A LEGEND OF MONTROSE
Sir Walter Scott
I. Introduction to A LEGEND OF MONTROSE. II. Introduction (Supplement). Sergeant More M'Alpin. III. Main text of A LEGEND OF MONTROSE. IV. Appendix No. I Clan Alpin's Vow. No. II The Children of the Mist. V. Notes Note I Fides et Fiducia sunt relativa. Note II Wraiths.
Note: Footnotes in the printed book have been inserted in the etext in square brackets ("") close to the place where they were referenced by a suffix in the original text.
I. INTRODUCTION TO A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
The Legend of Montrose was written chiefly with a view to place before the reader the melancholy fate of John Lord Kilpont, eldest son of William Earl of Airth and Menteith, and the singular circumstances attending the birth and history of James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, by whose hand the unfortunate nobleman fell.
Our subject leads us to talk of deadly feuds, and we must begin with one still more ancient than that to which our story relates. During the reign of James IV., a great feud between the powerful families of Drummond and Murray divided Perthshire. The former, being the most numerous and powerful, cooped up eight score of the Murrays in the kirk of Monivaird, and set fire to it. The wives and the children of the ill-fated men, who had also found shelter in the church, perished by the same conflagration. One man, named David Murray, escaped by the humanity of one of the Drummonds, who received him in his arms as he leaped from amongst the flames. As King James IV. ruled with more activity than most of his predecessors, this cruel deed was severely revenged, and several of the perpetrators were beheaded at Stirling. In consequence of the prosecution against his clan, the Drummond by whose assistance David Murray had escaped, fled to Ireland, until, by means of the person whose life he had saved, he was permitted to return to Scotland, where he and his descendants were distinguished by the name of Drummond-Eirinich, or Ernoch, that is, Drummond of Ireland; and the same title was bestowed on their estate.
The Drummond-ernoch of James the Sixth's time was a king's forester in the forest of Glenartney, and chanced to be employed there in search of venison about the year 1588, or early in 1589. This forest was adjacent to the chief haunts of the MacGregors, or a particular race of them, known by the title of MacEagh, or Children of the Mist. They considered the forester's hunting in their vicinity as an aggression, or perhaps they had him at feud, for the apprehension or slaughter of some of their own name, or for some similar reason. This tribe of MacGregors were outlawed and persecuted, as the reader may see in the Introduction to ROB ROY; and every man's hand being against them, their hand was of course directed against every man. In short, they surprised and slew Drummond-ernoch, cut off his head, and carried it with them, wrapt in the corner of one of their plaids.
In the full exultation of vengeance, they stopped at the house of Ardvoirlich and demanded refreshment, which the lady, a sister of the murdered Drummond-ernoch (her husband being absent), was afraid or unwilling to refuse. She caused bread and cheese to be placed before them, and gave directions for more substantial refreshments to be prepared. While she was absent with this hospitable intention, the barbarians placed the head of her brother on the table, filling the mouth with bread and cheese, and bidding him eat, for many a merry meal he had eaten in that house.
The poor woman returning, and beholding this dreadful sight, shrieked aloud, and fled into the woods, where, as described in the romance, she roamed a raving maniac, and for some time secreted herself from all living society. Some remaining instinctive feeling brought her at length to steal a glance from a distance at the maidens while they milked the cows, which being observed, her husband, Ardvoirlich, had her conveyed back to her home, and detained her there till she gave birth to a child, of whom she had been pregnant; after which she was observed gradually to recover her mental faculties.
Meanwhile the outlaws had carried to the utmost their insults against the regal authority, which indeed, as exercised, they had little reason for respecting. They bore the same bloody trophy, which they had so savagely exhibited to the lady of Ardvoirlich, into the old church of Balquidder, nearly in the centre of their country, where the Laird of MacGregor and all his clan being convened for the purpose, laid their hands successively on the dead man's head, and swore, in heathenish and barbarous manner, to defend the author of the deed. This fierce and vindictive combination gave the author's late and lamented friend, Sir Alexander Boswell, Bart., subject for a spirited poem, entitled "Clan-Alpin's Vow," which was printed, but not, I believe, published, in 1811 [See Appendix No. I].
The fact is ascertained by a proclamation from the Privy Council, dated 4th February, 1589, directing letters of fire and sword against the MacGregors [See Appendix No. II]. This fearful commission was executed with uncommon fury. The late excellent John Buchanan of Cambusmore showed the author some correspondence between his ancestor, the Laird of Buchanan, and Lord Drummond, about sweeping certain valleys with their followers, on a fixed time and rendezvous, and "taking sweet revenge for the death of their cousin, Drummond-ernoch." In spite of all, however, that could be done, the devoted tribe of MacGregor still bred up survivors to sustain and to inflict new cruelties and injuries.
[I embrace the opportunity given me by a second mention of this tribe, to notice an error, which imputes to an individual named Ciar Mohr MacGregor, the slaughter of the students at the battle of Glenfruin. I am informed from the authority of John Gregorson, Esq., that the chieftain so named was dead nearly a century before the battle in question, and could not, therefore, have done the cruel action mentioned. The mistake does not rest with me, as I disclaimed being responsible for the tradition while I quoted it, but with vulgar fame, which is always disposed to ascribe remarkable actions to a remarkable name.—See the erroneous passage, ROB ROY, Introduction; and so soft sleep the offended phantom of Dugald Ciar Mohr.
It is with mingled pleasure and shame that I record the more important error, of having announced as deceased my learned acquaintance, the Rev. Dr. Grahame, minister of Aberfoil.—See ROB ROY, p.360. I cannot now recollect the precise ground of my depriving my learned and excellent friend of his existence, unless, like Mr. Kirke, his predecessor in the parish, the excellent Doctor had made a short trip to Fairyland, with whose wonders he is so well acquainted. But however I may have been misled, my regret is most sincere for having spread such a rumour; and no one can be more gratified than I that the report, however I have been induced to credit and give it currency, is a false one, and that Dr. Grahame is still the living pastor of Aberfoil, for the delight and instruction of his brother antiquaries.]
Meanwhile Young James Stewart of Ardvoirlich grew up to manhood uncommonly tall, strong, and active, with such power in the grasp of his hand in particular, as could force the blood from beneath the nails of the persons who contended with him in this feat of strength. His temper was moody, fierce, and irascible; yet he must have had some ostensible good qualities, as he was greatly beloved by Lord Kilpont, the eldest son of the Earl of Airth and Menteith.
This gallant young nobleman joined Montrose in the setting up his standard in 1644, just before the decisive battle at Tippermuir, on the 1st September in that year. At that time, Stewart of Ardvoirlich shared the confidence of the young Lord by day, and his bed by night, when, about four or five days after the battle, Ardvoirlich, either from a fit of sudden fury or deep malice long entertained against his unsuspecting friend, stabbed Lord Kilpont to the heart, and escaped from the camp of Montrose, having killed a sentinel who attempted to detain him. Bishop Guthrie gives us a reason for this villainous action, that Lord Kilpont had rejected with abhorrence a proposal of Ardvoirlich to assassinate Montrose. But it does not appear that there is any authority for this charge, which rests on mere suspicion. Ardvoirlich, the assassin, certainly did fly to the Covenanters, and was employed and promoted by them. He obtained a pardon for the slaughter of Lord Kilpont, confirmed by Parliament in 1634, and was made Major of Argyle's regiment in 1648. Such are the facts of the tale here given as a Legend of Montrose's wars. The reader will find they are considerably altered in the fictitious narrative.
The author has endeavoured to enliven the tragedy of the tale by the introduction of a personage proper to the time and country. In this he has been held by excellent judges to have been in some degree successful. The contempt of commerce entertained by young men having some pretence to gentility, the poverty of the country of Scotland, the national disposition to wandering and to adventure, all conduced to lead the Scots abroad into the military service of countries which were at war with each other. They were distinguished on the Continent by their bravery; but in adopting the trade of mercenary soldiers, they necessarily injured their national character. The tincture of learning, which most of them possessed, degenerated into pedantry; their good breeding became mere ceremonial; their fear of dishonour no longer kept them aloof from that which was really unworthy, but was made to depend on certain punctilious observances totally apart from that which was in itself deserving of praise. A cavalier of honour, in search of his fortune, might, for example, change his service as he would his shirt, fight, like the doughty Captain Dalgetty, in one cause after another, without regard to the justice of the quarrel, and might plunder the peasantry subjected to him by the fate of war with the most unrelenting rapacity; but he must beware how he sustained the slightest reproach, even from a clergyman, if it had regard to neglect on the score of duty. The following occurrence will prove the truth of what I mean:—
"Here I must not forget the memory of one preacher, Master William Forbesse, a preacher for souldiers, yea, and a captaine in neede to leade souldiers on a good occasion, being full of courage, with discretion and good conduct, beyond some captaines I have knowne, that were not so capable as he. At this time he not onely prayed for us, but went on with us, to remarke, as I thinke, men's carriage; and having found a sergeant neglecting his dutie and his honour at such a time (whose name I will not expresse), having chidden him, did promise to reveale him unto me, as he did after their service. The sergeant being called before me, and accused, did deny his accusation, alleaging, if he were no pasteur that had alleaged it, he would not lie under the injury, The preacher offered to fight with him, [in proof] that it was truth he had spoken of him; whereupon I cashiered the sergeant, and gave his place to a worthier, called Mungo Gray, a gentleman of good worth, and of much courage. The sergeant being cashiered, never called Master William to account, for which he was evill thought of; so that he retired home, and quit the warres."
The above quotation is taken from a work which the author repeatedly consulted while composing the following sheets, and which is in great measure written in the humour of Captain Dugald Dalgetty. It bears the following formidable title:—"MONRO his Expedition with the worthy Scots Regiment, called MacKeye's Regiment, levied in August 1626, by Sir Donald MacKeye Lord Rees Colonel, for his Majestie's service of Denmark, and reduced after the battle of Nerling, in September 1634, at Wormes, in the Palz: Discharged in several duties and observations of service, first, under the magnanimous King of Denmark, during his wars against the Empire; afterwards under the invincible King of Sweden, during his Majestie's lifetime; and since under the Director-General, the Rex-Chancellor Oxensterne, and his Generals: collected and gathered together, at spare hours, by Colonel Robert Monro, as First Lieutenant under the said Regiment, to the noble and worthy Captain Thomas MacKenzie of Kildon, brother to the noble Lord, the Lord Earl of Seaforth, for the use of all noble Cavaliers favouring the laudable profession of arms. To which is annexed, the Abridgement of Exercise, and divers Practical Observations for the Younger Officer, his consideration. Ending with the Soldier's Meditations on going on Service."—London, 1637.
Another worthy of the same school, and nearly the same views of the military character, is Sir James Turner, a soldier of fortune, who rose to considerable rank in the reign of Charles II., had a command in Galloway and Dumfries-shire, for the suppression of conventicles, and was made prisoner by the insurgent Covenanters in that rising which was followed by the battle of Pentland. Sir James is a person even of superior pretensions to Lieutenant-Colonel Monro, having written a Military Treatise on the Pike-Exercise, called "Pallas Armata." Moreover, he was educated at Glasgow College, though he escaped to become an Ensign in the German wars, instead of taking his degree of Master of Arts at that learned seminary.
In latter times, he was author of several discourses on historical and literary subjects, from which the Bannatyne Club have extracted and printed such passages as concern his Life and Times, under the title of SIR JAMES TURNER'S MEMOIRS. From this curious book I extract the following passage, as an example of how Captain Dalgetty might have recorded such an incident had he kept a journal, or, to give it a more just character, it is such as the genius of De Foe would have devised, to give the minute and distinguishing features of truth to a fictitious narrative:—
"Heere I will set doun ane accident befell me; for thogh it was not a very strange one, yet it was a very od one in all its parts. My tuo brigads lay in a village within halfe a mile of Applebie; my own quarter was in a gentleman's house, ho was a Ritmaster, and at that time with Sir Marmaduke; his wife keepd her chamber readie to be brought to bed. The castle being over, and Lambert farre enough, I resolved to goe to bed everie night, haveing had fatigue enough before. 'The first night I sleepd well enough; and riseing nixt morning, I misd one linnen stockine, one halfe silke one, and one boothose, the accoustrement under a boote for one leg; neither could they be found for any search. Being provided of more of the same kind, I made myselfe reddie, and rode to the head-quarters. At my returne, I could heare no news of my stockins. That night I went to bed, and nixt morning found myselfe just so used; missing the three stockins for one leg onlie, the other three being left intire as they were the day before. A narrower search then the first was made, bot without successe. I had yet in reserve one paire of whole stockings, and a paire of boothose, greater then the former. These I put on my legs. The third morning I found the same usage, the stockins for one leg onlie left me. It was time for me then, and my servants too, to imagine it must be rats that had shard my stockins so inequallie with me; and this the mistress of the house knew well enough, but would not tell it me. The roome, which was a low parlour, being well searched with candles, the top of my great boothose was found at a hole, in which they had drawne all the rest. I went abroad and ordered the boards to be raised, to see how the rats had disposed of my moveables. The mistress sent a servant of her oune to be present at this action, which she knew concerned her. One board being bot a litle opend, a litle boy of mine thrust in his hand, and fetchd with him foure and tuentie old peeces of gold, and one angell. The servant of the house affirmed it appertained to his mistres. The boy bringing the gold to me, I went immediatlie to the gentlewomans chamber, and told her, it was probable Lambert haveing quarterd in that house, as indeed he had, some of his servants might have hid that gold; and if so, it was lawfullie mine; bot if she could make it appeare it belongd to her, I should immediatlie give it her. The poore gentlewoman told me with many teares, that her husband being none of the frugallest men (and indeed he was a spendthrift), she had hid that gold without his, knowledge, to make use of it as she had occasion, especiallie when she lay in; and conjured me, as I lovd the King (for whom her husband and she had suffered much), not to detaine her gold. She said, if there was either more or lesse then foure and tuentie whole peeces, and two halfe ones, it sould be none of hers; and that they were put by her in a red velvet purse. After I had given her assureance of her gold, a new search is made, the other angell is found, the velvet purse all gnawd in bits, as my stockins were, and the gold instantlie restord to the gentlewoman. I have often heard that the eating or gnawing of cloths by rats is ominous, and portends some mischance to fall on those to whom the cloths belong. I thank God I was never addicted to such divinations, or heeded them. It is true, that more misfortunes then one fell on me shortlie after; bot I am sure I could have better forseene them myselfe then rats or any such vermine, and yet did it not. I have heard indeed many fine stories told of rats, how they abandon houses and ships, when the first are to be burnt and the second dround. Naturalists say they are very sagacious creatures, and I beleeve they are so; bot I shall never be of the opinion they can forsee future contingencies, which I suppose the divell himselfe can neither forknow nor fortell; these being things which the Almightie hath keepd hidden in the bosome of his divine prescience. And whither the great God hath preordained or predestinated these things, which to us are contingent, to fall out by ane uncontrollable and unavoidable necessitie, is a question not yet decided." [SIR JAMES TURNER'S MEMOIRS, Bannatyne edition, p. 59.]
In quoting these ancient authorities, I must not forget the more modern sketch of a Scottish soldier of the old fashion, by a masterhand, in the character of Lesmahagow, since the existence of that doughty Captain alone must deprive the present author of all claim to absolute originality. Still Dalgetty, as the production of his own fancy, has been so far a favourite with its parent, that he has fallen into the error of assigning to the Captain too prominent a part in the story. This is the opinion of a critic who encamps on the highest pinnacles of literature; and the author is so far fortunate in having incurred his censure, that it gives his modesty a decent apology for quoting the praise, which it would have ill-befited him to bring forward in an unmingled state. The passage occurs in the EDINBURGH REVIEW, No. 55, containing a criticism on IVANHOE:—
"There is too much, perhaps, of Dalgetty,—or, rather, he engrosses too great a proportion of the work,—for, in himself, we think he is uniformly entertaining;—and the author has nowhere shown more affinity to that matchless spirit who could bring out his Falstaffs and his Pistols, in act after act, and play after play, and exercise them every time with scenes of unbounded loquacity, without either exhausting their humour, or varying a note from its characteristic tone, than in his large and reiterated specimens of the eloquence of the redoubted Ritt-master. The general idea of the character is familiar to our comic dramatists after the Restoration—and may be said in some measure to be compounded of Captain Fluellen and Bobadil;—but the ludicrous combination of the SOLDADO with the Divinity student of Mareschal-College, is entirely original; and the mixture of talent, selfishness, courage, coarseness, and conceit, was never so happily exemplified. Numerous as his speeches are, there is not one that is not characteristic—and, to our taste, divertingly ludicrous."
While these pages were passing through the press, the author received a letter from the present Robert Stewart of Ardvoirlich, favouring him with the account of the unhappy slaughter of Lord Kilpont, differing from, and more probable than, that given by Bishop Wishart, whose narrative infers either insanity or the blackest treachery on the part of James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, the ancestor of the present family of that name. It is but fair to give the entire communication as received from my respected correspondent, which is more minute than the histories of the period.
"Although I have not the honour of being personally known to you, I hope you will excuse the liberty I now take, in addressing you on the subject of a transaction more than once alluded to by you, in which an ancestor of mine was unhappily concerned. I allude to the slaughter of Lord Kilpont, son of the Earl of Airth and Monteith, in 1644, by James Stewart of Ardvoirlich. As the cause of this unhappy event, and the quarrel which led to it, have never been correctly stated in any history of the period in which it took place, I am induced, in consequence of your having, in the second series of your admirable Tales on the History of Scotland, adopted Wishart's version of the transaction, and being aware that your having done so will stamp it with an authenticity which it does not merit, and with a view, as far as possible, to do justice to the memory of my unfortunate ancestor, to send you the account of this affair as it has been handed down in the family.
"James Stewart of Ardvoirlich, who lived in the early part of the 17th century, and who was the unlucky cause of the slaughter of Lord Kilpont, as before mentioned, was appointed to the command of one of several independent companies raised in the Highlands at the commencement of the troubles in the reign of Charles I.; another of these companies was under the command of Lord Kilpont, and a strong intimacy, strengthened by a distant relationship, subsisted between them. When Montrose raised the royal standard, Ardvoirlich was one of the first to declare for him, and is said to have been a principal means of bringing over Lord Kilpont to the same cause; and they accordingly, along with Sir John Drummond and their respective followers, joined Montrose, as recorded by Wishart, at Buchanty. While they served together, so strong was their intimacy, that they lived and slept in the same tent.
"In the meantime, Montrose had been joined by the Irish under the command of Alexander Macdonald; these, on their march to join Montrose, had committed some excesses on lands belonging to Ardvoirlich, which lay in the line of their march from the west coast. Of this Ardvoirlich complained to Montrose, who, probably wishing as much as possible to conciliate his new allies, treated it in rather an evasive manner. Ardvoirlich, who was a man of violent passions, having failed to receive such satisfaction as he required, challenged Macdonald to single combat. Before they met, however, Montrose, on the information and by advice, as it is said, of Kilpont, laid them both under arrest. Montrose, seeing the evils of such a feud at such a critical time, effected a sort of reconciliation between them, and forced them to shake hands in his presence; when, it was said, that Ardvoirlich, who was a very powerful man, took such a hold of Macdonald's hand as to make the blood start from his fingers. Still, it would appear, Ardvoirlich was by no means reconciled.
"A few days after the battle of Tippermuir, when Montrose with his army was encamped at Collace, an entertainment was given by him to his officers, in honour of the victory he had obtained, and Kilpont and his comrade Ardvoirlich were of the party. After returning to their quarters, Ardvoirlich, who seemed still to brood over his quarrel with Macdonald, and being heated with drink, began to blame Lord Kilpont for the part he had taken in preventing his obtaining redress, and reflecting against Montrose for not allowing him what he considered proper reparation. Kilpont of course defended the conduct of himself and his relative Montrose, till their argument came to high words; and finally, from the state they were both in, by an easy transition, to blows, when Ardvoirlich, with his dirk, struck Kilpont dead on the spot. He immediately fled, and under the cover of a thick mist escaped pursuit, leaving his eldest son Henry, who had been mortally wounded at Tippermuir, on his deathbed.
"His followers immediately withdrew from Montrose, and no course remained for him but to throw himself into the arms of the opposite faction, by whom he was well received. His name is frequently mentioned in Leslie's campaigns, and on more than one occasion he is mentioned as having afforded protection to several of his former friends through his interest with Leslie, when the King's cause became desperate.
"The foregoing account of this unfortunate transaction, I am well aware, differs materially from the account given by Wishart, who alleges that Stewart had laid a plot for the assassination of Montrose, and that he murdered Lord Kilpont in consequence of his refusal to participate in his design. Now, I may be allowed to remark, that besides Wishart having always been regarded as a partial historian, and very questionable authority on any subject connected with the motives or conduct of those who differed from him in opinion, that even had Stewart formed such a design, Kilpont, from his name and connexions, was likely to be the very last man of whom Stewart would choose to make a confidant and accomplice. On the other hand, the above account, though never, that I am aware, before hinted at, has been a constant tradition in the family; and, from the comparative recent date of the transaction, and the sources from which the tradition has been derived, I have no reason to doubt its perfect authenticity. It was most circumstantially detailed as above, given to my father, Mr. Stewart, now of Ardvoirlich, many years ago, by a man nearly connected with the family, who lived to the age of 100. This man was a great-grandson of James Stewart, by a natural son John, of whom many stories are still current in this country, under his appellation of JOHN DHU MHOR. This John was with his father at the time, and of course was a witness of the whole transaction; he lived till a considerable time after the Revolution, and it was from him that my father's informant, who was a man before his grandfather, John dhu Mhor's death, received the information as above stated.
"I have many apologies to offer for trespassing so long on your patience; but I felt a natural desire, if possible, to correct what I conceive to be a groundless imputation on the memory of my ancestor, before it shall come to be considered as a matter of History. That he was a man of violent passions and singular temper, I do not pretend to deny, as many traditions still current in this country amply verify; but that he was capable of forming a design to assassinate Montrose, the whole tenor of his former conduct and principles contradict. That he was obliged to join the opposite party, was merely a matter of safety, while Kilpont had so many powerful friends and connexions able and ready to avenge his death.
"I have only to add, that you have my full permission to make what use of this communication you please, and either to reject it altogether, or allow it such credit as you think it deserves; and I shall be ready at all times to furnish you with any further information on this subject which you may require, and which it may be in my power to afford.
"ARDVOIRLICH, 15TH JANUARY, 1830."
The publication of a statement so particular, and probably so correct, is a debt due to the memory of James Stewart; the victim, it would seem, of his own violent passions, but perhaps incapable of an act of premeditated treachery.
ABBOTSFORD, 1ST AUGUST, 1830.
II. INTRODUCTION (Supplement).
Sergeant More M'Alpin was, during his residence among us, one of the most honoured inhabitants of Gandercleugh. No one thought of disputing his title to the great leathern chair on the "cosiest side of the chimney," in the common room of the Wallace Arms, on a Saturday evening. No less would our sexton, John Duirward, have held it an unlicensed intrusion, to suffer any one to induct himself into the corner of the left-hand pew nearest to the pulpit, which the Sergeant regularly occupied on Sundays. There he sat, his blue invalid uniform brushed with the most scrupulous accuracy. Two medals of merit displayed at his button-hole, as well as the empty sleeve which should have been occupied by his right arm, bore evidence of his hard and honourable service. His weatherbeaten features, his grey hair tied in a thin queue in the military fashion of former days, and the right side of his head a little turned up, the better to catch the sound of the clergyman's voice, were all marks of his profession and infirmities. Beside him sat his sister Janet, a little neat old woman, with a Highland curch and tartan plaid, watching the very looks of her brother, to her the greatest man upon earth, and actively looking out for him, in his silver-clasped Bible, the texts which the minister quoted or expounded.
I believe it was the respect that was universally paid to this worthy veteran by all ranks in Gandercleugh which induced him to choose our village for his residence, for such was by no means his original intention.
He had risen to the rank of sergeant-major of artillery, by hard service in various quarters of the world, and was reckoned one of the most tried and trusty men of the Scotch Train. A ball, which shattered his arm in a peninsular campaign, at length procured him an honourable discharge. with an allowance from Chelsea, and a handsome gratuity from the patriotic fund. Moreover, Sergeant More M'Alpin had been prudent as well as valiant; and, from prize-money and savings, had become master of a small sum in the three per cent consols.
He retired with the purpose of enjoying this income in the wild Highland glen, in which, when a boy, he had herded black cattle and goats, ere the roll of the drum had made him cock his bonnet an inch higher, and follow its music for nearly forty years. To his recollection, this retired spot was unparalleled in beauty by the richest scenes he had visited in his wanderings. Even the Happy Valley of Rasselas would have sunk into nothing upon the comparison. He came—he revisited the loved scene; it was but a sterile glen, surrounded with rude crags, and traversed by a northern torrent. This was not the worst. The fires had been quenched upon thirty hearths—of the cottage of his fathers he could but distinguish a few rude stones—the language was almost extinguished—the ancient race from which he boasted his descent had found a refuge beyond the Atlantic. One southland farmer, three grey-plaided shepherds, and six dogs, now tenanted the whole glen, which in his youth had maintained, in content, if not in competence, upwards of two hundred inhabitants.
In the house of the new tenant, Sergeant M'Alpin found, however, an unexpected source of pleasure, and a means of employing his social affections. His sister Janet had fortunately entertained so strong a persuasion that her brother would one day return, that she had refused to accompany her kinsfolk upon their emigration. Nay, she had consented, though not without a feeling of degradation, to take service with the intruding Lowlander, who, though a Saxon, she said, had proved a kind man to her. This unexpected meeting with his sister seemed a cure for all the disappointments which it had been Sergeant More's lot to encounter, although it was not without a reluctant tear that he heard told, as a Highland woman alone could ten it, the story of the expatriation of his kinsmen.
She narrated at great length the vain offers they had made of advanced rent, the payment of which must have reduced them to the extremity of poverty, which they were yet contented to face, for permission to live and die on their native soil. Nor did Janet forget the portents which had announced the departure of the Celtic race, and the arrival of the strangers. For two years previous to the emigration, when the night wind howled dawn the pass of Balachra, its notes were distinctly modelled to the tune of "HA TIL MI TULIDH" (we return no more), with which the emigrants usually bid farewell to their native shores. The uncouth cries of the Southland shepherds, and the barking of their dogs, were often heard in the midst of the hills long before their actual arrival. A bard, the last of his race, had commemorated the expulsion of the natives of the glen in a tune, which brought tears into the aged eyes of the veteran, and of which the first stanza may be thus rendered:—
Woe, woe, son of the Lowlander, Why wilt thou leave thine own bonny Border? Why comes thou hither, disturbing the Highlander, Wasting the glen that was once in fair order?
What added to Sergeant More M'Alpin's distress upon the occasion was, that the chief by whom this change had been effected, was, by tradition and common opinion, held to represent the ancient leaders and fathers of the expelled fugitives; and it had hitherto been one of Sergeant More's principal subjects of pride to prove, by genealogical deduction, in what degree of kindred he stood to this personage. A woful change was now wrought in his sentiments towards him.
"I cannot curse him," he said, as he rose and strode through the room, when Janet's narrative was finished—"I will not curse him; he is the descendant and representative of my fathers. But never shall mortal man hear me name his name again." And he kept his word; for, until his dying day, no man heard him mention his selfish and hard-hearted chieftain.
After giving a day to sad recollections, the hardy spirit which had carried him through so many dangers, manned the Sergeant's bosom against this cruel disappointment. "He would go," he said, "to Canada to his kinsfolk, where they had named a Transatlantic valley after the glen of their fathers. Janet," he said, "should kilt her coats like a leaguer lady; d—n the distance! it was a flea's leap to the voyages and marches he had made on a slighter occasion."
With this purpose he left the Highlands, and came with his sister as far as Gandercleugh, on his way to Glasgow, to take a passage to Canada. But winter was now set in, and as he thought it advisable to wait for a spring passage, when the St. Lawrence should be open, he settled among us for the few months of his stay in Britain. As we said before, the respectable old man met with deference and attention from all ranks of society; and when spring returned, he was so satisfied with his quarters, that he did not renew the purpose of his voyage. Janet was afraid of the sea, and he himself felt the infirmities of age and hard service more than he had at first expected. And, as he confessed to the clergyman, and my worthy principal, Mr. Cleishbotham, "it was better staying with kend friends, than going farther, and faring worse."
He therefore established himself and his domicile at Gandercleugh, to the great satisfaction, as we have already said, of all its inhabitants, to whom he became, in respect of military intelligence, and able commentaries upon the newspapers, gazettes, and bulletins, a very oracle, explanatory of all martial events, past, present, or to come.
It is true, the Sergeant had his inconsistencies. He was a steady jacobite, his father and his four uncles having been out in the forty-five; but he was a no less steady adherent of King George, in whose service he had made his little fortune, and lost three brothers; so that you were in equal danger to displease him, in terming Prince Charles, the Pretender, or by saying anything derogatory to the dignity of King George. Further, it must not be denied, that when the day of receiving his dividends came round, the Sergeant was apt to tarry longer at the Wallace Arms of an evening, than was consistent with strict temperance, or indeed with his worldly interest; for upon these occasions, his compotators sometimes contrived to flatter his partialities by singing jacobite songs, and drinking confusion to Bonaparte, and the health of the Duke of Wellington, until the Sergeant was not only flattered into paying the whole reckoning, but occasionally induced to lend small sums to his interested companions. After such sprays, as he called them, were over, and his temper once more cool, he seldom failed to thank God, and the Duke of York, who had made it much more difficult for an old soldier to ruin himself by his folly, than had been the case in his younger days.
It was not on such occasions that I made a part of Sergeant More M'Alpin's society. But often, when my leisure would permit, I used to seek him, on what he called his morning and evening parade, on which, when the weather was fair, he appeared as regularly as if summoned by tuck of drum. His morning walk was beneath the elms in the churchyard; "for death," he said, "had been his next-door neighbour for so many years, that he had no apology for dropping the acquaintance." His evening promenade was on the bleaching-green by the river-side, where he was sometimes to be seen on an open bench, with spectacles on nose, conning over the newspapers to a circle of village politicians, explaining military terms, and aiding the comprehension of his hearers by lines drawn on the ground with the end of his rattan. On other occasions, he was surrounded by a bevy of school-boys, whom he sometimes drilled to the manual, and sometimes, with less approbation on the part of their parents, instructed in the mystery of artificial fire-works; for in the case of public rejoicings, the Sergeant was pyrotechnist (as the Encyclopedia calls it) to the village of Gandercleugh.
It was in his morning walk that I most frequently met with the veteran. And I can hardly yet look upon the village footpath, overshadowed by the row of lofty elms, without thinking I see his upright form advancing towards me with measured step, and his cane advanced, ready to pay me the military salute—but he is dead, and sleeps with his faithful Janet, under the third of those very trees, counting from the stile at the west corner of the churchyard.
The delight which I had in Sergeant M'Alpin's conversation, related not only to his own adventures, of which he had encountered many in the course of a wandering life, but also to his recollection of numerous Highland traditions, in which his youth had been instructed by his parents, and of which he would in after life have deemed it a kind of heresy to question the authenticity. Many of these belonged to the wars of Montrose, in which some of the Sergeant's ancestry had, it seems, taken a distinguished part. It has happened, that, although these civil commotions reflect the highest honour upon the Highlanders, being indeed the first occasion upon which they showed themselves superior, or even equal to their Low-country neighbours in military encounters, they have been less commemorated among them than any one would have expected, judging from the abundance of traditions which they have preserved upon less interesting subjects. It was, therefore, with great pleasure, that I extracted from my military friend some curious particulars respecting that time; they are mixed with that measure of the wild and wonderful which belongs to the period and the narrator, but which I do not in the least object to the reader's treating with disbelief, providing he will be so good as to give implicit credit to the natural events of the story, which, like all those which I have had the honour to put under his notice, actually rest upon a basis of truth.
III. A LEGEND OF MONTROSE.
Such as do build their faith upon The holy text of pike and gun, Decide all controversies by Infallible artillery, And prove their doctrine orthodox, By apostolic blows and knocks.—BUTLER.
It was during the period of that great and bloody Civil War which agitated Britain during the seventeenth century, that our tale has its commencement. Scotland had as yet remained free from the ravages of intestine war, although its inhabitants were much divided in political opinions; and many of them, tired of the control of the Estates of Parliament, and disapproving of the bold measure which they had adopted, by sending into England a large army to the assistance of the Parliament, were determined on their part to embrace the earliest opportunity of declaring for the King, and making such a diversion as should at least compel the recall of General Leslie's army out of England, if it did not recover a great part of Scotland to the King's allegiance. This plan was chiefly adopted by the northern nobility, who had resisted with great obstinacy the adoption of the Solemn League and Covenant, and by many of the chiefs of the Highland clans, who conceived their interest and authority to be connected with royalty, who had, besides, a decided aversion to the Presbyterian form of religion, and who, finally, were in that half savage state of society, in which war is always more welcome than peace.
Great commotions were generally expected to arise from these concurrent causes; and the trade of incursion and depredation, which the Scotch Highlanders at all times exercised upon the Lowlands, began to assume a more steady, avowed, and systematic form, as part of a general military system.
Those at the head of affairs were not insensible to the peril of the moment, and anxiously made preparations to meet and to repel it. They considered, however, with satisfaction, that no leader or name of consequence had as yet appeared to assemble an army of royalists, or even to direct the efforts of those desultory bands, whom love of plunder, perhaps, as much as political principle, had hurried into measures of hostility. It was generally hoped that the quartering a sufficient number of troops in the Lowlands adjacent to the Highland line, would have the effect of restraining the mountain chieftains; while the power of various barons in the north, who had espoused the Covenant, as, for example, the Earl Mareschal, the great families of Forbes, Leslie, and Irvine, the Grants, and other Presbyterian clans, might counterbalance and bridle, not only the strength of the Ogilvies and other cavaliers of Angus and Kincardine, but even the potent family of the Gordons, whose extensive authority was only equalled by their extreme dislike to the Presbyterian model.
In the West Highlands the ruling party numbered many enemies; but the power of these disaffected clans was supposed to be broken, and the spirit of their chieftains intimidated, by the predominating influence of the Marquis of Argyle, upon whom the confidence of the Convention of Estates was reposed with the utmost security; and whose power in the Highlands, already exorbitant, had been still farther increased by concessions extorted from the King at the last pacification. It was indeed well known that Argyle was a man rather of political enterprise than personal courage, and better calculated to manage an intrigue of state, than to control the tribes of hostile mountaineers; yet the numbers of his clan, and the spirit of the gallant gentlemen by whom it was led, might, it was supposed, atone for the personal deficiencies of their chief; and as the Campbells had already severely humbled several of the neighbouring tribes, it was supposed these would not readily again provoke an encounter with a body so powerful.
Thus having at their command the whole west and south of Scotland, indisputably the richest part of the kingdom,—Fifeshire being in a peculiar manner their own, and possessing many and powerful friends even north of the Forth and Tay,—the Scottish Convention of Estates saw no danger sufficient to induce them to alter the line of policy they had adopted, or to recall from the assistance of their brethren of the English Parliament that auxiliary army of twenty thousand men, by means of which accession of strength, the King's party had been reduced to the defensive, when in full career of triumph and success.
The causes which moved the Convention of Estates at this time to take such an immediate and active interest in the civil war of England, are detailed in our historians, but may be here shortly recapitulated. They had indeed no new injury or aggression to complain of at the hand of the King, and the peace which had been made between Charles and his subjects of Scotland had been carefully observed; but the Scottish rulers were well aware that this peace had been extorted from the King, as well by the influence of the parliamentary party in England, as by the terror of their own arms. It is true, King Charles had since then visited the capital of his ancient kingdom, had assented to the new organization of the church, and had distributed honours and rewards among the leaders of the party which had shown themselves most hostile to his interests; but it was suspected that distinctions so unwillingly conferred would be resumed as soon as opportunity offered. The low state of the English Parliament was seen in Scotland with deep apprehension; and it was concluded, that should Charles triumph by force of arms against his insurgent subjects of England, he would not be long in exacting from the Scotch the vengeance which he might suppose due to those who had set the example of taking up arms against him. Such was the policy of the measure which dictated the sending the auxiliary army into England; and it was avowed in a manifesto explanatory of their reasons for giving this timely and important aid to the English Parliament. The English Parliament, they said, had been already friendly to them, and might be so again; whereas the King, although he had so lately established religion among them according to their desires, had given them no ground to confide in his royal declaration, seeing they had found his promises and actions inconsistent with each other. "Our conscience," they concluded, "and God, who is greater than our conscience, beareth us record, that we aim altogether at the glory of God, peace of both nations, and honour of the King, in suppressing and punishing in a legal way, those who are the troublers of Israel, the firebrands of hell, the Korahs, the Balaams, the Doegs, the Rabshakehs, the Hamans, the Tobiahs, the Sanballats of our time, which done, we are satisfied. Neither have we begun to use a military expedition to England as a mean for compassing those our pious ends, until all other means which we could think upon have failed us: and this alone is left to us, ULTIMUM ET UNICUM REMEDIUM, the last and only remedy."
Leaving it to casuists to determine whether one contracting party is justified in breaking a solemn treaty, upon the suspicion that, in certain future contingencies, it might be infringed by the other, we shall proceed to mention two other circumstances that had at least equal influence with the Scottish rulers and nation, with any doubts which they entertained of the King's good faith.
The first of these was the nature and condition of their army; headed by a poor and discontented nobility, under whom it was officered chiefly by Scottish soldiers of fortune, who had served in the German wars until they had lost almost all distinction of political principle, and even of country, in the adoption of the mercenary faith, that a soldier's principal duty was fidelity to the state or sovereign from whom he received his pay, without respect either to the justice of the quarrel, or to their own connexion with either of the contending parties. To men of this stamp, Grotius applies the severe character—NULLUM VITAE GENUS ET IMPROBIUS, QUAM EORUM, QUI SINE CAUSAE RESPECTU MERCEDE CONDUCTI, MILITANT. To these mercenary soldiers, as well as to the needy gentry with whom they were mixed in command, and who easily imbibed the same opinions, the success of the late short invasion of England in 1641 was a sufficient reason for renewing so profitable an experiment. The good pay and free quarters of England had made a feeling impression upon the recollection of these military adventurers, and the prospect of again levying eight hundred and fifty pounds a-day, came in place of all arguments, whether of state or of morality.
Another cause inflamed the minds of the nation at large, no less than the tempting prospect of the wealth of England animated the soldiery. So much had been written and said on either side concerning the form of church government, that it had become a matter of infinitely more consequence in the eyes of the multitude than the doctrines of that gospel which both churches had embraced. The Prelatists and Presbyterians of the more violent kind became as illiberal as the Papists, and would scarcely allow the possibility of salvation beyond the pale of their respective churches. It was in vain remarked to these zealots, that had the Author of our holy religion considered any peculiar form of church government as essential to salvation, it would have been revealed with the same precision as under the Old Testament dispensation. Both parties continued as violent as if they could have pleaded the distinct commands of Heaven to justify their intolerance, Laud, in the days of his domination, had fired the train, by attempting to impose upon the Scottish people church ceremonies foreign to their habits and opinions. The success with which this had been resisted, and the Presbyterian model substituted in its place, had endeared the latter to the nation, as the cause in which they had triumphed. The Solemn League and Covenant, adopted with such zeal by the greater part of the kingdom, and by them forced, at the sword's point, upon the others, bore in its bosom, as its principal object, the establishing the doctrine and discipline of the Presbyterian church, and the putting down all error and heresy; and having attained for their own country an establishment of this golden candlestick, the Scots became liberally and fraternally anxious to erect the same in England. This they conceived might be easily attained by lending to the Parliament the effectual assistance of the Scottish forces. The Presbyterians, a numerous and powerful party in the English Parliament, had hitherto taken the lead in opposition to the King; while the Independents and other sectaries, who afterwards, under Cromwell, resumed the power of the sword, and overset the Presbyterian model both in Scotland and England, were as yet contented to lurk under the shelter of the wealthier and more powerful party. The prospect of bringing to a uniformity the kingdoms of England and Scotland in discipline and worship, seemed therefore as fair as it was desirable.
The celebrated Sir Henry Vane, one of the commissioners who negotiated the alliance betwixt England and Scotland, saw the influence which this bait had upon the spirits of those with whom he dealt; and although himself a violent Independent, he contrived at once to gratify and to elude the eager desires of the Presbyterians, by qualifying the obligation to reform the Church of England, as a change to be executed "according to the word of God, and the best reformed churches." Deceived by their own eagerness, themselves entertaining no doubts on the JUS DIVINUM of their own ecclesiastical establishments, and not holding it possible such doubts could be adopted by others, the Convention of Estates and the Kirk of Scotland conceived, that such expressions necessarily inferred the establishment of Presbytery; nor were they undeceived, until, when their help was no longer needful, the sectaries gave them to understand, that the phrase might be as well applied to Independency, or any other mode of worship, which those who were at the head of affairs at the time might consider as agreeable "to the word of God, and the practice of the reformed churches." Neither were the outwitted Scottish less astonished to find, that the designs of the English sectaries struck against the monarchial constitution of Britain, it having been their intention to reduce the power of the King, but by no means to abrogate the office. They fared, however, in this respect, like rash physicians, who commence by over-physicking a patient, until he is reduced to a state of weakness, from which cordials are afterwards unable to recover him.
But these events were still in the womb of futurity. As yet the Scottish Parliament held their engagement with England consistent with justice, prudence, and piety, and their military undertaking seemed to succeed to their very wish. The junction of the Scottish army with those of Fairfax and Manchester, enabled the Parliamentary forces to besiege York, and to fight the desperate action of Long-Marston Moor, in which Prince Rupert and the Marquis of Newcastle were defeated. The Scottish auxiliaries, indeed, had less of the glory of this victory than their countrymen could desire. David Leslie, with their cavalry, fought bravely, and to them, as well as to Cromwell's brigade of Independents, the honour of the day belonged; but the old Earl of Leven, the covenanting general, was driven out of the field by the impetuous charge of Prince Rupert, and was thirty miles distant, in full flight towards Scotland, when he was overtaken by the news that his party had gained a complete victory.
The absence of these auxiliary troops, upon this crusade for the establishment of Presbyterianism in England, had considerably diminished the power of the Convention of Estates in Scotland, and had given rise to those agitations among the anti-covenanters, which we have noticed at the beginning of this chapter.
His mother could for him as cradle set Her husband's rusty iron corselet; Whose jangling sound could hush her babe to rest, That never plain'd of his uneasy nest; Then did he dream of dreary wars at hand, And woke, and fought, and won, ere he could stand.—HALL'S SATIRES
It was towards the close of a summer's evening, during the anxious period which we have commemorated, that a young gentleman of quality, well mounted and armed, and accompanied by two servants, one of whom led a sumpter horse, rode slowly up one of those steep passes, by which the Highlands are accessible from the Lowlands of Perthshire. [The beautiful pass of Leny, near Callander, in Monteith, would, in some respects, answer this description.] Their course had lain for some time along the banks of a lake, whose deep waters reflected the crimson beams of the western sun. The broken path which they pursued with some difficulty, was in some places shaded by ancient birches and oak-trees, and in others overhung by fragments of huge rock. Elsewhere, the hill, which formed the northern side of this beautiful sheet of water, arose in steep, but less precipitous acclivity, and was arrayed in heath of the darkest purple. In the present times, a scene so romantic would have been judged to possess the highest charms for the traveller; but those who journey in days of doubt and dread, pay little attention to picturesque scenery.
The master kept, as often as the wood permitted, abreast of one or both of his domestics, and seemed earnestly to converse with them, probably because the distinctions of rank are readily set aside among those who are made to be sharers of common danger. The dispositions of the leading men who inhabit this wild country, and the probability of their taking part in the political convulsions that were soon expected, were the subjects of their conversation.
They had not advanced above half way up the lake, and the young gentleman was pointing to his attendants the spot where their intended road turned northwards, and, leaving the verge of the loch, ascended a ravine to the right hand, when they discovered a single horseman coming down the shore, as if to meet them. The gleam of the sunbeams upon his head-piece and corslet showed that he was in armour, and the purpose of the other travellers required that he should not pass unquestioned. "We must know who he is," said the young gentleman, "and whither he is going." And putting spurs to his horse, he rode forward as fast as the rugged state of the road would permit, followed by his two attendants, until he reached the point where the pass along the side of the lake was intersected by that which descended from the ravine, securing thus against the possibility of the stranger eluding them, by turning into the latter road before they came up with him.
The single horseman had mended his pace, when he first observed the three riders advance rapidly towards him; but when he saw them halt and form a front, which completely occupied the path, he checked his horse, and advanced with great deliberation; so that each party had an opportunity to take a full survey of the other. The solitary stranger was mounted upon an able horse, fit for military service, and for the great weight which he had to carry, and his rider occupied his demipique, or war-saddle, with an air that showed it was his familiar seat. He had a bright burnished head-piece, with a plume of feathers, together with a cuirass, thick enough to resist a musket-ball, and a back-piece of lighter materials. These defensive arms he wore over a buff jerkin, along with a pair of gauntlets, or steel gloves, the tops of which reached up to his elbow, and which, like the rest of his armour, were of bright steel. At the front of his military saddle hung a case of pistols, far beyond the ordinary size, nearly two feet in length, and carrying bullets of twenty to the pound. A buff belt, with a broad silver buckle, sustained on one side a long straight double-edged broadsword, with a strong guard, and a blade calculated either to strike or push. On the right side hung a dagger of about eighteen inches in length; a shoulder-belt sustained at his back a musketoon or blunderbuss, and was crossed by a bandelier containing his charges of ammunition. Thigh-pieces of steel, then termed taslets, met the tops of his huge jack-boots, and completed the equipage of a well-armed trooper of the period.
The appearance of the horseman himself corresponded well with his military equipage, to which he had the air of having been long inured. He was above the middle size, and of strength sufficient to bear with ease the weight of his weapons, offensive and defensive. His age might be forty and upwards, and his countenance was that of a resolute weather-beaten veteran, who had seen many fields, and brought away in token more than one scar. At the distance of about thirty yards he halted and stood fast, raised himself on his stirrups, as if to reconnoitre and ascertain the purpose of the opposite party, and brought his musketoon under his right arm, ready for use, if occasion should require it. In everything but numbers, he had the advantage of those who seemed inclined to interrupt his passage.
The leader of the party was, indeed, well mounted and clad in a buff coat, richly embroidered, the half-military dress of the period; but his domestics had only coarse jackets of thick felt, which could scarce be expected to turn the edge of a sword, if wielded by a strong man; and none of them had any weapons, save swords and pistols, without which gentlemen, or their attendants, during those disturbed times, seldom stirred abroad.
When they had stood at gaze for about a minute, the younger gentleman gave the challenge which was then common in the mouth of all strangers who met in such circumstances—"For whom are you?"
"Tell me first," answered the soldier, "for whom are you?—the strongest party should speak first."
"We are for God and King Charles," answered the first speaker.—"Now tell your faction, you know ours."
"I am for God and my standard," answered the single horseman.
"And for which standard?" replied the chief of the other party—"Cavalier or Roundhead, King or Convention?"
"By my troth, sir," answered the soldier, "I would be loath to reply to you with an untruth, as a thing unbecoming a cavalier of fortune and a soldier. But to answer your query with beseeming veracity, it is necessary I should myself have resolved to whilk of the present divisions of the kingdom I shall ultimately adhere, being a matter whereon my mind is not as yet preceesely ascertained."
"I should have thought," answered the gentleman, "that, when loyalty and religion are at stake, no gentleman or man of honour could be long in choosing his party."
"Truly, sir," replied the trooper, "if ye speak this in the way of vituperation, as meaning to impugn my honour or genteelity, I would blithely put the same to issue, venturing in that quarrel with my single person against you three. But if you speak it in the way of logical ratiocination, whilk I have studied in my youth at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, I am ready to prove to ye LOGICE, that my resolution to defer, for a certain season, the taking upon me either of these quarrels, not only becometh me as a gentleman and a man of honour, but also as a person of sense and prudence, one imbued with humane letters in his early youth, and who, from thenceforward, has followed the wars under the banner of the invincible Gustavus, the Lion of the North, and under many other heroic leaders, both Lutheran and Calvinist, Papist and Arminian."
After exchanging a word or two with his domestics, the younger gentleman replied, "I should be glad, sir, to have some conversation with you upon so interesting a question, and should be proud if I can determine you in favour of the cause I have myself espoused. I ride this evening to a friend's house not three miles distant, whither, if you choose to accompany me, you shall have good quarters for the night, and free permission to take your own road in the morning, if you then feel no inclination to join with us."
"Whose word am I to take for this?" answered the cautious soldier—"A man must know his guarantee, or he may fall into an ambuscade."
"I am called," answered the younger stranger, "the Earl of Menteith, and, I trust, you will receive my honour as a sufficient security."
"A worthy nobleman," answered the soldier, "whose parole is not to be doubted." With one motion he replaced his musketoon at his back, and with another made his military salute to the young nobleman, and continuing to talk as he rode forward to join him—"And, I trust," said he, "my own assurance, that I will be BON CAMARADO to your lordship in peace or in peril, during the time we shall abide together, will not be altogether vilipended in these doubtful times, when, as they say, a man's head is safer in a steel-cap than in a marble palace."
"I assure you, sir," said Lord Menteith, "that to judge from your appearance, I most highly value the advantage of your escort; but, I trust, we shall have no occasion for any exercise of valour, as I expect to conduct you to good and friendly quarters."
"Good quarters, my lord," replied the soldier, "are always acceptable, and are only to be postponed to good pay or good booty,—not to mention the honour of a cavalier, or the needful points of commanded duty. And truly, my lord, your noble proffer is not the less welcome, in that I knew not preceesely this night where I and my poor companion" (patting his horse), "were to find lodgments."
"May I be permitted to ask, then," said Lord Menteith, "to whom I have the good fortune to stand quarter-master?"
"Truly, my lord," said the trooper, "my name is Dalgetty—Dugald Dalgetty, Ritt-master Dugald Dalgetty of Drumthwacket, at your honourable service to command. It is a name you may have seen in GALLO BELGICUS, the SWEDISH INTELLIGENCER, or, if you read High Dutch, in the FLIEGENDEN MERCOEUR of Leipsic. My father, my lord, having by unthrifty courses reduced a fair patrimony to a nonentity, I had no better shift, when I was eighteen years auld, than to carry the learning whilk I had acquired at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, my gentle bluid and designation of Drumthwacket, together with a pair of stalwarth arms, and legs conform, to the German wars, there to push my way as a cavalier of fortune. My lord, my legs and arms stood me in more stead than either my gentle kin or my book-lear, and I found myself trailing a pike as a private gentleman under old Sir Ludovick Leslie, where I learned the rules of service so tightly, that I will not forget them in a hurry. Sir, I have been made to stand guard eight hours, being from twelve at noon to eight o'clock of the night, at the palace, armed with back and breast, head-piece and bracelets, being iron to the teeth, in a bitter frost, and the ice was as hard as ever was flint; and all for stopping an instant to speak to my landlady, when I should have gone to roll-call."
"And, doubtless, sir," replied Lord Menteith, "you have gone through some hot service, as well as this same cold duty you talk of?"
"Surely, my lord, it doth not become me to speak; but he that hath seen the fields of Leipsic and of Lutzen, may be said to have seen pitched battles. And one who hath witnessed the intaking of Frankfort, and Spanheim, and Nuremberg, and so forth, should know somewhat about leaguers, storms, onslaughts and outfalls."
"But your merit, sir, and experience, were doubtless followed by promotion?"
"It came slow, my lord, dooms slow," replied Dalgetty; "but as my Scottish countrymen, the fathers of the war, and the raisers of those valorous Scottish regiments that were the dread of Germany, began to fall pretty thick, what with pestilence and what with the sword, why we, their children, succeeded to their inheritance. Sir, I was six years first private gentleman of the company, and three years lance speisade; disdaining to receive a halberd, as unbecoming my birth. Wherefore I was ultimately promoted to be a fahndragger, as the High Dutch call it (which signifies an ancient), in the King's Leif Regiment of Black-Horse, and thereafter I arose to be lieutenant and ritt-master, under that invincible monarch, the bulwark of the Protestant faith, the Lion of the North, the terror of Austria, Gustavus the Victorious."
"And yet, if I understand you, Captain Dalgetty,—I think that rank corresponds with your foreign title of ritt-master—"
"The same grade preceesely," answered Dalgetty; "ritt-master signifying literally file-leader."
"I was observing," continued Lord Menteith, "that, if I understood you right, you had left the service of this great Prince."
"It was after his death—it was after his death, sir," said Dalgetty, "when I was in no shape bound to continue mine adherence. There are things, my lord, in that service, that cannot but go against the stomach of any cavalier of honour. In especial, albeit the pay be none of the most superabundant, being only about sixty dollars a-month to a ritt-master, yet the invincible Gustavus never paid above one-third of that sum, whilk was distributed monthly by way of loan; although, when justly considered, it was, in fact, a borrowing by that great monarch of the additional two-thirds which were due to the soldier. And I have seen some whole regiments of Dutch and Holsteiners mutiny on the field of battle, like base scullions, crying out Gelt, gelt, signifying their desire of pay, instead of falling to blows like our noble Scottish blades, who ever disdained, my lord, postponing of honour to filthy lucre."
"But were not these arrears," said Lord Menteith, "paid to the soldiery at some stated period?"
"My lord," said Dalgetty, "I take it on my conscience, that at no period, and by no possible process, could one creutzer of them ever be recovered. I myself never saw twenty dollars of my own all the time I served the invincible Gustavus, unless it was from the chance of a storm or victory, or the fetching in some town or doorp, when a cavalier of fortune, who knows the usage of wars, seldom faileth to make some small profit."
"I begin rather to wonder, sir," said Lord Menteith, "that you should have continued so long in the Swedish service, than that you should have ultimately withdrawn from it."
"Neither I should," answered the Ritt-master; "but that great leader, captain, and king, the Lion of the North, and the bulwark of the Protestant faith, had a way of winning battles, taking towns, over-running countries, and levying contributions, whilk made his service irresistibly delectable to all true-bred cavaliers who follow the noble profession of arms. Simple as I ride here, my lord, I have myself commanded the whole stift of Dunklespiel on the Lower Rhine, occupying the Palsgrave's palace, consuming his choice wines with my comrades, calling in contributions, requisitions, and caduacs, and not failing to lick my fingers, as became a good cook. But truly all this glory hastened to decay, after our great master had been shot with three bullets on the field of Lutzen; wherefore, finding that Fortune had changed sides, that the borrowings and lendings went on as before out of our pay, while the caduacs and casualties were all cut off, I e'en gave up my commission, and took service with Wallenstein, in Walter Butler's Irish regiment."
"And may I beg to know of you," said Lord Menteith, apparently interested in the adventures of this soldier of fortune, "how you liked this change of masters?"
"Indifferent well," said the Captain—"very indifferent well. I cannot say that the Emperor paid much better than the great Gustavus. For hard knocks, we had plenty of them. I was often obliged to run my head against my old acquaintances, the Swedish feathers, whilk your honour must conceive to be double-pointed stakes, shod with iron at each end, and planted before the squad of pikes to prevent an onfall of the cavalry. The whilk Swedish feathers, although they look gay to the eye, resembling the shrubs or lesser trees of ane forest, as the puissant pikes, arranged in battalia behind them, correspond to the tall pines thereof, yet, nevertheless, are not altogether so soft to encounter as the plumage of a goose. Howbeit, in despite of heavy blows and light pay, a cavalier of fortune may thrive indifferently well in the Imperial service, in respect his private casualties are nothing so closely looked to as by the Swede; and so that an officer did his duty on the field, neither Wallenstein nor Pappenheim, nor old Tilly before them, would likely listen to the objurgations of boors or burghers against any commander or soldado, by whom they chanced to be somewhat closely shorn. So that an experienced cavalier, knowing how to lay, as our Scottish phrase runs, 'the head of the sow to the tail of the grice,' might get out of the country the pay whilk he could not obtain from the Emperor."
"With a full hand, sir, doubtless, and with interest," said Lord Menteith.
"Indubitably, my lord," answered Dalgetty, composedly; "for it would be doubly disgraceful for any soldado of rank to have his name called in question for any petty delinquency."
"And pray, Sir," continued Lord Menteith, "what made you leave so gainful a service?"
"Why, truly, sir," answered the soldier, "an Irish cavalier, called O'Quilligan, being major of our regiment, and I having had words with him the night before, respecting the worth and precedence of our several nations, it pleased him the next day to deliver his orders to me with the point of his batoon advanced and held aloof, instead of declining and trailing the same, as is the fashion from a courteous commanding officer towards his equal in rank, though, it may be, his inferior in military grade. Upon this quarrel, sir, we fought in private rencontre; and as, in the perquisitions which followed, it pleased Walter Butler, our oberst, or colonel, to give the lighter punishment to his countryman, and the heavier to me, whereupon, ill-stomaching such partiality, I exchanged my commission for one under the Spaniard."
"I hope you found yourself better off by the change?" said Lord Menteith.
"In good sooth," answered the Ritt-master, "I had but little to complain of. The pay was somewhat regular, being furnished by the rich Flemings and Waloons of the Low Country. The quarters were excellent; the good wheaten loaves of the Flemings were better than the Provant rye-bread of the Swede, and Rhenish wine was more plenty with us than ever I saw the black-beer of Rostock in Gustavus's camp. Service there was none, duty there was little; and that little we might do, or leave undone, at our pleasure; an excellent retirement for a cavalier somewhat weary of field and leaguer, who had purchased with his blood as much honour as might serve his turn, and was desirous of a little ease and good living."
"And may I ask," said Lord Menteith, "why you, Captain, being, as I suppose, in the situation you describe, retired from the Spanish service also?"
"You are to consider, my lord, that your Spaniard," replied Captain Dalgetty, "is a person altogether unparalleled in his own conceit, where-through he maketh not fit account of such foreign cavaliers of valour as are pleased to take service with him. And a galling thing it is to every honourable soldado, to be put aside, and postponed, and obliged to yield preference to every puffing signor, who, were it the question which should first mount a breach at push of pike, might be apt to yield willing place to a Scottish cavalier. Moreover, sir, I was pricked in conscience respecting a matter of religion."
"I should not have thought, Captain Dalgetty," said the young nobleman, "that an old soldier, who had changed service so often, would have been too scrupulous on that head."
"No more I am, my lord," said the Captain, "since I hold it to be the duty of the chaplain of the regiment to settle those matters for me, and every other brave cavalier, inasmuch as he does nothing else that I know of for his pay and allowances. But this was a particular case, my lord, a CASUS IMPROVISUS, as I may say, in whilk I had no chaplain of my own persuasion to act as my adviser. I found, in short, that although my being a Protestant might be winked at, in respect that I was a man of action, and had more experience than all the Dons in our TERTIA put together, yet, when in garrison, it was expected I should go to mass with the regiment. Now, my lord, as a true Scottish man, and educated at the Mareschal-College of Aberdeen, I was bound to uphold the mass to be an act of blinded papistry and utter idolatry, whilk I was altogether unwilling to homologate by my presence. True it is, that I consulted on the point with a worthy countryman of my own, one Father Fatsides, of the Scottish Covenant in Wurtzburg—"
"And I hope," observed Lord Menteith, "you obtained a clear opinion from this same ghostly father?"
"As clear as it could be," replied Captain Dalgetty, "considering we had drunk six flasks of Rhenish, and about two mutchkins of Kirchenwasser. Father Fatsides informed me, that, as nearly as he could judge for a heretic like myself, it signified not much whether I went to mass or not, seeing my eternal perdition was signed and sealed at any rate, in respect of my impenitent and obdurate perseverance in my damnable heresy. Being discouraged by this response, I applied to a Dutch pastor of the reformed church, who told me, he thought I might lawfully go to mass, in respect that the prophet permitted Naaman, a mighty man of valour, and an honourable cavalier of Syria, to follow his master into the house of Rimmon, a false god, or idol, to whom he had vowed service, and to bow down when the king was leaning upon his hand. But neither was this answer satisfactory to me, both because there was an unco difference between an anointed King of Syria and our Spanish colonel, whom I could have blown away like the peeling of an ingan, and chiefly because I could not find the thing was required of me by any of the articles of war; neither was I proffered any consideration, either in perquisite or pay, for the wrong I might thereby do to my conscience."
"So you again changed your service?" said Lord Menteith.
"In troth did I, my lord; and after trying for a short while two or three other powers, I even took on for a time with their High Mightinesses the States of Holland."
"And how did their service jump with your humour?" again demanded his companion.
"O! my lord," said the soldier, in a sort of enthusiasm, "their behaviour on pay-day might be a pattern to all Europe—no borrowings, no lendings, no offsets no arrears—all balanced and paid like a banker's book. The quarters, too, are excellent, and the allowances unchallengeable; but then, sir, they are a preceese, scrupulous people, and will allow nothing for peccadilloes. So that if a boor complains of a broken head, or a beer-seller of a broken can, or a daft wench does but squeak loud enough to be heard above her breath, a soldier of honour shall be dragged, not before his own court-martial, who can best judge of and punish his demerits, but before a base mechanical burgo-master, who shall menace him with the rasp-house, the cord, and what not, as if he were one of their own mean, amphibious, twenty-breeched boors. So not being able to dwell longer among those ungrateful plebeians, who, although unable to defend themselves by their proper strength, will nevertheless allow the noble foreign cavalier who engages with them nothing beyond his dry wages, which no honourable spirit will put in competition with a liberal license and honourable countenance, I resolved to leave the service of the Mynheers. And hearing at this time, to my exceeding satisfaction, that there is something to be doing this summer in my way in this my dear native country, I am come hither, as they say, like a beggar to a bridal, in order to give my loving countrymen the advantage of that experience which I have acquired in foreign parts. So your lordship has an outline of my brief story, excepting my deportment in those passages of action in the field, in leaguers, storms, and onslaughts, whilk would be wearisome to narrate, and might, peradventure, better befit any other tongue than mine own."
For pleas of right let statesmen vex their head, Battle's my business, and my guerdon bread; And, with the sworded Switzer, I can say, The best of causes is the best of pay.—DONNE.
The difficulty and narrowness of the road had by this time become such as to interrupt the conversation of the travellers, and Lord Menteith, reining back his horse, held a moment's private conversation with his domestics. The Captain, who now led the van of the party, after about a quarter of a mile's slow and toilsome advance up a broken and rugged ascent, emerged into an upland valley, to which a mountain stream acted as a drain, and afforded sufficient room upon its greensward banks for the travellers to pursue their journey in a more social manner.
Lord Menteith accordingly resumed the conversation, which had been interrupted by the difficulties of the way. "I should have thought," said he to Captain Dalgetty, "that a cavalier of your honourable mark, who hath so long followed the valiant King of Sweden, and entertains such a suitable contempt for the base mechanical States of Holland, would not have hesitated to embrace the cause of King Charles, in preference to that of the low-born, roundheaded, canting knaves, who are in rebellion against his authority?"
"Ye speak reasonably, my lord," said Dalgetty, "and, CAETERIS PARIBUS, I might be induced to see the matter in the same light. But, my lord, there is a southern proverb, fine words butter no parsnips. I have heard enough since I came here, to satisfy me that a cavalier of honour is free to take any part in this civil embroilment whilk he may find most convenient for his own peculiar. Loyalty is your pass-word, my lord—Liberty, roars another chield from the other side of the strath—the King, shouts one war-cry—the Parliament, roars another—Montrose, for ever, cries Donald, waving his bonnet—Argyle and Leven, cries a south-country Saunders, vapouring with his hat and feather. Fight for the bishops, says a priest, with his gown and rochet—Stand stout for the Kirk, cries a minister, in a Geneva cap and band.—Good watchwords all—excellent watchwords. Whilk cause is the best I cannot say. But sure am I, that I have fought knee-deep in blood many a day for one that was ten degrees worse than the worst of them all."
"And pray, Captain Dalgetty," said his lordship, "since the pretensions of both parties seem to you so equal, will you please to inform us by what circumstances your preference will be determined?"
"Simply upon two considerations, my lord," answered the soldier. "Being, first, on which side my services would be in most honourable request;—And, secondly, whilk is a corollary of the first, by whilk party they are likely to be most gratefully requited. And, to deal plainly with you, my lord, my opinion at present doth on both points rather incline to the side of the Parliament."
"Your reasons, if you please," said Lord Menteith, "and perhaps I may be able to meet them with some others which are more powerful."
"Sir, I shall be amenable to reason," said Captain Dalgetty, "supposing it addresses itself to my honour and my interest. Well, then, my lord, here is a sort of Highland host assembled, or expected to assemble, in these wild hills, in the King's behalf. Now, sir, you know the nature of our Highlanders. I will not deny them to be a people stout in body and valiant in heart, and courageous enough in their own wild way of fighting, which is as remote from the usages and discipline of war as ever was that of the ancient Scythians, or of the salvage Indians of America that now is, They havena sae mickle as a German whistle, or a drum, to beat a march, an alarm, a charge, a retreat, a reveille, or the tattoo, or any other point of war; and their damnable skirlin' pipes, whilk they themselves pretend to understand, are unintelligible to the ears of any cavaliero accustomed to civilised warfare. So that, were I undertaking to discipline such a breechless mob, it were impossible for me to be understood; and if I were understood, judge ye, my lord, what chance I had of being obeyed among a band of half salvages, who are accustomed to pay to their own lairds and chiefs, allenarly, that respect and obedience whilk ought to be paid to commissionate officers. If I were teaching them to form battalia by extracting the square root, that is, by forming your square battalion of equal number of men of rank and file, corresponding to the square root of the full number present, what return could I expect for communicating this golden secret of military tactic, except it may be a dirk in my wame, on placing some M'Alister More M'Shemei or Capperfae, in the flank or rear, when he claimed to be in the van?—Truly, well saith holy writ, 'if ye cast pearls before swine, they will turn again and rend ye.'"
"I believe, Anderson," said Lord Menteith, looking back to one of his servants, for both were close behind him, "you can assure this gentleman, we shall have more occasion for experienced officers, and be more disposed to profit by their instructions, than he seems to be aware of."
"With your honour's permission," said Anderson, respectfully raising his cap, "when we are joined by the Irish infantry, who are expected, and who should be landed in the West Highlands before now, we shall have need of good soldiers to discipline our levies."
"And I should like well—very well, to be employed in such service," said Dalgetty; "the Irish are pretty fellows—very pretty fellows—I desire to see none better in the field. I once saw a brigade of Irish, at the taking of Frankfort upon the Oder, stand to it with sword and pike until they beat off the blue and yellow Swedish brigades, esteemed as stout as any that fought under the immortal Gustavus. And although stout Hepburn, valiant Lumsdale, courageous Monroe, with myself and other cavaliers, made entry elsewhere at point of pike, yet, had we all met with such opposition, we had returned with great loss and little profit. Wherefore these valiant Irishes, being all put to the sword, as is usual in such cases, did nevertheless gain immortal praise and honour; so that, for their sakes, I have always loved and honoured those of that nation next to my own country of Scotland."
"A command of Irish," said Menteith, "I think I could almost promise you, should you be disposed to embrace the royal cause."
"And yet," said Captain Dalgetty, "my second and greatest difficulty remains behind; for, although I hold it a mean and sordid thing for a soldado to have nothing in his mouth but pay and gelt, like the base cullions, the German lanz-knechts, whom I mentioned before; and although I will maintain it with my sword, that honour is to be preferred before pay, free quarters, and arrears, yet, EX CONTRARIO, a soldier's pay being the counterpart of his engagement of service, it becomes a wise and considerate cavalier to consider what remuneration he is to receive for his service, and from what funds it is to be paid. And truly, my lord, from what I can see and hear, the Convention are the purse-masters. The Highlanders, indeed, may be kept in humour, by allowing them to steal cattle; and for the Irishes, your lordship and your noble associates may, according to the practice of the wars in such cases, pay them as seldom or as little as may suit your pleasure or convenience; but the same mode of treatment doth not apply to a cavalier like me, who must keep up his horses, servants, arms, and equipage, and who neither can, nor will, go to warfare upon his own charges."
Anderson, the domestic who had before spoken now respectfully addressed his master.—"I think, my lord," he said, "that, under your lordship's favour, I could say something to remove Captain Dalgetty's second objection also. He asks us where we are to collect our pay; now, in my poor mind, the resources are as open to us as to the Covenanters. They tax the country according to their pleasure, and dilapidate the estates of the King's friends; now, were we once in the Lowlands, with our Highlanders and our Irish at our backs, and our swords in our hands, we can find many a fat traitor, whose ill-gotten wealth shall fill our military chest and satisfy our soldiery. Besides, confiscations will fall in thick; and, in giving donations of forfeited lands to every adventurous cavalier who joins his standard, the King will at once reward his friends and punish his enemies. In short, he that joins these Roundhead dogs may get some miserable pittance of pay—he that joins our standard has a chance to be knight, lord, or earl, if luck serve him."
"Have you ever served, my good friend?" said the Captain to the spokesman.
"A little, sir, in these our domestic quarrels," answered the man, modestly.
"But never in Germany or the Low Countries?" said Dalgetty.
"I never had the honour," answered Anderson.
"I profess," said Dalgetty, addressing Lord Menteith, "your lordship's servant has a sensible, natural, pretty idea of military matters; somewhat irregular, though, and smells a little too much of selling the bear's skin before he has hunted him.—I will take the matter, however, into my consideration."
"Do so, Captain," said Lord Menteith; "you will have the night to think of it, for we are now near the house, where I hope to ensure you a hospitable reception."
"And that is what will be very welcome," said the Captain, "for I have tasted no food since daybreak but a farl of oatcake, which I divided with my horse. So I have been fain to draw my sword-belt three bores tighter for very extenuation, lest hunger and heavy iron should make the gird slip."
Once on a time, no matter when, Some Glunimies met in a glen; As deft and tight as ever wore A durk, a targe, and a claymore, Short hose, and belted plaid or trews, In Uist, Lochaber, Skye, or Lewes, Or cover'd hard head with his bonnet; Had you but known them, you would own it.—MESTON.
A hill was now before the travellers, covered with an ancient forest of Scottish firs, the topmost of which, flinging their scathed branches across the western horizon, gleamed ruddy in the setting sun. In the centre of this wood rose the towers, or rather the chimneys, of the house, or castle, as it was called, destined for the end of their journey.
As usual at that period, one or two high-ridged narrow buildings, intersecting and crossing each other, formed the CORPS DE LOGIS. A protecting bartizan or two, with the addition of small turrets at the angles, much resembling pepper-boxes, had procured for Darnlinvarach the dignified appellation of a castle. It was surrounded by a low court-yard wall, within which were the usual offices.
As the travellers approached more nearly, they discovered marks of recent additions to the defences of the place, which had been suggested, doubtless, by the insecurity of those troublesome times. Additional loop-holes for musketry were struck out in different parts of the building, and of its surrounding wall. The windows had just been carefully secured by stancheons of iron, crossing each other athwart and end-long, like the grates of a prison. The door of the court-yard was shut; and it was only after cautious challenge that one of its leaves was opened by two domestics, both strong Highlanders, and both under arms, like Bitias and Pandarus in the AEneid, ready to defend the entrance if aught hostile had ventured an intrusion.
When the travellers were admitted into the court, they found additional preparations for defence. The walls were scaffolded for the use of fire-arms, and one or two of the small guns, called sackers, or falcons, were mounted at the angles and flanking turrets.
More domestics, both in the Highland and Lowland dress, instantly rushed from the anterior of the mansion, and some hastened to take the horses of the strangers, while others waited to marshal them a way into the dwelling-house. But Captain Dalgetty refused the proffered assistance of those who wished to relieve him of the charge of his horse. "It is my custom, my friends, to see Gustavus (for so I have called him, after my invincible master) accommodated myself; we are old friends and fellow-travellers, and as I often need the use of his legs, I always lend him in my turn the service of my tongue, to call for whatever he has occasion for;" and accordingly he strode into the stable after his steed without farther apology.
Neither Lord Menteith nor his attendants paid the same attention to their horses, but, leaving them to the proffered care of the servants of the place, walked forward into the house, where a sort of dark vaulted vestibule displayed, among other miscellaneous articles, a huge barrel of two-penny ale, beside which were ranged two or three wooden queichs, or bickers, ready, it would appear, for the service of whoever thought proper to employ them. Lord Menteith applied himself to the spigot, drank without ceremony, and then handed the stoup to Anderson, who followed his master's example, but not until he had flung out the drop of ale which remained, and slightly rinsed the wooden cup.
"What the deil, man," said an old Highland servant belonging to the family, "can she no drink after her ain master without washing the cup and spilling the ale, and be tamned to her!"
"I was bred in France," answered Anderson, "where nobody drinks after another out of the same cup, unless it be after a young lady."
"The teil's in their nicety!" said Donald; "and if the ale be gude, fat the waur is't that another man's beard's been in the queich before ye?"
Anderson's companion drank without observing the ceremony which had given Donald so much offence, and both of them followed their master into the low-arched stone hall, which was the common rendezvous of a Highland family. A large fire of peats in the huge chimney at the upper end shed a dim light through the apartment, and was rendered necessary by the damp, by which, even during the summer, the apartment was rendered uncomfortable. Twenty or thirty targets, as many claymores, with dirks, and plaids, and guns, both match-lock and fire-lock, and long-bows, and cross-bows, and Lochaber axes, and coats of plate armour, and steel bonnets, and headpieces, and the more ancient haborgeons, or shirts of reticulated mail, with hood and sleeves corresponding to it, all hung in confusion about the walls, and would have formed a month's amusement to a member of a modern antiquarian society. But such things were too familiar, to attract much observation on the part of the present spectators.
There was a large clumsy oaken table, which the hasty hospitality of the domestic who had before spoken, immediately spread with milk, butter, goat-milk cheese, a flagon of beer, and a flask of usquebae, designed for the refreshment of Lord Menteith; while an inferior servant made similar preparations at the bottom of the table for the benefit of his attendants. The space which intervened between them was, according to the manners of the times, sufficient distinction between master and servant, even though the former was, as in the present instance, of high rank. Meanwhile the guests stood by the fire—the young nobleman under the chimney, and his servants at some little distance.
"What do you think, Anderson," said the former, "of our fellow-traveller?"
"A stout fellow," replied Anderson, "if all be good that is upcome. I wish we had twenty such, to put our Teagues into some sort of discipline."
"I differ from you, Anderson," said Lord Menteith; "I think this fellow Dalgetty is one of those horse-leeches, whose appetite for blood being only sharpened by what he has sucked in foreign countries, he is now returned to batten upon that of his own. Shame on the pack of these mercenary swordmen! they have made the name of Scot through all Europe equivalent to that of a pitiful mercenary, who knows neither honour nor principle but his month's pay, who transfers his allegiance from standard to standard, at the pleasure of fortune or the highest bidder; and to whose insatiable thirst for plunder and warm quarters we owe much of that civil dissension which is now turning our swords against our own bowels. I had scarce patience with the hired gladiator, and yet could hardly help laughing at the extremity of his impudence."
"Your lordship will forgive me," said Anderson, "if I recommend to you, in the present circumstances, to conceal at least a part of this generous indignation; we cannot, unfortunately, do our work without the assistance of those who act on baser motives than our own. We cannot spare the assistance of such fellows as our friend the soldado. To use the canting phrase of the saints in the English Parliament, the sons of Zeruiah are still too many for us."
"I must dissemble, then, as well as I can," said Lord Menteith, "as I have hitherto done, upon your hint. But I wish the fellow at the devil with all my heart."
"Ay, but still you must remember, my lord," resumed Anderson, "that to cure the bite of a scorpion, you must crush another scorpion on the wound—But stop, we shall be overheard."
From a side-door in the hall glided a Highlander into the apartment, whose lofty stature and complete equipment, as well as the eagle's feather in his bonnet, and the confidence of his demeanour, announced to be a person of superior rank. He walked slowly up to the table, and made no answer to Lord Menteith, who, addressing him by the name of Allan, asked him how he did.
"Ye manna speak to her e'en now," whispered the old attendant.
The tall Highlander, sinking down upon the empty settle next the fire, fixed his eyes upon the red embers and the huge heap of turf, and seemed buried in profound abstraction. His dark eyes, and wild and enthusiastic features, bore the air of one who, deeply impressed with his own subjects of meditation, pays little attention to exterior objects. An air of gloomy severity, the fruit perhaps of ascetic and solitary habits, might, in a Lowlander, have been ascribed to religious fanaticism; but by that disease of the mind, then so common both in England and the Lowlands of Scotland, the Highlanders of this period were rarely infected. They had, however, their own peculiar superstitions, which overclouded the mind with thick-coming fancies, as completely as the puritanism of their neighbours.
"His lordship's honour," said the Highland servant sideling up to Lord Menteith, and speaking in a very low tone, "his lordship manna speak to Allan even now, for the cloud is upon his mind."
Lord Menteith nodded, and took no farther notice of the reserved mountaineer.
"Said I not," asked the latter, suddenly raising his stately person upright, and looking at the domestic—"said I not that four were to come, and here stand but three on the hall floor?"
"In troth did ye say sae, Allan," said the old Highlander, "and here's the fourth man coming clinking in at the yett e'en now from the stable, for he's shelled like a partan, wi' airn on back and breast, haunch and shanks. And am I to set her chair up near the Menteith's, or down wi' the honest gentlemen at the foot of the table?"