Far as the eye could reach no tree was seen,
Earth, clad in russet, scorned the lively green;
No birds, except as birds of passage flew;
No bee was heard to hum, no dove to coo;
No streams, as amber smooth-as amber clear,
Were seen to glide, or heard to warble here.
Prophecy of Famine.
It was in the bracing atmosphere of a harvest morning, that I met by
appointment Fairservice, with the horses, at the door of Mr. Jarvie's
house, which was but little space distant from Mrs. Flyter's hotel. The
first matter which caught my attention was, that whatever were the
deficiencies of the pony which Mr. Fairservice's legal adviser, Clerk
Touthope, generously bestowed upon him in exchange for Thorncliff's mare,
he had contrived to part with it, and procure in its stead an animal with
so curious and complete a lameness, that it seemed only to make use of
three legs for the purpose of progression, while the fourth appeared as
if meant to be flourished in the air by way of accompaniment. "What do
you mean by bringing such a creature as that here, sir? and where is the
pony you rode to Glasgow upon?" were my very natural and impatient
"I sell't it, sir. It was a slink beast, and wad hae eaten its head aff,
standing at Luckie Flyter's at livery. And I hae bought this on your
honour's account. It's a grand bargain--cost but a pund sterling the
foot--that's four a'thegither. The stringhalt will gae aff when it's gaen
a mile; it's a weel-ken'd ganger; they call it Souple Tam."
"On my soul, sir," said I, "you will never rest till my supple-jack and
your shoulders become acquainted, If you do not go instantly and procure
the other brute, you shall pay the penalty of your ingenuity."
Andrew, notwithstanding my threats, continued to battle the point, as he
said it would cost him a guinea of rue-bargain to the man who had bought
his pony, before he could get it back again. Like a true Englishman,
though sensible I was duped by the rascal, I was about to pay his
exaction rather than lose time, when forth sallied Mr. Jarvie, cloaked,
mantled, hooded, and booted, as if for a Siberian winter, while two
apprentices, under the immediate direction of Mattie, led forth the
decent ambling steed which had the honour on such occasions to support
the person of the Glasgow magistrate. Ere he "clombe to the saddle," an
expression more descriptive of the Bailie's mode of mounting than that of
the knights-errant to whom Spenser applies it, he inquired the cause of
the dispute betwixt my servant and me. Having learned the nature of
honest Andrew's manoeuvre he instantly cut short all debate, by
pronouncing, that if Fairservice did not forthwith return the
three-legged palfrey, and produce the more useful quadruped which he had
discarded, he would send him to prison, and amerce him in half his wages.
"Mr. Osbaldistone," said he, "contracted for the service of both your
horse and you--twa brutes at ance--ye unconscionable rascal!--but I'se
look weel after you during this journey."
"It will be nonsense fining me," said Andrew, doughtily, "that hasna a
grey groat to pay a fine wi'--it's ill taking the breeks aff a
"If ye hae nae purse to fine, ye hae flesh to pine," replied the Bailie,
"and I will look weel to ye getting your deserts the tae way or the
To the commands of Mr. Jarvie, therefore, Andrew was compelled to submit,
only muttering between his teeth, "Ower mony maisters,--ower mony
maisters, as the paddock said to the harrow, when every tooth gae her a
Apparently he found no difficulty in getting rid of Supple Tam, and
recovering possession of his former Bucephalus, for he accomplished the
exchange without being many minutes absent; nor did I hear further of his
having paid any smart-money for breach of bargain.
We now set forward, but had not reached the top of the street in which
Mr. Jarvie dwelt, when a loud hallooing and breathless call of "Stop,
stop!" was heard behind us. We stopped accordingly, and were overtaken by
Mr. Jarvie's two lads, who bore two parting tokens of Mattie's care for
her master. The first was conveyed in the form of a voluminous silk
handkerchief, like the mainsail of one of his own West-Indiamen, which
Mrs. Mattie particularly desired he would put about his neck, and which,
thus entreated, he added to his other integuments. The second youngster
brought only a verbal charge (I thought I saw the rogue disposed to laugh
as he delivered it) on the part of the housekeeper, that her master would
take care of the waters. "Pooh! pooh! silly hussy," answered Mr. Jarvie;
but added, turning to me, "it shows a kind heart though--it shows a kind
heart in sae young a quean--Mattie's a carefu' lass." So speaking, he
pricked the sides of his palfrey, and we left the town without farther
While we paced easily forward, by a road which conducted us
north-eastward from the town, I had an opportunity to estimate and admire
the good qualities of my new friend. Although, like my father, he
considered commercial transactions the most important objects of human
life, he was not wedded to them so as to undervalue more general
knowledge. On the contrary, with much oddity and vulgarity of
manner,--with a vanity which he made much more ridiculous by disguising
it now and then under a thin veil of humility, and devoid as he was of
all the advantages of a learned education, Mr. Jarvie's conversation
showed tokens of a shrewd, observing, liberal, and, to the extent of its
opportunities, a well-improved mind. He was a good local antiquary, and
entertained me, as we passed along, with an account of remarkable events
which had formerly taken place in the scenes through which we passed.
And as he was well acquainted with the ancient history of his district,
he saw with the prospective eye of an enlightened patriot, the buds of
many of those future advantages which have only blossomed and ripened
within these few years. I remarked also, and with great pleasure, that
although a keen Scotchman, and abundantly zealous for the honour of his
country, he was disposed to think liberally of the sister kingdom. When
Andrew Fairservice (whom, by the way, the Bailie could not abide) chose
to impute the accident of one of the horses casting his shoe to the
deteriorating influence of the Union, he incurred a severe rebuke from
"Whisht, sir!--whisht! it's ill-scraped tongues like yours, that make
mischief atween neighbourhoods and nations. There's naething sae gude on
this side o' time but it might hae been better, and that may be said o'
the Union. Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their
rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them now-a-days.
But it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude--Let ilka ane roose the ford as
they find it--I say let Glasgow flourish! whilk is judiciously and
elegantly putten round the town's arms, by way of by-word.--Now, since
St. Mungo catched herrings in the Clyde, what was ever like to gar us
flourish like the sugar and tobacco trade? Will onybody tell me that, and
grumble at the treaty that opened us a road west-awa' yonder?"
Andrew Fairservice was far from acquiescing in these arguments of
expedience, and even ventured to enter a grumbling protest, "That it was
an unco change to hae Scotland's laws made in England; and that, for his
share, he wadna for a' the herring-barrels in Glasgow, and a' the
tobacco-casks to boot, hae gien up the riding o' the Scots Parliament, or
sent awa' our crown, and our sword, and our sceptre, and Mons Meg,* to be
keepit by thae English pock-puddings in the Tower o' Lunnon.
* Note G. Mons Meg.
What wad Sir William Wallace, or auld Davie Lindsay, hae said to the
Union, or them that made it?"
The road which we travelled, while diverting the way with these
discussions, had become wild and open, as soon as we had left Glasgow a
mile or two behind us, and was growing more dreary as we advanced. Huge
continuous heaths spread before, behind, and around us, in hopeless
barrenness--now level and interspersed with swamps, green with
treacherous verdure, or sable with turf, or, as they call them in
Scotland, peat-bogs,--and now swelling into huge heavy ascents, which
wanted the dignity and form of hills, while they were still more toilsome
to the passenger. There were neither trees nor bushes to relieve the eye
from the russet livery of absolute sterility. The very heath was of that
stinted imperfect kind which has little or no flower, and affords the
coarsest and meanest covering, which, as far as my experience enables me
to judge, mother Earth is ever arrayed in. Living thing we saw none,
except occasionally a few straggling sheep of a strange diversity of
colours, as black, bluish, and orange. The sable hue predominated,
however, in their faces and legs. The very birds seemed to shun these
wastes, and no wonder, since they had an easy method of escaping from
them;--at least I only heard the monotonous and plaintive cries of the
lapwing and curlew, which my companions denominated the peasweep and
At dinner, however, which we took about noon, at a most miserable
alehouse, we had the good fortune to find that these tiresome screamers
of the morass were not the only inhabitants of the moors. The goodwife
told us, that "the gudeman had been at the hill;" and well for us that he
had been so, for we enjoyed the produce of his _chasse_ in the shape of
some broiled moor-game,--a dish which gallantly eked out the ewe-milk
cheese, dried salmon, and oaten bread, being all besides that the house
afforded. Some very indifferent two-penny ale, and a glass of excellent
brandy, crowned our repast; and as our horses had, in the meantime,
discussed their corn, we resumed our journey with renovated vigour.
I had need of all the spirits a good dinner could give, to resist the
dejection which crept insensibly on my mind, when I combined the strange
uncertainty of my errand with the disconsolate aspect of the country
through which it was leading me. Our road continued to be, if possible,
more waste and wild than that we had travelled in the forenoon. The few
miserable hovels that showed some marks of human habitation, were now of
still rarer occurrence; and at length, as we began to ascend an
uninterrupted swell of moorland, they totally disappeared. The only
exercise which my imagination received was, when some particular turn of
the road gave us a partial view, to the left, of a large assemblage of
dark-blue mountains stretching to the north and north-west, which
promised to include within their recesses a country as wild perhaps, but
certainly differing greatly in point of interest, from that which we now
travelled. The peaks of this screen of mountains were as wildly varied
and distinguished, as the hills which we had seen on the right were tame
and lumpish; and while I gazed on this Alpine region, I felt a longing to
explore its recesses, though accompanied with toil and danger, similar to
that which a sailor feels when he wishes for the risks and animation of a
battle or a gale, in exchange for the insupportable monotony of a
protracted calm. I made various inquiries of my friend Mr. Jarvie
respecting the names and positions of these remarkable mountains; but it
was a subject on which he had no information, or did not choose to be
communicative. "They're the Hieland hills--the Hieland hills--Ye'll see
and hear eneugh about them before ye see Glasgow Cross again--I downa
look at them--I never see them but they gar me grew. It's no for fear--no
for fear, but just for grief, for the puir blinded half-starved creatures
that inhabit them--but say nae mair about it--it's ill speaking o'
Hielandmen sae near the line. I hae ken'd mony an honest man wadna hae
ventured this length without he had made his last will and
testament--Mattie had ill-will to see me set awa' on this ride, and grat
awee, the sillie tawpie; but it's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet
than to see a goose gang barefit."
I next attempted to lead the discourse on the character and history of
the person whom we were going to visit; but on this topic Mr. Jarvie was
totally inaccessible, owing perhaps in part to the attendance of Mr.
Andrew Fairservice, who chose to keep so close in our rear that his ears
could not fail to catch every word which was spoken, while his tongue
assumed the freedom of mingling in our conversation as often as he saw an
opportunity. For this he occasionally incurred Mr. Jarvie's reproof.
"Keep back, sir, as best sets ye," said the Bailie, as Andrew pressed
forward to catch the answer to some question I had asked about Campbell.
--"ye wad fain ride the fore-horse, an ye wist how.--That chield's aye
for being out o' the cheese-fat he was moulded in.--Now, as for your
questions, Mr. Osbaldistone, now that chield's out of ear-shot, I'll just
tell you it's free to you to speer, and it's free to me to answer, or
no--Gude I canna say muckle o' Rob, puir chield; ill I winna say o' him,
for, forby that he's my cousin, we're coming near his ain country, and
there may be ane o' his gillies ahint every whin-bush, for what I
ken--And if ye'll be guided by my advice, the less ye speak about him, or
where we are gaun, or what we are gaun to do, we'll be the mair likely to
speed us in our errand. For it's like we may fa' in wi' some o' his
unfreends--there are e'en ower mony o' them about--and his bonnet sits
even on his brow yet for a' that; but I doubt they'll be upsides wi' Rob
at the last--air day or late day, the fox's hide finds aye the flaying
"I will certainly," I replied, "be entirely guided by your experience."
"Right, Mr. Osbaldistone--right. But I maun speak to this gabbling skyte
too, for bairns and fules speak at the Cross what they hear at the
ingle-side.--D'ye hear, you, Andrew--what's your name?--Fairservice!"
Andrew, who at the last rebuff had fallen a good way behind, did not
choose to acknowledge the summons.
"Andrew, ye scoundrel!" repeated Mr. Jarvie; "here, sir here!"
"Here is for the dog." said Andrew, coming up sulkily.
"I'll gie you dog's wages, ye rascal, if ye dinna attend to what I say
t'ye--We are gaun into the Hielands a bit"--
"I judged as muckle," said Andrew.
"Haud your peace, ye knave, and hear what I have to say till ye--We are
gaun a bit into the Hielands"--
"Ye tauld me sae already," replied the incorrigible Andrew.
"I'll break your head," said the Bailie, rising in wrath, "if ye dinna
haud your tongue."
"A hadden tongue," replied Andrew, "makes a slabbered mouth."
It was now necessary I should interfere, which I did by commanding
Andrew, with an authoritative tone, to be silent at his peril.
"I am silent," said Andrew. "I'se do a' your lawfu' bidding without a
nay-say. My puir mother used aye to tell me,
Be it better, be it worse,
Be ruled by him that has the purse.
Sae ye may e'en speak as lang as ye like, baith the tane and the tither
o' you, for Andrew."
Mr. Jarvie took the advantage of his stopping after quoting the above
proverb, to give him the requisite instructions. "Now, sir, it's as
muckle as your life's worth--that wad be dear o' little siller, to be
sure--but it is as muckle as a' our lives are worth, if ye dinna mind
what I sae to ye. In this public whar we are gaun to, and whar it is like
we may hae to stay a' night, men o' a' clans and kindred--Hieland and
Lawland--tak up their quarters--And whiles there are mair drawn dirks
than open Bibles amang them, when the usquebaugh gets uppermost. See ye
neither meddle nor mak, nor gie nae offence wi' that clavering tongue o'
yours, but keep a calm sough, and let ilka cock fight his ain battle."
"Muckle needs to tell me that," said Andrew, contemptuously, "as if I had
never seen a Hielandman before, and ken'd nae how to manage them. Nae man
alive can cuitle up Donald better than mysell--I hae bought wi' them,
sauld wi' them, eaten wi' them, drucken wi' them"--
"Did ye ever fight wi' them?" said Mr. Jarvie.
"Na, na," answered Andrew, "I took care o' that: it wad ill hae set me,
that am an artist and half a scholar to my trade, to be fighting amang a
wheen kilted loons that dinna ken the name o' a single herb or flower in
braid Scots, let abee in the Latin tongue."
"Then," said Mr. Jarvie, "as ye wad keep either your tongue in your
mouth, or your lugs in your head (and ye might miss them, for as saucy
members as they are), I charge ye to say nae word, gude or bad, that ye
can weel get by, to onybody that may be in the Clachan. And ye'll
specially understand that ye're no to be bleezing and blasting about your
master's name and mine, or saying that this is Mr. Bailie Nicol Jarvie o'
the Saut Market, son o' the worthy Deacon Nicol Jarvie, that a' body has
heard about; and this is Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, son of the managing
partner of the great house of Osbaldistone and Tresham, in the City."
"Eneueh said," answered Andrew--"eneueh said. What need ye think I wad be
speaking about your names for?--I hae mony things o' mair importance to
speak about, I trow."
"It's thae very things of importance that I am feared for, ye blethering
goose; ye maunna speak ony thing, gude or bad, that ye can by any
"If ye dinna think me fit," replied Andrew, in a huff, "to speak like
ither folk, gie me my wages and my board-wages, and I'se gae back to
Glasgow--There's sma' sorrow at our parting, as the auld mear said to the
Finding Andrew's perverseness again rising to a point which threatened to
occasion me inconvenience, I was under the necessity of explaining to
him, that he might return if he thought proper, but that in that case I
would not pay him a single farthing for his past services. The argument
_ad crumenam,_ as it has been called by jocular logicians, has weight
with the greater part of mankind, and Andrew was in that particular far
from affecting any trick of singularity. He "drew in his horns," to use
the Bailie's phrase, on the instant, professed no intention whatever to
disoblige, and a resolution to be guided by my commands, whatever they
Concord being thus happily restored to our small party, we continued to
pursue our journey. The road, which had ascended for six or seven English
miles, began now to descend for about the same space, through a country
which neither in fertility nor interest could boast any advantage over
that which we had passed already, and which afforded no variety, unless
when some tremendous peak of a Highland mountain appeared at a distance.
We continued, however, to ride on without pause and even when night fell
and overshadowed the desolate wilds which we traversed, we were, as I
understood from Mr. Jarvie, still three miles and a bittock distant from
the place where we were to spend the night.
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