Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
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Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott Volume ii, Chapters nineteenth and twentieth

Project Gutenberg's Rob Roy, Complete, by Sir Walter Scott

  Farewell to the land where the clouds love to rest,
Like the shroud of the dead, on the mountain's cold breast
To the cataract's roar where the eagles reply,
And the lake her lone bosom expands to the sky.


Our route lay through a dreary, yet romantic country, which the distress of my own mind prevented me from remarking particularly, and which, therefore, I will not attempt to describe. The lofty peak of Ben Lomond, here the predominant monarch of the mountains, lay on our right hand, and served as a striking landmark. I was not awakened from my apathy, until, after a long and toilsome walk, we emerged through a pass in the hills, and Loch Lomond opened before us. I will spare you the attempt to describe what you would hardly comprehend without going to see it. But certainly this noble lake, boasting innumerable beautiful islands, of every varying form and outline which fancy can frame,--its northern extremity narrowing until it is lost among dusky and retreating mountains,--while, gradually widening as it extends to the southward, it spreads its base around the indentures and promontories of a fair and fertile land, affords one of the most surprising, beautiful, and sublime spectacles in nature. The eastern side, peculiarly rough and rugged, was at this time the chief seat of MacGregor and his clan,--to curb whom, a small garrison had been stationed in a central position betwixt Loch Lomond and another lake. The extreme strength of the country, however, with the numerous passes, marshes, caverns, and other places of concealment or defence, made the establishment of this little fort seem rather an acknowledgment of the danger, than an effectual means of securing against it.

On more than one occasion, as well as on that which I witnessed, the garrison suffered from the adventurous spirit of the outlaw and his followers. These advantages were never sullied by ferocity when he himself was in command; for, equally good-tempered and sagacious, he understood well the danger of incurring unnecessary odium. I learned with pleasure that he had caused the captives of the preceding day to be liberated in safety; and many traits of mercy, and even of generosity, are recorded of this remarkable man on similar occasions.

A boat waited for us in a creek beneath a huge rock, manned by four lusty Highland rowers; and our host took leave of us with great cordiality, and even affection. Betwixt him and Mr. Jarvie, indeed, there seemed to exist a degree of mutual regard, which formed a strong contrast to their different occupations and habits. After kissing each other very lovingly, and when they were just in the act of parting, the Bailie, in the fulness of his heart, and with a faltering voice, assured his kinsman, “that if ever an hundred pund, or even twa hundred, would put him or his family in a settled way, he need but just send a line to the Saut-Market;” and Rob, grasping his basket-hilt with one hand, and shaking Mr. Jarvie's heartily with the other, protested, “that if ever anybody should affront his kinsman, an he would but let him ken, he would stow his lugs out of his head, were he the best man in Glasgow.”

With these assurances of mutual aid and continued good-will, we bore away from the shore, and took our course for the south-western angle of the lake, where it gives birth to the river Leven. Rob Roy remained for some time standing on the rock from beneath which we had departed, conspicuous by his long gun, waving tartans, and the single plume in his cap, which in those days denoted the Highland gentleman and soldier; although I observe that the present military taste has decorated the Highland bonnet with a quantity of black plumage resembling that which is borne before funerals. At length, as the distance increased between us, we saw him turn and go slowly up the side of the hill, followed by his immediate attendants or bodyguard.

We performed our voyage for a long time in silence, interrupted only by the Gaelic chant which one of the rowers sung in low irregular measure, rising occasionally into a wild chorus, in which the others joined.

My own thoughts were sad enough;--yet I felt something soothing in the magnificent scenery with which I was surrounded; and thought, in the enthusiasm of the moment, that had my faith been that of Rome, I could have consented to live and die a lonely hermit in one of the romantic and beautiful islands amongst which our boat glided.

The Bailie had also his speculations, but they were of somewhat a different complexion; as I found when, after about an hour's silence, during which he had been mentally engaged in the calculations necessary, he undertook to prove the possibility of draining the lake, and “giving to plough and harrow many hundred, ay, many a thousand acres, from whilk no man could get earthly gude e'enow, unless it were a gedd,* or a dish of perch now and then.”

* A pike.

Amidst a long discussion, which he “crammed into mine ear against the stomach of my sense,” I only remember, that it was part of his project to preserve a portion of the lake just deep enough and broad enough for the purposes of water-carriage, so that coal-barges and gabbards should pass as easily between Dumbarton and Glenfalloch as between Glasgow and Greenock.

At length we neared our distant place of landing, adjoining to the ruins of an ancient castle, and just where the lake discharges its superfluous waters into the Leven. There we found Dougal with the horses. The Bailie had formed a plan with respect to “the creature,” as well as upon the draining of the lake; and, perhaps in both cases, with more regard to the utility than to the practical possibility of his scheme. “Dougal,” he said, “ye are a kindly creature, and hae the sense and feeling o' what is due to your betters--and I'm e'en wae for you, Dougal, for it canna be but that in the life ye lead you suld get a Jeddart cast* ae day suner or later. I trust, considering my services as a magistrate, and my father the deacon's afore me, I hae interest eneugh in the council to gar them wink a wee at a waur faut than yours.

* [“The memory of Dunbar's legal (?) proceedings at Jedburgh is preserved in the proverbial phrase _Jeddart Justice,_ which signifies trial _after_ execution.”--_Minstrelsy of the Border,_ Preface, p. lvi.]

Sae I hae been thinking, that if ye will gang back to Glasgow wi' us, being a strong-backit creature, ye might be employed in the warehouse till something better suld cast up.”

“Her nainsell muckle obliged till the Bailie's honour,” replied Dougal; “but teil be in her shanks fan she gangs on a cause-way'd street, unless she be drawn up the Gallowgate wi' tows, as she was before.”

In fact, I afterwards learned that Dougal had originally come to Glasgow as a prisoner, from being concerned in some depredation, but had somehow found such favour in the eyes of the jailor, that, with rather overweening confidence, he had retained him in his service as one of the turnkeys; a task which Dougal had discharged with sufficient fidelity, so far as was known, until overcome by his clannish prejudices on the unexpected appearance of his old leader.

Astonished at receiving so round a refusal to so favourable an offer, the Bailie, turning to me, observed, that the “creature was a natural-born idiot.” I testified my own gratitude in a way which Dougal much better relished, by slipping a couple of guineas into his hand. He no sooner felt the touch of the gold, than he sprung twice or thrice from the earth with the agility of a wild buck, flinging out first one heel and then another, in a manner which would have astonished a French dancing-master. He ran to the boatmen to show them the prize, and a small gratuity made them take part in his raptures. He then, to use a favourite expression of the dramatic John Bunyan, “went on his way, and I saw him no more.”

The Bailie and I mounted our horses, and proceeded on the road to Glasgow. When we had lost the view of the lake, and its superb amphitheatre of mountains, I could not help expressing with enthusiasm, my sense of its natural beauties, although I was conscious that Mr. Jarvie was a very uncongenial spirit to communicate with on such a subject.

“Ye are a young gentleman,” he replied, “and an Englishman, and a' this may be very fine to you; but for me, wha am a plain man, and ken something o' the different values of land, I wadna gie the finest sight we hae seen in the Hielands, for the first keek o' the Gorbals o' Glasgow; and if I were ance there, it suldna be every fule's errand, begging your pardon, Mr. Francis, that suld take me out o' sight o' Saint Mungo's steeple again!”

The honest man had his wish; for, by dint of travelling very late, we arrived at his own house that night, or rather on the succeeding morning. Having seen my worthy fellow-traveller safely consigned to the charge of the considerate and officious Mattie, I proceeded to Mrs. Flyter's, in whose house, even at this unwonted hour, light was still burning. The door was opened by no less a person than Andrew Fairservice himself, who, upon the first sound of my voice, set up a loud shout of joyful recognition, and, without uttering a syllable, ran up stairs towards a parlour on the second floor, from the windows of which the light proceeded. Justly conceiving that he went to announce my return to the anxious Owen, I followed him upon the foot. Owen was not alone, there was another in the apartment--it was my father.

The first impulse was to preserve the dignity of his usual equanimity,--“Francis, I am glad to see you.” The next was to embrace me tenderly,--“My dear--dear son!”--Owen secured one of my hands, and wetted it with his tears, while he joined in gratulating my return. These are scenes which address themselves to the eye and to the heart rather than to the ear--My old eye-lids still moisten at the recollection of our meeting; but your kind and affectionate feelings can well imagine what I should find it impossible to describe.

When the tumult of our joy was over, I learnt that my father had arrived from Holland shortly after Owen had set off for Scotland. Determined and rapid in all his movements, he only stopped to provide the means of discharging the obligations incumbent on his house. By his extensive resources, with funds enlarged, and credit fortified, by eminent success in his continental speculation, he easily accomplished what perhaps his absence alone rendered difficult, and set out for Scotland to exact justice from Rashleigh Osbaldistone, as well as to put order to his affairs in that country. My father's arrival in full credit, and with the ample means of supporting his engagements honourably, as well as benefiting his correspondents in future, was a stunning blow to MacVittie and Company, who had conceived his star set for ever. Highly incensed at the usage his confidential clerk and agent had received at their hands, Mr. Osbaldistone refused every tender of apology and accommodation; and having settled the balance of their account, announced to them that, with all its numerous contingent advantages, that leaf of their ledger was closed for ever.

While he enjoyed this triumph over false friends, he was not a little alarmed on my account. Owen, good man, had not supposed it possible that a journey of fifty or sixty miles, which may be made with so much ease and safety in any direction from London, could be attended with any particular danger. But he caught alarm, by sympathy, from my father, to whom the country, and the lawless character of its inhabitants, were better known.

These apprehensions were raised to agony, when, a few hours before I arrived, Andrew Fairservice made his appearance, with a dismal and exaggerated account of the uncertain state in which he had left me. The nobleman with whose troops he had been a sort of prisoner, had, after examination, not only dismissed him, but furnished him with the means of returning rapidly to Glasgow, in order to announce to my friends my precarious and unpleasant situation.

Andrew was one of those persons who have no objection to the sort of temporary attention and woeful importance which attaches itself to the bearer of bad tidings, and had therefore by no means smoothed down his tale in the telling, especially as the rich London merchant himself proved unexpectedly one of the auditors. He went at great length into an account of the dangers I had escaped, chiefly, as he insinuated, by means of his own experience, exertion, and sagacity.

“What was to come of me now, when my better angel, in his (Andrew's) person, was removed from my side, it was,” he said, “sad and sair to conjecture; that the Bailie was nae better than just naebody at a pinch, or something waur, for he was a conceited body--and Andrew hated conceit--but certainly, atween the pistols and the carabines of the troopers, that rappit aff the tane after the tother as fast as hail, and the dirks and claymores o' the Hielanders, and the deep waters and weils o' the Avondow, it was to be thought there wad be a puir account of the young gentleman.”

This statement would have driven Owen to despair, had he been alone and unsupported; but my father's perfect knowledge of mankind enabled him easily to appreciate the character of Andrew, and the real amount of his intelligence. Stripped of all exaggeration, however, it was alarming enough to a parent. He determined to set out in person to obtain my liberty by ransom or negotiation, and was busied with Owen till a late hour, in order to get through some necessary correspondence, and devolve on the latter some business which should be transacted during his absence; and thus it chanced that I found them watchers.

It was late ere we separated to rest, and, too impatient long to endure repose, I was stirring early the next morning. Andrew gave his attendance at my levee, as in duty bound, and, instead of the scarecrow figure to which he had been reduced at Aberfoil, now appeared in the attire of an undertaker, a goodly suit, namely, of the deepest mourning. It was not till after one or two queries, which the rascal affected as long as he could to misunderstand, that I found out he “had thought it but decent to put on mourning, on account of my inexpressible loss; and as the broker at whose shop he had equipped himself, declined to receive the goods again, and as his own garments had been destroyed or carried off in my honour's service, doubtless I and my honourable father, whom Providence had blessed wi' the means, wadna suffer a puir lad to sit down wi' the loss; a stand o' claes was nae great matter to an Osbaldistone (be praised for't!), especially to an old and attached servant o' the house.”

As there was something of justice in Andrew's plea of loss in my service, his finesse succeeded; and he came by a good suit of mourning, with a beaver and all things conforming, as the exterior signs of woe for a master who was alive and merry.

My father's first care, when he arose, was to visit Mr. Jarvie, for whose kindness he entertained the most grateful sentiments, which he expressed in very few, but manly and nervous terms. He explained the altered state of his affairs, and offered the Bailie, on such terms as could not but be both advantageous and acceptable, that part in his concerns which had been hitherto managed by MacVittie and Company. The Bailie heartily congratulated my father and Owen on the changed posture of their affairs, and, without affecting to disclaim that he had done his best to serve them, when matters looked otherwise, he said, “He had only just acted as he wad be done by--that, as to the extension of their correspondence, he frankly accepted it with thanks. Had MacVittie's folk behaved like honest men,” he said, “he wad hae liked ill to hae come in ahint them, and out afore them this gate. But it's otherwise, and they maun e'en stand the loss.”

The Bailie then pulled me by the sleeve into a corner, and, after again cordially wishing me joy, proceeded, in rather an embarrassed tone--“I wad heartily wish, Maister Francis, there suld be as little said as possible about the queer things we saw up yonder awa. There's nae gude, unless ane were judicially examinate, to say onything about that awfu' job o' Morris--and the members o' the council wadna think it creditable in ane of their body to be fighting wi' a wheen Hielandmen, and singeing their plaidens--And abune a', though I am a decent sponsible man, when I am on my right end, I canna but think I maun hae made a queer figure without my hat and my periwig, hinging by the middle like bawdrons, or a cloak flung ower a cloak-pin. Bailie Grahame wad hae an unco hair in my neck an he got that tale by the end.”

I could not suppress a smile when I recollected the Bailie's situation, although I certainly thought it no laughing matter at the time. The good-natured merchant was a little confused, but smiled also when he shook his head--“I see how it is--I see how it is. But say naething about it--there's a gude callant; and charge that lang-tongued, conceited, upsetting serving man o' yours, to sae naething neither. I wadna for ever sae muckle that even the lassock Mattie ken'd onything about it. I wad never hear an end o't.”

He was obviously relieved from his impending fears of ridicule, when I told him it was my father's intention to leave Glasgow almost immediately. Indeed he had now no motive for remaining, since the most valuable part of the papers carried off by Rashleigh had been recovered. For that portion which he had converted into cash and expended in his own or on political intrigues, there was no mode of recovering it but by a suit at law, which was forthwith commenced, and proceeded, as our law-agents assured us, with all deliberate speed.

We spent, accordingly, one hospitable day with the Bailie, and took leave of him, as this narrative now does. He continued to grow in wealth, honour, and credit, and actually rose to the highest civic honours in his native city. About two years after the period I have mentioned, he tired of his bachelor life, and promoted Mattie from her wheel by the kitchen fire to the upper end of his table, in the character of Mrs. Jarvie. Bailie Grahame, the MacVitties, and others (for all men have their enemies, especially in the council of a royal burgh), ridiculed this transformation. “But,” said Mr. Jarvie, “let them say their say. I'll ne'er fash mysell, nor lose my liking for sae feckless a matter as a nine days' clash. My honest father the deacon had a byword,

  Brent brow and lily skin,
A loving heart, and a leal within,
Is better than gowd or gentle kin.

Besides,” as he always concluded, “Mattie was nae ordinary lassock-quean; she was akin to the Laird o' Limmerfield.”

Whether it was owing to her descent or her good gifts, I do not presume to decide; but Mattie behaved excellently in her exaltation, and relieved the apprehensions of some of the Bailie's friends, who had deemed his experiment somewhat hazardous. I do not know that there was any other incident of his quiet and useful life worthy of being particularly recorded.


  “Come ye hither my 'six' good sons,
Gallant men I trow ye be,
How many of you, my children dear,
Will stand by that good Earl and me?”

“Five” of them did answer make--
“Five” of them spoke hastily,
“O father, till the day we die,
We'll stand by that good Earl and thee.”
The Rising in the North.


On the morning when we were to depart from Glasgow, Andrew Fairservice bounced into my apartment like a madman, jumping up and down, and singing, with more vehemence than tune,

  The kiln's on fire--the kiln's on fire--
The kiln's on fire--she's a' in a lowe.


With some difficulty I prevailed on him to cease his confounded clamour, and explain to me what the matter was. He was pleased to inform me, as if he had been bringing the finest news imaginable, “that the Hielands were clean broken out, every man o' them, and that Rob Roy, and a' his breekless bands, wad be down upon Glasgow or twenty-four hours o' the clock gaed round.”

“Hold your tongue,” said I, “you rascal! You must be drunk or mad; and if there is any truth in your news, is it a singing matter, you scoundrel?”

“Drunk or mad? nae doubt,” replied Andrew, dauntlessly; “ane's aye drunk or mad if he tells what grit folks dinna like to hear--Sing? Od, the clans will make us sing on the wrang side o' our mouth, if we are sae drunk or mad as to bide their coming.”

I rose in great haste, and found my father and Owen also on foot, and in considerable alarm.

Andrew's news proved but too true in the main. The great rebellion which agitated Britain in the year 1715 had already broken out, by the unfortunate Earl of Mar's setting up the standard of the Stuart family in an ill-omened hour, to the ruin of many honourable families, both in England and Scotland. The treachery of some of the Jacobite agents (Rashleigh among the rest), and the arrest of others, had made George the First's Government acquainted with the extensive ramifications of a conspiracy long prepared, and which at last exploded prematurely, and in a part of the kingdom too distant to have any vital effect upon the country, which, however, was plunged into much confusion.

This great public event served to confirm and elucidate the obscure explanations I had received from MacGregor; and I could easily see why the westland clans, who were brought against him, should have waived their private quarrel, in consideration that they were all shortly to be engaged in the same public cause. It was a more melancholy reflection to my mind, that Diana Vernon was the wife of one of those who were most active in turning the world upside down, and that she was herself exposed to all the privations and perils of her husband's hazardous trade.

We held an immediate consultation on the measures we were to adopt in this crisis, and acquiesced in my father's plan, that we should instantly get the necessary passports, and make the best of our way to London. I acquainted my father with my wish to offer my personal service to the Government in any volunteer corps, several being already spoken of. He readily acquiesced in my proposal; for though he disliked war as a profession, yet, upon principle, no man would have exposed his life more willingly in defence of civil and religious liberty.

We travelled in haste and in peril through Dumfriesshire and the neighbouring counties of England. In this quarter, gentlemen of the Tory interest were already in motion, mustering men and horses, while the Whigs assembled themselves in the principal towns, armed the inhabitants, and prepared for civil war. We narrowly escaped being stopped on more occasions than one, and were often compelled to take circuitous routes to avoid the points where forces were assembling.

When we reached London, we immediately associated with those bankers and eminent merchants who agreed to support the credit of Government, and to meet that run upon the funds, on which the conspirators had greatly founded their hopes of furthering their undertaking, by rendering the Government, as it were, bankrupt. My father was chosen one of the members of this formidable body of the monied interest, as all had the greatest confidence in his zeal, skill, and activity. He was also the organ by which they communicated with Government, and contrived, from funds belonging to his own house, or over which he had command, to find purchasers for a quantity of the national stock, which was suddenly flung into the market at a depreciated price when the rebellion broke out. I was not idle myself, but obtained a commission, and levied, at my father's expense, about two hundred men, with whom I joined General Carpenter's army.

The rebellion, in the meantime, had extended itself to England. The unfortunate Earl of Derwentwater had taken arms in the cause, along with General Foster. My poor uncle, Sir Hildebrand, whose estate was reduced to almost nothing by his own carelessness and the expense and debauchery of his sons and household, was easily persuaded to join that unfortunate standard. Before doing so, however, he exhibited a degree of precaution of which no one could have suspected him--he made his will!

By this document he devised his estates at Osbaldistone Hall, and so forth, to his sons successively, and their male heirs, until he came to Rashleigh, whom, on account of the turn he had lately taken in politics, he detested with all his might,--he cut him off with a shilling, and settled the estate on me as his next heir. I had always been rather a favourite of the old gentleman; but it is probable that, confident in the number of gigantic youths who now armed around him, he considered the destination as likely to remain a dead letter, which he inserted chiefly to show his displeasure at Rashleigh's treachery, both public and domestic. There was an article, by which he, bequeathed to the niece of his late wife, Diana Vernon, now Lady Diana Vernon Beauchamp, some diamonds belonging to her late aunt, and a great silver ewer, having the arms of Vernon and Osbaldistone quarterly engraven upon it.

But Heaven had decreed a more speedy extinction of his numerous and healthy lineage, than, most probably, he himself had reckoned on. In the very first muster of the conspirators, at a place called Green-Rigg, Thorncliff Osbaldistone quarrelled about precedence with a gentleman of the Northumbrian border, to the full as fierce and intractable as himself. In spite of all remonstrances, they gave their commander a specimen of how far their discipline might be relied upon, by fighting it out with their rapiers, and my kinsman was killed on the spot. His death was a great loss to Sir Hildebrand, for, notwithstanding his infernal temper, he had a grain or two of more sense than belonged to the rest of the brotherhood, Rashleigh always excepted.

Perceval, the sot, died also in his calling. He had a wager with another gentleman (who, from his exploits in that line, had acquired the formidable epithet of Brandy Swalewell), which should drink the largest cup of strong liquor when King James was proclaimed by the insurgents at Morpeth. The exploit was something enormous. I forget the exact quantity of brandy which Percie swallowed, but it occasioned a fever, of which he expired at the end of three days, with the word, _water, water,_ perpetually on his tongue.

Dickon broke his neck near Warrington Bridge, in an attempt to show off a foundered blood-mare which he wished to palm upon a Manchester merchant who had joined the insurgents. He pushed the animal at a five-barred gate; she fell in the leap, and the unfortunate jockey lost his life.

Wilfred the fool, as sometimes befalls, had the best fortune of the family. He was slain at Proud Preston, in Lancashire, on the day that General Carpenter attacked the barricades, fighting with great bravery, though I have heard he was never able exactly to comprehend the cause of quarrel, and did not uniformly remember on which king's side he was engaged. John also behaved very boldly in the same engagement, and received several wounds, of which he was not happy enough to die on the spot.

Old Sir Hildebrand, entirely brokenhearted by these successive losses, became, by the next day's surrender, one of the unhappy prisoners, and was lodged in Newgate with his wounded son John.

I was now released from my military duty, and lost no time, therefore, in endeavouring to relieve the distresses of these new relations. My father's interest with Government, and the general compassion excited by a parent who had sustained the successive loss of so many sons within so short a time, would have prevented my uncle and cousin from being brought to trial for high treason. But their doom was given forth from a greater tribunal. John died of his wounds in Newgate, recommending to me in his last breath, a cast of hawks which he had at the Hall, and a black spaniel bitch called Lucy.

My poor uncle seemed beaten down to the very earth by his family calamities, and the circumstances in which he unexpectedly found himself. He said little, but seemed grateful for such attentions as circumstances permitted me to show him. I did not witness his meeting with my father for the first time for so many years, and under circumstances so melancholy; but, judging from my father's extreme depression of spirits, it must have been melancholy in the last degree. Sir Hildebrand spoke with great bitterness against Rashleigh, now his only surviving child; laid upon him the ruin of his house, and the deaths of all his brethren, and declared, that neither he nor they would have plunged into political intrigue, but for that very member of his family, who had been the first to desert them. He once or twice mentioned Diana, always with great affection; and once he said, while I sate by his bedside--“Nevoy, since Thorncliff and all of them are dead, I am sorry you cannot have her.”

The expression affected me much at the time; for it was a usual custom of the poor old baronet's, when joyously setting forth upon the morning's chase, to distinguish Thorncliff, who was a favourite, while he summoned the rest more generally; and the loud jolly tone in which he used to hollo, “Call Thornie--call all of them,” contrasted sadly with the woebegone and self-abandoning note in which he uttered the disconsolate words which I have above quoted. He mentioned the contents of his will, and supplied me with an authenticated copy;--the original he had deposited with my old acquaintance Mr. Justice Inglewood, who, dreaded by no one, and confided in by all as a kind of neutral person, had become, for aught I know, the depositary of half the wills of the fighting men of both factions in the county of Northumberland.

The greater part of my uncle's last hours were spent in the discharge of the religious duties of his church, in which he was directed by the chaplain of the Sardinian ambassador, for whom, with some difficulty, we obtained permission to visit him. I could not ascertain by my own observation, or through the medical attendants, that Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone died of any formed complaint bearing a name in the science of medicine. He seemed to me completely worn out and broken down by fatigue of body and distress of mind, and rather ceased to exist, than died of any positive struggle,--just as a vessel, buffeted and tossed by a succession of tempestuous gales, her timbers overstrained, and her joints loosened, will sometimes spring a leak and founder, when there are no apparent causes for her destruction.

It was a remarkable circumstance that my father, after the last duties were performed to his brother, appeared suddenly to imbibe a strong anxiety that I should act upon the will, and represent his father's house, which had hitherto seemed to be the thing in the world which had least charms for him. But formerly, he had been like the fox in the fable, contemning what was beyond his reach; and, moreover, I doubt not that the excessive dislike which he entertained against Rashleigh (now Sir Rashleigh) Osbaldistone, who loudly threatened to attack his father Sir Hildebrand's will and settlement, corroborated my father's desire to maintain it.

“He had been most unjustly disinherited,” he said, “by his own father--his brother's will had repaired the disgrace, if not the injury, by leaving the wreck of his property to Frank, the natural heir, and he was determined the bequest should take effect.”

In the meantime, Rashleigh was not altogether a contemptible personage as an opponent. The information he had given to Government was critically well-timed, and his extreme plausibility, with the extent of his intelligence, and the artful manner in which he contrived to assume both merit and influence, had, to a certain extent, procured him patrons among Ministers. We were already in the full tide of litigation with him on the subject of his pillaging the firm of Osbaldistone and Tresham; and, judging from the progress we made in that comparatively simple lawsuit, there was a chance that this second course of litigation might be drawn out beyond the period of all our natural lives.

To avert these delays as much as possible, my father, by the advice of his counsel learned in the law, paid off and vested in my person the rights to certain large mortgages affecting Osbaldistone Hall. Perhaps, however, the opportunity to convert a great share of the large profits which accrued from the rapid rise of the funds upon the suppression of the rebellion, and the experience he had so lately had of the perils of commerce, encouraged him to realise, in this manner, a considerable part of his property. At any rate, it so chanced, that, instead of commanding me to the desk, as I fully expected, having intimated my willingness to comply with his wishes, however they might destine me, I received his directions to go down to Osbaldistone Hall, and take possession of it as the heir and representative of the family. I was directed to apply to Squire Inglewood for the copy of my uncle's will deposited with him, and take all necessary measures to secure that possession which sages say makes nine points of the law.

At another time I should have been delighted with this change of destination. But now Osbaldistone Hall was accompanied with many painful recollections. Still, however, I thought, that in that neighbourhood only I was likely to acquire some information respecting the fate of Diana Vernon. I had every reason to fear it must be far different from what I could have wished it. But I could obtain no precise information on the subject.

It was in vain that I endeavoured, by such acts of kindness as their situation admitted, to conciliate the confidence of some distant relations who were among the prisoners in Newgate. A pride which I could not condemn, and a natural suspicion of the Whig Frank Osbaldistone, cousin to the double-distilled traitor Rashleigh, closed every heart and tongue, and I only received thanks, cold and extorted, in exchange for such benefits as I had power to offer. The arm of the law was also gradually abridging the numbers of those whom I endeavoured to serve, and the hearts of the survivors became gradually more contracted towards all whom they conceived to be concerned with the existing Government. As they were led gradually, and by detachments, to execution, those who survived lost interest in mankind, and the desire of communicating with them. I shall long remember what one of them, Ned Shafton by name, replied to my anxious inquiry, whether there was any indulgence I could procure him? “Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, I must suppose you mean me kindly, and therefore I thank you. But, by G--, men cannot be fattened like poultry, when they see their neighbours carried off day by day to the place of execution, and know that their own necks are to be twisted round in their turn.”

Upon the whole, therefore, I was glad to escape from London, from Newgate, and from the scenes which both exhibited, to breathe the free air of Northumberland. Andrew Fairservice had continued in my service more from my father's pleasure than my own. At present there seemed a prospect that his local acquaintance with Osbaldistone Hall and its vicinity might be useful; and, of course, he accompanied me on my journey, and I enjoyed the prospect of getting rid of him, by establishing him in his old quarters. I cannot conceive how he could prevail upon my father to interest himself in him, unless it were by the art, which he possessed in no inconsiderable degree, of affecting an extreme attachment to his master; which theoretical attachment he made compatible in practice with playing all manner of tricks without scruple, providing only against his master being cheated by any one but himself.

We performed our journey to the North without any remarkable adventure, and we found the country, so lately agitated by rebellion, now peaceful and in good order. The nearer we approached to Osbaldistone Hall, the more did my heart sink at the thought of entering that deserted mansion; so that, in order to postpone the evil day, I resolved first to make my visit at Mr. Justice Inglewood's.

That venerable person had been much disturbed with thoughts of what he had been, and what he now was; and natural recollections of the past had interfered considerably with the active duty which in his present situation might have been expected from him. He was fortunate, however, in one respect; he had got rid of his clerk Jobson, who had finally left him in dudgeon at his inactivity, and become legal assistant to a certain Squire Standish, who had lately commenced operations in those parts as a justice, with a zeal for King George and the Protestant succession, which, very different from the feelings of his old patron, Mr. Jobson had more occasion to restrain within the bounds of the law, than to stimulate to exertion.

Old Justice Inglewood received me with great courtesy, and readily exhibited my uncle's will, which seemed to be without a flaw. He was for some time in obvious distress, how he should speak and act in my presence; but when he found, that though a supporter of the present Government upon principle, I was disposed to think with pity on those who had opposed it on a mistaken feeling of loyalty and duty, his discourse became a very diverting medley of what he had done, and what he had left undone,--the pains he had taken to prevent some squires from joining, and to wink at the escape of others, who had been so unlucky as to engage in the affair.

We were _tete-a'-tete,_ and several bumpers had been quaffed by the Justice's special desire, when, on a sudden, he requested me to fill a _bona fide_ brimmer to the health of poor dear Die Vernon, the rose of the wilderness, the heath-bell of Cheviot, and the blossom that's transplanted to an infernal convent.

“Is not Miss Vernon married, then?” I exclaimed, in great astonishment. “I thought his Excellency”--

“Pooh! pooh! his Excellency and his Lordship's all a humbug now, you know--mere St. Germains titles--Earl of Beauchamp, and ambassador plenipotentiary from France, when the Duke Regent of Orleans scarce knew that he lived, I dare say. But you must have seen old Sir Frederick Vernon at the Hall, when he played the part of Father Vaughan?”

“Good Heavens! then Vaughan was Miss Vernon's father?”

“To be sure he was,” said the Justice coolly;--“there's no use in keeping the secret now, for he must be out of the country by this time--otherwise, no doubt, it would be my duty to apprehend him.--Come, off with your bumper to my dear lost Die!

  And let her health go round, around, around,
And let her health go round;
For though your stocking be of silk,
Your knees near kiss the ground, aground, aground.” *

* This pithy verse occurs, it is believed, in Shadwell's play of Bury Fair.


I was unable, as the reader may easily conceive, to join in the Justice's jollity. My head swam with the shock I had received. “I never heard,” I said, “that Miss Vernon's father was living.”

“It was not our Government's fault that he is,” replied Inglewood, “for the devil a man there is whose head would have brought more money. He was condemned to death for Fenwick's plot, and was thought to have had some hand in the Knightsbridge affair, in King William's time; and as he had married in Scotland a relation of the house of Breadalbane, he possessed great influence with all their chiefs. There was a talk of his being demanded to be given up at the peace of Ryswick, but he shammed ill, and his death was given publicly out in the French papers. But when he came back here on the old score, we old cavaliers knew him well,--that is to say, I knew him, not as being a cavalier myself, but no information being lodged against the poor gentleman, and my memory being shortened by frequent attacks of the gout, I could not have sworn to him, you know.”

“Was he, then, not known at Osbaldistone Hall?” I inquired.

“To none but to his daughter, the old knight, and Rashleigh, who had got at that secret as he did at every one else, and held it like a twisted cord about poor Die's neck. I have seen her one hundred times she would have spit at him, if it had not been fear for her father, whose life would not have been worth five minutes' purchase if he had been discovered to the Government.--But don't mistake me, Mr. Osbaldistone; I say the Government is a good, a gracious, and a just Government; and if it has hanged one-half of the rebels, poor things, all will acknowledge they would not have been touched had they staid peaceably at home.”

Waiving the discussion of these political questions, I brought back Mr. Inglewood to his subject, and I found that Diana, having positively refused to marry any of the Osbaldistone family, and expressed her particular detestation of Rashleigh, he had from that time begun to cool in zeal for the cause of the Pretender; to which, as the youngest of six brethren, and bold, artful, and able, he had hitherto looked forward as the means of making his fortune. Probably the compulsion with which he had been forced to render up the spoils which he had abstracted from my father's counting-house by the united authority of Sir Frederick Vernon and the Scottish Chiefs, had determined his resolution to advance his progress by changing his opinions and betraying his trust. Perhaps also--for few men were better judges where his interest was concerned--he considered their means and talents to be, as they afterwards proved, greatly inadequate to the important task of overthrowing an established Government. Sir Frederick Vernon, or, as he was called among the Jacobites, his Excellency Viscount Beauchamp, had, with his daughter, some difficulty in escaping the consequences of Rashleigh's information. Here Mr. Inglewood's information was at fault; but he did not doubt, since we had not heard of Sir Frederick being in the hands of the Government, he must be by this time abroad, where, agreeably to the cruel bond he had entered into with his brother-in-law, Diana, since she had declined to select a husband out of the Osbaldistone family, must be confined to a convent. The original cause of this singular agreement Mr. Inglewood could not perfectly explain; but he understood it was a family compact, entered into for the purpose of securing to Sir Frederick the rents of the remnant of his large estates, which had been vested in the Osbaldistone family by some legal manoeuvre; in short, a family compact, in which, like many of those undertaken at that time of day, the feelings of the principal parties interested were no more regarded than if they had been a part of the live-stock upon the lands.

I cannot tell,--such is the waywardness of the human heart,--whether this intelligence gave me joy or sorrow. It seemed to me, that, in the knowledge that Miss Vernon was eternally divided from me, not by marriage with another, but by seclusion in a convent, in order to fulfil an absurd bargain of this kind, my regret for her loss was aggravated rather than diminished. I became dull, low-spirited, absent, and unable to support the task of conversing with Justice Inglewood, who in his turn yawned, and proposed to retire early. I took leave of him overnight, determining the next day, before breakfast, to ride over to Osbaldistone Hall.

Mr. Inglewood acquiesced in my proposal. “It would be well,” he said, “that I made my appearance there before I was known to be in the country, the more especially as Sir Rashleigh Osbaldistone was now, he understood, at Mr. Jobson's house, hatching some mischief, doubtless. They were fit company,” he added, “for each other, Sir Rashleigh having lost all right to mingle in the society of men of honour; but it was hardly possible two such d--d rascals should collogue together without mischief to honest people.”

He concluded, by earnestly recommending a toast and tankard, and an attack upon his venison pasty, before I set out in the morning, just to break the cold air on the words.

Go to volii chapters 21 & 22