, her revival is attributed to the jolting of the cart, and according to Robert Chambers,--taking a retired road to Musselburgh, "they stopped near Peffer-mill to get a dram; and when they came out from the house to resume their journey, Maggie was sitting up in the cart." Among the poems of Alexander Pennecuick (who died in 1730), is one entitled "The Merry Wives of Musselburgh's Welcome to Meg Dickson;" while another broadside, without any date or author's name, is called "Margaret Dickson's Penitential Confession," containing these lines referring to her conviction:--
"Who found me guilty of that barbarous crime, And did, by law, end this wretched life of mine; But God . . . . did me preserve," etc.In another of these ephemeral productions hawked about the streets, called, "A Ballad by J--n B--s," are the following lines:--
"Please peruse the speech Of ill-hanged Maggy Dickson. Ere she was strung, the wicked wife Was sainted by the Flamen (priest), But now, since she's retum'd to life, Some say she's the old samen."
In his reference to Maggie's calling salt after her recovery, the Author would appear to be alluding to another character who went by the name of "saut _Maggie,_" and is represented in one or more old etchings about 1790.]
NOTE R.--Madge Wildfire.
In taking leave of the poor maniac, the Author may here observe that the first conception of the character, though afterwards greatly altered, was taken from that of a person calling herself, and called by others, Feckless Fannie (weak or feeble Fannie), who always travelled with a small flock of sheep. The following account, furnished by the persevering kindness of Mr. Train, contains, probably, all that can now be known of her history, though many, among whom is the Author, may remember having heard of Feckless Fannie in the days of their youth.
"My leisure hours," says Mr. Train, "for some time past have been mostly spent in searching for particulars relating to the maniac called Feckless Fannie, who travelled over all Scotland and England, between the years 1767 and 1775, and whose history is altogether so like a romance, that I have been at all possible pains to collect every particular that can be found relative to her in Galloway, or in Ayrshire.
"When Feckless Fannie appeared in Ayrshire, for the first time, in the summer of 1769, she attracted much notice, from being attended by twelve or thirteen sheep, who seemed all endued with faculties so much superior to the ordinary race of animals of the same species, as to excite universal astonishment. She had for each a different name, to which it answered when called by its mistress, and would likewise obey in the most surprising manner any command she thought proper to give. When travelling, she always walked in front of her flock, and they followed her closely behind. When she lay down at night in the fields, for she would never enter into a house, they always disputed who should lie next to her, by which means she was kept warm, while she lay in the midst of them; when she attempted to rise from the ground, an old ram, whose name was Charlie, always claimed the sole right of assisting her; pushing any that stood in his way aside, until he arrived right before his mistress; he then bowed his head nearly to the ground that she might lay her hands on his horns, which were very large; he then lifted her gently from the ground by raising his head. If she chanced to leave her flock feeding, as soon as they discovered she was gone, they all began to bleat most piteously, and would continue to do so till she returned; they would then testify their joy by rubbing their sides against her petticoat and frisking about.
"Feckless Fannie was not, like most other demented creatures, fond of fine dress; on her head she wore an old slouched hat, over her shoulders an old plaid, and carried always in her hand a shepherd's crook; with any of these articles she invariably declared she would not part for any consideration whatever. When she was interrogated why she set so much value on things seemingly so insignificant, she would sometimes relate the history of her misfortune, which was briefly as follows:--
"'I am the only daughter of a wealthy squire in the north of England, but I loved my father's shepherd, and that has been my ruin; for my father, fearing his family would be disgraced by such an alliance, in a passion mortally wounded my lover with a shot from a pistol. I arrived just in time to receive the last blessing of the dying man, and to close his eyes in death. He bequeathed me his little all, but I only accepted these sheep, to be my sole companions through life, and this hat, this plaid, and this crook, all of which I will carry until I descend into the grave.'
"This is the substance of a ballad, eighty-four lines of which I copied down lately from the recitation of an old woman in this place, who says she has seen it in print, with a plate on the title-page, representing Fannie with her sheep behind her. As this ballad is said to have been written by Lowe, the author of _Mary's Dream,_ I am surprised that it has not been noticed by Cromek in his _Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song;_ but he perhaps thought it unworthy of a place in his collection, as there is very little merit in the composition; which want of room prevents me from transcribing at present. But if I thought you had never seen it, I would take an early opportunity of doing so.
"After having made the tour of Galloway in 1769, as Fannie was wandering in the neighbourhood of Moffat, on her way to Edinburgh, where, I am informed, she was likewise well known, Old Charlie, her favourite ram, chanced to break into a kale-yard, which the proprietor observing, let loose a mastiff, that hunted the poor sheep to death. This was a sad misfortune; it seemed to renew all the pangs which she formerly felt on the death of her lover. She would not part from the side of her old friend for several days, and it was with much difficulty she consented to allow him to be buried; but still wishing to pay a tribute to his memory, she covered his grave with moss, and fenced it round with osiers, and annually returned to the same spot, and pulled the weeds from the grave and repaired the fence. This is altogether like a romance; but I believe it is really true that she did so. The grave of Charlie is still held sacred even by the school-boys of the present day in that quarter. It is now, perhaps, the only instance of the law of Kenneth being attended to, which says, 'The grave where anie that is slaine lieth buried, leave untilled for seven years. Repute every grave holie so as thou be well advised, that in no wise with thy feet thou tread upon it.'
"Through the storms of winter, as well as in the milder seasons of the year, she continued her wandering course, nor could she be prevented from doing so, either by entreaty or promise of reward. The late Dr. Fullarton of Rosemount, in the neighbourhood of Ayr, being well acquainted with her father when in England, endeavoured, in a severe season, by every means in his power, to detain her at Rosemount for a few days until the weather should become more mild; but when she found herself rested a little, and saw her sheep fed, she raised her crook, which was the signal she always gave for the sheep to follow her, and off they all marched together.
"But the hour of poor Fannie's dissolution was now at hand, and she seemed anxious to arrive at the spot where she was to terminate her mortal career. She proceeded to Glasgow, and while passing through that city a crowd of idle boys, attracted by her singular appearance, together with the novelty of seeing so many sheep obeying her command, began to ferment her with their pranks, till she became so irritated that she pelted them with bricks and stones, which they returned in such a manner, that she was actually stoned to death between Glasgow and Anderston.
"To the real history of this singular individual credulity has attached several superstitious appendages. It is said that the farmer who was the cause of Charlie's death shortly afterwards drowned himself in a peat-hag; and that the hand with which a butcher in Kilinarnock struck one of the other sheep became powerless, and withered to the very bone. In the summer of 1769, when she was passing by New Cumnock, a young man, whose name was William Forsyth, son of a farmer in the same parish, plagued her so much that she wished he might never see the morn; upon which he went home and hanged himself in his father's barn. And I doubt not that many such stories may yet be remembered in other parts where she had been."
So far Mr. Train. The Author can only add to this narrative that Feckless Fannie and her little flock were well known in the pastoral districts. In attempting to introduce such a character into fiction, the Author felt the risk of encountering a comparison with the Maria of Sterne; and, besides, the mechanism of the story would have been as much retarded by Feckless Fannie's flock as the night march of Don Quixote was delayed by Sancho's tale of the sheep that were ferried over the river.
The Author has only to add, that notwithstanding the preciseness of his friend Mr. Train's statement, there may be some hopes that the outrage on Feckless Fannie and her little flock was not carried to extremity. There is no mention of any trial on account of it, which, had it occurred in the manner stated, would have certainly taken place; and the Author has understood that it was on the Border she was last seen, about the skirts of the Cheviot hills, but without her little flock.
NOTE S.--Death of Francis Gordon.
This exploit seems to have been one in which Patrick Walker prided himself not a little; and there is reason to fear, that that excellent person would have highly resented the attempt to associate another with him in the slaughter of a King's Life-Guardsman. Indeed, he would have had the more right to be offended at losing any share of the glory, since the party against Gordon was already three to one, besides having the advantage of firearms. The manner in which he vindicates his claim to the exploit, without committing himself by a direct statement of it, is not a little amusing. It is as follows:--
"I shall give a brief and true account of that man's death, which I did not design to do while I was upon the stage; I resolve, indeed (if it be the Lord's will), to leave a more full account of that and many other remarkable steps of the Lord's dispensations towards me through my life. It was then commonly said, that Francis Gordon was a volunteer out of wickedness of principles, and could not stay with the troop, but was still raging and ranging to catch hiding suffering people. Meldrum and Airly's troops, lying at Lanark upon the first day of March 1682, Mr. Gordon and another wicked comrade, with their two servants and four horses, came to Kilcaigow, two miles from Lanark, searching for William Caigow and others, under hiding.
"Mr. Gordon, rambling throw the town, offered to abuse the women. At night, they came a mile further to the Easter-Seat, to Robert Muir's, he being also under hiding. Gordon's comrade and the two servants went to bed, but he could sleep none, roaring all night for women. When day came, he took only his sword in his hand, and came to Moss-platt, and some new men (who had been in the fields all night) seeing him, they fled, and he pursued. James Wilson, Thomas Young, and myself, having been in a meeting all night, were lying down in the morning. We were alarmed, thinking there were many more than one; he pursued hard, and overtook us. Thomas Young said, 'Sir, what do ye pursue us for?' He said, 'he was come to send us to hell.' James Wilson said, 'that shall not be, for we will defend ourselves.' He said, 'that either he or we should go to it now.' He run his sword furiously throw James Wilson's coat. James fired upon him, but missed him. All this time he cried, 'Damn his soul!' He got a shot in his head out of a pocket-pistol, rather fit for diverting a boy than killing such a furious, mad, brisk man, which, notwithstanding, killed him dead. The foresaid William Caigow and Robert Muir came to us. We searched him for papers, and found a long scroll of sufferers' names, either to kill or take. I tore it all in pieces. He had also some Popish books and bonds of money, with one dollar, which a poor man took off the ground; all which we put in his pocket again. Thus, he was four miles from Lanark, and near a mile from his comrade, seeking his own death and got it. And for as much as we have been condemned for this, I could never see how any one could condemn us that allows of self-defence, which the laws both of God and nature allow to every creature. For my own part, my heart never smote me for this. When I saw his blood run, I wished that all the blood of the Lord's stated and avowed enemies in Scotland had been in his veins. Having such a clear call and opportunity, I would have rejoiced to have seen it all gone out with a gush. I have many times wondered at the greater part of the indulged, lukewarm ministers and professors in that time, who made more noise of murder, when one of these enemies had been killed even in our own defence, than of twenty of us being murdered by them. None of these men present was challenged for this but myself. Thomas Young thereafter suffered at Mauchline, but was not challenged for this; Robert Muir was banished; James Wilson outlived the persecution; Williarn Caigow died in the Canongate Tolbooth, in the beginning of 1685. Mr. Wodrow is misinformed, who says that he suffered unto death."
NOTE T.--Tolling to Service in Scotland.
In the old days of Scotland, when persons of property (unless they happened to be non-jurors) were as regular as their inferiors in attendance on parochial worship, there was a kind of etiquette, in waiting till the patron or acknowledged great man of the parish should make his appearance. This ceremonial was so sacred in the eyes of a parish beadle in the Isle of Bute, that the kirk bell being out of order, he is said to have mounted the steeple every Sunday, to imitate with his voice the successive summonses which its mouth of metal used to send forth. The first part of this imitative harmony was simply the repetition of the words _Bell bell, bell bell,_ two or three times in a manner as much resembling the sound as throat of flesh could imitate throat of iron. _Bellu'm! bellu'm!_ was sounded forth in a more urgent manner; but he never sent forth the third and conclusive peal, the varied tone of which is called in Scotland the ringing-in, until the two principal heritors of the parish approached, when the chime ran thus:--
Bellu'm Belle'llum, Bernera and Knockdow's coming! Bellu'm Belle'llum, Bernera and Knockdow's coming!
Thereby intimating that service was instantly to proceed.
[Mr. Mackinlay of Borrowstounness, a native of Bute, states that Sir Walter Scott had this story from Sir Adam Ferguson; but that the gallant knight had not given the lairds' titles correctly--the bellman's great men being "Craich, Drumbuie, and Barnernie!"--1842.]
THE END of Volume II.
* * * * * * *
Sorry, no summary available yet.