"Ele'en hours just chappit, sir."
"Go to your desk without, child," said the scrivener. "What to do next—I shall lose the old Earl's fair business, and, what is worse, his son's foul practice. Old Heriot looks too close into business to permit me more than the paltry and ordinary dues. The Whitefriars business was profitable, but it has become unsafe ever since—pah!— what brought that in my head just now? I can hardly hold my pen—if men should see me in this way!—Willie," (calling aloud to the boy,) "a cup of distilled waters—Soh!—now I could face the devil."
He spoke the last words aloud, and close by the door of the apartment, which was suddenly opened by Richie Moniplies, followed by two gentlemen, and attended by two porters bearing money-bags. "If ye can face the devil, Maister Skurliewhitter," said Richie, "ye will be the less likely to turn your back on a sack or twa o' siller, which I have ta'en the freedom to bring you. Sathanas and Mammon are near akin." The porters, at the same time, ranged their load on the floor.
"I—I,"—stammered the surprised scrivener—"I cannot guess what you mean, sir."
"Only that I have brought you the redemption-money on the part of Lord Glenvarloch, in discharge of a certain mortgage over his family inheritance. And here, in good time, comes Master Reginald Lowestoffe, and another honourable gentleman of the Temple, to be witnesses to the transaction."
"I—I incline to think," said the scrivener, "that the term is expired."
"You will pardon us, Master Scrivener," said Lowestoffe. "You will not baffle us—it wants three-quarters of noon by every clock in the city."
"I must have time, gentlemen," said Andrew, "to examine the gold by tale and weight."
"Do so at your leisure, Master Scrivener," replied Lowestoffe again. "We have already seen the contents of each sack told and weighed, and we have put our seals on them. There they stand in a row, twenty in number, each containing three hundred yellow-hammers—we are witnesses to the lawful tender."
"Gentlemen," said the scrivener, "this security now belongs to a mighty lord. I pray you, abate your haste, and let me send for Lord Dalgarno,—or rather I will run for him myself."
So saying, he took up his hat; but Lowestoffe called out,—"Friend Moniplies, keep the door fast, an thou be'st a man! he seeks but to put off the time.—In plain terms, Andrew, you may send for the devil, if you will, who is the mightiest lord of my acquaintance, but from hence you stir not till you have answered our proposition, by rejecting or accepting the redemption-money fairly tendered—there it lies—take it, or leave it, as you will. I have skill enough to know that the law is mightier than any lord in Britain—I have learned so much at the Temple, if I have learned nothing else. And see that you trifle not with it, lest it make your long ears an inch shorter, Master Skurliewhitter."
"Nay, gentlemen, if you threaten me," said the scrivener, "I cannot resist compulsion."
"No threats—no threats at all, my little Andrew," said Lowestoffe; "a little friendly advice only—forget not, honest Andrew, I have seen you in Alsatia."
Without answering a single word, the scrivener sat down, and drew in proper form a full receipt for the money proffered.
"I take it on your report, Master Lowestoffe," he said; "I hope you will remember I have insisted neither upon weight nor tale—I have been civil—if there is deficiency I shall come to loss."
"Fillip his nose with a gold-piece, Richie," quoth the Templar. "Take up the papers, and now wend we merrily to dine thou wot'st where."
"If I might choose," said Richie, "it should not be at yonder roguish ordinary; but as it is your pleasure, gentlemen, the treat shall be given wheresoever you will have it."
"At the ordinary," said the one Templar.
"At Beaujeu's," said the other; "it is the only house in London for neat wines, nimble drawers, choice dishes, and—"
"And high charges," quoth Richie Moniplies. "But, as I said before, gentlemen, ye have a right to command me in this thing, having so frankly rendered me your service in this small matter of business, without other stipulation than that of a slight banquet."
The latter part of this discourse passed in the street, where, immediately afterwards, they met Lord Dalgarno. He appeared in haste, touched his hat slightly to Master Lowestoffe, who returned his reverence with the same negligence, and walked slowly on with his companion, while Lord Dalgarno stopped Richie Moniplies with a commanding sign, which the instinct of education compelled Moniplies, though indignant, to obey.
"Whom do you now follow, sirrah?" demanded the noble.
"Whomsoever goeth before me, my lord," answered Moniplies.
"No sauciness, you knave—I desire to know if you still serve Nigel Olifaunt?" said Dalgarno.
"I am friend to the noble Lord Glenvarloch," answered Moniplies, with dignity.
"True," replied Lord Dalgarno, "that noble lord has sunk to seek friends among lackeys—Nevertheless,—hark thee hither,—nevertheless, if he be of the same mind as when we last met, thou mayst show him, that, on to-morrow, at four afternoon, I shall pass northward by Enfield Chase—I will be slenderly attended, as I design to send my train through Barnet. It is my purpose to ride an easy pace through the forest, and to linger a while by Camlet Moat—he knows the place; and, if he be aught but an Alsatian bully, will think it fitter for some purposes than the Park. He is, I understand, at liberty, or shortly to be so. If he fail me at the place nominated, he must seek me in Scotland, where he will find me possessed of his father's estate and lands."
"Humph!" muttered Richie; "there go twa words to that bargain."
He even meditated a joke on the means which he was conscious he possessed of baffling Lord Dalgarno's expectations; but there was something of keen and dangerous excitement in the eyes of the young nobleman, which prompted his discretion for once to rule his vit, and he only answered—
"God grant your lordship may well brook your new conquest—when you get it. I shall do your errand to my lord—whilk is to say," he added internally, "he shall never hear a word of it from Richie. I am not the lad to put him in such hazard."
Lord Dalgarno looked at him sharply for a moment, as if to penetrate the meaning of the dry ironical tone, which, in spite of Richie's awe, mingled with his answer, and then waved his hand, in signal he should pass on. He himself walked slowly till the trio were out of sight, then turned back with hasty steps to the door of the scrivener, which he had passed in his progress, knocked, and was admitted.
Lord Dalgarno found the man of law with the money-bags still standing before him; and it escaped not his penetrating glance, that Skurliewhitter was disconcerted and alarmed at his approach.
"How now, man," he said; "what! hast thou not a word of oily compliment to me on my happy marriage?—not a word of most philosophical consolation on my disgrace at Court?—Or has my mien, as a wittol and discarded favourite, the properties of the Gorgon's head, the turbatae Palladis arma, as Majesty might say?"
"My lord, I am glad—my lord, I am sorry,"—answered the trembling scrivener, who, aware of the vivacity of Lord Dalgarno's temper, dreaded the consequence of the communication he had to make to him.
"Glad and sorry!" answered Lord Dalgarno. "That is blowing hot and cold, with a witness. Hark ye, you picture of petty-larceny personified—if you are sorry I am a cuckold, remember I am only mine own, you knave—there is too little blood in her cheeks to have sent her astray elsewhere. Well, I will bear mine antler'd honours as I may—gold shall gild them; and for my disgrace, revenge shall sweeten it. Ay, revenge—and there strikes the happy hour!"
The hour of noon was accordingly heard to peal from Saint Dunstan's. "Well banged, brave hammers!" said Lord Dalgarno, in triumph.—"The estate and lands of Glenvarloch are crushed beneath these clanging blows. If my steel to-morrow prove but as true as your iron maces to- day, the poor landless lord will little miss what your peal hath cut him out from.—The papers—the papers, thou varlet! I am to-morrow Northward, ho! At four, afternoon, I am bound to be at Camlet Moat, in the Enfield Chase. To-night most of my retinue set forward. The papers!—Come, dispatch."
"My lord, the—the papers of the Glenvarloch mortgage—I—I have them not."
"Have them not!" echoed Lord Dalgarno,—"Hast thou sent them to my lodgings, thou varlet? Did I not say I was coming hither?—What mean you by pointing to that money? What villainy have you done for it? It is too large to be come honestly by."
"Your lordship knows best," answered the scrivener, in great perturbation. "The gold is your own. It is—it is—"
"Not the redemption-money of the Glenvarloch estate!" said Dalgarno. "Dare not say it is, or I will, upon the spot, divorce your pettifogging soul from your carrion carcass!" So saying, he seized the scrivener by the collar, and shook him so vehemently, that he tore it from the cassock.
"My lord, I must call for help," said the trembling caitiff, who felt at that moment all the bitterness of the mortal agony—"It was the law's act, not mine. What could I do?"
"Dost ask?—why, thou snivelling dribblet of damnation, were all thy oaths, tricks, and lies spent? or do you hold yourself too good to utter them in my service? Thou shouldst have lied, cozened, out-sworn truth itself, rather than stood betwixt me and my revenge! But mark me," he continued; "I know more of your pranks than would hang thee. A line from me to the Attorney-General, and thou art sped."
"What would you have me to do, my lord?" said the scrivener. "All that art and law can accomplish, I will try."
"Ah, are you converted? do so, or pity of your life!" said the lord; "and remember I never fail my word.—Then keep that accursed gold," he continued. "Or, stay, I will not trust you—send me this gold home presently to my lodging. I will still forward to Scotland, and it shall go hard but that I hold out Glenvarloch Castle against the owner, by means of the ammunition he has himself furnished. Thou art ready to serve me?" The scrivener professed the most implicit obedience.
"Then remember, the hour was past ere payment was tendered—and see thou hast witnesses of trusty memory to prove that point."
"Tush, my lord, I will do more," said Andrew, reviving—"I will prove that Lord Glenvarloch's friends threatened, swaggered, and drew swords on me.—Did your lordship think I was ungrateful enough to have suffered them to prejudice your lordship, save that they had bare swords at my throat?"
"Enough said," replied Dalgarno; "you are perfect—mind that you continue so, as you would avoid my fury. I leave my page below—get porters, and let them follow me instantly with the gold."
So saying, Lord Dalgarno left the scrivener's habitation.
Skurliewhitter, having dispatched his boy to get porters of trust for transporting the money, remained alone and in dismay, meditating by what means he could shake himself free of the vindictive and ferocious nobleman, who possessed at once a dangerous knowledge of his character, and the power of exposing him, where exposure would be ruin. He had indeed acquiesced in the plan, rapidly sketched, for obtaining possession of the ransomed estate, but his experience foresaw that this would be impossible; while, on the other hand, he could not anticipate the various consequences of Lord Dalgarno's resentment, without fears, from which his sordid soul recoiled. To be in the power, and subject both to the humours and the extortions of a spendthrift young lord, just when his industry had shaped out the means of fortune,—it was the most cruel trick which fate could have played the incipient usurer.
While the scrivener was in this fit of anxious anticipation, one knocked at the door of the apartment; and, being desired to enter, appeared in the coarse riding-cloak of uncut Wiltshire cloth, fastened by a broad leather belt and brass buckle, which was then generally worn by graziers and countrymen. Skurliewhitter, believing he saw in his visitor a country client who might prove profitable, had opened his mouth to request him to be seated, when the stranger, throwing back his frieze hood which he had drawn over his face, showed the scrivener features well imprinted in his recollection, but which he never saw without a disposition to swoon.
"Is it you?" he said, faintly, as the stranger replaced the hood which concealed his features.
"Who else should it be?" said his visitor.
"Thou son of parchment, got betwixt the inkhorn And the stuff'd process-bag—that mayest call The pen thy father, and the ink thy mother, The wax thy brother, and the sand thy sister And the good pillory thy cousin allied— Rise, and do reverence unto me, thy better!"
"Not yet down to the country," said the scrivener, "after every warning? Do not think your grazier's cloak will bear you out, captain- -no, nor your scraps of stage-plays."
"Why, what would you have me to do?" said the captain—"Would you have me starve? If I am to fly, you must eke my wings with a few feathers. You can spare them, I think."
"You had means already—you have had ten pieces—What is become of them?"
"Gone," answered Captain Colepepper—"Gone, no matter where—I had a mind to bite, and I was bitten, that's all—I think my hand shook at the thought of t'other night's work, for I trowled the doctors like a very baby."
"And you have lost all, then?—Well, take this and be gone," said the scrivener.
"What, two poor smelts! Marry, plague of your bounty!—But remember, you are as deep in as I."
"Not so, by Heaven!" answered the scrivener; "I only thought of easing the old man of some papers and a trifle of his gold, and you took his life."
"Were he living," answered Colepepper, "he would rather have lost it than his money.—But that is not the question, Master Skurliewhitter— you undid the private bolts of the window when you visited him about some affairs on the day ere he died—so satisfy yourself, that, if I am taken, I will not swing alone. Pity Jack Hempsfield is dead, it spoils the old catch,
'And three merry men, and three merry men, And three merry men are we, As ever did sing three parts in a string, All under the triple tree.'"
"For God's sake, speak lower," said the scrivener; "is this a place or time to make your midnight catches heard?—But how much will serve your turn? I tell you I am but ill provided."
"You tell me a lie, then," said the bully—"a most palpable and gross lie.—How much, d'ye say, will serve my turn? Why, one of these bags will do for the present."
"I swear to you that these bags of money are not at my disposal."
"Not honestly, perhaps," said the captain, "but that makes little difference betwixt us."
"I swear to you," continued the scrivener "they are in no way at my disposal—they have been delivered to me by tale—I am to pay them over to Lord Dalgarno, whose boy waits for them, and I could not skelder one piece out of them, without risk of hue and cry."
"Can you not put off the delivery?" said the bravo, his huge hand still fumbling with one of the bags, as if his fingers longed to close on it.
"Impossible," said the scrivener, "he sets forward to Scotland to- morrow."
"Ay!" said the bully, after a moment's thought—"Travels he the north road with such a charge?"
"He is well accompanied," added the scrivener; "but yet—"
"But yet—but what?" said the bravo.
"Nay, I meant nothing," said the scrivener.
"Thou didst—thou hadst the wind of some good thing," replied Colepepper; "I saw thee pause like a setting dog. Thou wilt say as little, and make as sure a sign, as a well-bred spaniel."
"All I meant to say, captain, was, that his servants go by Barnet, and he himself, with his page, pass through Enfield Chase; and he spoke to me yesterday of riding a soft pace."
"Aha!—Comest thou to me there, my boy?"
"And of resting"—continued the scrivener,—"resting a space at Camlet Moat."
"Why, this is better than cock-fighting!" said the captain.
"I see not how it can advantage you, captain," said the scrivener. "But, however, they cannot ride fast, for his page rides the sumpter- horse, which carries all that weight," pointing to the money on the table. "Lord Dalgarno looks sharp to the world's gear."
"That horse will be obliged to those who may ease him of his burden," said the bravo; "and egad, he may be met with.—He hath still that page—that same Lutin—that goblin? Well, the boy hath set game for me ere now. I will be revenged, too, for I owe him a grudge for an old score at the ordinary. Let me see—Black Feltham, and Dick Shakebag— we shall want a fourth—I love to make sure, and the booty will stand parting, besides what I can bucket them out of. Well, scrivener, lend me two pieces.—Bravely done—nobly imparted! Give ye good-den." And wrapping his disguise closer around him, away he went.
When he had left the room, the scrivener wrung his hands, and exclaimed, "More blood—more blood! I thought to have had done with it, but this time there was no fault with me—none—and then I shall have all the advantage. If this ruffian falls, there is truce with his tugs at my purse-strings; and if Lord Dalgarno dies—as is most likely, for though as much afraid of cold steel as a debtor of a dun, this fellow is a deadly shot from behind a bush,—then am I in a thousand ways safe—safe—safe."
We willingly drop the curtain over him and his reflections.
We are not worst at once—the course of evil Begins so slowly, and from such slight source, An infant's hand might stem its breach with clay; But let the stream get deeper, and philosophy— Ay, and religion too—shall strive in vain To turn the headlong torrent. Old Play.
The Templars had been regaled by our friend Richie Moniplies in a private chamber at Beaujeu's, where he might be considered as good company; for he had exchanged his serving-man's cloak and jerkin for a grave yet handsome suit of clothes, in the fashion of the times, but such as might have befitted an older man than himself. He had positively declined presenting himself at the ordinary, a point to which his companions were very desirous to have brought him, for it will be easily believed that such wags as Lowestoffe and his companion were not indisposed to a little merriment at the expense of the raw and pedantic Scotsman; besides the chance of easing him of a few pieces, of which he appeared to have acquired considerable command. But not even a succession of measures of sparkling sack, in which the little brilliant atoms circulated like motes in the sun's rays, had the least effect on Richie's sense of decorum. He retained the gravity of a judge, even while he drank like a fish, partly from his own natural inclination to good liquor, partly in the way of good fellowship towards his guests. When the wine began to make some innovation on their heads, Master Lowestoffe, tired, perhaps, of the humours of Richie, who began to become yet more stoically contradictory and dogmatical than even in the earlier part of the entertainment, proposed to his friend to break up their debauch and join the gamesters.
The drawer was called accordingly, and Richie discharged the reckoning of the party, with a generous remuneration to the attendants, which was received with cap and knee, and many assurances of—"Kindly welcome, gentlemen."
"I grieve we should part so soon, gentlemen," said Richie to his companions,—"and I would you had cracked another quart ere you went, or stayed to take some slight matter of supper, and a glass of Rhenish. I thank you, however, for having graced my poor collation thus far; and I commend you to fortune, in your own courses, for the ordinary neither was, is, nor shall be, an element of mine."
"Fare thee well, then," said Lowestoffe, "most sapient and sententious Master Moniplies. May you soon have another mortgage to redeem, and may I be there to witness it; and may you play the good fellow, as heartily as you have done this day."
"Nay, gentlemen, it is merely of your grace to say so—but, if you would but hear me speak a few words of admonition respecting this wicked ordinary—"
"Reserve the lesson, most honourable Richie," said Lowestoffe, "until I have lost all my money," showing, at the same time, a purse indifferently well provided, "and then the lecture is likely to have some weight."
"And keep my share of it, Richie," said the other Templar, showing an almost empty purse, in his turn, "till this be full again, and then I will promise to hear you with some patience."
"Ay, ay, gallants," said Richie, "the full and the empty gang a' ae gate, and that is a grey one—but the time will come."
"Nay, it is come already," said Lowestoffe; "they have set out the hazard table. Since you will peremptorily not go with us, why, farewell, Richie."
"And farewell, gentlemen," said Richie, and left the house, into which they had returned.
Moniplies was not many steps from the door, when a person, whom, lost in his reflections on gaming, ordinaries, and the manners of the age, he had not observed, and who had been as negligent on his part, ran full against him; and, when Richie desired to know whether he meant "ony incivility," replied by a curse on Scotland, and all that belonged to it. A less round reflection on his country would, at any time, have provoked Richie, but more especially when he had a double quart of Canary and better in his pate. He was about to give a very rough answer, and to second his word by action, when a closer view of his antagonist changed his purpose.
"You are the vera lad in the warld," said Richie, "whom I most wished to meet."
"And you," answered the stranger, "or any of your beggarly countrymen, are the last sight I should ever wish to see. You Scots are ever fair and false, and an honest man cannot thrive within eyeshot of you."
"As to our poverty, friend," replied Richie, "that is as Heaven pleases; but touching our falset, I'll prove to you that a Scotsman bears as leal and true a heart to his friend as ever beat in English doublet."
"I care not whether he does or not," said the gallant. "Let me go—why keep you hold of my cloak? Let me go, or I will thrust you into the kennel."
"I believe I could forgie ye, for you did me a good turn once, in plucking me out of it," said the Scot.
"Beshrew my fingers, then, if they did so," replied the stranger. "I would your whole country lay there, along with you; and Heaven's curse blight the hand that helped to raise them!—Why do you stop my way?" he added, fiercely.
"Because it is a bad one, Master Jenkin," said Richie. "Nay, never start about it, man—you see you are known. Alack-a-day! that an honest man's son should live to start at hearing himself called by his own name!" Jenkin struck his brow violently with his clenched fist.
"Come, come," said Richie, "this passion availeth nothing. Tell me what gate go you?"
"To the devil!" answered Jin Vin.
"That is a black gate, if you speak according to the letter," answered Richie; "but if metaphorically, there are worse places in this great city than the Devil Tavern; and I care not if I go thither with you, and bestow a pottle of burnt sack on you—it will correct the crudities of my stomach, and form a gentle preparative for the leg of a cold pullet."
"I pray you, in good fashion, to let me go," said Jenkin. "You may mean me kindly, and I wish you to have no wrong at my hand; but I am in the humour to be dangerous to myself, or any one."
"I will abide the risk," said the Scot, "if you will but come with me; and here is a place convenient, a howff nearer than the Devil, whilk is but an ill-omened drouthy name for a tavern. This other of the Saint Andrew is a quiet place, where I have ta'en my whetter now and then, when I lodged in the neighbourhood of the Temple with Lord Glenvarloch.—What the deil's the matter wi' the man, garr'd him gie sic a spang as that, and almaist brought himself and me on the causeway?"
"Do not name that false Scot's name to me," said Jin Vin, "if you would not have me go mad!—I was happy before I saw him—he has been the cause of all the ill that has befallen me—he has made a knave and a madman of me!"
"If you are a knave," said Richie, "you have met an officer—if you are daft, you have met a keeper; but a gentle officer and a kind keeper. Look you, my gude friend, there has been twenty things said about this same lord, in which there is no more truth than in the leasings of Mahound. The warst they can say of him is, that he is not always so amenable to good advice as I would pray him, you, and every young man to be. Come wi' me—just come ye wi' me; and, if a little spell of siller and a great deal of excellent counsel can relieve your occasions, all I can say is, you have had the luck to meet one capable of giving you both, and maist willing to bestow them."
The pertinacity of the Scot prevailed over the sullenness of Vincent, who was indeed in a state of agitation and incapacity to think for himself, which led him to yield the more readily to the suggestions of another. He suffered himself to be dragged into the small tavern which Richie recommended, and where they soon found themselves seated in a snug niche, with a reeking pottle of burnt sack, and a paper of sugar betwixt them. Pipes and tobacco were also provided, but were only used by Richie, who had adopted the custom of late, as adding considerably to the gravity and importance of his manner, and affording, as it were, a bland and pleasant accompaniment to the words of wisdom which flowed from his tongue. After they had filled their glasses and drank them in silence, Richie repeated the question, whither his guest was going when they met so fortunately.
"I told you," said Jenkin, "I was going to destruction—I mean to the gaming-house. I am resolved to hazard these two or three pieces, to get as much as will pay for a passage with Captain Sharker, whose ship lies at Gravesend, bound for America—and so Eastward, ho!—I met one devil in the way already, who would have tempted me from my purpose, but I spurned him from me—you may be another for what I know.—What degree of damnation do you propose for me," he added wildly, "and what is the price of it?"
"I would have you to know," answered Richie, "that I deal in no such commodities, whether as buyer or seller. But if you will tell me honestly the cause of your distress, I will do what is in my power to help you out of it,—not being, however, prodigal of promises, until I know the case; as a learned physician only gives advice when he has observed the diagnostics."
"No one has any thing to do with my affairs," said the poor lad; and folding his arms on the table, he laid his head upon them, with the sullen dejection of the overburdened lama, when it throws itself down to die in desperation.
Richard Moniplies, like most folk who have a good opinion of themselves, was fond of the task of consolation, which at once displayed his superiority, (for the consoler is necessarily, for the time at least, superior to the afflicted person,) and indulged his love of talking. He inflicted on the poor penitenta harangue of pitiless length, stuffed full of the usual topics of the mutability of human affairs—the eminent advantages of patience under affliction— the folly of grieving for what hath no remedy—the necessity of taking more care for the future, and some gentle rebukes on account of the past, which acid he threw in to assist in subduing the patient's obstinacy, as Hannibal used vinegar in cutting his way through rocks. It was not in human nature to endure this flood of commonplace eloquence in silence; and Jin Vin, whether desirous of stopping the flow of words—crammed thus into his ear, "against the stomach of his sense," or whether confiding in Richie's protestations of friendship, which the wretched, says Fielding, are ever so ready to believe, or whether merely to give his sorrows vent in words, raised his head, and turning his red and swollen eyes to Richie—
"Cocksbones, man, only hold thy tongue, and thou shall know all about it,—and then all I ask of thee is to shake hands and part.—This Margaret Ramsay,—you have seen her, man?"
"Once," said Richie, "once, at Master George Heriot's in Lombard Street—I was in the room when they dined."
"Ay, you helped to shift their trenchers, I remember," said Jin Vin. "Well, that same pretty girl—and I will uphold her the prettiest betwixt Paul's and the Bar—she is to be wedded to your Lord Glenvarloch, with a pestilence on him!"
"That is impossible," said Richie; "it is raving nonsense, man—they make April gouks of you cockneys every month in the year—The Lord Glenvarloch marry the daughter of a Lonnon mechanic! I would as soon believe the great Prester John would marry the daughter of a Jew packman."
"Hark ye, brother," said Jin Vin, "I will allow no one to speak disregardfully of the city, for all I am in trouble."
"I crave your pardon, man—I meant no offence," said Richie; "but as to the marriage, it is a thing simply impossible."
"It is a thing that will take place, though, for the Duke and the Prince, and all of them, have a finger in it; and especially the old fool of a king, that makes her out to be some great woman in her own country, as all the Scots pretend to be, you know."
"Master Vincent, but that you are under affliction," said the consoler, offended on his part, "I would hear no national reflections."
The afflicted youth apologised in his turns, but asserted, "it was true that the king said Peg-a-Ramsay was some far-off sort of noblewoman; and that he had taken a great interest in the match, and had run about like an old gander, cackling about Peggie ever since he had seen her in hose and doublet—and no wonder," added poor Vin, with a deep sigh.
"This may be all true," said Richie, "though it sounds strange in my ears; but, man, you should not speak evil of dignities—-Curse not the king, Jenkin; not even in thy bed-chamber—stone walls have ears—no one has a right to know better than I."
"I do not curse the foolish old man," said Jenkin; "but I would have them carry things a peg lower.—If they were to see on a plain field thirty thousand such pikes as I have seen in the artillery gardens, it would not be their long-haired courtiers would help them, I trow." [Footnote: Clarendon remarks, that the importance of the military exercise of the citizens was severely felt by the cavaliers during the civil war, notwithstanding the ridicule that had been showered upon it by the dramatic poets of the day. Nothing less than habitual practice could, at the battle of Newbury and elsewhere, have enabled the Londoners to keep their ranks as pikemen, in spite of the repeated charge of the fiery Prince Rupert and his gallant cavaliers.]
"Hout tout, man," said Richie, "mind where the Stewarts come frae, and never think they would want spears or claymores either; but leaving sic matters, whilk are perilous to speak on, I say once more, what is your concern in all this matter?"
"What is it?" said Jenkin; "why, have I not fixed on Peg-a-Ramsay to be my true love, from the day I came to her old father's shop? and have I not carried her pattens and her chopines for three years, and borne her prayer-book to church, and brushed the cushion for her to kneel down upon, and did she ever say me nay?"
"I see no cause she had," said Richie, "if the like of such small services were all that ye proffered. Ah, man! there are few—very few, either of fools or of wise men, ken how to guide a woman."
"Why, did I not serve her at the risk of my freedom, and very nigh at the risk of my neck? Did she not—no, it was not her neither, but that accursed beldam whom she caused to work upon me—persuade me like a fool to turn myself into a waterman to help my lord, and a plague to him, down to Scotland? and instead of going peaceably down to the ship at Gravesend, did not he rant and bully, and show his pistols, and make me land him at Greenwich, where he played some swaggering pranks, that helped both him and me into the Tower?"
"Aha!" said Richie, throwing more than his usual wisdom into his looks, "so you were the green-jacketed waterman that rowed Lord Glenvarloch down the river?"
"The more fool I, that did not souse him in the Thames," said Jenkin; "and I was the lad who would not confess one word of who and what I was, though they threatened to make me hug the Duke of Exeter's daughter."[Footnote: A particular species of rack, used at the Tower of London, was so called.]
"Wha is she, man?" said Richie; "she must be an ill-fashioned piece, if you're so much afraid of her, and she come of such high kin."
"I mean the rack—the rack, man," said Jenkin. "Where were you bred that never heard of the Duke of Exeter's daughter? But all the dukes and duchesses in England could have got nothing out of me—so the truth came out some other way, and I was set free.—Home I ran, thinking myself one of the cleverest and happiest fellows in the ward. And she—she—she wanted to pay me with money for all my true service! and she spoke so sweetly and so coldly at the same time, I wished myself in the deepest dungeon of the Tower—I wish they had racked me to death before I heard this Scottishman was to chouse me out of my sweetheart!"
"But are ye sure ye have lost her?" said Richie; "it sounds strange in my ears that my Lord Glenvarloch should marry the daughter of a dealer,—though there are uncouth marriages made in London, I'll allow that."
"Why, I tell you this lord was no sooner clear of the Tower, than he and Master George Heriot comes to make proposals for her, with the king's assent, and what not; and fine fair-day prospects of Court favour for this lord, for he hath not an acre of land."
"Well, and what said the auld watch-maker?" said Richie; "was he not, as might weel beseem him, ready to loop out of his skin-case for very joy?"
"He multiplied six figures progressively, and reported the product— then gave his consent."
"And what did you do?"
"I rushed into the streets," said the poor lad, "with a burning heart and a blood-shot eye—and where did I first find myself, but with that beldam, Mother Suddlechop—and what did she propose to me, but to take the road?"
"Take the road, man? in what sense?" said Richie.
"Even as a clerk to Saint Nicholas—as a highwayman, like Poins and Peto, and the good fellows in the play—and who think you was to be my captain?—for she had the whole out ere I could speak to her—I fancy she took silence for consent, and thought me damned too unutterably to have one thought left that savoured of redemption—who was to be my captain, but the knave that you saw me cudgel at the ordinary when you waited on Lord Glenvarloch, a cowardly, sharking, thievish bully about town here, whom they call Colepepper."
"Colepepper—umph—I know somewhat of that smaik," said Richie; "ken ye by ony chance where he may be heard of, Master Jenkin?—ye wad do me a sincere service to tell me."
"Why, he lives something obscurely," answered the apprentice, "on account of suspicion of some villainy—I believe that horrid murder in Whitefriars, or some such matter. But I might have heard all about him from Dame Suddlechop, for she spoke of my meeting him at Enfield Chase, with some other good fellows, to do a robbery on one that goes northward with a store of treasure."
"And you did not agree to this fine project?" said Moniplies.
"I cursed her for a hag, and came away about my business," answered Jenkin.
"Ay, and what said she to that, man? That would startle her," said Richie.
"Not a whit. She laughed, and said she was in jest," answered Jenkin; "but I know the she-devil's jest from her earnest too well to be taken in that way. But she knows I would never betray her.'
"Betray her! No," replied Richie; "but are ye in any shape bound to this birkie Peppercull, or Colepepper, or whatever they call him, that ye suld let him do a robbery on the honest gentleman that is travelling to the north, and may be a kindly Scot, for what we know?"
"Ay—going home with a load of English money," said Jenkin. "But be he who he will, they may rob the whole world an they list, for I am robbed and ruined."
Richie filled his friend's cup up to the brim, and insisted that he should drink what he called "clean caup out." "This love," he said, "is but a bairnly matter for a brisk young fellow like yourself, Master Jenkin. And if ye must needs have a whimsy, though I think it would be safer to venture on a staid womanly body, why, here be as bonny lasses in London as this Peg-a-Ramsay. You need not sigh sae deeply, for it is very true—there is as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it. Now wherefore should you, who are as brisk and trig a young fellow of your inches as the sun needs to shine on—wherefore need you sit moping this way, and not try some bold way to better your fortune?"
"I tell you, Master Moniplies," said Jenkin, "I am as poor as any Scot among you—I have broke my indenture, and I think of running my country."
"A-well-a-day!" said Richie; "but that maunna be, man—I ken weel, by sad experience, that poortith takes away pith, and the man sits full still that has a rent in his breeks. [Footnote: This elegant speech was made by the Earl of Douglas, called Tineman after being wounded and made prisoner at the battle of Shrewsbury, where
"His well labouring sword Had three times slain the semblance of the king,"]
But courage, man; you have served me heretofore, and I will serve you now. If you will but bring me to speech of this same captain, it will be the best day's work you ever did."
"I guess where you are, Master Richard—you would save your countryman's long purse," said Jenkin. "I cannot see how that should advantage me, but I reck not if I should bear a hand. I hate that braggart, that bloody-minded, cowardly bully. If you can get me mounted I care not if I show you where the dame told me I should meet him—but you must stand to the risk, for though he is a coward himself, I know he will have more than one stout fellow with him."
"We'll have a warrant, man," said Richie, "and the hue and cry, to boot."
"We will have no such thing," said Jenkin, "if I am to go with you. I am not the lad to betray any one to the harmanbeck. You must do it by manhood if I am to go with you. I am sworn to cutter's law, and will sell no man's blood."
"Aweel," said Richie, "a wilful man must have his way; ye must think that I was born and bred where cracked crowns were plentier than whole ones. Besides, I have two noble friends here, Master Lowestoffe of the Temple, and his cousin Master Ringwood, that will blithely be of so gallant a party."
"Lowestoffe and Ringwood!" said Jenkin; "they are both brave gallants- -they will be sure company. Know you where they are to be found?"
"Ay, marry do I," replied Richie. "They are fast at the cards and dice, till the sma' hours, I warrant them."
"They are gentlemen of trust and honour," said Jenkin, "and, if they advise it, I will try the adventure. Go, try if you can bring them hither, since you have so much to say with, them. We must not be seen abroad together.—I know not how it is, Master Moniplies," continued he, as his countenance brightened up, and while, in his turn, he filled the cups, "but I feel my heart something lighter since I have thought of this matter."
"Thus it is to have counsellors, Master Jenkin," said Richie; "and truly I hope to hear you say that your heart is as light as a lavrock's, and that before you are many days aulder. Never smile and shake your head, but mind what I tell you—and bide here in the meanwhile, till I go to seek these gallants. I warrant you, cart-ropes would not hold them back from such a ploy as I shall propose to them."
The thieves have bound the true men— Now, could thou and I rob the thieves, and go merrily to London. Henry IV., Part I.
The sun was high upon the glades of Enfield Chase, and the deer, with which it then abounded, were seen sporting in picturesque groups among the ancient oaks of the forest, when a cavalier and a lady, on foot, although in riding apparel, sauntered slowly up one of the long alleys which were cut through the park for the convenience of the hunters. Their only attendant was a page, who, riding a Spanish jennet, which seemed to bear a heavy cloak-bag, followed them at a respectful distance. The female, attired in all the fantastic finery of the period, with more than the usual quantity of bugles, flounces, and trimmings, and holding her fan of ostrich feathers in one hand, and her riding-mask of black velvet in the other, seemed anxious, by all the little coquetry practised on such occasions, to secure the notice of her companion, who sometimes heard her prattle without seeming to attend to it, and at other times interrupted his train of graver reflections, to reply to her.
"Nay, but, my lord—my lord, you walk so fast, you will leave me behind you.—Nay, I will have hold of your arm, but how to manage with my mask and my fan? Why would you not let me bring my waiting- gentlewoman to follow us, and hold my things? But see, I will put my fan in my girdle, soh!—and now that I have a hand to hold you with, you shall not run away from me."
"Come on, then," answered the gallant, "and let us walk apace, since you would not be persuaded to stay with your gentlewoman, as you call her, and with the rest of the baggage.—You may perhaps see that, though, you will not like to see."
She took hold of his arm accordingly; but as he continued to walk at the same pace, she shortly let go her hold, exclaiming that he had hurt her hand. The cavalier stopped, and looked at the pretty hand and arm which she showed him, with exclamations against his cruelty. "I dare say," she said, baring her wrist and a part of her arm, "it is all black and blue to the very elbow."
"I dare say you are a silly little fool," said the cavalier, carelessly kissing the aggrieved arm; "it is only a pretty incarnate which sets off the blue veins."
"Nay, my lord, now it is you are silly," answered the dame; "but I am glad I can make you speak and laugh on any terms this morning. I am sure, if I did insist on following you into the forest, it was all for the sake of diverting you. I am better company than your page, I trow.—And now, tell me, these pretty things with horns, be they not deer?" "Even such they be, Nelly," answered her neglectful attendant.
"And what can the great folk do with so many of them, forsooth?"
"They send them to the city, Nell, where wise men make venison pasties of their flesh, and wear their horns for trophies," answered Lord Dalgarno, whom our reader has already recognised.
"Nay, now you laugh at me, my lord," answered his companion; "but I know all about venison, whatever you may think. I always tasted it once a year when we dined with Mr. Deputy," she continued, sadly, as a sense of her degradation stole across a mind bewildered with vanity and folly, "though he would not speak to me now, if we met together in the narrowest lane in the Ward!"
"I warrant he would not," said Lord Dalgarno, "because thou, Nell, wouldst dash him with a single look; for I trust thou hast more spirit than to throw away words on such a fellow as he?"
"Who, I!" said Dame Nelly. "Nay, I scorn the proud princox too much for that. Do you know, he made all the folk in the Ward stand cap in hand to him, my poor old John Christie and all?" Here her recollection began to overflow at her eyes.
"A plague on your whimpering," said Dalgarno, somewhat harshly,—"Nay, never look pale for the matter, Nell. I am not angry with you, you simple fool. But what would you have me think, when you are eternally looking back upon your dungeon yonder by the river, which smelt of pitch and old cheese worse than a Welshman does of onions, and all this when I am taking you down to a castle as fine as is in Fairy Land!"
"Shall we be there to-night, my lord?" said Nelly, drying her tears.
"To-night, Nelly?—no, nor this night fortnight."
"Now, the Lord be with us, and keep us!—But shall we not go by sea, my lord?—I thought everybody came from Scotland by sea. I am sure Lord Glenvarloch and Richie Moniplies came up by sea."
"There is a wide difference between coming up and going down, Nelly," answered Lord Dalgarno.
"And so there is, for certain," said his simple companion. "But yet I think I heard people speaking of going down to Scotland by sea, as well as coming up. Are you well avised of the way?—Do you think it possible we can go by land, my sweet lord?"
"It is but trying, my sweet lady," said Lord Dalgarno. "Men say England and Scotland are in the same island, so one would hope there may be some road betwixt them by land."
"I shall never be able to ride so far," said the lady.
"We will have your saddle stuffed softer," said the lord. "I tell you that you shall mew your city slough, and change from the caterpillar of a paltry lane into the butterfly of a prince's garden. You shall have as many tires as there are hours in the day—as many handmaidens as there are days in the week—as many menials as there are weeks in the year—and you shall ride a hunting and hawking with a lord, instead of waiting upon an old ship-chandler, who could do nothing but hawk and spit"
"Ay, but will you make me your lady?" said Dame Nelly.
"Ay, surely—what else?" replied the lord—"My lady-love."
"Ay, but I mean your lady-wife," said Nelly.
"Truly, Nell, in that I cannot promise to oblige you. A lady-wife," continued Dalgarno, "is a very different thing from a lady-love."
"I heard from Mrs. Suddlechop, whom you lodged me with since I left poor old John Christie, that Lord Glenvarloch is to marry David Ramsay the clockmaker's daughter?"
"There is much betwixt the cup and the lip, Nelly. I wear something about me may break the bans of that hopeful alliance, before the day is much older," answered Lord Dalgarno.
"Well, but my father was as good a man as old Davy Ramsay, and as well to pass in the world, my lord; and, therefore, why should you not marry me? You have done me harm enough, I trow—wherefore should you not do me this justice?"
"For two good reasons, Nelly. Fate put a husband on you, and the king passed a wife upon me," answered Lord Dalgarno.
"Ay, my lord," said Nelly, "but they remain in England, and we go to Scotland."
"Thy argument is better than thou art aware of," said Lord Dalgarno. "I have heard Scottish lawyers say the matrimonial tie may be unclasped in our happy country by the gentle hand of the ordinary course of law, whereas in England it can only be burst by an act of Parliament. Well, Nelly, we will look into that matter; and whether we get married again or no, we will at least do our best to get unmarried."
"Shall we indeed, my honey-sweet lord? and then I will think less about John Christie, for he will marry again, I warrant you, for he is well to pass; and I would be glad to think he had somebody to take care of him, as I used to do, poor loving old man! He was a kind man, though he was a score of years older than I; and I hope and pray he will never let a young lord cross his honest threshold again!"
Here the dame was once more much inclined to give way to a passion of tears; but Lord Dalgarno conjured down the emotion, by saying with some asperity—"I am weary of these April passions, my pretty mistress, and I think you will do well to preserve your tears for some more pressing occasion. Who knows what turn of fortune may in a few minutes call for more of them than you can render?"
"Goodness, my lord! what mean you by such expressions? John Christie (the kind heart!) used to keep no secrets from me, and I hope your lordship will not hide your counsel from me?"
"Sit down beside me on this bank," said the nobleman; "I am bound to remain here for a short space, and if you can be but silent, I should like to spend a part of it in considering how far I can, on the present occasion, follow the respectable example which you recommend to me."
The place at which he stopped was at that time little more than a mound, partly surrounded by a ditch, from which it derived the name of Camlet Moat. A few hewn stones there were, which had escaped the fate of many others that had been used in building different lodges in the forest for the royal keepers. These vestiges, just sufficient to show that "herein former times the hand of man had been," marked the ruins of the abode of a once illustrious but long-forgotten family, the Mandevilles, Earls of Essex, to whom Enfield Chase and the extensive domains adjacent had belonged in elder days. A wild woodland prospect led the eye at various points through broad and seemingly interminable alleys, which, meeting at this point as at a common centre, diverged from each other as they receded, and had, therefore, been selected by Lord Dalgarno as the rendezvous for the combat, which, through the medium of Richie Moniplies, he had offered to his injured friend, Lord Glenvarloch.
"He will surely come?" he said to himself; "cowardice was not wont to be his fault—at least he was bold enough in the Park.—Perhaps yonder churl may not have carried my message? But no—he is a sturdy knave— one of those would prize their master's honour above their life.—Look to the palfrey, Lutin, and see thou let him not loose, and cast thy falcon glance down every avenue to mark if any one comes.—Buckingham has undergone my challenge, but the proud minion pleads the king's paltry commands for refusing to answer me. If I can baffle this Glenvarloch, or slay him—If I can spoil him of his honour or his life, I shall go down to Scotland with credit sufficient to gild over past mischances. I know my dear countrymen—they never quarrel with any one who brings them home either gold or martial glory, much more if he has both gold and laurels."
As he thus reflected, and called to mind the disgrace which he had suffered, as well as the causes he imagined for hating Lord Glenvarloch, his countenance altered under the influence of his contending emotions, to the terror of Nelly, who, sitting unnoticed at his feet, and looking anxiously in his face, beheld the cheek kindle, the mouth become compressed, the eye dilated, and the whole countenance express the desperate and deadly resolution of one who awaits an instant and decisive encounter with a mortal enemy. The loneliness of the place, the scenery so different from that to which alone she had been accustomed, the dark and sombre air which crept so suddenly over the countenance of her seducer, his command imposing silence upon her, and the apparent strangeness of his conduct in idling away so much time without any obvious cause, when a journey of such length lay before them, brought strange thoughts into her weak brain. She had read of women, seduced from their matrimonial duties by sorcerers allied to the hellish powers, nay, by the Father of Evil himself, who, after conveying his victim into some desert remote from human kind, exchanged the pleasing shape in which he gained her affections, for all his natural horrors. She chased this wild idea away as it crowded itself upon her weak and bewildered imagination; yet she might have lived to see it realised allegorically, if not literally, but for the accident which presently followed.
The page, whose eyes were remarkably acute, at length called out to his master, pointing with his finger at the same time down one of the alleys, that horsemen were advancing in that direction. Lord Dalgarno started up, and shading his eyes with his hand, gazed eagerly down the alley; when, at the same instant, he received a shot, which, grazing his hand, passed right through his brain, and laid him a lifeless corpse at the feet, or rather across the lap, of the unfortunate victim of his profligacy. The countenance, whose varied expression she had been watching for the last five minutes, was convulsed for an instant, and then stiffened into rigidity for ever. Three ruffians rushed from the brake from which the shot had been fired, ere the smoke was dispersed. One, with many imprecations seized on the page; another on the female, upon whose cries he strove by the most violent threats to impose silence; whilst the third began to undo the burden from the page's horse. But an instant rescue prevented their availing themselves of the advantage they had obtained.
It may easily be supposed that Richie Moniplies, having secured the assistance of the two Templars, ready enough to join in any thing which promised a fray, with Jin Vin to act as their guide, had set off, gallantly mounted and well armed, under the belief that they would reach Camlet Moat before the robbers, and apprehend them in the fact. They had not calculated that, according to the custom of robbers in other countries, but contrary to that of the English highwayman of those days, they meant to ensure robbery by previous murder. An accident also happened to delay them a little while on the road. In riding through one of the glades of the forest, they found a man dismounted and sitting under a tree, groaning with such bitterness of spirit, that Lowestoffe could not forbear asking if he was hurt. In answer, he said he was an unhappy man in pursuit of his wife, who had been carried off by a villain; and as he raised his countenance, the eyes of Richie, to his great astonishment, encountered the visage of John Christie.
"For the Almighty's sake, help me, Master Moniplies!" he said; "I have learned my wife is but a short mile before, with that black villain Lord Dalgarno."
"Have him forward by all means," said Lowestoffe; "a second Orpheus seeking his Eurydice!—Have him forward—we will save Lord Dalgarno's purse, and ease him of his mistress—Have him with us, were it but for the variety of the adventure. I owe his lordship a grudge for rooking me. We have ten minutes good."
But it is dangerous to calculate closely in matters of life and death. In all probability the minute or two which was lost in mounting John Christie behind one of their party, might have saved Lord Dalgarno from his fate. Thus his criminal amour became the indirect cause of his losing his life; and thus "our pleasant vices are made the whips to scourge us."
The riders arrived on the field at full gallop the moment after the shot was fired; and Richie, who had his own reasons for attaching himself to Colepepper, who was bustling to untie the portmanteau from the page's saddle, pushed against him with such violence as to overthrow him, his own horse at the same time stumbling and dismounting his rider, who was none of the first equestrians. The undaunted Richie immediately arose, however, and grappled with the ruffian with such good-will, that, though a strong fellow, and though a coward now rendered desperate, Moniplies got him under, wrenched a long knife from his hand, dealt him a desperate stab with his own weapon, and leaped on his feet; and, as the wounded man struggled to follow his example, he struck him upon the head with the butt-end of a musketoon, which last blow proved fatal.
"Bravo, Richie!" cried Lowestoffe, who had himself engaged at sword- point with one of the ruffians, and soon put him to flight,—"Bravo! why, man, there lies Sin, struck down like an ox, and Iniquity's throat cut like a calf."
"I know not why you should upbraid me with my upbringing, Master Lowestoffe," answered Richie, with great composure; "but I can tell you, the shambles is not a bad place for training one to this work."
The other Templar now shouted loudly to them,—"If ye be men, come hither—here lies Lord Dalgarno, murdered!"
Lowestoffe and Richie ran to the spot, and the page took the opportunity, finding himself now neglected on all hands, to ride off in a different direction; and neither he, nor the considerable sum with which his horse was burdened, were ever heard of from that moment.
The third ruffian had not waited the attack of the Templar and Jin Vin, the latter of whom had put down old Christie from behind him that he might ride the lighter; and the whole five now stood gazing with horror on the bloody corpse of the young nobleman, and the wild sorrow of the female, who tore her hair and shrieked in the most disconsolate manner, until her agony was at once checked, or rather received a new direction, by the sudden and unexpected appearance of her husband, who, fixing on her a cold and severe look, said, in a tone suited to his manner—"Ay, woman! thou takest on sadly for the loss of thy paramour."—Then, looking on the bloody corpse of him from whom he had received so deep an injury, he repeated the solemn words of Scripture,—"'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.'—I, whom thou hast injured, will be first to render thee the decent offices due to the dead."
So saying, he covered the dead body with his cloak, and then looking on it for a moment, seemed to reflect on what he had next to perform. As the eye of the injured man slowly passed from the body of the seducer to the partner and victim of his crime, who had sunk down to his feet, which she clasped without venturing to look up, his features, naturally coarse and saturnine, assumed a dignity of expression which overawed the young Templars, and repulsed the officious forwardness of Richie Moniplies, who was at first eager to have thrust in his advice and opinion. "Kneel not to me, woman," he said, "but kneel to the God thou hast offended, more than thou couldst offend such another worm as thyself. How often have I told thee, when thou wert at the gayest and the lightest, that pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall? Vanity brought folly, and folly brought sin, and sin hath brought death, his original companion. Thou must needs leave duty, and decency, and domestic love, to revel it gaily with the wild and with the wicked; and there thou liest like a crushed worm, writhing beside the lifeless body of thy paramour. Thou hast done me much wrong—dishonoured me among friends— driven credit from my house, and peace from my fireside—But thou wert my first and only love, and I will not see thee an utter castaway, if it lies with me to prevent it.—Gentlemen, I render ye such thanks as a broken-hearted man can give.—Richard, commend me to your honourable master. I added gall to the bitterness of his affliction, but I was deluded.—Rise up, woman, and follow me."
He raised her up by the arm, while, with streaming eyes, and bitter sobs, she endeavoured to express her penitence. She kept her hands spread over her face, yet suffered him to lead her away; and it was only as they turned around a brake which concealed the scene they had left, that she turned back, and casting one wild and hurried glance towards the corpse of Dalgarno, uttered a shriek, and clinging to her husband's arm, exclaimed wildly,—"Save me—save me! They have murdered him!"
Lowestoffe was much moved by what he had witnessed; but he was ashamed, as a town-gallant, of his own unfashionable emotion, and did a force to his feelings when he exclaimed,—"Ay, let them go—the kind-hearted, believing, forgiving husband—the liberal, accommodating spouse. O what a generous creature is your true London husband!—Horns hath he, but, tame as a fatted ox, he goreth not. I should like to see her when she hath exchanged her mask and riding-beaver for her peaked hat and muffler. We will visit them at Paul's Wharf, coz—it will be a convenient acquaintance."
"You had better think of catching the gipsy thief, Lutin," said Richie Moniplies; "for, by my faith, he is off with his master's baggage and the siller."
A keeper, with his assistants, and several other persons, had now come to the spot, and made hue and cry after Lutin, but in vain. To their custody the Templars surrendered the dead bodies, and after going through some formal investigation, they returned, with Richard and Vincent, to London, where they received great applause for their gallantry.—Vincent's errors were easily expiated, in consideration of his having been the means of breaking up this band of villains; and there is some reason to think, that what would have diminished the credit of the action in other instances, rather added to it in the actual circumstances, namely, that they came too late to save Lord Dalgarno.
George Heriot, who suspected how matters stood with Vincent, requested and obtained permission from his master to send the poor young fellow on an important piece of business to Paris. We are unable to trace his fate farther, but believe it was prosperous, and that he entered into an advantageous partnership with his fellow-apprentice, upon old Davy Ramsay retiring from business, in consequence of his daughter's marriage. That eminent antiquary, Dr. Dryasdust, is possessed of an antique watch, with a silver dial-plate, the mainspring being a piece of catgut instead of a chain, which bears the names of Vincent and Tunstall, Memory-Monitors.
Master Lowestoffe failed not to vindicate his character as a man of gaiety, by inquiring after John Christie and Dame Nelly; but greatly to his surprise, (indeed to his loss, for he had wagered ten pieces that he would domesticate himself in the family,) he found the good- will, as it was called, of the shop, was sold, the stock auctioned, and the late proprietor and his wife gone, no one knew whither. The prevailing belief was, that they had emigrated to one of the new settlements in America.
Lady Dalgarno received the news of her unworthy husband's death with a variety of emotions, among which, horror that he should have been cut off in the middle career of his profligacy, was the most prominent. The incident greatly deepened her melancholy, and injured her health, already shaken by previous circumstances. Repossessed of her own fortune by her husband's death, she was anxious to do justice to Lord Glenvarloch, by treating for the recovery of the mortgage.
But the scrivener, having taken fright at the late events, had left the city and absconded, so that it was impossible to discover into whose hands the papers had now passed. Richard Moniplies was silent, for his own reasons; the Templars, who had witnessed the transaction, kept the secret at his request, and it was universally believed that the scrivener had carried off the writings along with him. We may here observe, that fears similar to those of Skurliewhitter freed London for ever from the presence of Dame Suddlechop, who ended her career in the Rasp-haus, (viz. Bridewell,) of Amsterdam.
The stout old Lord Huntinglen, with a haughty carriage and unmoistened eye, accompanied the funeral procession of his only son to its last abode; and perhaps the single tear which fell at length upon the coffin, was given less to the fate of the individual, than to the extinction of the last male of his ancient race.
Jacques. There is, suie, another flood toward, and these couples are coming to the ark!—Here comes a pair of very strange beasts.—As You Like It.
The fashion of such narratives as the present, changes like other earthly things. Time was that the tale-teller was obliged to wind up his story by a circumstantial description of the wedding, bedding, and throwing the stocking, as the grand catastrophe to which, through so many circumstances of doubt and difficulty, he had at length happily conducted his hero and heroine. Not a circumstance was then omitted, from the manly ardour of the bridegroom, and the modest blushes of the bride, to the parson's new surplice, and the silk tabinet mantua of the bridesmaid. But such descriptions are now discarded, for the same reason, I suppose, that public marriages are no longer fashionable, and that, instead of calling together their friends to a feast and a dance, the happy couple elope in a solitary post-chaise, as secretly as if they meant to go to Gretna-Green, or to do worse. I am not ungrateful for a change which saves an author the trouble of attempting in vain to give a new colour to the commonplace description of such matters; but, notwithstanding, I find myself forced upon it in the present instance, as circumstances sometimes compel a stranger to make use of an old road which has been for some time shut up. The experienced reader may have already remarked, that the last chapter was employed in sweeping out of the way all the unnecessary and less interesting characters, that I might clear the floor for a blithe bridal.
In truth, it would be unpardonable to pass over slightly what so deeply interested our principal personage, King James. That learned and good-humoured monarch made no great figure in the politics of Europe; but then, to make amends, he was prodigiously busy, when he could find a fair opportunity of intermeddling with the private affairs of his loving subjects, and the approaching marriage of Lord Glenvarloch was matter of great interest to him. He had been much struck (that is, for him, who was not very accessible to such emotions) with the beauty and embarrassment of the pretty Peg-a- Ramsay, as he called her, when he first saw her, and he glorified himself greatly on the acuteness which he had displayed in detecting her disguise, and in carrying through the whole inquiry which took place in consequence of it.
He laboured for several weeks, while the courtship was in progress, with his own royal eyes, so as wellnigh to wear out, he declared, a pair of her father's best barnacles, in searching through old books and documents, for the purpose of establishing the bride's pretensions to a noble, though remote descent, and thereby remove the only objection which envy might conceive against the match. In his own opinion, at least, he was eminently successful; for, when Sir Mungo Malagrowther one day, in the presence-chamber, took upon him to grieve bitterly for the bride's lack of pedigree, the monarch cut him short with, "Ye may save your grief for your ain next occasions, Sir Mungo; for, by our royal saul, we will uphauld her father, Davy Ramsay, to be a gentleman of nine descents, whase great gudesire came of the auld martial stock of the House of Dalwolsey, than whom better men never did, and better never will, draw sword for king and country. Heard ye never of Sir William Ramsay of Dalwolsey, man, of whom John Fordoun saith,—'He was bellicosissimus, nobilissimus?'—His castle stands to witness for itsell, not three miles from Dalkeith, man, and within a mile of Bannockrig. Davy Ramsay came of that auld and honoured stock, and I trust he hath not derogated from his ancestors by his present craft. They all wrought wi' steel, man; only the auld knights drilled holes wi' their swords in their enemies' corslets, and he saws nicks in his brass wheels. And I hope it is as honourable to give eyes to the blind as to slash them out of the head of those that see, and to show us how to value our time as it passes, as to fling it away in drinking, brawling, spear-splintering, and such-like unchristian doings. And you maun understand, that Davy Ramsay is no mechanic, but follows a liberal art, which approacheth almost to the act of creating a living being, seeing it may be said of a watch, as Claudius saith of the sphere of Archimedes, the Syracusan—
"Inclusus variis famulatur spiritus astris, Et vivum certis motibus urget opus.'"
"Your Majesty had best give auld Davy a coat-of-arms, as well as a pedigree," said Sir Mungo.
"It's done, or ye bade, Sir Mungo," said the king; "and I trust we, who are the fountain of all earthly honour, are free to spirit a few drops of it on one so near our person, without offence to the Knight of Castle Girnigo. We have already spoken with the learned men of the Herald's College, and we propose to grant him an augmented coat-of- arms, being his paternal coat, charged with the crown-wheel of a watch in chief, for a difference; and we purpose to add Time and Eternity, for supporters, as soon as the Garter King-at-Arms shall be able to devise how Eternity is to be represented."
"I would make him twice as muckle as Time," [Footnote: Chaucer says, there is nothing new but what it has been old. The reader has here the original of an anecdote which has since been fathered on a Scottish Chief of our own time.] said Archie Armstrong, the Court fool, who chanced to be present when the king stated this dilemma. "Peace, man— ye shall be whippet," said the king, in return for this hint; "and you, my liege subjects of England, may weel take a hint from what we have said, and not be in such a hurry to laugh at our Scottish pedigrees, though they be somewhat long derived, and difficult to be deduced. Ye see that a man of right gentle blood may, for a season, lay by his gentry, and yet ken whare to find it, when he has occasion for it. It would be as unseemly for a packman, or pedlar, as ye call a travelling merchant, whilk is a trade to which our native subjects of Scotland are specially addicted, to be blazing his genealogy in the faces of those to whom he sells a bawbee's worth of ribbon, as it would be to him to have a beaver on his head, and a rapier by his side, when the pack was on his shoulders. Na, na—he hings his sword on the cleek, lays his beaver on the shelf, puts his pedigree into his pocket, and gangs as doucely and cannily about his peddling craft as if his blood was nae better than ditch-water; but let our pedlar be transformed, as I have kend it happen mair than ance, into a bein thriving merchant, then ye shall have a transformation, my lords.
'In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas—'
Out he pulls his pedigree, on he buckles his sword, gives his beaver a brush, and cocks it in the face of all creation. We mention these things at the mair length, because we would have you all to know, that it is not without due consideration of the circumstances of all parties, that we design, in a small and private way, to honour with our own royal presence the marriage of Lord Glenvarloch with Margaret Ramsay, daughter and heiress of David Ramsay, our horologer, and a cadet only thrice removed from the ancient house of Dalwolsey. We are grieved we cannot have the presence of the noble Chief of that House at the ceremony; but where there is honour to be won abroad the Lord Dalwolsey is seldom to be found at home. Sic fuit, est, et erit.- Jingling Geordie, as ye stand to the cost of the marriage feast, we look for good cheer."
Heriot bowed, as in duty bound. In fact, the king, who was a great politician about trifles, had manoeuvred greatly on this occasion, and had contrived to get the Prince and Buckingham dispatched on an expedition to Newmarket, in order that he might find an opportunity in their absence of indulging himself in his own gossiping, coshering habits, which were distasteful to Charles, whose temper inclined to formality, and with which even the favourite, of late, had not thought it worth while to seem to sympathise. When the levee was dismissed, Sir Mungo Malagrowther seized upon the worthy citizen in the court- yard of the Palace, and detained him, in spite of all his efforts, for the purpose of subjecting him to the following scrutiny:—
"This is a sair job on you, Master George—the king must have had little consideration—this will cost you a bonny penny, this wedding dinner?"
"It will not break me, Sir Mungo," answered Heriot; "the king hath a right to see the table which his bounty hath supplied for years, well covered for a single day."
"Vera true, vera true—we'll have a' to pay, I doubt, less or mair—a sort of penny-wedding it will prove, where all men contribute to the young folk's maintenance, that they may not have just four bare legs in a bed together. What do you propose to give, Master George?—we begin with the city when money is in question." [Footnote: The penny- wedding of the Scots, now disused even among the lowest ranks, was a peculiar species of merry-making, at which, if the wedded pair were popular, the guests who convened, contributed considerable sums under pretence of paying for the bridal festivity, but in reality to set the married folk afloat in the world.]
"Only a trifle, Sir Mungo—I give my god-daughter the marriage ring; it is a curious jewel—I bought it in Italy; it belonged to Cosmo de Medici. The bride will not need my help—she has an estate which belonged to her maternal grandfather."
"The auld soap-boiler," said Sir Mungo; "it will need some of his suds to scour the blot out of the Glenvarloch shield—I have heard that estate was no great things."
"It is as good as some posts at Court, Sir Mungo, which are coveted by persons of high quality," replied George Heriot.
"Court favour, said ye? Court favour, Master Heriot?" replied Sir Mungo, choosing then to use his malady of misapprehension; "Moonshine in water, poor thing, if that is all she is to be tochered with—I am truly solicitous about them."
"I will let you into a secret," said the citizen, "which will relieve your tender anxiety. The dowager Lady Dalgarno gives a competent fortune to the bride, and settles the rest of her estate upon her nephew the bridegroom."
"Ay, say ye sae?" said Sir Mungo, "just to show her regard to her husband that is in the tomb—lucky that her nephew did not send him there; it was a strange story that death of poor Lord Dalgarno—some folk think the poor gentleman had much wrong. Little good comes of marrying the daughter of the house you are at feud with; indeed, it was less poor Dalgarno's fault, than theirs that forced the match on him; but I am glad the young folk are to have something to live on, come how it like, whether by charity or inheritance. But if the Lady Dalgarno were to sell all she has, even to her very wylie-coat, she canna gie them back the fair Castle of Glenvarloch—that is lost and gane—lost and gane."
"It is but too true," said George Heriot; "we cannot discover what has become of the villain Andrew Skurliewhitter, or what Lord Dalgarno has done with the mortgage."
"Assigned it away to some one, that his wife might not get it after he was gane; it would have disturbed him in his grave, to think Glenvarloch should get that land back again," said Sir Mungo; "depend on it, he will have ta'en sure measures to keep that noble lordship out of her grips or her nevoy's either."
"Indeed it is but too probable, Sir Mungo," said Master Heriot; "but as I am obliged to go and look after many things in consequence of this ceremony, I must leave you to comfort yourself with the reflection."
"The bride-day, you say, is to be on the thirtieth of the instant month?" said Sir Mungo, holloing after the citizen; "I will be with you in the hour of cause."
"The king invites the guests," said George Heriot, without turning back.
"The base-born, ill-bred mechanic!" soliloquised Sir Mungo, "if it were not the odd score of pounds he lent me last week, I would teach him how to bear himself to a man of quality! But I will be at the bridal banquet in spite of him."
Sir Mungo contrived to get invited, or commanded, to attend on the bridal accordingly, at which there were but few persons present; for James, on such occasions, preferred a snug privacy, which gave him liberty to lay aside the encumbrance, as he felt it to be, of his regal dignity. The company was very small, and indeed there were at least two persons absent whose presence might have been expected. The first of these was the Lady Dalgarno, the state of whose health, as well as the recent death of her husband, precluded her attendance on the ceremony. The other absentee was Richie Moniplies, whose conduct for some time past had been extremely mysterious. Regulating his attendance on Lord Glenvarloch entirely according to his own will and pleasure, he had, ever since the rencounter in Enfield Chase, appeared regularly at his bedside in the morning, to assist him to dress, and at his wardrobe in the evening. The rest of the day he disposed of at his own pleasure, without control from his lord, who had now a complete establishment of attendants. Yet he was somewhat curious to know how the fellow disposed of so much of his time; but on this subject Richie showed no desire to be communicative.
On the morning of the bridal-day, Richie was particularly attentive in doing all a valet-de-chambre could, so as to set off to advantage the very handsome figure of his master; and when he had arranged his dress to the utmost exactness, and put to his long curled locks what he called "the finishing touch of the redding-kaim," he gravely kneeled down, kissed his hand, and bade him farewell, saying that he humbly craved leave to discharge himself of his lordship's service.
"Why, what humour is this?" said Lord Glenvarloch; "if you mean to discharge yourself of my service, Richie, I suppose you intend to enter my wife's?"
"I wish her good ladyship that shall soon be, and your good lordship, the blessings of as good a servant as myself, in heaven's good time," said Richie; "but fate hath so ordained it, that I can henceforth only be your servant in the way of friendly courtesy."
"Well, Richie," said the young lord, "if you are tired of service, we will seek some better provision for you; but you will wait on me to the church, and partake of the bridal dinner?"
"Under favour, my lord," answered Richie; "I must remind you of our covenant, having presently some pressing business of mine own, whilk will detain me during the ceremony; but I will not fail to prie Master George's good cheer, in respect he has made very costly fare, whilk it would be unthankful not to partake of."
"Do as you list," answered Lord Glenvarloch; and having bestowed a passing thought on the whimsical and pragmatical disposition of his follower, he dismissed the subject for others better suited to the day.
The reader must fancy the scattered flowers which strewed the path of the happy couple to church—the loud music which accompanied the procession—the marriage service performed by a bishop—the king, who met them at Saint Paul's, giving away the bride,—to the great relief of her father, who had thus time, during the ceremony, to calculate the just quotient to be laid on the pinion of report in a timepiece which he was then putting together.
When the ceremony was finished, the company were transported in the royal carriages to George Heriot's, where a splendid collation was provided for the marriage-guests in the Foljambe apartments. The king no sooner found himself in this snug retreat, than, casting from him his sword and belt with such haste as if they burnt his fingers, and flinging his plumed hat on the table, as who should say, Lie there, authority! he swallowed a hearty cup of wine to the happiness of the married couple, and began to amble about the room, mumping, laughing, and cracking jests, neither the wittiest nor the most delicate, but accompanied and applauded by shouts of his own mirth, in order to encourage that of the company. Whilst his Majesty was in the midst of this gay humour, and a call to the banquet was anxiously expected, a servant whispered Master Heriot forth of the apartment. When he re- entered, he walked up to the king, and, in his turn whispered something, at which James started.
"He is not wanting his siller?" said the king, shortly and sharply.
"By no means, my liege," answered Heriot. "It is a subject he states himself as quite indifferent about, so long as it can pleasure your Majesty."
"Body of us, man!" said the king, "it is the speech of a true man and a loving subject, and we will grace him accordingly—what though he be but a carle—a twopenny cat may look at a king. Swith, man! have him— pundite fores.—Moniplies?—They should have called the chield Monypennies, though I sall warrant you English think we have not such a name in Scotland."
"It is an ancient and honourable stock, the Monypennies," said Sir Mungo Malagrowther; "the only loss is, there are sae few of the name."
"The family seems to increase among your countrymen, Sir Mungo," said Master Lowestoffe, whom Lord Glenvarloch had invited to be present, "since his Majesty's happy accession brought so many of you here."
"Right, sir—right," said Sir Mungo, nodding and looking at George Heriot; "there have some of ourselves been the better of that great blessing to the English nation."
As he spoke, the door flew open, and in entered, to the astonishment of Lord Glenvarloch, his late serving-man Richie Moniplies, now sumptuously, nay, gorgeously, attired in a superb brocaded suit, and leading in his hand the tall, thin, withered, somewhat distorted form of Martha Trapbois, arrayed in a complete dress of black velvet, which suited so strangely with the pallid and severe melancholy of her countenance, that the king himself exclaimed, in some perturbation, "What the deil has the fallow brought us here? Body of our regal selves! it is a corpse that has run off with the mort-cloth!"
"May I sifflicate your Majesty to be gracious unto her?" said Richie; "being that she is, in respect of this morning's wark, my ain wedded wife, Mrs. Martha Moniplies by name."
"Saul of our body, man! but she looks wondrous grim," answered King James. "Art thou sure she has not been in her time maid of honour to Queen Mary, our kinswoman, of redhot memory?"
"I am sure, an it like your Majesty, that she has brought me fifty thousand pounds of good siller, and better; and that has enabled me to pleasure your Majesty, and other folk."
"Ye need have said naething about that, man," said the king; "we ken our obligations in that sma' matter, and we are glad this rudas spouse of thine hath bestowed her treasure on ane wha kens to put it to the profit of his king and country.—But how the deil did ye come by her, man?"
"In the auld Scottish fashion, my liege. She is the captive of my bow and my spear," answered Moniplies. "There was a convention that she should wed me when I avenged her father's death—so I slew, and took possession."
"It is the daughter of Old Trapbois, who has been missed so long," said Lowestoffe.—"Where the devil could you mew her up so closely, friend Richie?"
"Master Richard, if it be your will," answered Richie; "or Master Richard Moniplies, if you like it better. For mewing of her up, I found her a shelter, in all honour and safety, under the roof of an honest countryman of my own—and for secrecy, it was a point of prudence, when wantons like you were abroad, Master Lowestoffe."
There was a laugh at Richie's magnanimous reply, on the part of every one but his bride, who made to him a signal of impatience, and said, with her usual brevity and sternness,—"Peace—peace, I pray you, peace. Let us do that which we came for." So saying, she took out a bundle of parchments, and delivering them to Lord Glenvarloch, she said aloud,—"I take this royal presence, and all here, to witness, that I restore the ransomed lordship of Glenvarloch to the right owner, as free as ever it was held by any of his ancestors."
"I witnessed the redemption of the mortgage," said Lowestoffe; "but I little dreamt by whom it had been redeemed."
"No need ye should," said Richie; "there would have been small wisdom in crying roast-meat."
"Peace," said his bride, "once more.—This paper," she continued, delivering another to Lord Glenvarloch, "is also your property—take it, but spare me the question how it came into my custody."
The king had bustled forward beside Lord Glenvarloch, and fixing an eager eye on the writing, exclaimed—"Body of ourselves, it is our royal sign-manual for the money which was so long out of sight!—How came you by it, Mistress Bride?"
"It is a secret," said Martha, dryly.
"A secret which my tongue shall never utter," said Richie, resolutely,—"unless the king commands me on my allegiance."
"I do—I do command you," said James, trembling and stammering with the impatient curiosity of a gossip; while Sir Mungo, with more malicious anxiety to get at the bottom of the mystery, stooped his long thin form forward like a bent fishing-rod, raised his thin grey locks from his ear, and curved his hand behind it to collect every vibration of the expected intelligence. Martha in the meantime frowned most ominously on Richie, who went on undauntedly to inform the king, "that his deceased father-in-law, a good careful man in the main, had a' touch of worldly wisdom about him, that at times marred the uprightness of his walk; he liked to dabble among his neighbour's gear, and some of it would at times stick to his fingers in the handling."
"For shame, man, for shame!" said Martha; "since the infamy of the deed must be told, be it at least briefly.—Yes, my lord," she added, addressing Glenvarloch, "the piece of gold was not the sole bait which brought the miserable old man to your chamber that dreadful night—his object, and he accomplished it, was to purloin this paper. The wretched scrivener was with him that morning, and, I doubt not, urged the doting old man to this villainy, to offer another bar to the ransom of your estate. If there was a yet more powerful agent at the bottom of this conspiracy, God forgive it to him at this moment, for he is now where the crime must be answered!"
"Amen!" said Lord Glenvarloch, and it was echoed by all present.
"For my father," continued she, with her stern features twitched by an involuntary and convulsive movement, "his guilt and folly cost him his life; and my belief is constant, that the wretch, who counselled him that morning to purloin the paper, left open the window for the entrance of the murderers."
Every body was silent for an instant; the king was first to speak, commanding search instantly to be made for the guilty scrivener. "I, lictor," he concluded, "colliga manus—caput obnubito-infelici suspendite arbori."
Lowestoffe answered with due respect, that the scrivener had absconded at the time of Lord Dalgarno's murder, and had not been heard of since.
"Let him be sought for," said the king. "And now let us change the discourse—these stories make one's very blood grew, and are altogether unfit for bridal festivity. Hymen, O Hymenee!" added he, snapping his fingers, "Lord Glenvarloch, what say you to Mistress Moniplies, this bonny bride, that has brought you back your father's estate on your bridal day?"
"Let him say nothing, my liege," said Martha; "that will best suit his feelings and mine."
"There is redemption-money, at the least, to be repaid," said Lord Glenvarloch; "in that I cannot remain debtor."
"We will speak of it hereafter," said Martha; "my debtor you cannot be." And she shut her mouth as if determined to say nothing more on the subject.
Sir Mungo, however, resolved not to part with the topic, and availing himself of the freedom of the moment, said to Richie—"A queer story that of your father-in-law, honest man; methinks your bride thanked you little for ripping it up."
"I make it a rule, Sir Mungo," replied Richie, "always to speak any evil I know about my family myself, having observed, that if I do not, it is sure to be told by ither folks."
"But, Richie," said Sir Mungo, "it seems to me that this bride of yours is like to be master and mair in the conjugal state."
"If she abides by words, Sir Mungo," answered Richie, "I thank heaven I can be as deaf as any one; and if she comes to dunts, I have twa hands to paik her with."
"Weel said, Richie, again," said the king; "you have gotten it on baith haffits, Sir Mungo.—Troth, Mistress Bride, for a fule, your gudeman has a pretty turn of wit."
"There are fools, sire," replied she, "who have wit, and fools who have courage—aye, and fools who have learning, and are great fools notwithstanding.—I chose this man because he was my protector when I was desolate, and neither for his wit nor his wisdom. He is truly honest, and has a heart and hand that make amends for some folly. Since I was condemned to seek a protector through the world, which is to me a wilderness, I may thank God that I have come by no worse."
"And that is sae sensibly said," replied the king, "that, by my saul, I'll try whether I canna make him better. Kneel down, Richie—somebody lend me a rapier—yours, Mr. Langstaff, (that's a brave name for a lawyer,)—ye need not flash it out that gate, Templar fashion, as if ye were about to pink a bailiff!"
He took the drawn sword, and with averted eyes, for it was a sight he loved not to look on, endeavoured to lay it on Richie's shoulder, but nearly stuck it into his eye. Richie, starting back, attempted to rise, but was held down by Lowestoffe, while Sir Mungo, guiding the royal weapon, the honour-bestowing blow was given and received: "Surge, carnifex—Rise up, Sir Richard Moniplies, of Castle-Collop!- -And, my lords and lieges, let us all to our dinner, for the cock-a- leekie is cooling."
Note I. p. l4.—DAVID RAMSAY
David Ramsay, watchmaker and horologer to James I., was a real person, though the author has taken the liberty of pressing him into the service of fiction. Although his profession led him to cultivate the exact sciences, like many at this period he mingled them with pursuits which were mystical and fantastic. The truth was, that the boundaries between truth and falsehood in mathematics, astronomy, and similar pursuits, were not exactly known, and there existed a sort of terra incognita between them, in which the wisest men bewildered themselves. David Ramsay risked his money on the success of the vaticinations which his researches led him to form, since he sold clocks and watches under condition, that their value should not become payable till King James was crowned in the Pope's chair at Rome. Such wagers were common in that day, as may be seen by looking at Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour.
David Ramsay was also an actor in another singular scene, in which the notorious astrologer Lilly was a performer, and had no small expectation on the occasion, since he brought with him a half-quartern sack to put the treasure in.
"David Ramsay, his Majesty's clock-maker, had been informed that there was a great quantity of treasure buried in the cloister of Westminster Abbey. He acquaints Dean Withnam therewith, who was also then Bishop of Lincoln. The Dean gave him liberty to search after it, with this proviso, that if any was discovered, his church should have a share of it. Davy Ramsay finds out one John Scott, who pretended the use of the Mosaical rods, to assist him herein. [Footnote: The same now called, I believe, the Divining Rod, and applied to the discovery of water not obvious to the eye.] I was desired to join with him, unto which I consented. One winter's night, Davy Ramsay, with several gentlemen, myself, and Scott, entered the cloisters. We played the hazel rods round about the cloisters. Upon the west end of the cloisters the rods turned one over another, an argument that the treasure was there. The labourers digged at least six feet deep, and then we met with a coffin; but which, in regard it was not heavy, we did not open, which we afterwards much repented.
"From the cloisters we went into the abbey church, where, upon a sudden, (there being no wind when we began,) so fierce and so high, so blustering and loud a wind did rise, that we verily believed the west end of the church would have fallen upon us. Our rods would not move at all; the candles and torches, also, but one were extinguished, or burned very dimly. John Scott, my partner, was amazed, looked pale, knew not what to think or do, until I gave directions and command to dismiss the demons; which, when done, all was quiet again, and each man returned unto his lodging late, about twelve o'clock at night. I could never since be induced to join with any such like actions.
"The true miscarriage of the business was by reason of so many people being present at the operation; for there was about thirty, some laughing, others deriding us; so that, if we had not dismissed the demons, I believe most part of the abbey church would have been blown down. Secrecy and intelligent operators, with a strong confidence and knowledge of what they are doing, are best for the work."—LILLY'S Life and Times, p. 46.
David Ramsay had a son called William Ramsay, who appears to have possessed all his father's credulity. He became an astrologer, and in 1651-2 published "Vox Stellarum, an Introduction to the Judgment of Eclipses and the Annual Revolutions of the World." The edition of 1652 is inscribed, to his father. It would appear, as indeed it might be argued from his mode of disposing of his goods, that the old horologer had omitted to make hay while the sun shone; for his son, in his dedication, has this exception to the paternal virtues, "It's true your carelessness in laying up while the sun shone for the tempests of a stormy day, hath given occasion to some inferior spirited people not to value you according to what you are by nature and in yourself, for such look not to a man longer than he is in prosperity, esteeming none but for their wealth, not wisdom, power, nor virtue." From these expressions, it is to be apprehended that while old David Ramsay, a follower of the Stewarts, sunk under the Parliamentary government, his son, William, had advanced from being a dupe to astrology to the dignity of being himself a cheat.
Note II. p. 27.-GEORGE HERIOT
This excellent person was but little known by his actions when alive, but we may well use, in this particular, the striking phrase of Scripture, "that being dead he yet speaketh." We have already mentioned, in the Introduction, the splendid charity of which he was the founder; the few notices of his personal history are slight and meagre.
George Heriot was born at Trabroun, in the parish of Gladsmuir; he was the eldest son of a goldsmith in Edinburgh, descended from a family of some consequence in East Lothian. His father enjoyed the confidence of his fellow-citizens, and was their representative in Parliament. He was, besides, one of the deputies sent by the inhabitants of the city to propitiate the King, when he had left Edinburgh abruptly, after the riot of 17th December, 1596.
George Heriot, the son, pursued his father's occupation of a goldsmith, then peculiarly lucrative, and much connected with that of a money-broker. He enjoyed the favour and protection of James, and of his consort, Anne of Denmark. He married, for his first wife, a maiden of his own rank, named Christian Marjoribanks, daughter of a respectable burgess. This was in 1586. He was afterwards named jeweller to the Queen, whose account to him for a space of ten years amounted to nearly L40,000. George Heriot, having lost his wife, connected himself with the distinguished house of Rosebery, by marrying a daughter of James Primrose, Clerk to the Privy Council. Of this lady he was deprived by her dying in child-birth in 1612, before attaining her twenty-first year. After a life spent in honourable and successful industry, George Heriot died in London, to which city he had followed his royal master, on the 12th February, 1624, at the age of sixty-one years. His picture, (copied by Scougal from a lost original,) in which he is represented in the prime of life, is thus described: "His fair hair, which overshades the thoughtful brow and calm calculating eye, with the cast of humour on the lower part of the countenance, are all indicative of the genuine Scottish character, and well distinguish a person fitted to move steadily and wisely through the world, with a strength of resolution to ensure success, and a disposition to enjoy it."—Historical and Descriptive Account of Heriot's Hospital, with a Memoir of the Founder, by Messrs James and John Johnstone. Edinburgh, 1827.