"Ye are right, my lord, to acknowledge nothing," said Sir Mungo. "We have an old proverb,—Confess, and—so forth. And indeed, as to the weapons, his Majesty has a special ill-will at all arms whatsoever, and more especially pistols; but, as I said, there is an end of that matter. [Footnote: Wilson informs us that when Colonel Grey, a Scotsman who affected the buff dress even in the time of peace, appeared in that military garb at Court, the king, seeing him with a case of pistols at his girdle, which he never greatly liked, told him, merrily, "he was now so fortified, that, if he were but well victualled, he would be impregnable."—WILSON'S Life and Reign of James VI., apud KENNET'S History of England, vol. ii. p. 389. In 1612, the tenth year of James's reign, there was a rumour abroad that a shipload of pocket-pistols had been exported from Spain, with a view to a general massacre of the Protestants. Proclamations were of consequence sent forth, prohibiting all persons from carrying pistols under a foot long in the barrel. Ibid. p. 690.] I wish you as well through the next, which is altogether unlikely."
"Surely, Sir Mungo," answered Nigel, "you yourself might say something in my favour concerning the affair in the Park. None knows better than you that I was at that moment urged by wrongs of the most heinous nature, offered to me by Lord Dalgarno, many of which were reported to me by yourself, much to the inflammation of my passion."
"Alack-a-day!-Alack-a-day!" replied Sir Mungo, "I remember but too well how much your choler was inflamed, in spite of the various remonstrances which I made to you respecting the sacred nature of the place. Alas! alas! you cannot say you leaped into the mire for want of warning."
"I see, Sir Mungo, you are determined to remember nothing which can do me service," said Nigel.
"Blithely would I do ye service," said the Knight; "and the best whilk I can think of is, to tell you the process of the punishment to the whilk you will be indubitably subjected, I having had the good fortune to behold it performed in the Queen's time, on a chield that had written a pasquinado. I was then in my Lord Gray's train, who lay leaguer here, and being always covetous of pleasing and profitable sights, I could not dispense with being present on the occasion."
"I should be surprised, indeed," said Lord Glenvarloch, "if you had so far put restraint upon your benevolence, as to stay away from such an exhibition."
"Hey! was your lordship praying me to be present at your own execution?" answered the Knight. "Troth, my lord, it will be a painful sight to a friend, but I will rather punish myself than baulk you. It is a pretty pageant, in the main—a very pretty pageant. The fallow came on with such a bold face, it was a pleasure to look on him. He was dressed all in white, to signify harmlessness and innocence. The thing was done on a scaffold at Westminster—most likely yours will be at the Charing. There were the Sheriffs and the Marshal's men, and what not—the executioner, with his cleaver and mallet, and his man, with a pan of hot charcoal, and the irons for cautery. He was a dexterous fallow that Derrick. This man Gregory is not fit to jipper a joint with him; it might be worth your lordship's while to have the loon sent to a barber-surgeon's, to learn some needful scantling of anatomy—it may be for the benefit of yourself and other unhappy sufferers, and also a kindness to Gregory."
"I will not take the trouble," said Nigel.—"If the laws will demand my hand, the executioner may get it off as he best can. If the king leaves it where it is, it may chance to do him better service."
"Vera noble—vera grand, indeed, my lord," said Sir Mungo; "it is pleasant to see a brave man suffer. This fallow whom I spoke of—This Tubbs, or Stubbs, or whatever the plebeian was called, came forward as bold as an emperor, and said to the people, 'Good friends, I come to leave here the hand of a true Englishman,' and clapped it on the dressing-block with as much ease as if he had laid it on his sweetheart's shoulder; whereupon Derrick the hangman, adjusting, d'ye mind me, the edge of his cleaver on the very joint, hit it with the mallet with such force, that the hand flew off as far from the owner as a gauntlet which the challenger casts down in the tilt-yard. Well, sir, Stubbs, or Tubbs, lost no whit of countenance, until the fallow clapped the hissing-hot iron on his raw stump. My lord, it fizzed like a rasher of bacon, and the fallow set up an elritch screech, which made some think his courage was abated; but not a whit, for he plucked off his hat with his left hand, and waved it, crying, 'God save the Queen, and confound all evil counsellors!' The people gave him three cheers, which he deserved for his stout heart; and, truly, I hope to see your lordship suffer with the same magnanimity."
"I thank you, Sir Mungo," said Nigel, who had not been able to forbear some natural feelings of an unpleasant nature during this lively detail,—"I have no doubt the exhibition will be a very engaging one to you and the other spectators, whatever it may prove to the party principally concerned."
"Vera engaging," answered Sir Mungo, "vera interesting—vera interesting indeed, though not altogether so much so as an execution for high treason. I saw Digby, the Winters, Fawkes, and the rest of the gunpowder gang, suffer for that treason, whilk was a vera grand spectacle, as well in regard to their sufferings, as to their constancy in enduring."
"I am the more obliged to your goodness, Sir Mungo," replied Nigel, "that has induced you, although you have lost the sight, to congratulate me on my escape from the hazard of making the same edifying appearance."
"As you say, my lord," answered Sir Mungo, "the loss is chiefly in appearance. Nature has been very bountiful to us, and has given duplicates of some organs, that we may endure the loss of one of them, should some such circumstance chance in our pilgrimage. See my poor dexter, abridged to one thumb, one finger, and a stump,—by the blow of my adversary's weapon, however, and not by any carnificial knife. Weel, sir, this poor maimed hand doth me, in some sort, as much service as ever; and, admit yours to be taken off by the wrist, you have still your left hand for your service, and are better off than the little Dutch dwarf here about town, who threads a needle, limns, writes, and tosses a pike, merely by means of his feet, without ever a hand to help him."
"Well, Sir Mungo," said Lord Glenvarloch, "this is all no doubt very consolatory; but I hope the king will spare my hand to fight for him in battle, where, notwithstanding all your kind encouragement, I could spend my blood much more cheerfully than on a scaffold."
"It is even a sad truth," replied Sir Mungo, "that your lordship was but too like to have died on a scaffold—not a soul to speak for you but that deluded lassie Maggie Ramsay."
"Whom mean you?" said Nigel, with more interest than he had hitherto shown in the Knight's communications.
"Nay, who should I mean, but that travestied lassie whom we dined with when we honoured Heriot the goldsmith? Ye ken best how you have made interest with her, but I saw her on her knees to the king for you. She was committed to my charge, to bring her up hither in honour and safety. Had I had my own will, I would have had her to Bridewell, to flog the wild blood out of her—a cutty quean, to think of wearing the breeches, and not so much as married yet!"
"Hark ye, Sir Mungo Malagrowther," answered Nigel, "I would have you talk of that young person with fitting respect."
"With all the respect that befits your lordship's paramour, and Davy Ramsay's daughter, I shall certainly speak of her, my lord," said Sir Mungo, assuming a dry tone of irony.
Nigel was greatly disposed to have made a serious quarrel of it, but with Sir Mungo such an affair would have been ridiculous; he smothered his resentment, therefore, and conjured him to tell what he had heard and seen respecting this young person.
"Simply, that I was in the ante-room when she had audience, and heard the king say, to my great perplexity, 'Pulchra sane puella;' and Maxwell, who hath but indifferent Latin ears, thought that his Majesty called on him by his own name of Sawney, and thrust into the presence, and there I saw our Sovereign James, with his own hand, raising up the lassie, who, as I said heretofore, was travestied in man's attire. I should have had my own thoughts of it, but our gracious Master is auld, and was nae great gillravager amang the queans even in his youth; and he was comforting her in his own way and saying,—'Ye needna greet about it, my bonnie woman, Glenvarlochides shall have fair play; and, indeed, when the hurry was off our spirits, we could not believe that he had any design on our person. And touching his other offences, we will look wisely and closely into the matter.' So I got charge to take the young fence-louper to the Tower here, and deliver her to the charge of Lady Mansel; and his Majesty charged me to say not a word to her about your offences, for, said he, the poor thing is breaking her heart for him."
"And on this you have charitably founded the opinion to the prejudice of this young lady, which you have now thought proper to express?" said Lord Glenvarloch.
"In honest truth, my lord," replied Sir Mungo, "what opinion would you have me form of a wench who gets into male habiliments, and goes on her knees to the king for a wild young nobleman? I wot not what the fashionable word may be, for the phrase changes, though the custom abides. But truly I must needs think this young leddy—if you call Watchie Ramsay's daughter a young leddy—demeans herself more like a leddy of pleasure than a leddy of honour."
"You do her egregious wrong, Sir Mungo," said Nigel; "or rather you have been misled by appearances."
"So will all the world be misled, my lord," replied the satirist, "unless you were doing that to disabuse them which your father's son will hardly judge it fit to do."
"And what may that be, I pray you?"
"E'en marry the lass—make her Leddy Glenvarloch.—Ay, ay, ye may start—but it's the course you are driving on. Rather marry than do worse, if the worst be not done already."
"Sir Mungo," said Nigel, "I pray you to forbear this subject, and rather return to that of the mutilation, upon which it pleased you to enlarge a short while since."
"I have not time at present," said Sir Mungo, hearing the clock strike four; "but so soon as you shall have received sentence, my lord, you may rely on my giving you the fullest detail of the whole solemnity; and I give you my word, as a knight and a gentleman, that I will myself attend you on the scaffold, whoever may cast sour looks on me for doing so. I bear a heart, to stand by a friend in the worst of times."
So saying, he wished Lord Glenvarloch farewell; who felt as heartily rejoiced at his departure, though it may be a bold word, as any person who had ever undergone his society.
But, when left to his own reflections, Nigel could not help feeling solitude nearly as irksome as the company of Sir Mungo Malagrowther. The total wreck of his fortune,—which seemed now to be rendered unavoidable by the loss of the royal warrant, that had afforded him the means of redeeming his paternal estate,—was an unexpected and additional blow. When he had seen the warrant he could not precisely remember; but was inclined to think, it was in the casket when he took out money to pay the miser for his lodgings at Whitefriars. Since then, the casket had been almost constantly under his own eye, except during the short time he was separated from his baggage by the arrest in Greenwich Park. It might, indeed, have been taken out at that time, for he had no reason to think either his person or his property was in the hands of those who wished him well; but, on the other hand, the locks of the strong-box had sustained no violence that he could observe, and, being of a particular and complicated construction, he thought they could scarce be opened without an instrument made on purpose, adapted to their peculiarities, and for this there had been no time. But, speculate as he would on the matter, it was clear that this important document was gone, and probable that it had passed into no friendly hands. "Let it be so," said Nigel to himself; "I am scarcely worse off respecting my prospects of fortune, than when I first reached this accursed city. But to be hampered with cruel accusations, and stained with foul suspicions-to be the object of pity of the most degrading kind to yonder honest citizen, and of the malignity of that envious and atrabilarious courtier, who can endure the good fortune and good qualities of another no more than the mole can brook sunshine—this is indeed a deplorable reflection; and the consequences must stick to my future life, and impede whatever my head, or my hand, if it is left me, might be able to execute in my favour."
The feeling, that he is the object of general dislike and dereliction, seems to be one of the most unendurably painful to which a human being can be subjected. The most atrocious criminals, whose nerves have not shrunk from perpetrating the most horrid cruelty, endure more from the consciousness that no man will sympathise with their sufferings, than from apprehension of the personal agony of their impending punishment; and are known often to attempt to palliate their enormities, and sometimes altogether to deny what is established by the clearest proof, rather than to leave life under the general ban of humanity. It was no wonder that Nigel, labouring under the sense of general, though unjust suspicion, should, while pondering on so painful a theme, recollect that one, at least, had not only believed him innocent, but hazarded herself, with all her feeble power, to interpose in his behalf.
"Poor girl!" he repeated; "poor, rash, but generous maiden! your fate is that of her in Scottish story, who thrust her arm into the staple of the door, to oppose it as a bar against the assassins who threatened the murder of her sovereign. The deed of devotion was useless; save to give an immortal name to her by whom it was done, and whose blood flows, it is said, in the veins of my house."
I cannot explain to the reader, whether the recollection of this historical deed of devotion, and the lively effect which the comparison, a little overstrained perhaps, was likely to produce in favour of Margaret Ramsay, was not qualified by the concomitant ideas of ancestry and ancient descent with which that recollection was mingled. But the contending feelings suggested a new train of ideas.— "Ancestry," he thought, "and ancient descent, what are they to me?—My patrimony alienated—my title become a reproach—for what can be so absurd as titled beggary?—my character subjected to suspicion,—I will not remain in this country; and should I, at leaving it, procure the society of one so lovely, so brave, and so faithful, who should say that I derogated from the rank which I am virtually renouncing?"
There was something romantic and pleasing, as he pursued this picture of an attached and faithful pair, becoming all the world to each other, and stemming the tide of fate arm in arm; and to be linked thus with a creature so beautiful, and who had taken such devoted and disinterested concern in his fortunes, formed itself into such a vision as romantic youth loves best to dwell upon.
Suddenly his dream was painfully dispelled, by the recollection, that its very basis rested upon the most selfish ingratitude on his own part. Lord of his castle and his towers, his forests and fields, his fair patrimony and noble name, his mind would have rejected, as a sort of impossibility, the idea of elevating to his rank the daughter of a mechanic; but, when degraded from his nobility, and plunged into poverty and difficulties, he was ashamed to feel himself not unwilling, that this poor girl, in the blindness of her affection, should abandon all the better prospects of her own settled condition, to embrace the precarious and doubtful course which he himself was condemned to. The generosity of Nigel's mind recoiled from the selfishness of the plan of happiness which he projected; and he made a strong effort to expel from his thoughts for the rest of the evening this fascinating female, or, at least, not to permit them to dwell upon the perilous circumstance, that she was at present the only creature living who seemed to consider him as an object of kindness.
He could not, however, succeed in banishing her from his slumbers, when, after having spent a weary day, he betook himself to a perturbed couch. The form of Margaret mingled with the wild mass of dreams which his late adventures had suggested; and even when, copying the lively narrative of Sir Mungo, fancy presented to him the blood bubbling and hissing on the heated iron, Margaret stood behind him like a spirit of light, to breathe healing on the wound. At length nature was exhausted by these fantastic creations, and Nigel slept, and slept soundly, until awakened in the morning by the sound of a well-known voice, which had often broken his slumbers about the same hour.
Many, come up, sir, with your gentle blood! Here's a red stream beneath this coarse blue doublet, That warms the heart as kindly as if drawn From the far source of old Assyrian kings. Who first made mankind subject to their sway. Old Play.
The sounds to which we alluded in our last, were no other than the grumbling tones of Richie Moniplies's voice.
This worthy, like some other persons who rank high in their own opinion, was very apt, when he could have no other auditor, to hold conversation with one who was sure to be a willing listener—I mean with himself. He was now brushing and arranging Lord Glenvarloch's clothes, with as much composure and quiet assiduity as if he had never been out of his service, and grumbling betwixt whiles to the following purpose:—"Hump—ay, time cloak and jerkin were through my hands—I question if horsehair has been passed over them since they and I last parted. The embroidery finely frayed too—and the gold buttons of the cloak—By my conscience, and as I am an honest man, there is a round dozen of them gane! This comes of Alsatian frolics—God keep us with his grace, and not give us over to our own devices!—I see no sword— but that will be in respect of present circumstances."
Nigel for some time could not help believing that he was still in a dream, so improbable did it seem that his domestic, whom he supposed to be in Scotland, should have found him out, and obtained access to him, in his present circumstances. Looking through the curtains, however, he became well assured of the fact, when he beheld the stiff and bony length of Richie, with a visage charged with nearly double its ordinary degree of importance, employed sedulously in brushing his master's cloak, and refreshing himself with whistling or humming, from interval to interval, some snatch of an old melancholy Scottish ballad-tune. Although sufficiently convinced of the identity of the party, Lord Glenvarloch could not help expressing his surprise in the superfluous question—"In the name of Heaven, Richie, is this you?"
"And wha else suld it be, my lord?" answered Richie; "I dreamna that your lordship's levee in this place is like to be attended by ony that are not bounded thereto by duty."
"I am rather surprised," answered Nigel, "that it should be attended by any one at all—especially by you, Richie; for you know that we parted, and I thought you had reached Scotland long since."
"I crave your lordship's pardon, but we have not parted yet, nor are soon likely so to do; for there gang twa folk's votes to the unmaking of a bargain, as to the making of ane. Though it was your lordship's pleasure so to conduct yourself that we were like to have parted, yet it was not, on reflection, my will to be gone. To be plain, if your lordship does not ken when you have a good servant, I ken when I have a kind master; and to say truth, you will be easier served now than ever, for there is not much chance of your getting out of bounds."
"I am indeed bound over to good behaviour," said Lord Glenvarloch, with a smile; "but I hope you will not take advantage of my situation to be too severe on my follies, Richie?"
"God forbid, my lord—God forbid!" replied Richie, with an expression betwixt a conceited consciousness of superior wisdom and real feeling- -"especially in consideration of your lordship's having a due sense of them. I did indeed remonstrate, as was my humble duty, but I scorn to cast that up to your lordship now—Na, na, I am myself an erring creature—very conscious of some small weaknesses—there is no perfection in man."
"But, Richie," said Lord Glenvarloch, "although I am much obliged to you for your proffered service, it can be of little use to me here, and may be of prejudice to yourself."
"Your lordship shall pardon me again," said Richie, whom the relative situation of the parties had invested with ten times his ordinary dogmatism; "but as I will manage the matter, your lordship shall be greatly benefited by my service, and I myself no whit prejudiced."
"I see not how that can be, my friend," said Lord Glenvarloch, "since even as to your pecuniary affairs—"
"Touching my pecuniars, my lord," replied Richie, "I am indifferently weel provided; and, as it chances, my living here will be no burden to your lordship, or distress to myself. Only I crave permission to annex certain conditions to my servitude with your lordship."
"Annex what you will," said Lord Glenvarloch, "for you are pretty sure to take your own way, whether you make any conditions or not. Since you will not leave me, which were, I think, your wisest course, you must, and I suppose will, serve me only on such terms as you like yourself."
"All that I ask, my lord," said Richie, gravely, and with a tone of great moderation, "is to have the uninterrupted command of my own motions, for certain important purposes which I have now in hand, always giving your lordship the solace of my company and attendance, at such times as may be at once convenient for me, and necessary for your service."
"Of which, I suppose, you constitute yourself sole judge," replied Nigel, smiling.
"Unquestionably, my lord," answered Richie, gravely; "for your lordship can only know what yourself want; whereas I, who see both sides of the picture, ken both what is the best for your affairs, and what is the most needful for my own."
"Richie, my good friend," said Nigel, "I fear this arrangement, which places the master much under the disposal of the servant, would scarce suit us if we were both at large; but a prisoner as I am, I may be as well at your disposal as I am at that of so many other persons; and so you may come and go as you list, for I suppose you will not take my advice, to return to your own country, and leave me to my fate."
"The deil be in my feet if I do," said Moniplies,—"I am not the lad to leave your lordship in foul weather, when I followed you and fed upon you through the whole summer day, And besides, there may be brave days behind, for a' that has come and gane yet; for
"It's hame, and it's hame, and it's hame we fain would be, Though the cloud is in the lift, and the wind is on the lea; For the sun through the mirk blinks blithe on mine ee, Says,—'I'll shine on ye yet in our ain country!"
Having sung this stanza in the manner of a ballad-singer, whose voice has been cracked by matching his windpipe against the bugle of the north blast, Richie Moniplies aided Lord Glenvarloch to rise, attended his toilet with every possible mark of the most solemn and deferential respect, then waited upon him at breakfast, and finally withdrew, pleading that he had business of importance, which would detain him for some hours.
Although Lord Glenvarloch necessarily expected to be occasionally annoyed by the self-conceit and dogmatism of Richie Moniplies's character, yet he could not but feel the greatest pleasure from the firm and devoted attachment which this faithful follower had displayed in the present instance, and indeed promised himself an alleviation of the ennui of his imprisonment, in having the advantage of his services. It was, therefore, with pleasure that he learned from the warder, that his servant's attendance would be allowed at all times when the general rules of the fortress permitted the entrance of strangers.
In the meanwhile, the magnanimous Richie Moniplies had already reached Tower Wharf. Here, after looking with contempt on several scullers by whom he was plied, and whose services he rejected with a wave of his hand, he called with dignity, "First oars!" and stirred into activity several lounging Tritons of the higher order, who had not, on his first appearance, thought it worth while to accost him with proffers of service. He now took possession of a wherry, folded his arms within his ample cloak, and sitting down in the stern with an air of importance, commanded them to row to Whitehall Stairs. Having reached the Palace in safety, he demanded to see Master Linklater, the under- clerk of his Majesty's kitchen. The reply was, that he was not to be spoken withal, being then employed in cooking a mess of cock-a-leekie for the king's own mouth.
"Tell him," said Moniplies, "that it is a dear countryman of his, who seeks to converse with him on matter of high import."
"A dear countryman?" said Linklater, when this pressing message was delivered to him. "Well, let him come in and be d—d, that I should say sae! This now is some red-headed, long-legged, gillie-white-foot frae the West Port, that, hearing of my promotion, is come up to be a turn-broche, or deputy scullion, through my interest. It is a great hinderance to any man who would rise in the world, to have such friends to hang by his skirts, in hope of being towed up along with him.—Ha! Richie Moniplies, man, is it thou? And what has brought ye here? If they should ken thee for the loon that scared the horse the other day!—"
"No more o' that, neighbour," said Richie,—"I am just here on the auld errand—I maun speak with the king."
"The king? Ye are red wud," said Linklater; then shouted to his assistant in the kitchen, "Look to the broches, ye knaves—pisces purga—Salsamenta fac macerentur pulchre—I will make you understand Latin, ye knaves, as becomes the scullions of King James." Then in a cautious tone, to Richie's private ear, he continued, "Know ye not how ill your master came off the other day?—I can tell you that job made some folk shake for their office."
"Weel, but, Laurie, ye maun befriend me this time, and get this wee bit sifflication slipped into his Majesty's ain most gracious hand. I promise you the contents will be most grateful to him."
"Richie," answered Linklater, "you have certainly sworn to say your prayers in the porter's lodge, with your back bare; and twa grooms, with dog-whips, to cry amen to you."
"Na, na, Laurie, lad," said Richie, "I ken better what belangs to sifflications than I did yon day; and ye will say that yoursell, if ye will but get that bit note to the king's hand."
"I will have neither hand nor foot in the matter," said the cautious Clerk of the Kitchen; "but there is his Majesty's mess of cock-a- leekie just going to be served to him in his closet—I cannot prevent you from putting the letter between the gilt bowl and the platter; his sacred Majesty will see it when he lifts the bowl, for he aye drinks out the broth."
"Enough said," replied Richie, and deposited the paper accordingly, just before a page entered to carry away the mess to his Majesty.
"Aweel, aweel, neighbour," said Laurence, when the mess was taken away, "if ye have done ony thing to bring yoursell to the withy, or the scourging post, it is your ain wilful deed."
"I will blame no other for it," said Richie; and with that undismayed pertinacity of conceit, which made a fundamental part of his character, he abode the issue, which was not long of arriving.
In a few minutes Maxwell himself arrived in the apartment, and demanded hastily who had placed a writing on the king's trencher, Linklater denied all knowledge of it; but Richie Moniplies, stepping boldly forth, pronounced the emphatical confession, "I am the man."
"Follow me, then," said Maxwell, after regarding him with a look of great curiosity.
They went up a private staircase,—even that private staircase, the privilege of which at Court is accounted a nearer road to power than the grandes entrees themselves. Arriving in what Richie described as an "ill redd-up" ante-room, the usher made a sign to him to stop, while he went into the king's closet. Their conference was short, and as Maxwell opened the door to retire, Richie heard the conclusion of it.
"Ye are sure he is not dangerous?—I was caught once.—Bide within call, but not nearer the door than within three geometrical cubits. If I speak loud, start to me like a falcon—If I speak loun, keep your lang lugs out of ear-shot—and now let him come in."
Richie passed forward at Maxwell's mute signal, and in a moment found himself in the presence of the king. Most men of Richie's birth and breeding, and many others, would have been abashed at finding themselves alone with their Sovereign. But Richie Moniplies had an opinion of himself too high to be controlled by any such ideas; and having made his stiff reverence, he arose once more into his perpendicular height, and stood before James as stiff as a hedge- stake.
"Have ye gotten them, man? have ye gotten them?" said the king, in a fluttered state, betwixt hope and eagerness, and some touch of suspicious fear. "Gie me them—gie me them—before ye speak a word, I charge you, on your allegiance."
Richie took a box from his bosom, and, stooping on one knee, presented it to his Majesty, who hastily opened it, and having ascertained that it contained a certain carcanet of rubies, with which the reader was formerly made acquainted, he could not resist falling into a sort of rapture, kissing the gems, as if they had been capable of feeling, and repeating again and again with childish delight, "Onyx cum prole, silexque—-Onyx cum prole! Ah, my bright and bonny sparklers, my heart loups light to see you again." He then turned to Richie, upon whose stoical countenance his Majesty's demeanour had excited something like a grim smile, which James interrupted his rejoicing to reprehend, saying, "Take heed, sir, you are not to laugh at us—we are your anointed Sovereign."
"God forbid that I should laugh!" said Richie, composing his countenance into its natural rigidity. "I did but smile, to bring my visage into coincidence and conformity with your Majesty's physiognomy."
"Ye speak as a dutiful subject, and an honest man," said the king; "but what deil's your name, man?"
"Even Richie Moniplies, the son of auld Mungo Moniplies, at the West Port of Edinburgh, who had the honour to supply your Majesty's mother's royal table, as weel as your Majesty's, with flesh and other vivers, when time was."
"Aha!" said the king, laughing,—for he possessed, as a useful attribute of his situation, a tenacious memory, which recollected every one with whom he was brought into casual contact,—"Ye are the self-same traitor who had weelnigh coupit us endlang on the causey of our ain courtyard? but we stuck by our mare. Equam memento rebus in arduis servare. Weel, be not dismayed, Richie; for, as many men have turned traitors, it is but fair that a traitor, now and then, suld prove to be, contra expectanda, a true man. How cam ye by our jewels, man?—cam ye on the part of George Heriot?"
"In no sort," said Richie. "May it please your Majesty, I come as Harry Wynd fought, utterly for my own hand, and on no man's errand; as, indeed, I call no one master, save Him that made me, your most gracious Majesty who governs me, and the noble Nigel Olifaunt, Lord of Glenvarloch, who maintained me as lang as he could maintain himself, poor nobleman!"
"Glenvarlochides again!" exclaimed the king; "by my honour, he lies in ambush for us at every corner!—Maxwell knocks at the door. It is George Heriot come to tell us he cannot find these jewels.—Get thee behind the arras, Richie—stand close, man—sneeze not—cough not— breathe not!—Jingling Geordie is so damnably ready with his gold-ends of wisdom, and sae accursedly backward with his gold-ends of siller, that, by our royal saul, we are glad to get a hair in his neck."
Richie got behind the arras, in obedience to the commands of the good- natured king, while the Monarch, who never allowed his dignity to stand in the way of a frolic, having adjusted, with his own hand, the tapestry, so as to complete the ambush, commanded Maxwell to tell him what was the matter without. Maxwell's reply was so low as to be lost by Richie Moniplies, the peculiarity of whose situation by no means abated his curiosity and desire to gratify it to the uttermost.
"Let Geordie Heriot come in," said the king; and, as Richie could observe through a slit in the tapestry, the honest citizen, if not actually agitated, was at least discomposed. The king, whose talent for wit, or humour, was precisely of a kind to be gratified by such a scene as ensued, received his homage with coldness, and began to talk to him with an air of serious dignity, very different from the usual indecorous levity of his behaviour. "Master Heriot," he said, "if we aright remember, we opignorated in your hands certain jewels of the Crown, for a certain sum of money—Did we, or did we not?"
"My most gracious Sovereign," said Heriot, "indisputably your Majesty was pleased to do so."
"The property of which jewels and cimelia remained with us," continued the king, in the same solemn tone, "subject only to your claim of advance thereupon; which advance being repaid, gives us right to repossession of the thing opignorated, or pledged, or laid in wad. Voetius, Vinnius, Groenwigeneus, Pagenstecherus,—all who have treated de Contractu Opignerationis, consentiunt in eundem,—gree on the same point. The Roman law, the English common law, and the municipal law of our ain ancient kingdom of Scotland, though they split in mair particulars than I could desire, unite as strictly in this as the three strands of a twisted rope."
"May it please your Majesty," replied Heriot, "it requires not so many learned authorities to prove to any honest man, that his interest in a pledge is determined when the money lent is restored."
"Weel, sir, I proffer restoration of the sum lent, and I demand to be repossessed of the jewels pledged with you. I gave ye a hint, brief while since, that this would be essential to my service, for, as approaching events are like to call us into public, it would seem strange if we did not appear with those ornaments, which are heirlooms of the Crown, and the absence whereof is like to place us in contempt and suspicion with our liege subjects."
Master George Heriot seemed much moved by this address of his Sovereign, and replied with emotion, "I call Heaven to witness, that I am totally harmless in this matter, and that I would willingly lose the sum advanced, so that I could restore those jewels, the absence of which your Majesty so justly laments. Had the jewels remained with me, the account of them would be easily rendered; but your Majesty will do me the justice to remember, that, by your express order, I transferred them to another person, who advanced a large sum, just about the time of my departure for Paris. The money was pressingly wanted, and no other means to come by it occurred to me. I told your Majesty, when I brought the needful supply, that the man from whom the monies were obtained, was of no good repute; and your most princely answer was, smelling to the gold—Non olet, it smells not of the means that have gotten it."
"Weel, man," said the king, "but what needs a' this din? If ye gave my jewels in pledge to such a one, suld ye not, as a liege subject, have taken care that the redemption was in our power? And are we to suffer the loss of our cimelia by your neglect, besides being exposed to the scorn and censure of our lieges, and of the foreign ambassadors?"
"My lord and liege king," said Heriot, "God knows, if my bearing blame or shame in this matter would keep it from your Majesty, it were my duty to endure both, as a servant grateful for many benefits; but when your Majesty considers the violent death of the man himself, the disappearance of his daughter, and of his wealth, I trust you will remember that I warned your Majesty, in humble duty, of the possibility of such casualties, and prayed you not to urge me to deal with him on your behalf."
"But you brought me nae better means," said the king—"Geordie, ye brought me nae better means. I was like a deserted man; what could I do but grip to the first siller that offered, as a drowning man grasps to the willow-wand that comes readiest?—And now, man, what for have ye not brought back the jewels? they are surely above ground, if ye wad make strict search."
"All strict search has been made, may it please your Majesty," replied the citizen; "hue and cry has been sent out everywhere, and it has been found impossible to recover them."
"Difficult, ye mean, Geordie, not impossible," replied the king; "for that whilk is impossible, is either naturally so, exempli gratia, to make two into three; or morally so, as to make what is truth falsehood; but what is only difficult may come to pass, with assistance of wisdom and patience; as, for example, Jingling Geordie, look here!" And he displayed the recovered treasure to the eyes of the astonished jeweller, exclaiming, with great triumph, "What say ye to that, Jingler?—By my sceptre and crown, the man stares as if he took his native prince for a warlock! us that are the very malleus maleficarum, the contunding and contriturating hammer of all witches, sorcerers, magicians, and the like; he thinks we are taking a touch of the black art outsells!—But gang thy way, honest Geordie; thou art a good plain man, but nane of the seven sages of Greece; gang thy way, and mind the soothfast word which you spoke, small time syne, that there is one in this land that comes near to Solomon, King of Israel, in all his gifts, except in his love to strange women, forby the daughter of Pharaoh."
If Heriot was surprised at seeing the jewels so unexpectedly produced at the moment the king was upbraiding him for the loss of them, this allusion to the reflection which had escaped him while conversing with Lord Glenvarloch, altogether completed his astonishment; and the king was so delighted with the superiority which it gave him at the moment, that he rubbed his hands, chuckled, and finally, his sense of dignity giving way to the full feeling of triumph, he threw himself into his easy-chair, and laughed with unconstrained violence till he lost his breath, and the tears ran plentifully down his cheeks as he strove to recover it. Meanwhile, the royal cachinnation was echoed out by a discordant and portentous laugh from behind the arras, like that of one who, little accustomed to give way to such emotions, feels himself at some particular impulse unable either to control or to modify his obstreperous mirth. Heriot turned his head with new surprise towards the place, from which sounds so unfitting the presence of a monarch seemed to burst with such emphatic clamour.
The king, too, somewhat sensible of the indecorum, rose up, wiped his eyes, and calling,—"Todlowrie, come out o' your den," he produced from behind the arras the length of Richie Moniplies, still laughing with as unrestrained mirth as ever did gossip at a country christening. "Whisht, man, whisht, man," said the king; "ye needna nicher that gait, like a cusser at a caup o' corn, e'en though it was a pleasing jest, and our ain framing. And yet to see Jingling Geordie, that bauds himself so much the wiser than other folk—to see him, ha! ha! ha!—in the vein of Euclio apud Plautum, distressing himself to recover what was lying at his elbow—
'Peril, interii, occidi—quo curram? quo non curram?—Tene, tene— quem? quis? nescio—nihil video."
"Ah! Geordie, your een are sharp enough to look after gowd and silver, gems, rubies, and the like of that, and yet ye kenna how to come by them when they are lost.—Ay, ay—look at them, man—look at them— they are a' right and tight, sound and round, not a doublet crept in amongst them."
George Heriot, when his first surprise was over, was too old a courtier to interrupt the king's imaginary triumph, although he darted a look of some displeasure at honest Richie, who still continued on what is usually termed the broad grin. He quietly examined the stones, and finding them all perfect, he honestly and sincerely congratulated his Majesty on the recovery of a treasure which could not have been lost without some dishonour to the crown; and asked to whom he himself was to pay the sums for which they had been pledged, observing, that he had the money by him in readiness.
"Ye are in a deevil of a hurry, when there is paying in the case, Geordie," said the king.—"What's a' the haste, man? The jewels were restored by an honest, kindly countryman of ours. There he stands, and wha kens if he wants the money on the nail, or if he might not be as weel pleased wi' a bit rescript on our treasury some six months hence? Ye ken that our Exchequer is even at a low ebb just now, and ye cry pay, pay, pay, as if we had all the mines of Ophir."
"Please your Majesty," said Heriot, "if this man has the real right to these monies, it is doubtless at his will to grant forbearance, if he will. But when I remember the guise in which I first saw him, with a tattered cloak and a broken head, I can hardly conceive it.—Are not you Richie Moniplies, with the king's favour?"
"Even sae, Master Heriot—of the ancient and honourable house of Castle Collop, near to the West Port of Edinburgh," answered Richie.
"Why, please your Majesty, he is a poor serving-man," said Heriot. "This money can never be honestly at his disposal."
"What for no?" said the king. "Wad ye have naebody spraickle up the brae but yoursell, Geordie? Your ain cloak was thin enough when ye cam here, though ye have lined it gay and weel. And for serving-men, there has mony a red-shank cam over the Tweed wi' his master's wallet on his shoulders, that now rustles it wi' his six followers behind him. There stands the man himsell; speer at him, Geordie."
"His may not be the best authority in the case," answered the cautious citizen.
"Tut, tut, man," said the king, "ye are over scrupulous. The knave deer-stealers have an apt phrase, Non est inquirendum unde venit VENISON. He that brings the gudes hath surely a right to dispose of the gear.—Hark ye, friend, speak the truth and shame the deil. Have ye plenary powers to dispose on the redemption-money as to delay of payments, or the like, ay or no?"
"Full power, an it like your gracious Majesty," answered Richie Moniplies; "and I am maist willing to subscrive to whatsoever may in ony wise accommodate your Majesty anent the redemption-money, trusting your Majesty's grace will be kind to me in one sma' favour."
"Ey, man," said the king, "come ye to me there? I thought ye wad e'en be like the rest of them.—One would think our subjects' lives and goods were all our ain, and holden of us at our free will; but when we stand in need of ony matter of siller from them, which chances more frequently than we would it did, deil a boddle is to be had, save on the auld terms of giff-gaff. It is just niffer for niffer.—Aweel, neighbour, what is it that ye want—some monopoly, I reckon? Or it may be a grant of kirk-lands and teinds, or a knighthood, or the like? Ye maun be reasonable, unless ye propose to advance more money for our present occasions."
"My liege," answered Richie Moniplies, "the owner of these monies places them at your Majesty's command, free of all pledge or usage as long as it is your royal pleasure, providing your Majesty will condescend to show some favour to the noble Lord Glenvarloch, presently prisoner in your royal Tower of London."
"How, man—how,—man—how, man!" exclaimed the king, reddening and stammering, but with emotions more noble than those by which he was sometimes agitated—"What is that you dare to say to us?—Sell our justice!—sell our mercy!—and we a crowned king, sworn to do justice to our subjects in the gate, and responsible for our stewardship to Him that is over all kings?"—Here he reverently looked up, touched his bonnet, and continued, with some sharpness,—"We dare not traffic in such commodities, sir; and, but that ye are a poor ignorant creature, that have done us this day some not unpleasant service, we wad have a red iron driven through your tongue, in terrorem of others.—Awa with him, Geordie,—pay him, plack and bawbee, out of our monies in your hands, and let them care that come ahint."
Richie, who had counted with the utmost certainty upon the success of this master-stroke of policy, was like an architect whose whole scaffolding at once gives way under him. He caught, however, at what he thought might break his fall. "Not only the sum for which the jewels were pledged," he said, "but the double of it, if required, should be placed at his Majesty's command, and even without hope or condition of repayment, if only—"
But the king did not allow him to complete the sentence, crying out with greater vehemence than before, as if he dreaded the stability of his own good resolutions,—"Awa wi' him—swith awa wi' him! It is time he were gane, if he doubles his bode that gate. And, for your life, letna Steenie, or ony of them, hear a word from his mouth; for wha kens what trouble that might bring me into! Ne inducas in tentationem—Vade retro, Sathanas!—Amen."
In obedience to the royal mandate, George Heriot hurried the abashed petitioner out of the presence and out of the Palace; and, when they were in the Palace-yard, the citizen, remembering with some resentment the airs of equality which Richie had assumed towards him in the commencement of the scene which had just taken place, could not forbear to retaliate, by congratulating him with an ironical smile on his favour at Court, and his improved grace in presenting a supplication.
"Never fash your beard about that, Master George Heriot," said Richie, totally undismayed; "but tell me when and where I am to sifflicate you for eight hundred pounds sterling, for which these jewels stood engaged?"
"The instant that you bring with you the real owner of the money," replied Heriot; "whom it is important that I should see on more accounts than one."
"Then will I back to his Majesty," said Richie Moniplies, stoutly, "and get either the money or the pledge back again. I am fully commissionate to act in that matter."
"It may be so, Richie," said the citizen, "and perchance it may not be so neither, for your tales are not all gospel; and, therefore, be assured I will see that it is so, ere I pay you that large sum of money. I shall give you an acknowledgment for it, and I will keep it prestable at a moment's warning. But, my good Richard Moniplies, of Castle Collop, near the West Port of Edinburgh, in the meantime I am bound to return to his Majesty on matters of weight." So speaking, and mounting the stair to re-enter the Palace, he added, by way of summing up the whole,—"George Heriot is over old a cock to be caught with chaff."
Richie stood petrified when he beheld him re-enter the Palace, and found himself, as he supposed, left in the lurch.—"Now, plague on ye," he muttered, "for a cunning auld skinflint! that, because ye are an honest man yoursell, forsooth, must needs deal with all the world as if they were knaves. But deil be in me if ye beat me yet!—Gude guide us! yonder comes Laurie Linklater next, and he will be on me about the sifflication.—I winna stand him, by Saint Andrew!"
So saying, and changing the haughty stride with which he had that morning entered the precincts of the Palace, into a skulking shamble, he retreated for his wherry, which was in attendance, with speed which, to use the approved phrase on such occasions, greatly resembled a flight.
Benedict. This looks not like a nuptial. Much Ado About Nothing.
Master George Heriot had no sooner returned to the king's apartment, than James inquired of Maxwell if the Earl of Huntinglen was in attendance, and, receiving an answer in the affirmative, desired that he should be admitted. The old Scottish Lord having made his reverence in the usual manner, the king extended his hand to be kissed, and then began to address him in a tone of great sympathy.
"We told your lordship in our secret epistle of this morning, written with our ain hand, in testimony we have neither pretermitted nor forgotten your faithful service, that we had that to communicate to you that would require both patience and fortitude to endure, and therefore exhorted you to peruse some of the most pithy passages of Seneca, and of Boethius de Consolatione, that the back may be, as we say, fitted for the burden—This we commend to you from our ain experience.
'Non ignara mail, miseris succurrere disco,'
sayeth Dido, and I might say in my own person, non ignarus; but to change the gender would affect the prosody, whereof our southern subjects are tenacious. So, my Lord of Huntinglen, I trust you have acted by our advice, and studied patience before ye need it—venienti occurrite morbo—mix the medicament when the disease is coming on."
"May it please your Majesty," answered Lord Huntinglen, "I am more of an old soldier than a scholar—and if my own rough nature will not bear me out in any calamity, I hope I shall have grace to try a text of Scripture to boot."
"Ay, man, are you there with your bears?" said the king; "The Bible, man," (touching his cap,) "is indeed principium et fons—but it is pity your lordship cannot peruse it in the original. For although we did ourselves promote that work of translation,—since ye may read, at the beginning of every Bible, that when some palpable clouds of darkness were thought like to have overshadowed the land, after the setting of that bright occidental star, Queen Elizabeth; yet our appearance, like that of the sun in his strength, instantly dispelled these surmised mists,—I say, that although, as therein mentioned, we countenanced the preaching of the gospel, and especially the translation of the Scriptures out of the original sacred tongues; yet nevertheless, we ourselves confess to have found a comfort in consulting them in the original Hebrew, whilk we do not perceive even in the Latin version of the Septuagint, much less in the English traduction."
"Please your Majesty," said Lord Huntinglen, "if your Majesty delays communicating the bad news with which your honoured letter threatens me, until I am capable to read Hebrew like your Majesty, I fear I shall die in ignorance of the misfortune which hath befallen, or is about to befall, my house."
"You will learn it but too soon, my lord," replied the king. "I grieve to say it, but your son Dalgarno, whom I thought a very saint, as he was so much with Steenie and Baby Charles, hath turned out a very villain."
"Villain!" repeated Lord Huntinglen; and though he instantly checked himself, and added, "but it is your Majesty speaks the word," the effect of his first tone made the king step back as if he had received a blow. He also recovered himself again, and said in the pettish way which usually indicated his displeasure—"Yes, my lord, it was we that said it—non surdo canis—we are not deaf—we pray you not to raise your voice in speech with us—there is the bonny memorial—read, and judge for yourself."
The king then thrust into the old nobleman's hand a paper, containing the story of the Lady Hermione, with the evidence by which it was supported, detailed so briefly and clearly, that the infamy of Lord Dalgarno, the lover by whom she had been so shamefully deceived, seemed undeniable. But a father yields not up so easily the cause of his son.
"May it please your Majesty," he said, "why was this tale not sooner told? This woman hath been here for years—wherefore was the claim on my son not made the instant she touched English ground?"
"Tell him how that came about, Geordie," said the king, dressing Heriot.
"I grieve to distress my Lord Huntinglen," said Heriot; but I must speak the truth. For a long time the Lady Hermione could not brook the idea of making her situation public; and when her mind became changed in that particular, it was necessary to recover the evidence of the false marriage, and letters and papers connected with it, which, when she came to Paris, and just before I saw her, she had deposited with a correspondent of her father in that city. He became afterwards bankrupt, and in consequence of that misfortune the lady's papers passed into other hands, and it was only a few days since I traced and recovered them. Without these documents of evidence, it would have been imprudent for her to have preferred her complaint, favoured as Lord Dalgarno is by powerful friends."
"Ye are saucy to say sae," said the king; "I ken what ye mean weel eneugh—ye think Steenie wad hae putten the weight of his foot into the scales of justice, and garr'd them whomle the bucket—ye forget, Geordie, wha it is whose hand uphaulds them. And ye do poor Steenie the mair wrang, for he confessed it ance before us and our privy council, that Dalgarno would have put the quean aff on him, the puir simple bairn, making him trow that she was a light-o'-love; in whilk mind he remained assured even when he parted from her, albeit Steenie might hae weel thought ane of thae cattle wadna hae resisted the like of him."
"The Lady Hermione," said George Heriot, "has always done the utmost justice to the conduct of the duke, who, although strongly possessed with prejudice against her character, yet scorned to avail himself of her distress, and on the contrary supplied her with the means of extricating herself from her difficulties."
"It was e'en like himsell—blessings on his bonny face!" said the king; "and I believed this lady's tale the mair readily, my Lord Huntinglen, that she spake nae ill of Steenie—and to make a lang tale short, my lord, it is the opinion of our council and ourself, as weel as of Baby Charles and Steenie, that your son maun amend his wrong by wedding this lady, or undergo such disgrace and discountenance as we can bestow."
The person to whom he spoke was incapable of answering him. He stood before the king motionless, and glaring with eyes of which even the lids seemed immovable, as if suddenly converted into an ancient statue of the times of chivalry, so instantly had his hard features and strong limbs been arrested into rigidity by the blow he had received— And in a second afterwards, like the same statue when the lightning breaks upon it, he sunk at once to the ground with a heavy groan. The king was in the utmost alarm, called upon Heriot and Maxwell for help, and, presence of mind not being his forte, ran to and fro in his cabinet, exclaiming—"My ancient and beloved servant—who saved our anointed self! vae atque dolor! My Lord of Huntinglen, look up—look up, man, and your son may marry the Queen of Sheba if he will."
By this time Maxwell and Heriot had raised the old nobleman, and placed him on a chair; while the king, observing that he began to recover himself, continued his consolations more methodically.
"Haud up your head—haud up your head, and listen to your ain kind native Prince. If there is shame, man, it comesna empty-handed—there is siller to gild it—a gude tocher, and no that bad a pedigree;—if she has been a loon, it was your son made her sae, and he can make her an honest woman again."
These suggestions, however reasonable in the common case, gave no comfort to Lord Huntinglen, if indeed he fully comprehended them; but the blubbering of his good-natured old master, which began to accompany and interrupt his royal speech, produced more rapid effect. The large tear gushed reluctantly from his eye, as he kissed the withered hands, which the king, weeping with less dignity and restraint, abandoned to him, first alternately and then both together, until the feelings of the man getting entirely the better of the Sovereign's sense of dignity, he grasped and shook Lord Huntinglen's hands with the sympathy of an equal and a familiar friend."
"Compone lachrymas," said the Monarch; "be patient, man, be patient; the council, and Baby Charles, and Steenie, may a' gang to the deevil- -he shall not marry her since it moves you so deeply."
"He shall marry her, by God!" answered the earl, drawing himself up, dashing the tear from his eyes, and endeavouring to recover his composure. "I pray your Majesty's pardon, but he shall marry her, with her dishonour for her dowry, were she the veriest courtezan in all Spain—If he gave his word, he shall make his word good, were it to the meanest creature that haunts the streets—he shall do it, or my own dagger shall take the life that I gave him. If he could stoop to use so base a fraud, though to deceive infamy, let him wed infamy."
"No, no!" the Monarch continued to insinuate, "things are not so bad as that—Steenie himself never thought of her being a streetwalker, even when he thought the worst of her."
"If it can at all console my Lord of Huntinglen," said the citizen, "I can assure him of this lady's good birth, and most fair and unspotted fame."
"I am sorry for it," said Lord Huntinglen—then interrupting himself, he said—"Heaven forgive me for being ungrateful for such comfort!— but I am well-nigh sorry she should be as you represent her, so much better than the villain deserves. To be condemned to wed beauty and innocence and honest birth—"
"Ay, and wealth, my lord—wealth," insinuated the king, "is a better sentence than his perfidy has deserved."
"It is long," said the embittered father, "since I saw he was selfish and hardhearted; but to be a perjured liar—I never dreaded that such a blot would have fallen on my race! I will never look on him again."
"Hoot ay, my lord, hoot ay," said the king; "ye maun tak him to task roundly. I grant you should speak more in the vein of Demea than Mitio, vi nempe et via pervulgata patrum; but as for not seeing him again, and he your only son, that is altogether out of reason. I tell ye, man, (but I would not for a boddle that Baby Charles heard me,) that he might gie the glaiks to half the lasses of Lonnun, ere I could find in my heart speak such harsh words as you have said of this deil of a Dalgarno of yours."
"May it please your Majesty to permit me to retire," said Lord Huntinglen, "and dispose of the case according to your own royal sense of justice, for I desire no favour for him."
"Aweel, my lord, so be it; and if your lordship can think," added the Monarch, "of any thing in our power which might comfort you—"
"Your Majesty's gracious sympathy," said Lord Huntinglen, "has already comforted me as far as earth can; the rest must be from the King of kings."
"To Him I commend you, my auld and faithful servant," said James with emotion, as the earl withdrew from his presence. The king remained fixed in thought for some time, and then said to Heriot, "Jingling Geordie, ye ken all the privy doings of our Court, and have dune so these thirty years, though, like a wise man, ye hear, and see, and say nothing. Now, there is a thing I fain wad ken, in the way of philosophical inquiry—Did you ever hear of the umquhile Lady Huntinglen, the departed Countess of this noble earl, ganging a wee bit gleed in her walk through the world; I mean in the way of slipping a foot, casting a leglin-girth, or the like, ye understand me?"
[Footnote: A leglin-girth is the lowest hoop upon a leglin, or milk- pail. Allan Ramsay applies the phrase in the same metaphorical sense.
"Or bairns can read, they first maun spell, I learn'd this frae my mammy, And cast a leglin-girth mysell, Lang ere I married Tammy." Christ's Kirk On The Green.]
"On my word as an honest man," said George Heriot, somewhat surprised at the question, "I never heard her wronged by the slightest breath of suspicion. She was a worthy lady, very circumspect in her walk, and lived in great concord with her husband, save that the good Countess was something of a puritan, and kept more company with ministers than was altogether agreeable to Lord Huntinglen, who is, as your Majesty well knows, a man of the old rough world, that will drink and swear."
"O Geordie!" exclaimed the king, "these are auld-warld frailties, of whilk we dare not pronounce even ourselves absolutely free. But the warld grows worse from day to day, Geordie. The juveniles of this age may weel say with the poet—
'Aetas parentum, pejor avis, tulit Nos nequiores—'
This Dalgarno does not drink so much, or swear so much, as his father; but he wenches, Geordie, and he breaks his word and oath baith. As to what you say of the leddy, and the ministers, we are a' fallible creatures, Geordie, priests and kings, as weel as others; and wha kens but what that may account for the difference between this Dalgarno and his father? The earl is the vera soul of honour, and cares nae mair for warld's gear than a noble hound for the quest of a foulmart; but as for his son, he was like to brazen us a' out—ourselves, Steenie, Baby Charles, and our council—till he heard of the tocher, and then, by my kingly crown, he lap like a cock at a grossart! These are discrepancies betwixt parent and son not to be accounted for naturally, according to Baptista Porta, Michael Scott de secretis, and others.—Ah, Jingling Geordie, if your clouting the caldron, and jingling on pots, pans, and veshels of all manner of metal, hadna jingled a' your grammar out of your head, I could have touched on that matter to you at mair length."
Heriot was too plain-spoken to express much concern for the loss of his grammar learning on this occasion; but after modestly hinting that he had seen many men who could not fill their father's bonnet, though no one had been suspected of wearing their father's nightcap, he inquired "whether Lord Dalgarno had consented to do the Lady Hermione justice."
"Troth, man, I have small doubt that he will," quoth the king; "I gave him the schedule of her worldly substance, which you delivered to us in the council, and we allowed him half-an-hour to chew the cud upon that. It is rare reading for bringing him to reason. I left Baby Charles and Steenie laying his duty before him; and if he can resist doing what they desire him—why, I wish he would teach me the gate of it. O Geordie, Jingling Geordie, it was grand to hear Baby Charles laying down the guilt of dissimulation, and Steenie lecturing on the turpitude of incontinence!"
"I am afraid," said George Heriot, more hastily than prudently, "I might have thought of the old proverb of Satan reproving sin."
"Deil hae our saul, neighbour," said the king, reddening, "but ye are not blate! I gie ye license to speak freely, and, by our saul, ye do not let the privilege become lost non utendo—it will suffer no negative prescription in your hands. Is it fit, think ye, that Baby Charles should let his thoughts be publicly seen?—No—no—princes' thoughts are arcana imperii—Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare. Every liege subject is bound to speak the whole truth to the king, but there is nae reciprocity of obligation—and for Steenie having been whiles a dike-louper at a time, is it for you, who are his goldsmith, and to whom, I doubt, he awes an uncomatable sum, to cast that up to him?"
Heriot did not feel himself called on to play the part of Zeno and sacrifice himself for upholding the cause of moral truth; he did not desert it, however, by disavowing his words, but simply expressed sorrow for having offended his Majesty, with which the placable king was sufficiently satisfied.
"And now, Geordie, man," quoth he, "we will to this culprit, and hear what he has to say for himself, for I will see the job cleared this blessed day. Ye maun come wi' me, for your evidence may be wanted."
The king led the way, accordingly, into a larger apartment, where the Prince, the Duke of Buckingham, and one or two privy counsellors were seated at a table, before which stood Lord Dalgarno, in an attitude of as much elegant ease and indifference as could be expressed, considering the stiff dress and manners of the times.
All rose and bowed reverently, while the king, to use a north country word, expressive of his mode of locomotion, toddled to his chair or throne, making a sign to Heriot to stand behind him.
"We hope," said his Majesty, "that Lord Dalgarno stands prepared to do justice to this unfortunate lady, and to his own character and honour?"
"May I humbly inquire the penalty," said Lord Dalgarno, "in case I should unhappily find compliance with your Majesty's demands impossible?"
"Banishment frae our Court, my lord," said the king; "frae our Court and our countenance."
"Unhappy exile that I may be!" said Lord Dalgarno, in a tone of subdued irony—"I will at least carry your Majesty's picture with me, for I shall never see such another king." "And banishment, my lord," said the Prince, sternly, "from these our dominions."
"That must be by form of law, please your Royal Highness," said Dalgarno, with an affectation of deep respect; "and I have not heard that there is a statute, compelling us, under such penalty, to marry every woman we may play the fool with. Perhaps his Grace of Buckingham can tell me?"
"You are a villain, Dalgarno," said the haughty and vehement favourite.
"Fie, my lord, fie!—to a prisoner, and in presence of your royal and paternal gossip!" said Lord Dalgarno. "But I will cut this deliberation short. I have looked over this schedule of the goods and effects of Erminia Pauletti, daughter of the late noble—yes, he is called the noble, or I read wrong, Giovanni Pauletti, of the Houee of Sansovino, in Genoa, and of the no less noble Lady Maud Olifaunt, of the House of Glenvarloch—Well, I declare that I was pre-contracted in Spain to this noble lady, and there has passed betwixt us some certain proelibatio matrimonii; and now, what more does this grave assembly require of me?"
"That you should repair the gross and infamous wrong you have done the lady, by marrying her within this hour," said the Prince.
"O, may it please your Royal Highness," answered Dalgarno, "I have a trifling relationship with an old Earl, who calls himself my father, who may claim some vote in the matter. Alas! every son is not blessed with an obedient parent!" He hazarded a slight glance towards the throne, to give meaning to his last words.
"We have spoken ourselves with Lord Huntinglen," said the king, "and are authorised to consent in his name."
"I could never have expected this intervention of a proxaneta, which the vulgar translate blackfoot, of such eminent dignity," said Dalgarno, scarce concealing a sneer. "And my father hath consented? He was wont to say, ere we left Scotland, that the blood of Huntinglen and of Glenvarloch would not mingle, were they poured into the same basin. Perhaps he has a mind to try the experiment?"
"My lord," said James, "we will not be longer trifled with—Will you instantly, and sine mora, take this lady to your wife, in our chapel?"
"Statim atque instanter," answered Lord Dalgarno; "for I perceive by doing so, I shall obtain power to render great services to the commonwealth—I shall have acquired wealth to supply the wants of your Majesty, and a fair wife to be at the command of his Grace of Buckingham."
The Duke rose, passed to the end of the table where Lord Dalgarno was standing, and whispered in his ear, "You have placed a fair sister at my command ere now."
This taunt cut deep through Lord Dalgarno's assumed composure. He started as if an adder had stung him, but instantly composed himself, and, fixing on the Duke's still smiling countenance an eye which spoke unutterable hatred, he pointed the forefinger of his left hand to the hilt of his sword, but in a manner which could scarce be observed by any one save Buckingham. The Duke gave him another smile of bitter scorn, and returned to his seat, in obedience to the commands of the king, who continued calling out, "Sit down, Steenie, sit down, I command ye—we will hae nae harnsbreaking here."
"Your Majesty needs not fear my patience," said Lord Dalgarno; "and that I may keep it the better, I will not utter another word in this presence, save those enjoined to me in that happy portion of the Prayer-Book, which begins with Dearly Beloved, and ends with amazement."
"You are a hardened villain, Dalgarno," said the king; "and were I the lass, by my father's saul, I would rather brook the stain of having been your concubine, than run the risk of becoming your wife. But she shall be under our special protection.—Come, my lords, we will ourselves see this blithesome bridal." He gave the signal by rising, and moved towards the door, followed by the train. Lord Dalgarno attended, speaking to none, and spoken to by no one, yet seeming as easy and unembarrassed in his gait and manner as if in reality a happy bridegroom.
They reached the Chapel by a private entrance, which communicated from the royal apartment. The Bishop of Winchester, in his pontifical dress, stood beside the altar; on the other side, supported by Monna Paula, the colourless, faded, half-lifeless form of the Lady Hermione, or Erminia Pauletti. Lord Dalgarno bowed profoundly to her, and the Prince, observing the horror with which she regarded him, walked up, and said to her, with much dignity,—"Madam, ere you put yourself under the authority of this man, let me inform you, he hath in the fullest degree vindicated your honour, so far as concerns your former intercourse. It is for you to consider whether you will put your fortune and happiness into the hands of one, who has shown himself unworthy of all trust."
The lady, with much difficulty, found words to make reply. "I owe to his Majesty's goodness," she said, "the care of providing me some reservation out of my own fortune, for my decent sustenance. The rest cannot be better disposed than in buying back the fair fame of which I am deprived, and the liberty of ending my life in peace and seclusion."
"The contract has been drawn up," said the king, "under our own eye, specially discharging the potestas maritalis, and agreeing they shall live separate. So buckle them, my Lord Bishop, as fast as you can, that they may sunder again the sooner."
The Bishop accordingly opened his book and commenced the marriage ceremony, under circumstances so novel and so inauspicious. The responses of the bride were only expressed by inclinations of the head and body; while those of the bridegroom were spoken boldly and distinctly, with a tone resembling levity, if not scorn. When it was concluded, Lord Dalgarno advanced as if to salute the bride, but seeing that she drew back in fear and abhorrence, he contented himself with making her a low bow. He then drew up his form to its height, and stretched himself as if examining the power of his limbs, but elegantly, and without any forcible change of attitude. "I could caper yet," he said "though I am in fetters—but they are of gold, and lightly worn.—Well, I see all eyes look cold on me, and it is time I should withdraw. The sun shines elsewhere than in England! But first I must ask how this fair Lady Dalgarno is to be bestowed. Methinks it is but decent I should know. Is she to be sent to the harem of my Lord Duke? Or is this worthy citizen, as before—"
"Hold thy base ribald tongue!" said his father, Lord Huntinglen, who had kept in the background during the ceremony, and now stepping suddenly forward, caught the lady by the arm, and confronted her unworthy husband.—"The Lady Dalgarno," he continued, "shall remain as a widow in my house. A widow I esteem her, as much as if the grave had closed over her dishonoured husband."
Lord Dalgarno exhibited momentary symptoms of extreme confusion, and said, in a submissive tone, "If you, my lord, can wish me dead, I cannot, though your heir, return the compliment. Few of the first-born of Israel," he added, recovering himself from the single touch of emotion he had displayed, "can say so much with truth. But I will convince you ere I go, that I am a true descendant of a house famed for its memory of injuries."
"I marvel your Majesty will listen to him longer," said Prince Charles. "Methinks we have heard enough of his daring insolence."
But James, who took the interest of a true gossip in such a scene as was now passing, could not bear to cut the controversy short, but imposed silence on his son, with "Whisht, Baby Charles—there is a good bairn, whisht!—I want to hear what the frontless loon can say."
"Only, sir," said Dalgarno, "that but for one single line in this schedule, all else that it contains could not have bribed me to take that woman's hand into mine."
"That line maun have been the SUMMA TOTALIS," said the king.
"Not so, sire," replied Dalgarno. "The sum total might indeed have been an object for consideration even to a Scottish king, at no very distant period; but it would have had little charms for me, save that I see here an entry which gives me the power of vengeance over the family of Glenvarloch; and learn from it that yonder pale bride, when she put the wedding-torch into my hand, gave me the power of burning her mother's house to ashes!"
"How is that?" said the king. "What is he speaking about, Jingling Geordie?"
"This friendly citizen, my liege," said Lord Dalgarno, "hath expended a sum belonging to my lady, and now, I thank heaven, to me, in acquiring a certain mortgage, or wanset, over the estate of Glenvarloch, which, if it be not redeemed before to-morrow at noon, will put me in possession of the fair demesnes of those who once called themselves our house's rivals."
"Can this be true?" said the king.
"It is even but too true, please your Majesty," answered the citizen. "The Lady Hermione having advanced the money for the original creditor, I was obliged, in honour and honesty, to take the rights to her; and doubtless, they pass to her husband."
"But the warrant, man," said the king—"the warrant on our Exchequer— Couldna that supply the lad wi' the means of redemption?"
"Unhappily, my liege, he has lost it, or disposed of it—It is not to be found. He is the most unlucky youth!"
"This is a proper spot of work!" said the king, beginning to amble about and play with the points of his doublet and hose, in expression of dismay. "We cannot aid him without paying our debts twice over, and we have, in the present state of our Exchequer, scarce the means of paying them once."
"You have told me news," said Lord Dalgarno, "but I will take no advantage."
"Do not," said his father, "be a bold villain, since thou must be one, and seek revenge with arms, and not with the usurer's weapons."
"Pardon me, my lord," said Lord Dalgarno. "Pen and ink are now my surest means of vengeance; and more land is won by the lawyer with the ram-skin, than by the Andrea Ferrara with his sheepshead handle. But, as I said before, I will take no advantages. I will await in town to- morrow, near Covent Garden; if any one will pay the redemption-money to my scrivener, with whom the deeds lie, the better for Lord Glenvarloch; if not, I will go forward on the next day, and travel with all dispatch to the north, to take possession."
"Take a father's malison with you, unhappy wretch!" said Lord Huntinglen.
"And a king's, who is pater patriae," said James.
"I trust to bear both lightly," said Lord Dalgarno; and bowing around him, he withdrew; while all present, oppressed, and, as it were, overawed, by his determined effrontery, found they could draw breath more freely, when he at length relieved them of his society. Lord Huntinglen, applying himself to comfort his new daughter-in-law, withdrew with her also; and the king, with his privy-council, whom he had not dismissed, again returned to his council-chamber, though the hour was unusually late. Heriot's attendance was still commanded, but for what reason was not explained to him.
—-I'll play the eavesdropper. Richard III., Act V., Scene 3.
James had no sooner resumed his seat at the council-board than he began to hitch in his chair, cough, use his handkerchief, and make other intimations that he meditated a long speech. The council composed themselves to the beseeming degree of attention. Charles, as strict in his notions of decorum, as his father was indifferent to it, fixed himself in an attitude of rigid and respectful attention, while the haughty favourite, conscious of his power over both father and son, stretched himself more easily on his seat, and, in assuming an appearance of listening, seemed to pay a debt to ceremonial rather than to duty.
"I doubt not, my lords," said the Monarch, "that some of you may be thinking the hour of refection is past, and that it is time to ask with the slave in the comedy—Quid de symbolo?—Nevertheless, to do justice and exercise judgment is our meat and drink; and now we are to pray your wisdom to consider the case of this unhappy youth, Lord Glenvarloch, and see whether, consistently with our honour, any thing can be done in his favour."
"I am surprised at your Majesty's wisdom making the inquiry," said the Duke; "it is plain this Dalgarno hath proved one of the most insolent villains on earth, and it must therefore be clear, that if Lord Glenvarloch had run him through the body, there would but have been out of the world a knave who had lived in it too long. I think Lord Glenvarloch hath had much wrong; and I regret that, by the persuasions of this false fellow, I have myself had some hand in it."
"Ye speak like a child, Steenie—I mean my Lord of Buckingham," answered the king, "and as one that does not understand the logic of the schools; for an action may be inconsequential or even meritorious, quoad hominem, that is, as touching him upon whom it is acted; and yet most criminal, quoad locum, or considering the place wherein it is done; as a man may lawfully dance Chrighty Beardie or any other dance in a tavern, but not inter parietes ecclesiae. So that, though it may have been a good deed to have sticked Lord Dalgarno, being such as he has shown himself, anywhere else, yet it fell under the plain statute, when violence was offered within the verge of the Court. For, let me tell you, my lords, the statute against striking would be of no small use in our Court, if it could be eluded by justifying the person stricken to be a knave. It is much to be lamented that I ken nae Court in Christendom where knaves are not to be found; and if men are to break the peace under pretence of beating them, why, it will rain Jeddart staves [Footnote: The old-fashioned weapon called the Jeddart staff was a species of battle-axe. Of a very great tempest, it is said, in the south of Scotland, that it rains Jeddart staffs, as in England the common people talk of its raining cats and dogs.] in our very ante-chamber."
"What your Majesty says," replied Prince Charles, "is marked with your usual wisdom—the precincts of palaces must be sacred as well as the persons of kings, which are respected even in the most barbarous nations, as being one step only beneath their divinities. But your Majesty's will can control the severity of this and every other law, and it is in your power, on consideration of his case, to grant the rash young man a free pardon."
"Rem acu tetigisti, Carole, mi puerule," answered the king; "and know, my lords, that we have, by a shrewd device and gift of our own, already sounded the very depth of this Lord Glenvarloch's disposition. I trow there be among you some that remember my handling in the curious case of my Lady Lake, and how I trimmed them about the story of hearkening behind the arras. Now this put me to cogitation, and I remembered me of having read that Dionysius, King of Syracuse, whom historians call Tyrannos, which signifieth not in the Greek tongue, as in ours, a truculent usurper, but a royal king who governs, it may be, something more strictly than we and other lawful monarchs, whom the ancients termed Basileis—Now this Dionysius of Syracuse caused cunning workmen to build for himself a lugg—D'ye ken what that is, my Lord Bishop?"
"A cathedral, I presume to guess," answered the Bishop.
"What the deil, man—I crave your lordship's pardon for swearing—but it was no cathedral—only a lurking-place called the king's lugg, or ear, where he could sit undescried, and hear the converse of his prisoners. Now, sirs, in imitation of this Dionysius, whom I took for my pattern, the rather that he was a great linguist and grammarian, and taught a school with good applause after his abdication, (either he or his successor of the same name, it matters not whilk)—I have caused them to make a lugg up at the state-prison of the Tower yonder, more like a pulpit than a cathedral, my Lord Bishop—and communicating with the arras behind the Lieutenant's chamber, where we may sit and privily hear the discourse of such prisoners as are pent up there for state-offences, and so creep into the very secrets of our enemies."
The Prince cast a glance towards the Duke, expressive of great vexation and disgust. Buckingham shrugged his shoulders, but the motion was so slight as to be almost imperceptible.
"Weel, my lords, ye ken the fray at the hunting this morning—I shall not get out of the trembling exies until I have a sound night's sleep- -just after that, they bring ye in a pretty page that had been found in the Park. We were warned against examining him ourselves by the anxious care of those around us; nevertheless, holding our life ever at the service of these kingdoms, we commanded all to avoid the room, the rather that we suspected this boy to be a girl. What think ye, my lords?—few of you would have thought I had a hawk's eye for sic gear; but we thank God, that though we are old, we know so much of such toys as may beseem a man of decent gravity. Weel, my lords, we questioned this maiden in male attire ourselves, and I profess it was a very pretty interrogatory, and well followed. For, though she at first professed that she assumed this disguise in order to countenance the woman who should present us with the Lady Hermione's petition, for whom she professed entire affection; yet when we, suspecting anguis in herba, did put her to the very question, she was compelled to own a virtuous attachment for Glenvarlochides, in such a pretty passion of shame and fear, that we had much ado to keep our own eyes from keeping company with hers in weeping. Also, she laid before us the false practices of this Dalgarno towards Glenvarlochides, inveigling him into houses of ill resort, and giving him evil counsel under pretext of sincere friendship, whereby the inexperienced lad was led to do what was prejudicial to himself, and offensive to us. But, however prettily she told her tale, we determined not altogether to trust to her narration, but rather to try the experiment whilk we had devised for such occasions. And having ourselves speedily passed from Greenwich to the Tower, we constituted ourselves eavesdropper, as it is called, to observe what should pass between Glenvarlochides and his page, whom we caused to be admitted to his apartment, well judging that if they were of counsel together to deceive us, it could not be but something of it would spunk out—And what think ye we saw, my lords?—Naething for you to sniggle and laugh at, Steenie—for I question if you could have played the temperate and Christian-like part of this poor lad Glenvarloch. He might be a Father of the Church in comparison of you, man.—And then, to try his patience yet farther, we loosed on him a courtier and a citizen, that is Sir Mungo Malagrowther and our servant George Heriot here, wha dang the poor lad about, and didna greatly spare our royal selves.—You mind, Geordie, what you said about the wives and concubines? but I forgie ye, man— nae need of kneeling, I forgie ye—the readier, that it regards a certain particular, whilk, as it added not much to Solomon's credit, the lack of it cannot be said to impinge on ours. Aweel, my lords, for all temptation of sore distress and evil ensample, this poor lad never loosed his tongue on us to say one unbecoming word—which inclines us the rather, acting always by your wise advice, to treat this affair of the Park as a thing done in the heat of blood, and under strong provocation, and therefore to confer our free pardon on Lord Glenvarloch."
"I am happy your gracious Majesty," said the Duke of Buckingham, "has arrived at that conclusion, though I could never have guessed at the road by which you attained it."
"I trust," said Prince Charles, "that it is not a path which your Majesty will think it consistent with your high dignity to tread frequently."
"Never while I live again, Baby Charles, that I give you my royal word on. They say that hearkeners hear ill tales of themselves—by my saul, my very ears are tingling wi' that auld sorrow Sir Mungo's sarcasms. He called us close-fisted, Steenie—I am sure you can contradict that. But it is mere envy in the auld mutilated sinner, because he himself has neither a noble to hold in his loof, nor fingers to close on it if he had." Here the king lost recollection of Sir Mungo's irreverence in chuckling over his own wit, and only farther alluded to it by saying— "We must give the old maunderer bos in linguam—something to stop his mouth, or he will rail at us from Dan to Beersheba.—And now, my lords, let our warrant of mercy to Lord Glenvarloch be presently expedited, and he put to his freedom; and as his estate is likely to go so sleaveless a gate, we will consider what means of favour we can show him.—My lords, I wish you an appetite to an early supper—for our labours have approached that term.—Baby Charles and Steenie, you will remain till our couchee.—My Lord Bishop, you will be pleased to stay to bless our meat.—Geordie Heriot, a word with you apart."
His Majesty then drew the citizen into a corner, while the counsellors, those excepted who had been commanded to remain, made their obeisance, and withdrew. "Geordie," said the king, "my good and trusty servant"—Here he busied his fingers much with the points and ribbons of his dress,—"Ye see that we have granted, from our own natural sense of right and justice, that which yon long-backed fallow, Moniplies I think they ca' him, proffered to purchase from us with a mighty bribe; whilk we refused, as being a crowned king, who wad neither sell our justice nor our mercy for pecuniar consideration. Now, what think ye should be the upshot of this?"
"My Lord Glenvarloch's freedom, and his restoration to your Majesty's favour," said Heriot.
"I ken that," said the king, peevishly. "Ye are very dull to-day. I mean, what do you think this fallow Moniplies should think about the matter?"
"Surely that your Majesty is a most good and gracious sovereign," answered Heriot.
"We had need to be gude and gracious baith," said the king, still more pettishly, "that have idiots about us that cannot understand what we mint at, unless we speak it out in braid Lowlands. See this chield Moniplies, sir, and tell him what we have done for Lord Glenvarloch, in whom he takes such part, out of our own gracious motion, though we refused to do it on ony proffer of private advantage. Now, you may put it till him, as if of your own mind, whether it will be a gracious or a dutiful part in him, to press us for present payment of the two or three hundred miserable pounds for whilk we were obliged to opignorate our jewels? Indeed, mony men may think ye wad do the part of a good citizen, if you took it on yourself to refuse him payment, seeing he hath had what he professed to esteem full satisfaction, and considering, moreover, that it is evident he hath no pressing need of the money, whereof we have much necessity."
George Heriot sighed internally. "O my Master," thought he—"my dear Master, is it then fated you are never to indulge any kingly or noble sentiment, without its being sullied by some afterthought of interested selfishness!"
The king troubled himself not about what he thought, but taking him by the collar, said,—"Ye ken my meaning now, Jingler—awa wi' ye. You are a wise man—manage it your ain gate—but forget not our present straits." The citizen made his obeisance, and withdrew.
"And now, bairns," said the king, "what do you look upon each other for—and what have you got to ask of your dear dad and gossip?"
"Only," said the Prince, "that it would please your Majesty to command the lurking-place at the prison to be presently built up—the groans of a captive should not be brought in evidence against him."
"What! build up my lugg, Baby Charles? And yet, better deaf than hear ill tales of oneself. So let them build it up, hard and fast, without delay, the rather that my back is sair with sitting in it for a whole hour.—And now let us see what the cooks have been doing for us, bonny bairns."
To this brave man the knight repairs For counsel in his law affairs; And found him mounted in his pew. With books and money placed for show, Like nest-eggs to make clients lay, And for his false opinion pay. Hudibras.
Our readers may recollect a certain smooth-tongued, lank-haired, buckram-suited, Scottish scrivener, who, in the earlier part of this history, appeared in the character of a protege of George Heriot. It is to his house we are about to remove, but times have changed with him. The petty booth hath become a chamber of importance—the buckram suit is changed into black velvet; and although the wearer retains his puritanical humility and politeness to clients of consequence, he can now look others broad in the face, and treat them with a full allowance of superior opulence, and the insolence arising from it. It was but a short period that had achieved these alterations, nor was the party himself as yet entirely accustomed to them, but the change was becoming less embarrassing to him with every day's practice. Among other acquisitions of wealth, you may see one of Davy Ramsay's best timepieces on the table, and his eye is frequently observing its revolutions, while a boy, whom he employs as a scribe, is occasionally sent out to compare its progress with the clock of Saint Dunstan.
The scrivener himself seemed considerably agitated. He took from a strong-box a bundle of parchments, and read passages of them with great attention; then began to soliloquize—"There is no outlet which law can suggest—no back-door of evasion—none—if the lands of Glenvarloch are not redeemed before it rings noon, Lord Dalgarno has them a cheap pennyworth. Strange, that he should have been at last able to set his patron at defiance, and achieve for himself the fair estate, with the prospect of which he so long flattered the powerful Buckingham.—Might not Andrew Skurliewhitter nick him as neatly? He hath been my patron—true—not more than Buckingham was his; and he can be so no more, for he departs presently for Scotland. I am glad of it—I hate him, and I fear him. He knows too many of my secrets—I know too many of his. But, no—no—no—I need never attempt it, there are no means of over-reaching him.—Well, Willie, what o'clock?"