Infomotions, Inc.The Keepsake Stories / Scott, Walter, Sir

Author: Scott, Walter, Sir
Title: The Keepsake Stories
Publisher: Wiretap Electronic Text Archive
Tag(s): lady bothwell; bothwell; woodville; lord woodville; philip; philip forester; laird's jock; aunt margaret; aunt; lady; forester; lady forester; english literature
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 21,438 words (really short) Grade range: 15-18 (college) Readability score: 44 (average)
Identifier: scott-keepsake-551
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Walter Scott: The Keepsake Stories
 a machine-readable transcription

[For archival on the Internet Wiretap, the three stories
have been concatenated. No other changes have been made.]

Version 1.0:	1993-02-06
	1.1:	1993-03-06	several transcription errors fixed,
				mainly in the Mirror

The text of the three stories is taken from Waverley Novels, vol. XLI:
'The Highland Widow', published by Archibald Constable and Co,
Westminster, 1896.

The order of the stories in the original is:

	Aunt Margaret's Mirror
	The Tapestried Chamber
	The Laird's Jock

Each story is placed in a separate file, and each file contains the
author's introduction to the story.

The lines of the files follow that of the text, except that
end-of-line hyphenations have been removed. Three misprints have been

  p. ???: extraneous period (Mrs. Swinton)
          (Mr and Mrs is set without periods in the text)
  p. 328: a double (re- || remain)
  p. 344: a missing inner quote (how then shall I ask it?'')

all of which where found in the Mirror.

Special markup:

_ _	indicates italics in the original text
---	indicates an em-dash
<oe>	indicates the oe ligature
<c,>	indicates the c-cedilla
<e'>	indicates e acute

Small capitals have been replaced with lower-case letters.


The sequence `L.20' which appears in the introduction to the `Mirror'
is so printed in the text. The Centenary Edition of the Waverley
Novels uses a pound sterling sign instead of the `L.'.

The transcription and proof-reading were done by Anders Thulin,
Rydsvagen 288, S-583 30 Linkoping, Sweden.  

I'd be grateful to learn of any errors you find in the text.

[1. My Aunt Margaret's Mirror]


  The species of publication which has come
to be generally known by the title of _Annual_,
being a miscellany of prose and verse, equipped
with numerous engravings, and put forth every
year about Christmas, had flourished for a long
while in Germany, before it was imitated in
this country by an enterprising bookseller, a
German by birth, Mr Ackermann. The rapid
success of his work, as is the custom of the
time, gave birth to a host of rivals, and, among
others, to an Annual styled The Keepsake,
the first volume of which appeared in 1828,
and attracted much notice, chiefly in consequence
of the very uncommon splendour of
its illustrative accompaniments. The expenditure
which the spirited proprietors lavished
on this magnificent volume, is understood to
have been not less than from ten to twelve
thousand pounds sterling!

  Various gentlemen of such literary reputation
that any one might think it an honour to be
associated with them, had been announced as
contributors to this Annual, before application
was made to me to assist in it; and I accordingly
placed with much pleasure at the Editor's
disposal a few fragments, originally designed
to have been worked into the Chronicles
of the Canongate, besides a MS. Drama, the
long-neglected performance of my youthful
days---The House of Aspen.

  The Keepsake for 1828 included, however,
only three of these little prose tales---of which
the first in order was that entitled ``My Aunt
Margaret's Mirror.'' By way of _introduction_
to this, when now included in a general collection
of my lucubrations, I have only to say, that
it is a mere transcript, or at least with very little
embellishment, of a story that I remembered
being struck with in my childhood, when told
at the fireside by a lady of eminent virtues,
and no inconsiderable share of talent, one of
the ancient and honourable house of Swinton. 
She was a kind relation of my own, and met
her death in a manner so shocking, being killed
in a fit of insanity by a female attendant who
had been attached to her person for half a lifetime,
that I cannot now recall her memory,
child as I was when the catastrophe occurred,
without a painful re-awakening of perhaps the
first images of horror that the scenes of real
life stamped on my mind.

  This good spinster had in her composition a
strong vein of the superstitious, and was pleased,
among other fancies, to read alone in her
chamber by a taper fixed in a candlestick which
she had had formed out of a human skull. 
One night this strange piece of furniture acquired
suddenly the power of locomotion, and,
after performing some odd circles on her chimney-piece,
fairly leaped on the floor, and continued
to roll about the apartment. Mrs Swinton
calmly proceeded to the adjoining room
for another light, and had the satisfaction to
penetrate the mystery on the spot. Rats
abounded in the ancient building she inhabited,
and one of these had managed to ensconce
itself within her favourite _memento mori_. Though
thus endowed with a more than feminine share
of nerve, she entertained largely that belief in
supernaturals, which in those times was not
considered as sitting ungracefully on the grave
and aged of her condition; and the story of
the Magic Mirror was one for which she vouched
with particular confidence, alleging indeed
that one of her own family had been an eye-witness
of the incidents recorded in it.

   ``I tell the tale as it was told to me.''

  Stories enow of much the same cast will
present themselves to the recollection of such
of my readers as have ever dabbled in a species
of lore to which I certainly gave more hours,
at one period of my life, than I should gain any
credit by confessing.

_August_, 1831.


                    ``There are times
  When Fancy plays her gambols, in despite
  Even of our watchful senses, when in sooth
  Substance seems shadow, shadow substance seems,
  When the broad, palpable, and mark'd partition,
  'Twixt that which is and is not, seems dissolved,
  As if the mental eye gain'd power to gaze
  Beyond the limits of the existing world.
  Such hours of shadowy dreams I better love
  Than all the gross realities of life.''

  My Aunt Margaret was one of that respected
sisterhood, upon whom devolve all the trouble and
solicitude incidental to the possession of children,
excepting only that which attends their entrance
into the world. We were a large family, of very
different dispositions and constitutions. Some were
dull and peevish---they were sent to Aunt Margaret
to be amused; some were rude, romping, and
boisterous---they were sent to Aunt Margaret to
be kept quiet, or rather, that their noise might be
removed out of hearing: those who were indisposed
were sent with the prospect of being nursed---
those who were stubborn, with the hope of their
being subdued by the kindness of Aunt Margaret's
discipline; in short, she had all the various duties
of a mother, without the credit and dignity of the
maternal character. The busy scene of her various
cares is now over---of the invalids and the robust,
the kind and the rough, the peevish and pleased
children, who thronged her little parlour from morning
to night, not one now remains alive but myself;
who, afflicted by early infirmity, was one of the
most delicate of her nurselings, yet, nevertheless,
have outlived them all.

  It is still my custom, and shall be so while I have
the use of my limbs, to visit my respected relation
at least three times a-week. Her abode is about
half a mile from the suburbs of the town in which
I reside; and is accessible, not only by the high-road,
from which it stands at some distance, but by
means of a greensward footpath, leading through
some pretty meadows. I have so little left to torment
me in life, that it is one of my greatest vexations
to know that several of these sequestered
fields have been devoted as sites for building. In
that which is nearest the town, wheelbarrows have
been at work for several weeks in such numbers,
that, I verily believe, its whole surface, to the
depth of at least eighteen inches, was mounted in
these monotrochs at the same moment, and in the
act of being transported from one place to another. 
Huge triangular piles of planks are also reared in
different parts of the devoted messuage; and a little
group of trees, that still grace the eastern end,
which rises in a gentle ascent, have just received
warning to quit, expressed by a daub of white
paint, and are to give place to a curious grove of

  It would, perhaps, hurt others in my situation to
reflect that this little range of pasturage once belonged
to my father, (whose family was of some
consideration in the world,) and was sold by patches
to remedy distresses in which be involved himself
in an attempt by commercial adventure to redeem
his diminished fortune. While the building scheme
was in full operation, this circumstance was often
pointed out to me by the class of friends who are
anxious that no part of your misfortunes should
escape your observation. ``Such pasture-ground!
---lying at the very town's end---in turnips and potatoes,
the parks would bring L.20 per acre, and if
leased for building---O, it was a gold mine!---And
all sold for an old song out of the ancient possessor's
hands!'' My comforters cannot bring me to
repine much on this subject. If I could be allowed
to look back on the past without interruption, I
could willingly give up the enjoyment of present
income, and the hope of future profit, to those who
have purchased what my father sold. I regret the
alteration of the ground only because it destroys
associations, and I would more willingly (I think)
see the Earl's Closes in the hands of strangers, retaining
their silvan appearance, than know them
for my own, if torn up by agriculture, or covered
with buildings. Mine are the sensations of poor

  ``The horrid slough has rased the green
      Where yet a child I stray'd;
    The axe has fell'd the hawthorn screen,
      The schoolboy's summer shade.''

  I hope, however, the threatened devastation will
not be consummated in my day. Although the
adventurous spirit of times short while since passed
gave rise to the undertaking, I have been encouraged
to think, that the subsequent changes
have so far damped the spirit of speculation, that
the rest of the woodland footpath leading to Aunt
Margaret's retreat will be left undisturbed for her
time and mine. I am interested in this, for every
step of the way, after I have passed through the
green already mentioned, has for me something of
early remembrance:---There is the stile at which I
can recollect a cross child's-maid upbraiding me
with my infirmity, as she lifted me coarsely and
carelessly over the flinty steps, which my brothers
traversed with shout and bound. I remember the
suppressed bitterness of the moment, and, conscious
of my own inferiority, the feeling of envy
with which I regarded the easy movements and
elastic steps of my more happily formed brethren. 
Alas! these goodly barks have all perished on life's
wide ocean, and only that which seemed so little
seaworthy, as the naval phrase goes, has reached
the port when the tempest is over. Then there is
the pool, where, man<oe>uvring our little navy, constructed
out of the broad water-flags, my elder
brother fell in, and was scarce saved from the
watery element to die under Nelson's banner. There
is the hazel copse also, in which my brother Henry
used to gather nuts, thinking little that he was to
die in an Indian jungle in quest of rupees.

  There is so much more of remembrance about
the little walk, that---as I stop, rest on my crutch-headed
cane, and look round with that species of
comparison between the thing I was and that which
I now am---it almost induces me to doubt my own
identity; until I found myself in face of the honeysuckle
porch of Aunt Margaret's dwelling, with
its irregularity of front, and its odd projecting latticed
windows; where the workmen seem to have
made a study that no one of them should resemble
another, in form, size, or in the old-fashioned stone
entablature and labels which adorn them. This
tenement, once the manor-house of Earl's Closes,
we still retain a slight hold upon; for, in some family
arrangements, it had been settled upon Aunt
Margaret during the term of her life. Upon this
frail tenure depends, in a great measure, the last
shadow of the family of Bothwell of Earl's Closes,
and their last slight connexion with their paternal
inheritance. The only representative will then be
an infirm old man, moving not unwillingly to the
grave, which has devoured all that were dear to
his affections.

  When I have indulged such thoughts for a minute
or two, I enter the mansion, which is said to
have been the gatehouse only of the original building,
and find one being on whom time seems to
have made little impression; for the Aunt Margaret
of to-day bears the same proportional age to
the Aunt Margaret of my early youth, that the
boy of ten years old does to the Man of (by'r
Lady!) some fifty-six years. The old lady's invariable
costume has doubtless some share in confirming
one in the opinion, that time has stood still
with Aunt Margaret.

  The brown or chocolate-coloured silk gown, with
ruffles of the same stuff at the elbow, within which
are others of Mechlin lace---the black silk gloves,
or mitts, the white hair combed back upon a roll,
and the cap of spotless cambric, which closes around
the venerable countenance, as they were not the
costume of 1780, so neither were they that of 1826;
they are altogether a style peculiar to the individual
Aunt Margaret. There she still sits, as she
sat thirty years since, with her wheel or the stocking,
which she works by the fire in winter, and by
the window in summer, or, perhaps, venturing as
far as the porch in an unusually fine summer evening.
Her frame, like some well-constructed piece
of mechanics, still performs the operations for
which it had seemed destined; going its round
with an activity which is gradually diminished, yet
indicating no probability that it will soon come to
a period.

  The solicitude and affection which had made
Aunt Margaret the willing slave to the inflictions
of a whole nursery, have now for their object the
health and comfort of one old and infirm man; the
last remaining relative of her family, and the only
one who can still find interest in the traditional
stores which she hoards; as some miser hides the
gold which he desires that no one should enjoy
after his death.

  My conversation with Aunt Margaret generally
relates little either to the present or to the future:
for the passing day we possess as much as we require,
and we neither of us wish for more; and for
that which is to follow we have on this side of the
grave neither hopes, nor fears, nor anxiety. We
therefore naturally look back to the past; and
forget the present fallen fortunes and declined importance
of our family, in recalling the hours when
it was wealthy and prosperous.

  With this slight introduction, the reader will
know as much of Aunt Margaret and her nephew
as is necessary to comprehend the following conversation
and narrative.

  Last week, when, late in a summer evening, I
went to call on the old lady to whom my reader is
now introduced, I was received by her with all her
usual affection and benignity; while, at the same
time, she seemed abstracted and disposed to silence. 
I asked her the reason. ``They have been clearing
out the old chapel,'' she said; ``John Clayhudgeons
having, it seems, discovered that the stuff
within---being, I suppose, the remains of our ancestors---
was excellent for top-dressing the meadows.'''

  Here I started up with more alacrity than I
have displayed for some years; but sat down
while my aunt added, laying her hand upon my
sleeve, ``The chapel has been long considered as
common ground, my dear, and used for a penfold,
and what objection can we have to the man for
employing what is his own, to his own profit?
Besides, I did speak to him, and he very readily
and civilly promised, that if he found bones or
monuments, they should be carefully respected and
reinstated; and what more could I ask? So, the
first stone they found bore the name of Margaret
Bothwell, 1585, and I have caused it to be laid
carefully aside, as I think it betokens death; and
having served my namesake two hundred years, it
has just been cast up in time to do me the same
good turn. My house has been long put in order,
as far as the small earthly concerns require it, but
who shall say that their account with Heaven is
sufficiently revised!''

  ``After what you have said, aunt,'' I replied,
``perhaps I ought to take my hat and go away,
and so I should, but that there is on this occasion
a little alloy mingled with your devotion. To think
of death at all times is a duty---to suppose it nearer,
from the finding an old gravestone, is superstition;
and you, with your strong useful common sense,
which was so long the prop of a fallen family, are
the last person whom I should have suspected of
such weakness.''

  ``Neither would I deserve your suspicions, kinsman,''
answered Aunt Margaret, ``if we were
speaking of any incident occurring in the actual
business of human life. But for all this, I have a
sense of superstition about me, which I do not
wish to part with. It is a feeling which separates
me from this age, and links me with that to which
I am hastening; and even when it seems, as now,
to lead me to the brink of the grave, and bids me
gaze on it, I do not love that it should be dispelled. 
It soothes my imagination, without influencing my
reason or conduct.''

  ``I profess, my good lady,'' replied I, ``that had
any one but you made such a declaration, I should
have thought it as capricious as that of the clergyman,
who, without vindicating his false reading,
preferred, from habit's sake, his old Mumpsimus
to the modern Sumpsimus.''

  ``Well,'' answered my aunt, ``I must explain
my inconsistency in this particular, by comparing
it to another. I am, as you know, a piece of that
old-fashioned thing called a Jacobite; but I am so
in sentiment and feeling only; for a more loyal
subject never joined in prayers for the health and
wealth of George the Fourth, whom God long
preserve! But I dare say that kind-hearted sovereign
would not deem that an old woman did him
much injury, if she leaned back in her arm-chair,
just in such a twilight as this, and thought of the
high-mettled men, whose sense of duty called them
to arms against his grandfather; and how, in a
cause which they deemed that of their rightful
prince and country,

  `They fought till their hand to the broadsword was glued,
   They fought against fortune with hearts unsubdued.'

Do not come at such a moment, when my head is
fall of plaids, pibrochs, and claymores, and ask my
reason to admit what, I am afraid, it cannot deny---
I mean, that the public advantage peremptorily
demanded that these things should cease to exist. 
I cannot, indeed, refuse to allow the justice of
your reasoning; but yet, being convinced against
my will, you will gain little by your motion. You
might as well read to an infatuated lover the catalogue
of his mistress's imperfections; for, when
he has been compelled to listen to the summary,
you will only get for answer, that, `he lo'es her a'
the better.' ''

  I was not sorry to have changed the gloomy
train of Aunt Margaret's thoughts, and replied in
the same tone, ``Well, I can't help being persuaded
that our good King is the more sure of
Mrs Bothwell's loyal affection, that he has the
Stuart right of birth, as well as the Act of Succession
in his favour.''

  ``Perhaps my attachment, were it source of
consequence, might be found warmer for the union
of the rights you mention,'' said Aunt Margaret;
``but, upon my word, it would be as sincere if the
King's right were founded only on the will of the
nation, as declared at the Revolution. I am none
of your _jure divino_ folks.''

  ``And a Jacobite notwithstanding.''

  ``And a Jacobite notwithstanding; or rather, I
will give you leave to call me one of the party,
which, in Queen Anne's time, were called Whimsicals;
because they were sometimes operated upon
by feelings, sometimes by principle. After all, it
is very hard that you will not allow an old woman
to be as inconsistent in her political sentiments, as
mankind in general show themselves in all the
various courses of life; since you cannot point out
one of them, in which the passions and prejudice
of those who pursue it are not perpetually carrying
us away from the path which our reason points

  ``True, aunt; but you are a wilful wanderer,
who should be forced back into the right path.''

  ``Spare me, I entreat you,'' replied Aunt Margaret.
``You remember the Gaelic song, though
I dare say I mispronounce the words---

     'Hatil mohatil, na dowski mi.'
     'I am asleep, do not waken me.'

I tell you, kinsman, that the sort of waking dreams
which my imagination spins out, in what your
favourite Wordsworth calls `moods of my own
mind,' are worth all the rest of my more active
days. Then, instead of looking forwards, as I did
in youth, and forming for myself fairy palaces,
upon the verge of the grave, I turn my eyes backward
upon the days and manners of my better
time; and the sad, yet soothing recollections come
so close and interesting, that I almost think it
sacrilege to be wiser or more rational, or less prejudiced,
than those to whom I looked up in my
younger years.''

  ``I think I now understand what you mean,'' I
answered, ``and can comprehend why you should
occasionally prefer the twilight of illusion to the
steady light of reason.''

  ``Where there is no task,'' she rejoined, ``to be
performed, we may sit in the dark if we like it---
if we go to work, we must ring for candles.''

  ``And amidst such shadowy and doubtful light,''
continued I, ``imagination frames her enchanted
and enchanting visions, and sometimes passes them
upon the senses for reality.''

  ``Yes,'' said Aunt Margaret, who is a well-read
woman, ``to those who resemble the translator of

  `Prevailing poet, whose undoubting Mind
   Believed the magic wonders which he sung.'

It is not required for this purpose, that you
should be sensible of the painful horrors which an
actual belief in such prodigies inflicts---such a belief,
now-a-days, belongs only to fools and children. 
It is not necessary that your ears should tingle,
and your complexion change, like that of Theodore,
at the approach of the spectral huntsman. All
that is indispensable for the enjoyment of the milder
feeling of supernatural awe is, that you should be
susceptible of the slight shuddering which creeps
over you when you hear a tale of terror---that
well-vouched tale which the narrator, having first
expressed his general disbelief of all such legendary
lore, selects and produces, as having something in
it which he has been always obliged to give up as
inexplicable. Another symptom is, a momentary
hesitation to look round you, when the interest of
the narrative is at the highest; and the third, a desire
to avoid looking into a mirror, when you are
alone, in your chamber, for the evening. I mean
such are signs which indicate the crisis, when a female
imagination is in due temperature to enjoy a
ghost story. I do not pretend to describe those
which express the same disposition in a gentleman.''

  ``That last symptom, dear aunt, of shunning the
mirror, seems likely to be a rare occurrence amongst
the fair sex.''

  ``You are a novice in toilet fashions, my dear
cousin. All women consult the looking-glass with
anxiety before they go into company; but when
they return home, the mirror has not the same charm. 
The die has been cast---the party has been successful
or unsuccessful, in the impression which she desired
to make. But, without going deeper into the
mysteries of the dressing-table, I will tell you that
I myself, like many other honest folks, do not like
to see the blank black front of a large mirror in a
room dimly lighted, and where the reflection of
the candle seems rather to lose itself in the deep
obscurity of the glass, than to be reflected back
again into the apartment. That space of inky darkness
seems to be a field for Fancy to play her revels
in. She may call up other features to meet us, instead
of the reflection of our own; or, as in the
spells of Halloween, which we learned in childhood,
some unknown form may be seen peeping
over our shoulder. In short, when I am in a ghost-seeing
humour, I make my handmaiden draw the
green curtains over the mirror, before I go into the
room, so that she may have the first shock of the
apparition, if there be any to be seen. But, to tell
you the truth, the dislike to look into a mirror in
particular times and places, has, I believe, its original
foundation from my grandmother, who was a part
concerned in the scene of which I will now tell you.''

               THE MIRROR.

                CHAPTER 1.

  You are fond (said my aunt) of sketches of the
society which has passed away. I wish I could describe
to you Sir Philip Forester, the ``chartered
libertine'' of Scottish good company, about the end
of the last century. I never saw him indeed; but
my mother's traditions were full of his wit, gallantry,
and dissipation. This gay knight flourished
about the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th
century. He was the Sir Charles Easy and the
Lovelace of his day and country: renowned for the
number of duels he had fought, and the successful
intrigues which he had carried on. The supremacy
which he had attained in the fashionable world was
absolute; and when we combine it with one or two
anecdotes, for which, ``if laws were made for every
degree,'' he ought certainly to have been hanged,
the popularity of such a person really serves to show,
either, that the present times are much more decent,
if not more virtuous, than they formerly were; or,
that high breeding then was of more difficult attainment
than that which is now so called; and, consequently,
entitled the successful professor to a proportional
degree of plenary indulgences and privileges.
No beau of this day could have borne out
so ugly a story as that of Pretty Peggy Grindstone,
the miller's daughter at Sillermills---it had well-nigh
made work for the Lord Advocate. But it
hurt Sir Philip Forester no more than the hail hurts
the hearthstone. He was as well received in society
as ever, and dined with the Duke of A------ the
day the poor girl was buried. She died of heartbreak.
But that has nothing to do with my story.

  Now, you must listen to a single word upon kith,
kin, and ally; I promise you I will not be prolix. 
But it is necessary to the authenticity of my legend,
that you should know that Sir Philip Forester, with
his handsome person, elegant accomplishments, and
fashionable manners, married the younger Miss Falconer
of King's-Copland. The elder sister of this
lady had previously become the wife of my grandfather,
Sir Geoffrey Bothwell, and brought into
our family a good fortune. Miss Jemima, or Miss
Jemmie Falconer, as she was usually called, had
also about ten thousand pounds sterling---then
thought a very handsome portion indeed.

  The two sisters were extremely different, though
each had their admirers while they remained single. 
Lady Bothwell had some touch of the old King's-Copland
blood about her. She was bold, though
not to the degree of audacity: ambitious, and desirous
to raise her house and family; and was, as
has been said, a considerable spur to my grandfather,
who was otherwise an indolent man; but
whom unless he has been slandered, his lady's influence
involved in some political matters which
had been more wisely let alone. She was a woman
of high principle, however, and masculine good
sense, as some of her letters testify, which are still
in my wainscot cabinet.

  Jemmie Falconer was the reverse of her sister
in every respect. Her understanding did not reach
above the ordinary pitch, if, indeed, she could be
said to have attained it. Her beauty, while it lasted,
consisted, in a great measure, of delicacy of
complexion and regularity of features, without any
peculiar force of expression. Even these charms
faded under the sufferings attendant on an ill-sorted
match. She was passionately attached to her husband,
by whom she was treated with a callous, yet
polite indifference; which, to one whose heart was
as tender as her judgment was weak, was more painful
perhaps than absolute ill usage. Sir Philip was
a voluptuary, that is, a completely selfish egotist:
whose disposition and character resembled the rapier
he wore, polished, keen, and brilliant, but inflexible
and unpitying. As he observed carefully
all the usual forms towards his lady, he had the art
to deprive her even of the compassion of the world;
and useless and unavailing as that may be while
actually possessed by the sufferer, it is, to a mind
like Lady Forester's, most painful to know she has
it not.

  The tattle of society did its best to place the peccant
husband above the suffering wife. Some called
her a poor spiritless thing, and declared, that, with
a little of her sister's spirit, she might have brought
to reason any Sir Philip whatsoever, were it the
termagant Falconbridge himself. But the greater
part of their acquaintance affected candour, and saw
faults on both sides; though, in fact, there only existed
the oppressor and the oppressed. The tone
of such critics was---``To be sure, no one will justify
Sir Philip Forester, but then we all know Sir
Philip, and Jemmie Falconer might have known
what she had to expect from the beginning.---What
made her set her cap at Sir Philip?---He would
never have looked at her if she had not thrown herself
at his head, with her poor ten thousand pounds. 
I am sure, if it is money he wanted, she spoiled his
market. I know where Sir Philip could have done
much better.---And then, if she _would_ have the man,
could not she try to make him more comfortable at
home, and have his friends oftener, and not plague
him with the squalling children, and take care all
was handsome and in good style about the house?
I declare I think Sir Philip would have made a
very domestic man, with a woman who knew how
to manage him.''

  Now these fair critics, in raising their profound
edifice of domestic felicity, did not recollect that
the corner-stone was wanting; and that to receive
good company with good cheer, the means of the
banquet ought to have been furnished by Sir Philip;
whose income (dilapidated as it was) was not equal
to the display of the hospitality required, and, at
the same time, to the supply of the good knight's
_menus plaisirs_. So, in spite of all that was so sanely
suggested by female friends, Sir Philip carried
his good humour every where abroad, and left at
home a solitary mansion and a pining spouse.

  At length, inconvenienced in his money affairs,
and tired even of the short time which he spent in
his own dull house, Sir Philip Forester determined
to take a trip to the continent, in the capacity of a
volunteer. It was then common for men of fashion
to do so; and our knight perhaps was of opinion
that a touch of the military character, just enough
to exalt, but not render pedantic, his qualities as a
_beau gar<c,>on_ was necessary to maintain possession
of the elevated situation which he held in the ranks
of fashion.

  Sir Philip's resolution threw his wife into agonies
of terror; by which the worthy baronet was so
much annoyed, that, contrary to his wont, he took
some trouble to soothe her apprehensions; and
once more brought her to shed tears, in which sorrow
was not altogether unmingled with pleasure. 
Lady Bothwell asked, as a favour, Sir Philip's permission
to receive her sister and her family into
her own house during his absence on the continent. 
Sir Philip readily assented to a proposition which
saved expense, silenced the foolish people who
might have talked of a deserted wife and family,
and gratified Lady Bothwell; for whom he felt some
respect, as for one who often spoke to him, always
with freedom, and sometimes with severity, without
being deterred either by his raillery, or the
_prestige_ of his reputation.

  A day or two before Sir Philip's departure, Lady
Bothwell took the liberty of asking him, in her
sister's presence, the direct question, which his
timid wife had often desired, but never ventured,
to put to him.

  ``Pray, Sir Philip, what route do you take when
you reach the continent?''

  ``I go from Leith to Helvoet by a packet with

  ``That I comprehend perfectly,'' said Lady
Bothwell dryly; ``but you do not mean to remain
long at Helvoet, I presume, and I should like to
know what is your next object?''

  ``You ask me, my dear lady,'' answered Sir
Philip, ``a question which I have not dared to ask
myself. The answer depends on the fate of war. 
I shall, of course, go to head-quarters, wherever
they may happen to be for the time; deliver my letters
of introduction; learn as much of the noble art
of war as may suffice a poor interloping amateur;
and then take a glance at the sort of thing of which
we read so much in the Gazette.''

  ``And I trust, Sir Philip,'' said Lady Bothwell,
``that you will remember that you are a husband
and a father; and that though you think fit to indulge
this military fancy, you will not let it hurry
you into dangers which it is certainly unnecessary
for any save professional persons to encounter?''

  ``Lady Bothwell does me too much honour,''
replied the adventurous knight, ``in regarding
such a circumstance with the slightest interest. 
But to soothe your flattering anxiety, I trust your
ladyship will recollect, that I cannot expose to
hazard the venerable and paternal character which
you so obligingly recommend to my protection,
without putting in some peril an honest fellow,
called Philip Forester, with whom I have kept
company for thirty years, and with whom, though
some folks consider him a coxcomb, I have not the
least desire to part.''

  ``Well, Sir Philip, you are the best judge of
your own affairs; I have little right to interfere---
you are not my husband.''

  ``God forbid!''---said Sir Philip hastily; instantly
adding, however, ``God forbid that I should
deprive my friend Sir Geoffrey of so inestimable
a treasure.''

  ``But you are my sister's husband,'' replied the
lady; ``and I suppose you are aware of her present
distress of mind------''

  ``If hearing of nothing else from morning to
night can make me aware of it,'' said Sir Philip,
``I should know something of the matter.''

  ``I do not pretend to reply to your wit, Sir
Philip,'' answered Lady Bothwell; ``but you must
be sensible that all this distress is on account of
apprehensions for your personal safety.''

  ``In that case, I am surprised that Lady Bothwell,
at least, should give herself so much trouble
upon so insignificant a subject.''

  ``My sister's interest may account for my being
anxious to learn something of Sir Philip Forester's
motions; about which otherwise, I know, he would
not wish me to concern myself: I have a brother's
safety too to be anxious for.''

  ``You mean Major Falconer, your brother by
the mother's side:---What can he possibly have
to do with our present agreeable conversation?''

  ``You have had words together, Sir Philip,''
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``Naturally; we are connexions,'' replied Sir
Philip, ``and as such have always had the usual

  ``That is an evasion of the subject,'' answered
the lady. ``By words, I mean angry words, on
the subject of your usage of your wife.''

  ``If,'' replied Sir Philip Forester, ``you suppose
Major Falconer simple enough to intrude his
advice upon me, Lady Bothwell, in my domestic
matters, you are indeed warranted in believing
that I might possibly be so far displeased with the
interference, as to request him to reserve his advice
till it was asked.''

  ``And being on these terms, you are going to
join the very army in which my brother Falconer
is now serving?''

  ``No man knows the path of honour better than
Major Falconer,'' said Sir Philip. ``An aspirant
after fame, like me, cannot choose a better guide
than his footsteps.''

  Lady Bothwell rose and went to the window,
the tears gushing from her eyes.

  ``And this heartless raillery,'' she said, ``is all
the consideration that is to be given to our apprehensions
of a quarrel which may bring on the most
terrible consequences? Good God! of what can
men's hearts be made, who can thus dally with the
agony of others?''

  Sir Philip Forester was moved; he laid aside
the mocking tone in which he had hitherto spoken.

  ``Dear Lady Bothwell,'' he said, taking her reluctant
hand, ``we are both wrong:---you are
too deeply serious; I, perhaps, too little so. The
dispute I had with Major Falconer was of no
earthly consequence. Had any thing occurred betwixt
us that ought to have been settled _par voie
du fait_, as we say in France, neither of us are persons
that are likely to postpone such a meeting. 
Permit me to say, that were it generally known
that you or my Lady Forester are apprehensive of
such a catastrophe, it might be the very means of
bringing about what would not otherwise be likely
to happen. I know your good sense, Lady Bothwell,
and that you will understand me when I say,
that really my affairs require my absence for some
months;---this Jemima cannot understand; it is a
perpetual recurrence of questions, why can you not
do this, or that, or the third thing; and, when you
have proved to her that her expedients are totally
ineffectual, you have just to begin the whole round
again. Now, do you tell her, dear Lady Bothwell
that _you_ are satisfied. She is, you must confess,
one of those persons with whom authority goes
farther than reasoning. Do but repose a little
confidence in me, and you shall see how amply I
will repay it.''

  Lady Bothwell shook her head, as one but half
satisfied. ``How difficult it is to extend confidence,
when the basis on which it ought to rest has been
so much shaken! But I will do my best to make
Jemima easy; and farther, I can only say, that for
keeping your present purpose I hold you responsible
both to God and man.''

  ``Do not fear that I will deceive you,'' said Sir
Philip; ``the safest conveyance to me will be
through the general post-office, Helvoetsluys,
where I will take care to leave orders for forwarding
my letters. As for Falconer, our only encounter
will be over a bottle of Burgundy; so make
yourself perfectly easy on his score.''

  Lady Bothwell could _not_ make herself easy; yet
she was sensible that her sister hurt her own cause
by _taking on_, as the maid-servants call it, too vehemently;
and by showing before every stranger, by
manner, and sometimes by words also, a dissatisfaction
with her husband's journey, that was sure
to come to his ears, and equally certain to displease
him. But there was no help for this domestic dissension,
which ended only with the day of separation.

  I am sorry I cannot tell, with precision, the year
in which Sir Philip Forester went over to Flanders;
but it was one of those in which the campaign
opened with extraordinary fury; and many
bloody, though indecisive, skirmishes were fought
between the French on the one side, and the Allies
on the other. In all our modern improvements,
there are none, perhaps, greater than in the accuracy
and speed with which intelligence is transmitted
from any scene of action to those in this
country whom it may concern. During Marlborough's
campaigns, the sufferings of the many
who had relations in, or along with, the army, were
greatly augmented by the suspense in which they
were detained for weeks, after they had heard of
bloody battles, in which, in all probability, those
for whom their bosoms throbbed with anxiety had
been personally engaged. Amongst those who
were most agonized by this state of uncertainty
was the---I had almost said deserted---wife of the
gay Sir Philip Forester. A single letter had informed
her of his arrival on the continent---no
others were received. One notice occurred in the
newspapers, in which Volunteer Sir Philip Forester
was mentioned as having been intrusted with a
dangerous reconnoissance, which he had executed
with the greatest courage, dexterity, and intelligence,
and received the thanks of the commanding
officer. The sense of his having acquired distinction
brought a momentary glow into the lady's
pale cheek; but it was instantly lost in ashen
whiteness at the recollection of his danger. After
this, they had no news whatever, neither from Sir
Philip, nor even from their brother Falconer. The
case of Lady Forester was not indeed different
from that of hundreds in the same situation; but
a feeble mind is necessarily an irritable one, and the
suspense which some bear with constitutional indifference
or philosophical resignation, and some
with a disposition to believe and hope the best,
was intolerable to Lady Forester, at once solitary
and sensitive, low-spirited, and devoid of strength
of mind, whether natural or acquired.

                 CHAPTER II.

  As she received no further news of Sir Philip,
whether directly or indirectly, his unfortunate lady
began now to feel a sort of consolation, even in
those careless habits which had so often given her
pain. ``He is so thoughtless,'' she repeated a hundred
times a-day to her sister, ``he never writes
when things are going on smoothly; it is his way:
had any thing happened he would have informed

  Lady Bothwell listened to her sister without attempting
to console her. Probably she might be
of opinion, that even the worst intelligence which
could be received from Flanders might not be without
some touch of consolation; and that the Dowager
Lady Forester, if so she was doomed to be called,
might have a source of happiness unknown to the
wife of the gayest and finest gentleman in Scotland. 
This conviction became stronger as they learned
from enquiries made at head-quarters, that Sir Philip
was no longer with the army; though whether
he had been taken or slain in some of those skirmishes
which were perpetually occurring, and in
which he loved to distinguish himself, or whether
he had, for some unknown reason or capricious
change of mind, voluntarily left the service, none
of his countrymen in the camp of the allies could
form even a conjecture. Meantime his creditors at
home became clamorous, entered into possession of
his property, and threatened his person, should he
be rash enough to return to Scotland. These additional
disadvantages aggravated Lady Bothwell's
displeasure against the fugitive husband; while her
sister saw nothing in any of them, save what tended
to increase her grief for the absence of him whom
her imagination now represented,---as it had before
marriage,---gallant, gay, and affectionate.

  About this period there appeared in Edinburgh
a man of singular appearance and pretensions. He
was commonly called the Paduan Doctor, from having
received his education at that famous university.
He was supposed to possess some rare receipts
in medicine, with which, it was affirmed, he
had wrought remarkable cures. But though, on
the one hand, the physicians of Edinburgh termed
him an empiric, there were many persons, and
among them some of the clergy, who, while they
admitted the truth of the cures and the force of his
remedies, alleged that Doctor Baptista Damiotti
made use of charms and unlawful arts in order to
obtain success in his practice. The resorting to
him was even solemnly preached against, as a seeking
of health from idols, and a trusting to the help
which was to come from Egypt. But the protection
which the Paduan Doctor received from some
friends of interest and consequence, enabled him to
set these imputations at defiance, and to assume,
even in the city of Edinburgh, famed as it was for
abhorrence of witches and necromancers, the dangerous
character of an expounder of futurity. It
was at length rumoured, that, for a certain gratification,
which of course was not an inconsiderable
one, Doctor Baptista Damiotti could tell the fate of
the absent, and even show his visitors the personal
form of their absent friends, and the action in which
they were engaged at the moment. This rumour
came to the ears of Lady Forester, who had reached
that pitch of mental agony in which the sufferer
will do any thing, or endure any thing, that suspense
may be converted into certainty.

  Gentle and timid in most cases, her state of mind
made her equally obstinate and reckless, and it was
with no small surprise and alarm that her sister,
Lady Bothwell, heard her express a resolution to
visit this man of art, and learn from him the fate
of her husband. Lady Bothwell remonstrated on
the improbability that such pretensions as those of
this foreigner could be founded in any thing but

  ``I care not,'' said the deserted wife, ``what degree
of ridicule I may incur; if there be any one
chance out of a hundred that I may obtain some
certainty of my husband's fate, I would not miss
that chance for whatever else the world can offer

  Lady Bothwell next urged the unlawfulness of
resorting to such sources of forbidden knowledge.

  ``Sister,'' replied the sufferer, ``he who is dying
of thirst cannot refrain from drinking even poisoned
water. She who suffers under suspense must seek
information, even were the powers which offer it
unhallowed and infernal. I go to learn my fate
alone; and this very evening will I know it: the
sun that rises to-morrow shall find me, if not more
happy, at least more resigned.''

  ``Sister,'' said Lady Bothwell, ``if you are determined
upon this wild step, you shall not go alone. 
If this man be an impostor, you may be too much
agitated by your feelings to detect his villainy. If,
which I cannot believe, there be any truth in what
he pretends, you shall not be exposed alone to a
communication of so extraordinary a nature. I will
go with you, if indeed you determine to go. But
yet reconsider your project, and renounce enquiries
which cannot be prosecuted without guilt, and
perhaps without danger.''

  Lady Forester threw herself into her sister's
arms, and, clasping her to her bosom, thanked her
a hundred times for the offer of her company;
while she declined with a melancholy gesture the
friendly advice with which it was accompanied.

  When the hour of twilight arrived,---which was
the period when the Paduan Doctor was understood
to receive the visits of those who came to consult
with him,---the two ladies left their apartments in
the Canongate of Edinburgh, having their dress arranged
like that of women of an inferior description,
and their plaids disposed around their faces as they
were worn by the same class; for, in those days of
aristocracy, the quality of the wearer was generally
indicated by the manner in which her plaid was disposed,
as well as by the fineness of its texture. It
was Lady Bothwell who had suggested this species
of disguise, partly to avoid observation as they
should go to the conjurer's house, and partly in
order to make trial of his penetration, by appearing
before him in a feigned character. Lady Forester's
servant, of tried fidelity, had been employed by her
to propitiate the Doctor by a suitable fee, and a
story intimating that a soldier's wife desired to
know the fate of her husband: a subject upon which,
in all probability, the sage was very frequently consulted.

  To the last moment, when the palace clock struck
eight, Lady Bothwell earnestly watched her sister
in hopes that she might retreat from her rash undertaking;
but as mildness, and even timidity, is
capable at times of vehement and fixed purposes,
she found Lady Forester resolutely unmoved and
determined when the moment of departure arrived. 
Ill satisfied with the expedition, but determined not
to leave her sister at such a crisis, Lady Bothwell
accompanied Lady Forester through more than one
obscure street and lane, the servant walking before,
and acting as their guide. At length he suddenly
turned into a narrow court, and knocked at an arched
door which seemed to belong to a building of
some antiquity. It opened, though no one appeared
to act as porter; and the servant stepping aside
from the entrance, motioned the ladies to enter. 
They had no sooner done so, than it shut, and excluded
their guide. The two ladies found themselves
in a small vestibule, illuminated by a dim
lamp, and having, when the door was closed, no
communication with the external light or air. The
door of an inner apartment, partly open, was at
the further side of the vestibule.

  ``We must not hesitate now, Jemima,'' said Lady
Bothwell, and walked forwards into the inner room,
where, surrounded by books, maps, philosophical
utensils, and other implements of peculiar shape
and appearance, they found the man of art.

  There was nothing very peculiar in the Italian's
appearance. He had the dark complexion and marked
features of his country, seemed about fifty years
old, and was handsomely, but plainly, dressed in a
full suit of black clothes, which was then the universal
costume of the medical profession. Large
wax-lights, in silver sconces, illuminated the apartment,
which was reasonably furnished. He rose as
the ladies entered; and, notwithstanding the inferiority
of their dress, received them with the marked
respect due to their quality, and which foreigners
are usually punctilious in rendering to those to
whom such honours are due.

  Lady Bothwell endeavoured to maintain her proposed
incognito; and, as the Doctor ushered them to
the upper end of the room, made a motion declining
his courtesy, as unfitted for their condition. 
``We are poor people, sir,'' she said; ``only my
sister's distress has brought us to consult your worship

  He smiled as he interrupted her---``I am aware,
madam, of your sister's distress, and its cause; I
am aware, also, that I am honoured with a visit
from two ladies of the highest consideration---
Lady Bothwell and Lady Forester. If I could
not distinguish them from the class of society which
their present dress would indicate, there would be
small possibility of my being able to gratify them
by giving the information which they come to

  ``I can easily understand,'' said Lady Bothwell------

  ``Pardon my boldness to interrupt you, milady,''
cried the Italian; ``your ladyship was about
to say, that you could easily understand that I had
got possession of your names by means of your domestic.
But in thinking so, you do injustice to the
fidelity of your servant, and, I may add, to the skill
of one who is also not less your humble servant---
Baptista Damiotti.''

  ``I have no intention to do either, sir,'' said
Lady Bothwell, maintaining a tone of composure,
though somewhat surprised, ``but the situation is
something new to me. If you know who we are,
you also know, sir, what brought us here.''

  ``Curiosity to know the fate of a Scottish gentleman
of rank, now, or lately, upon the continent,''
answered the seer; ``his name is Il Cavaliero Philippo
Forester; a gentleman who has the honour
to be husband to this lady, and, with your ladyship's
permission for using plain language, the misfortune
not to value as it deserves that inestimable advantage.''

  Lady Forester sighed deeply, and Lady Bothwell

  ``Since you know our object without our telling
it, the only question that remains is, whether you
have the power to relieve my sister's anxiety?''

  ``I have, madam,'' answered the Paduan scholar;
``but there is still a previous enquiry. Have
you the courage to behold with your own eyes
what the Cavaliero Philippo Forester is now doing?
or will you take it on my report?''

  ``That question my sister must answer for herself,''
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``With my own eyes will I endure to see whatever
you have power to show me,'' said Lady Forester,
with the same determined spirit which had
stimulated her since her resolution was taken upon
this subject.

  ``There may be danger in it.''

  ``If gold can compensate the risk,'' said Lady
Forester, taking out her purse.

  ``I do not such things for the purpose of gain,''
answered the foreigner. ``I dare not turn my art
to such a purpose. If I take the gold of the
wealthy, it is but to bestow it on the poor; nor do
I ever accept more than the sum I have already received
from your servant. Put up your purse, madam;
an adept needs not your gold.''

  Lady Bothwell, considering this rejection of her
sister's offer as a mere trick of an empiric, to induce
her to press a larger sum upon him, and willing
that the scene should be commenced and ended,
offered some gold in turn, observing that it was
only to enlarge the sphere of his charity.

  ``Let Lady Bothwell enlarge the sphere of her
own charity,'' said the Paduan, ``not merely in
giving of alms, in which I know she is not deficient,
but in judging the character of others; and
let her oblige Baptista Damiotti by believing him
honest, till she shall discover him to be a knave. 
Do not be surprised, madam, if I speak in answer
to your thoughts rather than your expressions, and
tell me once more whether you have courage to
look on what I am prepared to show?''

  ``I own, sir,'' said Lady Bothwell, ``that your
words strike me with some sense of fear; but whatever
my sister desires to witness, I will not shrink
from witnessing along with her.''

  ``Nay, the danger only consists in the risk of
your resolution failing you. The sight can only
last for the space of seven minutes; and should you
interrupt the vision by speaking a single word, not
only would the charm be broken, but some danger
might result to the spectators. But if you can remain
steadily silent for the seven minutes, your
curiosity will be gratified without the slightest risk;
and for this I will engage my honour.''

  Internally Lady Bothwell thought the security
was but an indifferent one; but she suppressed the
suspicion, as if she had believed that the adept,
whose dark features wore a half-formed smile, could
in reality read even her most secret reflections. A
solemn pause then ensued, until Lady Forester gathered
courage enough to reply to the physician,
as he termed himself, that she would abide with
firmness and silence the sight which he had promised
to exhibit to them. Upon this, he made them
a low obeisance, and saying he went to prepare
matters to meet their wish, left the apartment. 
The two sisters, hand in hand, as if seeking by that
close union to divert any danger which might threaten
them, sat down on two seats in immediate contact
with each other: Jemima seeking support in
the manly and habitual courage of Lady Bothwell;
and she, on the other hand, more agitated than she
had expected, endeavouring to fortify herself by
the desperate resolution which circumstances had
forced her sister to assume. The one perhaps said
to herself, that her sister never feared any thing;
and the other might reflect, that what so feeble a
minded woman as Jemima did not fear, could not
properly be a subject of apprehension to a person
of firmness and resolution like her own.

  In a few moments the thoughts of both were
diverted from their own situation, by a strain of
music so singularly sweet and solemn, that, while
it seemed calculated to avert or dispel any feeling
unconnected with its harmony, increased, at the
same time, the solemn excitation which the preceding
interview was calculated to produce. The
music was that of some instrument with which they
were unacquainted; but circumstances afterwards
led my ancestress to believe that it was that of the
harmonica, which she heard at a much later period
in life.

  When these heaven-born sounds had ceased, a
door opened in the upper end of the apartment,
and they saw Damiotti, standing at the head of two
or three steps, sign to them to advance. His dress
was so different from that which he had worn a
few minutes before, that they could hardly recognise
him; and the deadly paleness of his countenance,
and a certain stern rigidity of muscles, like
that of one whose mind is made up to some strange
and daring action, had totally changed the somewhat
sarcastic expression with which he had previously
regarded them both, and particularly Lady
Bothwell. He was barefooted, excepting a species
of sandals in the antique fashion; his legs were
naked beneath the knees; above them he wore hose,
and a doublet of dark crimson silk close to his body;
and over that a flowing loose robe, something resembling
a surplice, of snow-white linen: his throat
and neck were uncovered, and his long, straight,
black hair was carefully combed down at full

  As the ladies approached at his bidding, he showed
no gesture of that ceremonious courtesy of which
be had been formerly lavish. On the contrary, he
made the signal of advance with an air of command;
and when, arm in arm, and with insecure steps, the
sisters approached the spot where he stood, it was
with a warning frown that be pressed his finger to
his lips, as if reiterating his condition of absolute
silence, while, stalking before them, he led the way
into the next apartment.

  This was a large room, hung with black, as if for
a funeral. At the upper end was a table, or rather
a species of altar, covered with the same lugubrious
colour, on which lay divers objects resembling the
usual implements of sorcery. These objects were
not indeed visible as they advanced into the apartment;
for the light which displayed them, being
only that of two expiring lamps, was extremely
faint. The master---to use the Italian phrase for
persons of this description---approached the upper
end of the room, with a genuflexion like that of a
Catholic to the crucifix, and at the same time crossed
himself. The ladies followed in silence, and arm
in arm. Two or three low broad steps led to a
platform in front of the altar, or what resembled
such. Here the sage took his stand, and placed
the ladies beside him, once more earnestly repeating
by signs his injunctions of silence. The Italian
then, extending his bare arm from under his linen
vestment, pointed with his forefinger to five large
flambeaux, or torches, placed on each side of the
altar. They took fire successively at the approach
of his hand, or rather of his finger, and spread a
strong light through the room. By this the visitors
could discern that, on the seeming altar, were
disposed two naked swords laid crosswise; a large
open book, which they conceived to be a copy of
the Holy Scriptures, but in a language to them
unknown; and beside this mysterious volume was
placed a human skull. But what struck the sisters
most was a very tall and broad mirror, which occupied
all the space behind the altar, and, illumined
by the lighted torches, reflected the mysterious
articles which were laid upon it.

  The master then placed himself between the two
ladies, and, pointing to the mirror, took each by the
hand, but without speaking a syllable. They gazed
intently on the polished and sable space to which
he had directed their attention. Suddenly the surface
assumed a new and singular appearance. It
no longer simply reflected the objects placed before
it, but, as if it had self-contained scenery of its own,
objects began to appear within it, at first in a disorderly,
indistinct, and miscellaneous manner, like
form arranging itself out of chaos; at length, in
distinct and defined shape and symmetry. It was
thus that, after some shifting of light and darkness
over the face of the wonderful glass, a long perspective
of arches and columns began to arrange
itself on its sides, and a vaulted roof on the upper
part of it; till, after many oscillations, the whole
vision gained a fixed and stationary appearance,
representing the interior of a foreign church. The
pillars were stately, and hung with scutcheons;
the arches were lofty and magnificent; the floor
was lettered with funeral inscriptions. But there
were no separate shrines, no images, no display of
chalice or crucifix on the altar. It was, therefore,
a Protestant church upon the continent. A clergyman
dressed in the Geneva gown and band stood
by the communion-table, and, with the Bible opened
before him, and his clerk awaiting in the background,
seemed prepared to perform some service
of the church to which he belonged.

  At length, there entered the middle aisle of the
building a numerous party, which appeared to be
a bridal one, as a lady and gentleman walked first,
hand in hand, followed by a large concourse of
persons of both sexes, gaily, nay richly, attired. 
The bride, whose features they could distinctly
see, seemed not more than sixteen years old, and
extremely beautiful. The bridegroom, for some
seconds, moved rather with his shoulder towards
them, and his face averted; but his elegance of
form and step struck the sisters at once with the
same apprehension. As he turned his face suddenly,
it was frightfully realized, and they saw, in
the gay bridegroom before them, Sir Philip Forester. 
His wife uttered an imperfect exclamation,
at the sound of which the whole scene stirred and
seemed to separate.

  ``I could compare it to nothing,'' said Lady
Bothwell, while recounting the wonderful tale,
``but to the dispersion of the reflection offered by
a deep and calm pool, when a stone is suddenly
cast into it, and the shadows become dissipated and
broken.'' The master pressed both the ladies' hands
severely, as if to remind them of their promise, and
of the danger which they incurred. The exclamation
died away on Lady Forester's tongue, without
attaining perfect utterance, and the scene in the
glass, after the fluctuation of a minute, again resumed
to the eye its former appearance of a real
scene, existing within the mirror, as if represented
in a picture, save that the figures were movable
instead of being stationary.

  The representation of Sir Philip Forester, now
distinctly visible in form and feature, was seen to
lead on towards the clergyman that beautiful girl,
who advanced at once with diffidence, and with a
species of affectionate pride. In the meantime,
and just as the clergyman had arranged the bridal
company before him, and seemed about to commence
the service, another group of persons, of
whom two or three were officers, entered the church. 
They moved, at first, forward, as though they came
to witness the bridal ceremony, but suddenly one
of the officers, whose back was towards the spectators,
detached himself from his companions, and
rushed hastily towards the marriage party, when
the whole of them turned towards him, as if attracted
by some exclamation which had accompanied
his advance. Suddenly the intruder drew his
sword; the bridegroom unsheathed his own, and
made towards him; swords were also drawn by
other individuals, both of the marriage party, and
of those who had last entered. They fell into a
sort of confusion, the clergyman, and some elder
and graver persons, labouring apparently to keep
the peace, while the hotter spirits on both sides
brandished their weapons. But now, the period
of the brief space during which the soothsayer, as
he pretended, was permitted to exhibit his art,
was arrived. The fumes again mixed together,
and dissolved gradually from observation; the
vaults and columns of the church rolled asunder,
and disappeared; and the front of the mirror reflected
nothing save the blazing torches, and the
melancholy apparatus placed on the altar or table
before it.

  The doctor led the ladies, who greatly required
his support, into the apartment from whence they
came; where wine, essences, and other means of
restoring suspended animation, had been provided
during his absence. He motioned them to chairs,
which they occupied in silence; Lady Forester, in
particular, wringing her hands, and casting her
eyes up to heaven, but without speaking a word,
as if the spell had been still before her eyes.

  ``And what we have seen is even now acting?''
said Lady Bothwell, collecting herself with difficulty.

  ``That,' answered Baptista Damiotti, ``I cannot
justly, or with certainty, say. But it is either
now acting, or has been acted, during a short space
before this. It is the last remarkable transaction
in which the Cavalier Forester has been engaged.''

  Lady Bothwell then expressed anxiety concerning
her sister, whose altered countenance, and apparent
unconsciousness of what passed around her,
excited her apprehensions how it might be possible
to convey her home.

  ``I have prepared for that,'' answered the adept;
``I have directed the servant to bring your equipage
as near to this place as the narrowness of the
street will permit. Fear not for your sister; but
give her, when you return home, this composing
draught, and she will be better to-morrow morning.
Few,'' he added, in a melancholy tone, ``leave
this house as well in health as they entered it. 
Such being the consequence of seeking knowledge
by mysterious means, I leave you to judge the
condition of those who have the power of gratifying
such irregular curiosity. Farewell, and forget
not the potion.''

  ``I will give her nothing that comes from you,''
said Lady Bothwell; ``I have seen enough of your
art already. Perhaps you would poison us both to
conceal your own necromancy. But we are persons
who want neither the means of making our
wrongs known, nor the assistance of friends to
right them.''

  ``You have had no wrongs from me, madam,''
said the adept. ``You sought one who is little
grateful for such honour. He seeks no one, and
only gives responses to those who invite and call
upon him. After all, you have but learned a little
sooner the evil which you must still be doomed to
endure. I hear your servant's step at the door,
and will detain your ladyship and Lady Forester
no longer. The next packet from the continent
will explain what you have already partly witnessed.
Let it not, if I may advise, pass too suddenly
into your sister's hands.''

  So saying, he bid Lady Bothwell good-night. 
She went, lighted by the adept, to the vestibule,
where he hastily threw a black cloak over his
singular dress, and opening the door, intrusted
his visitors to the care of the servant. It was with
difficulty that Lady Bothwell sustained her sister
to the carriage, though it was only twenty steps
distant. When they arrived at home, Lady Forester
required medical assistance. The physician
of the family attended, and shook his head on
feeling her pulse.

  ``Here has been,'' he said, ``a violent and sudden
shock on the nerves. I must know how it has

  Lady Bothwell admitted they had visited the
conjurer, and that Lady Forester had received
some bad news respecting her husband, Sir Philip.

  ``That rascally quack would make my fortune;
were he to stay in Edinburgh,'' said the graduate;
``his is the seventh nervous case I have heard of
his making for me, and all by effect of terror.''
He next examined the composing draught which
Lady Bothwell had unconsciously brought in her
hand, tasted it, and pronounced it very germain to
the matter, and what would save an application to
the apothecary. He then paused, and looking at
Lady Bothwell very significantly, at length added,
``I suppose I must not ask your ladyship any thing
about this Italian warlock's proceedings?''

  ``Indeed, Doctor,'' answered Lady Bothwell, ``I
consider what passed as confidential; and though
the man may be a rogue, yet, as we were fools
enough to consult him, we should, I think, be
honest enough to keep his counsel.''

  ``_May_ be a knave---come,'' said the Doctor, ``I
am glad to hear your ladyship allows such a possibility
in any thing that comes from Italy.''

  ``What comes from Italy may be as good as
what comes from Hanover, Doctor. But you and
I will remain good friends, and that it may be so,
we will say nothing of Whig and Tory.''

  ``Not I,'' said the Doctor, receiving his fee, and
taking his hat; ``a Carolus serves my purpose as
well as a Willielmus. But I should like to know
why old Lady Saint Ringan's, and all that set, go
about wasting their decayed lungs in puffing this
foreign fellow.''

  ``Ay---you had best set him down a Jesuit, as
Scrub says.'' On these terms they parted.

  The poor patient---whose nerves, from an extraordinary
state of tension, had at length become
relaxed in as extraordinary a degree---continued
to struggle with a sort of imbecility, the growth
of superstitious terror, when the shocking tidings
were brought from Holland, which fulfilled even
her worst expectations.

  They were sent by the celebrated Earl of Stair,
and contained the melancholy event of a duel betwixt
Sir Philip Forester, and his wife's half-brother,
Captain Falconer, of the Scotch-Dutch, as
they were then called, in which the latter had been
killed. The cause of quarrel rendered the incident
still more shocking. It seemed that Sir Philip had
left the army suddenly, in consequence of being
unable to pay a very considerable sum, which he
had lost to another volunteer at play. He had
changed his name, and taken up his residence at
Rotterdam, where he had insinuated himself into
the good graces of an ancient and rich burgomaster,
and, by his handsome person and graceful
manners, captivated the affections of his only child,
a very young person, of great beauty, and the
heiress of much wealth. Delighted with the specious
attractions of his proposed son-in-law, the
wealthy merchant---whose idea of the British character
was too high to admit of his taking any
precaution to acquire evidence of his condition and
circumstances---gave his consent to the marriage. 
It was about to be celebrated in the principal
church of the city, when it was interrupted by a
singular occurrence.

  Captain Falconer having been detached to Rotterdam
to bring up a part of the brigade of Scottish
auxiliaries, who were in quarters there, a person
of consideration in the town, to whom he had
been formerly known, proposed to him for amusement
to go to the high church, to see a countryman
of his own married to the daughter of a wealthy
burgomaster. Captain Falconer went accordingly,
accompanied by his Dutch acquaintance, with a
party of his friends, and two or three officers of
the Scotch brigade. His astonishment may be conceived
when he saw his own brother-in-law, a married
man, on the point of leading to the altar the
innocent and beautiful creature, upon whom he
was about to practise a base and unmanly deceit. 
He proclaimed his villainy on the spot, and the
marriage was interrupted of course. But against
the opinion of more thinking men, who considered
Sir Philip Forester as having thrown himself out
of the rank of men of honour, Captain Falconer
admitted him to the privilege of such, accepted a
challenge from him, and in the rencounter received
a mortal wound. Such are the ways of Heaven,
mysterious in our eyes. Lady Forester never recovered
the shock of this dismal intelligence.


  ``And did this tragedy,'' said I, ``take place
exactly at the time when the scene in the mirror
was exhibited?''

  ``It is hard to be obliged to maim one's story,''
answered my aunt; ``but, to speak the truth, it happened
some days sooner than the apparition was

  ``And so there remained a possibility,'' said I,
``that by some secret and speedy communication
the artist might have received early intelligence of
that incident.''

  ``The incredulous pretended so,'' replied my

  ``What became of the adept?'' demanded I.

  ``Why, a warrant came down shortly afterwards
to arrest him for high-treason, as an agent of the
Chevalier St George; and Lady Bothwell, recollecting
the hints which had escaped the Doctor, an
ardent friend of the Protestant succession, did then
call to remembrance, that this man was chiefly
_pron<e'>_ among the ancient matrons of her own political
persuasion. It certainly seemed probable that
intelligence from the continent, which could easily
have been transmitted by an active and powerful
agent, might have enabled him to prepare such a
scene of phantasmagoria as she had herself witnessed.
Yet there were so many difficulties in
assigning a natural explanation, that, to the day of
her death, she remained in great doubt on the subject,
and much disposed to cut the Gordian knot,
by admitting the existence of supernatural agency.''

  ``But, my dear aunt,'' said I, ``what became of
the man of skill?''

  ``Oh, he was too good a fortune-teller not to be
able to foresee that his own destiny would be tragical
if he waited the arrival of the man with the
silver greyhound upon his sleeve. He made, as we
say, a moonlight flitting, and was nowhere to be
seen or heard of. Some noise there was about
papers or letters found in the house, but it died
away, and Doctor Baptista Damiotti was soon as
little talked of as Galen or Hippocrates.''

  ``And Sir Philip Forester,'' said I, ``did he too
vanish for ever from the public scene?''

  ``No,'' replied my kind informer. ``He was
heard of once more, and it was upon a remarkable
occasion. It is said that we Scots, when there was
such a nation in existence, have, among our full
peck of virtues, one or two little barleycorns of
vice. In particular, it is alleged that we rarely
forgive, and never forget, any injuries received;
that we used to make an idol of our resentment, as
poor Lady Constance did of her grief; and are addicted,
as Burns says, to `nursing our wrath to
keep it warm.' Lady Bothwell was not without
this feeling; and, I believe, nothing whatever,
scarce the restoration of the Stewart line, could have
happened so delicious to her feelings as an opportunity
of being revenged on Sir Philip Forester
for the deep and double injury which had deprived
her of a sister and of a brother. But nothing of
him was heard or known till many a year had passed

  At length---it was on a Fastern's E'en (Shrovetide)
assembly, at which the whole fashion of Edinburgh
attended, full and frequent, and when Lady
Bothwell had a seat amongst the lady patronesses,
that one of the attendants on the company whispered
into her ear, that a gentleman wished to
speak with her in private.

  ``In private? and in an assembly room?---he
must be mad---tell him to call upon me to-morrow

  ``I said so, my lady,'' answered the man, ``but
he desired me to give you this paper.''

  She undid the billet, which was curiously folded
and sealed. It only bore the words, ``_On business
of life and death_,'' written in a hand which
she had never seen before. Suddenly it occurred
to her that it might concern the safety of some of
her political friends; she therefore followed the
messenger to a small apartment where the refreshments
were prepared, and from which the general
company was excluded. She found an old man,
who at her approach rose up and bowed profoundly.
His appearance indicated a broken constitution,
and his dress, though sedulously rendered
conforming to the etiquette of a ball-room, was
worn and tarnished, and hung in folds about his
emaciated person. Lady Bothwell was about to
feel for her purse, expecting to get rid of the supplicant
at the expense of a little money, but some
fear of a mistake arrested her purpose. She therefore
gave the man leisure to explain himself.

  ``I have the honour to speak with the Lady

  ``I am Lady Bothwell; allow me to say that this
is no time or place for long explanations.---What
are your commands with me?''

  ``Your ladyship,'' said the old man, ``had once
a sister.''

  ``True; whom I loved as my own soul.''

  ``And a brother.''

  ``The bravest, the kindest, the most affectionate!''---
said Lady Bothwell.

  ``Both these beloved relatives you lost by the
fault of an unfortunate man,'' continued the stranger.

  ``By the crime of an unnatural, bloody-minded
murderer,'' said the lady.

  ``I am answered,'' replied the old man, bowing,
as if to withdraw.

  ``Stop, sir, I command you,'' said Lady Bothwell.---
``Who are you, that, at such a place and
time, come to recall these horrible recollections? I
insist upon knowing.''

  ``I am one who intends Lady Bothwell no injury;
but, on the contrary, to offer her the means
of doing a deed of Christian charity, which the
world would wonder at, and which Heaven would
reward; but I find her in no temper for such a
sacrifice as I was prepared to ask.''

  ``Speak out, sir; what is your meaning?'' said
Lady Bothwell.

  ``The wretch that has wronged you so deeply,''
rejoined the stranger, ``is now on his death-bed. 
His days have been days of misery, his nights have
been sleepless hours of anguish---yet he cannot die
without your forgiveness. His life has been an
unremitting penance---yet he dares not part from
his burden while your curses load his soul.''

  ``Tell him,'' said Lady Bothwell sternly, ``to
ask pardon of that Being whom he has so greatly
offended; not of an erring mortal like himself
What could my forgiveness avail him?''

  ``Much,'' answered the old man. ``It will be an
earnest of that which he may then venture to ask
from his Creator, lady, and from yours. Remember,
Lady Bothwell, you too have a death-bed to
look forward to; your soul may, all human souls
must, feel the awe of facing the judgment-seat,
with the wounds of an untented conscience, raw,
and rankling---what thought would it be then that
should whisper, `I have given no mercy, how then
shall I ask it?' ''

  ``Man, whosoever thou mayst be,'' replied Lady
Bothwell, ``urge me not so cruelly. It would be
but blasphemous hypocrisy to utter with my lips
the words which every throb of my heart protests
against. They would open the earth and give to
light the wasted form of my sister---the bloody
form of my murdered brother---Forgive him?---
Never, never!''

  ``Great God!'' cried the old man, holding up his
hands, ``is it thus the worms which thou hast
called out of dust obey the commands of their
Maker? Farewell, proud and unforgiving woman. 
Exult that thou hast added to a death in want and
pain the agonies of religious despair; but never
again mock Heaven by petitioning for the pardon
which thou hast refused to grant.''

  He was turning from her.

  ``Stop,'' she exclaimed; ``I will try; yes, I will
try to pardon him.''

  ``Gracious lady,'' said the old man, ``you will
relieve the over-burdened soul which dare not
sever itself from its sinful companion of earth without
being at peace with you. What do I know---
your forgiveness may perhaps preserve for penitence
the dregs of a wretched life.''

  ``Ha!'' said the lady, as a sudden light broke
on her, ``it is the villain himself!'' And grasping
Sir Philip Forester---for it was he, and no other---
by the collar, she raised a cry of ``Murder, murder!
seize the murderer!''

  At an exclamation so singular, in such a place,
the company thronged into the apartment, but Sir
Philip Forester was no longer there. He had forcibly
extricated himself from Lady Bothwell's hold,
and had run out of the apartment which opened
on the landing-place of the stair. There seemed
no escape in that direction, for there were several
persons coming up the steps, and others descending.
But the unfortunate man was desperate. He
threw himself over the balustrade, and alighted
safely in the lobby, though a leap of fifteen feet at
least, then dashed into the street, and was lost in
darkness. Some of the Bothwell family made pursuit,
and had they come up with the fugitive they
might have perhaps slain him; for in those days
men's blood ran warm in their veins. But the
police did not interfere; the matter most criminal
having happened long since, and in a foreign land. 
Indeed it was always thought that this extraordinary
scene originated in a hypocritical experiment,
by which Sir Philip desired to ascertain whether
he might return to his native country in safety
from the resentment of a family which he had injured
so deeply. As the result fell out so contrary
to his wishes, he is believed to have returned to
the continent, and there died in exile. So closed
the tale of the Mysterious Mirror.

[2. The Tapestried Chamber]


  This is another little story, from the Keepsake
of 1828. It was told to me many years
ago, by the late Miss Anna Seward, who,
among other accomplishments that rendered
her an amusing inmate in a country house, had
that of recounting narratives of this sort with
very considerable effect; much greater, indeed,
than any one would be apt to guess from the
style of her written performances. There are
hours and moods when most people are not
displeased to listen to such things; and I have
heard some of the greatest and wisest of my
contemporaries take their share in telling

_August_, 1831.





  The following narrative is given from the pen, so
far as memory permits, in the same character in
which it was presented to the author's ear; nor
has he claim to further praise, or to be more deeply
censured, than in proportion to the good or bad
judgment which he has employed in selecting his
materials, as he has studiously avoided any attempt
at ornament which might interfere with the simplicity
of the tale.

  At the same time it must be admitted, that the
particular class of stories which turns on the marvellous,
possesses a stronger influence when told,
than when committed to print. The volume taken
up at noonday, though rehearsing the same incidents,
conveyed a much more feeble impression,
than is achieved by the voice of the speaker on a
circle of fireside auditors, who hang upon the narrative
as the narrator details the minute incidents
which serve to give it authenticity, and lowers his
voice with an affectation of mystery while he approaches
the fearful and wonderful part. It was
with such advantages that the present writer heard
the following events related, more than twenty
years since, by the celebrated Miss Seward, of
Litchfield, who, to her numerous accomplishments,
added, in a remarkable degree, the power of narrative
in private conversation. In its present form
the tale must necessarily lose all the interest which
was attached to it, by the flexible voice and intelligent
features of the gifted narrator. Yet still,
read aloud, to an undoubting audience by the
doubtful light of the closing evening, or, in silence,
by a decaying taper, and amidst the solitude of a
half-lighted apartment, it may redeem its character
as a good ghost-story. Miss Seward always
affirmed that she had derived her information from
an authentic source, although she suppressed the
names of the two persons chiefly concerned. I will
not avail myself of any particulars I may have since
received concerning the localities of the detail, but
suffer them to rest under the same general description
in which they were first related to me; and,
for the same reason, I will not add to, or diminish
the narrative, by any circumstance, whether more
or less material, but simply rehearse, as I heard it,
a story of supernatural terror.

  About the end of the American war, when the
officers of Lord Cornwallis's army, which surrendered
at York-town, and others, who had been made
prisoners during the impolitic and ill-fated controversy,
were returning to their own country, to relate
their adventures, and repose themselves after
their fatigues; there was amongst them a general
officer, to whom Miss S. gave the name of Browne,
but merely, as I understood, to save the inconvenience
of introducing a nameless agent in the narrative.
He was an officer of merit, as well as a
gentleman of high consideration for family and attainments.

  Some business had carried General Browne upon
a tour through the western counties, when, in the
conclusion of a morning stage, he found himself
in the vicinity of a small country town, which presented
a scene of uncommon beauty, and of a character
peculiarly English.

  The little town, with its stately old church,
whose tower bore testimony to the devotion of
ages long past, lay amidst pastures and corn-fields
of small extent, but bounded and divided with
hedgerow timber of great age and size. There
were few marks of modern improvement. The
environs of the place intimated neither the solitude
of decay, nor the bustle of novelty; the houses
were old, but in good repair; and the beautiful
little river murmured freely on its way to the left
of the town, neither restrained by a dam, nor bordered
by a towing-path.

  Upon a gentle eminence, nearly a mile to the
southward of the town, were seen, amongst many
venerable oaks and tangled thickets, the turrets of
a castle, as old as the walls of York and Lancaster,
but which seemed to have received important alterations
during the age of Elizabeth and her successor.
It had not been a place of great size; but
whatever accommodation it formerly afforded, was,
it must be supposed, still to be obtained within its
walls; at least, such was the inference which General
Browne drew from observing the smoke arise
merrily from several of the ancient wreathed and
carved chimney-stalks. The wall of the park ran
alongside of the highway for two or three hundred
yards; and through the different points by which
the eye found glimpses into the woodland scenery,
it seemed to be well stocked. Other points of
view opened in succession; now a full one, of the
front of the old castle, and now a side glimpse at
its particular towers; the former rich in all the
bizarrerie of the Elizabethan school, while the
simple and solid strength of other parts of the building
seemed to show that they had been raised more
for defence than ostentation.

  Delighted with the partial glimpses which he
obtained of the castle through the woods and glades
by which this ancient feudal fortress was surrounded,
our military traveller was determined to enquire
whether it might not deserve a nearer view,
and whether it contained family pictures or other
objects of curiosity worthy of a stranger's visit;
when, leaving the vicinity of the park, he rolled
through a clean and well-paved street, and stopped
at the door of a well-frequented inn.

  Before ordering horses to proceed on his journey,
General Browne made enquiries concerning
the proprietor of the chateau which had so attracted
his admiration; and was equally surprised and
pleased at hearing in reply a nobleman named,
whom we shall call Lord Woodville. How fortunate!
Much of Browne's early recollections, both
at school and at college, had been connected with
young Woodville, whom, by a few questions, he
now ascertained to be the same with the owner of
this fair domain. He had been raised to the peerage
by the decease of his father a few months before,
and, as the General learned from the landlord,
the term of mourning being ended, was now taking
possession of his paternal estate, in the jovial season
of merry autumn, accompanied by a select party
of friends to enjoy the sports of a country famous
for game.

  This was delightful news to our traveller. Frank
Woodville had been Richard Browne's fag at
Eton, and his chosen intimate at Christ Church;
their pleasures and their tasks had been the same;
and the honest soldier's heart warmed to find his
early friend in possession of so delightful a residence,
and of an estate, as the landlord assured
him with a nod and a wink, fully adequate to maintain
and add to his dignity. Nothing was more
natural than that the traveller should suspend a
journey, which there was nothing to render hurried,
to pay a visit to an old friend under such agreeable

  The fresh horses, therefore, had only the brief
task of conveying the General's travelling carriage
to Woodville Castle. A porter admitted them at
a modern Gothic lodge, built in that style to correspond
with the castle itself, and at the same
time rang a bell to give warning of the approach
of visitors. Apparently the sound of the bell had
suspended the separation of the company, bent on
the various amusements of the morning; for, on
entering the court of the chateau, several young
men were lounging about in their sporting dresses,
looking at, and criticising, the dogs which the
keepers held in readiness to attend their pastime. 
As General Browne alighted, the young lord came
to the gate of the hall, and for an instant gazed, as
at a stranger, upon the countenance of his friend,
on which war, with its fatigues and its wounds, had
made a great alteration. But the uncertainty lasted
no longer than till the visitor had spoken, and the
hearty greeting which followed was such as can
only be exchanged betwixt those who have passed
together the merry days of careless boyhood or
early youth.

  ``If I could have formed a wish, my dear Browne,''
said Lord Woodville, ``it would have been to have
you here, of all men, upon this occasion, which my
friends are good enough to hold as a sort of holiday.
Do not think you have been unwatched during
the years you have been absent from us. I
have traced you through your dangers, your triumphs,
your misfortunes, and was delighted to see
that, whether in victory or defeat, the name of my
old friend was always distinguished with applause.''

  The General made a suitable reply, and congratulated
his friend on his new dignities, and the
possession of a place and domain so beautiful.

``Nay, you have seen nothing of it as yet,'' said
Lord Woodville, ``and I trust you do not mean to
leave us till you are better acquainted with it. It
is true, I confess, that my present party is pretty
large, and the old house, like other places of the
kind, does not possess so much accommodation as
the extent of the outward walls appears to promise. 
But we can give you a comfortable old-fashioned
room, and I venture to suppose that your campaigns
have taught you to be glad of worse quarters.''

  The General shrugged his shoulders, and laughed.
``I presume,'' he said, ``the worst apartment
in your chateau is considerably superior to the
old tobacco-cask, in which I was fain to take up
my night's lodging when I was in the Bush, as the
Virginians call it, with the light corps. There I
lay, like Diogenes himself, so delighted with my
covering from the elements, that I made a vain attempt
to have it rolled on to my next quarters;
but my commander for the time would give way
to no such luxurious provision, and I took farewell
of my beloved cask with tears in my eyes.''

  ``Well, then, since you do not fear your quarters,''
said Lord Woodville, ``you will stay with
me a week at least. Of guns, dogs, fishing-rods,
flies, and means of sport by sea and land, we have
enough and to spare: you cannot pitch on an
amusement but we will find the means of pursuing
it. But if you prefer the gun and pointers, I will
go with you myself, and see whether you have
mended your shooting since you have been amongst
the Indians of the back settlements.''

  The General gladly accepted his friendly host's
proposal in all its points. After a morning of
manly exercise, the company met at dinner, where
it was the delight of Lord Woodville to conduce
to the display of the high properties of his recovered
friend, so as to recommend him to his guests,
most of whom were persons of distinction. He led
General Browne to speak of the scenes he had
witnessed; and as every word marked alike the
brave officer and the sensible man, who retained
possession of his cool judgment under the most imminent
dangers, the company looked upon the
soldier with general respect, as on one who had
proved himself possessed of an uncommon portion
of personal courage; that attribute, of all others, of
which every body desires to be thought possessed.

  The day at Woodville Castle ended as usual in
such mansions. The hospitality stopped within
the limits of good order; music, in which the
young lord was a proficient, succeeded to the circulation
of the bottle: cards and billiards, for those
who preferred such amusements, were in readiness:
but the exercise of the morning required
early hours, and not long after eleven o'clock the
guests began to retire to their several apartments.

  The young lord himself conducted his friend,
General Browne, to the chamber destined for him,
which answered the description he had given of it,
being comfortable, but old-fashioned. The bed
was of the massive form used in the end of the
seventeenth century, and the curtains of faded silk,
heavily trimmed with tarnished gold. But then
the sheets, pillows, and blankets looked delightful
to the campaigner, when he thought of his ``mansion,
the cask.'' There was an air of gloom in the
tapestry hangings, which, with their worn-out
graces, curtained the walls of the little chamber,
and gently undulated as the autumnal breeze found
its way through the ancient lattice-window, which
pattered and whistled as the air gained entrance. 
The toilet too, with its mirror, turbaned after
the manner of the beginning of the century, with a
coiffure of murrey-coloured silk, and its hundred
strange-shaped boxes, providing for arrangements
which had been obsolete for more than fifty years,
had an antique, and in so far a melancholy, aspect. 
But nothing could blaze more brightly and cheerfully
than the two large wax candles; or if aught could
rival them, it was the flaming bickering fagots in
the chimney, that sent at once their gleam and their
warmth through the snug apartment; which, notwithstanding
the general antiquity of its appearance,
was not wanting in the least convenience,
that modern habits rendered either necessary or

  ``This is an old-fashioned sleeping apartment,
General,'' said the young lord; ``but I hope you
find nothing that makes you envy your old tobacco-cask.''

  ``I am not particular respecting my lodgings,''
replied the General; ``yet were I to make any choice,
I would prefer this chamber by many degrees, to
the gayer and more modern rooms of your family
mansion. Believe me, that when I unite its modern
air of comfort with its venerable antiquity,
and recollect that it is your lordship's property, I
shall feel in better quarters here, than if I were in
the best hotel London could afford.''

  ``I trust---I have no doubt---that you will find
yourself as comfortable as I wish you, my dear
General,'' said the young nobleman; and once more
bidding his guest good-night, he shook him by the
hand, and withdrew.

  The General once more looked round him, and
internally congratulating himself on his return to
peaceful life, the comforts of which were endeared
by the recollection of the hardships and dangers
he had lately sustained, undressed himself, and
prepared for a luxurious night's rest.

  Here, contrary to the custom of this species of
tale, we leave the General in possession of his apartment
until the next morning.

  The company assembled for breakfast at an early
hour, but without the appearance of General
Browne, who seemed the guest that Lord Woodville
was desirous of honouring above all whom his
hospitality had assembled around him. He more
than once expressed surprise at the General's absence,
and at length sent a servant to make enquiry
after him. The man brought back information that
General Browne had been walking abroad since an
early hour of the morning, in defiance of the weather,
which was misty and ungenial.

  ``The custom of a soldier,''---said the young
nobleman to his friends; ``many of them acquire
habitual vigilance, and cannot sleep after the early
hour at which their duty usually commands them
to be alert.''

  Yet the explanation which Lord Woodville thus
offered to the company seemed hardly satisfactory
to his own mind, and it was in a fit of silence and
abstraction that he waited the return of the General.
It took place near an hour after the breakfast
bell had rung. He looked fatigued and feverish.
His hair, the powdering and arrangement of
which was at this time one of the most important
occupations of a man's whole day, and marked his
fashion as much as, in the present time, the tying
of a cravat, or the want of one, was dishevelled,
uncurled, void of powder, and dank with dew. His
clothes were huddled on with a careless negligence,
remarkable in a military man, whose real or supposed
duties are usually held to include some attention
to the toilet; and his looks were haggard
and ghastly in a peculiar degree.

  ``So you have stolen a march upon us this morning,
my dear General,'' said Lord Woodville; ``or
you have not found your bed so much to your mind
as I had hoped and you seemed to expect. How
did you rest last night?''

  ``Oh, excellently well! remarkably well! never
better in my life''---said General Browne rapidly,
and yet with an air of embarrassment which was
obvious to his friend. He then hastily swallowed
a cup of tea, and, neglecting or refusing whatever
else was offered, seemed to fall into a fit of abstraction.

  ``You will take the gun to-day, General?'' said
his friend and host, but had to repeat the question
twice ere he received the abrupt answer, ``No, my
lord; I am sorry I cannot have the honour of
spending another day with your lordship; my post
horses are ordered, and will be here directly.''

  All who were present showed surprise, and Lord
Woodville immediately replied, ``Post horses, my
good friend! what can you possibly want with
them, when you promised to stay with me quietly
for at least a week?''

  ``I believe,'' said the General, obviously much
embarrassed, ``that I might, in the pleasure of my
first meeting with your lordship, have said something
about stopping here a few days; but I have
since found it altogether impossible.''

  ``That is very extraordinary,'' answered the
young nobleman. ``You seemed quite disengaged
yesterday, and you cannot have had a summons
to-day; for our post has not come up from the town,
and therefore you cannot have received any letters.''

  General Browne, without giving any further
explanation, muttered something of indispensable
business, and insisted on the absolute necessity of
his departure in a manner which silenced all opposition
on the part of his host, who saw that his resolution
was taken, and forbore all further importunity.

  ``At least, however,'' he said, ``permit me, my
dear Browne, since go you will or must, to show
you the view from the terrace, which the mist, that
is now rising, will soon display.''

  He threw open a sash-window, and stepped down
upon the terrace as he spoke. The General followed
him mechanically, but seemed little to attend
to what his host was saying, as, looking across an
extended and rich prospect, he pointed out the
different objects worthy of observation. Thus they
moved on till Lord Woodville had attained his
purpose of drawing his guest entirely apart from
the rest of the company, when, turning round upon
him with an air of great solemnity, he addressed
him thus:

  ``Richard Browne, my old and very dear friend,
we are now alone. Let me conjure you to answer
me upon the word of a friend, and the honour of a
soldier. How did you in reality rest during last

  ``Most wretchedly indeed, my lord,'' answered
the General, in the same tone of solemnity;---``so
miserably, that I would not run the risk of such a
second night, not only for all the lands belonging
to this castle, but for all the country which I see
from this elevated point of view.''

  ``This is most extraordinary,'' said the young
lord, as if speaking to himself; ``then there must
be something in the reports concerning that apartment.''
Again turning to the General, he said,
``For God's sake, my dear friend, be candid with
me, and let me know the disagreeable particulars
which have befallen you under a roof, where, with
consent of the owner, you should have met nothing
save comfort.''

  The General seemed distressed by this appeal,
and paused a moment before he replied. ``My dear
lord,'' he at length said, ``what happened to me
last night is of a nature so peculiar and so unpleasant,
that I could hardly bring myself to detail it
even to your lordship, were it not that, independent
of my wish to gratify any request of yours, I
think that sincerity on my part may lead to some
explanation about a circumstance equally painful
and mysterious. To others, the communication I
am about to make, might place me in the light of
a weak-minded, superstitious fool, who suffered his
own imagination to delude and bewilder him; but
you have known me in childhood and youth, and
will not suspect me of having adopted in manhood
the feelings and frailties from which my early years
were free.'' Here he paused, and his friend replied:

  ``Do not doubt my perfect confidence in the
truth of your communication, however strange it
may be,'' replied Lord Woodville; ``I know your
firmness of disposition too well, to suspect you
could be made the object of imposition, and am
aware that your honour and your friendship will
equally deter you from exaggerating whatever you
may have witnessed.''

  ``Well then,'' said the General, ``I will proceed
with my story as well as I can, relying upon your
candour; and yet distinctly feeling that I would rather
face a battery than recall to my mind the odious
recollections of last night.''

  He paused a second time, and then perceiving
that Lord Woodville remained silent and in an
attitude of attention, he commenced, though not
without obvious reluctance, the history of his night
adventures in the Tapestried Chamber.

  ``I undressed and went to bed, so soon as your
lordship left me yesterday evening; but the wood
in the chimney, which nearly fronted my bed,
blazed brightly and cheerfully, and, aided by a
hundred exciting recollections of my childhood and
youth, which had been recalled by the unexpected
pleasure of meeting your lordship, prevented me
from falling immediately asleep. I ought, however,
to say, that these reflections were all of a pleasant
and agreeable kind, grounded on a sense of having
for a time exchanged the labour, fatigues, and
dangers of my profession, for the enjoyments of a
peaceful life, and the reunion of those friendly and
affectionate ties, which I had torn asunder at the
rude summons of war.

  ``While such pleasing reflections were stealing
over my mind, and gradually lulling me to slumber,
I was suddenly aroused by a sound like that
of the rustling of a silken gown, and the tapping
of a pair of high-heeled shoes, as if a woman were
walking in the apartment. Ere I could draw the
curtain to see what the matter was, the figure of a
little woman passed between the bed and the fire. 
The back of this form was turned to me, and I
could observe, from the shoulders and neck, it was
that of an old woman, whose dress was an old-fashioned
gown, which, I think, ladies call a sacque;
that is, a sort of robe completely loose in the body,
but gathered into broad plaits upon the neck and
shoulders, which fall down to the ground, and terminate
in a species of train.

  ``I thought the intrusion singular enough, but
never harboured for a moment the idea that what
I saw was any thing more than the mortal form
of some old woman about the establishment, who
had a fancy to dress like her grandmother, and who,
having perhaps (as your lordship mentioned that
you were rather straitened for room) been dislodged
from her chamber for my accommodation,
had forgotten the circumstance, and returned by
twelve to her old haunt. Under this persuasion
I moved myself in bed and coughed a little, to make
the intruder sensible of my being in possession of
the premises.---She turned slowly round, but, gracious
heaven! my lord, what a countenance did
she display to me! There was no longer any
question what she was, or any thought of her being
a living being. Upon a face which wore the fixed
features of a corpse, were imprinted the traces of
the vilest and most hideous passions which had
animated her while she lived. The body of some
atrocious criminal seemed to have been given up
from the grave, and the soul restored from the
penal fire, in order to form, for a space, an union
with the ancient accomplice of its guilt. I started
up in bed, and sat upright, supporting myself on
my palms, as I gazed on this horrible spectre. The
hag made, as it seemed, a single and swift stride
to the bed where I lay, and squatted herself down
upon it, in precisely the same attitude which I had
assumed in the extremity of horror, advancing her
diabolical countenance within half a yard of mine,
with a grin which seemed to intimate the malice
and the derision of an incarnate fiend.''

  Here General Browne stopped, and wiped from
his brow the cold perspiration with which the recollection
of his horrible vision had covered it.

  ``My lord,'' he said, ``I am no coward. I have
been in all the mortal dangers incidental to my
profession, and I may truly boast, that no man ever
knew Richard Browne dishonour the sword he
wears; but in these horrible circumstances, under
the eyes, and, as it seemed, almost in the grasp of
an incarnation of an evil spirit, all firmness forsook
me, all manhood melted from me like wax in the
furnace, and I felt my hair individually bristle. 
The current of my life-blood ceased to flow, and I
sank back in a swoon, as very a victim to panic
terror as ever was a village girl, or a child of ten
years old. How long I lay in this condition I cannot
pretend to guess.

  ``But I was roused by the castle clock striking
one, so loud that it seemed as if it were in the very
room. It was some time before I dared open my
eyes, lest they should again encounter the horrible
spectacle. When, however, I summoned courage
to look up, she was no longer visible. My first
idea was to pull my bell, wake the servants, and
remove to a garret or a hay-loft, to be ensured
against a second visitation. Nay, I will confess the
truth, that my resolution was altered, not by the
shame of exposing myself, but by the fear that, as
the bell-cord hung by the chimney, I might in
making my way to it, be again crossed by the
fiendish hag, who, I figured to myself, might be
still lurking about some corner of the apartment.

  ``I will not pretend to describe what hot and
cold fever-fits tormented me for the rest of the
night, through broken sleep, weary vigils, and that
dubious state which forms the neutral ground between
them. An hundred terrible objects appeared
to haunt me; but there was the great difference
betwixt the vision which I have described, and
those which followed, that I knew the last to be
deceptions of my own fancy and over-excited

  ``Day at last appeared, and I rose from my bed
ill in health, and humiliated in mind. I was ashamed
of myself as a man and a soldier, and still
more so, at feeling my own extreme desire to escape
from the haunted apartment, which, however, conquered
all other considerations; so that, huddling
on my clothes with the most careless haste, I made
my escape from your lordship's mansion, to seek
in the open air some relief to my nervous system,
shaken as it was by this horrible rencounter with
a visitant, for such I must believe her, from the
other world. Your lordship has now heard the
cause of my discomposure, and of my sudden desire
to leave your hospitable castle. In other places I
trust we may often meet; but God protect me from
ever spending a second night under that roof!''

  Strange as the General's tale was, he spoke with
such a deep air of conviction, that it cut short all
the usual commentaries which are made on such
stories. Lord Woodville never once asked him if
he was sure he did not dream of the apparition, or
suggested any of the possibilities by which it is
fashionable to explain supernatural appearances, as
wild vagaries of the fancy, or deceptions of the
optic nerves. On the contrary, he seemed deeply
impressed with the truth and reality of what he had
heard; and, after a considerable pause, regretted,
with much appearance of sincerity, that his early
friend should in his house have suffered so severely.

  ``I am the more sorry for your pain, my dear
Browne,'' he continued, ``that it is the unhappy,
though most unexpected, result of an experiment
of my own. You must know, that for my father
and grandfather's time, at least, the apartment
which was assigned to you last night, had been
shut on account of reports that it was disturbed by
supernatural sights and noises. When I came, a
few weeks since, into possession of the estate, I
thought the accommodation, which the castle afforded
for my friends, was not extensive enough
to permit the inhabitants of the invisible world to
retain possession of a comfortable sleeping apartment.
I therefore caused the Tapestried Chamber,
as we call it, to be opened; and, without destroying
its air of antiquity, I had such new articles of
furniture placed in it as became the modern times. 
Yet as the opinion that the room was haunted very
strongly prevailed among the domestics, and was
also known in the neighbourhood and to many of
my friends, I feared some prejudice might be entertained
by the first occupant of the Tapestried
Chamber, which might tend to revive the evil report
which it had laboured under, and so disappoint
my purpose of rendering it an useful part of the
house. I must confess, my dear Browne, that your
arrival yesterday, agreeable to me for a thousand
reasons besides, seemed the most favourable opportunity
of removing the unpleasant rumours which
attached to the room, since your courage was indubitable,
and your mind free of any pre-occupation
on the subject. I could not, therefore, have
chosen a more fitting subject for my experiment.''

  ``Upon my life,'' said General Browne, somewhat
hastily, ``I am infinitely obliged to your
lordship---very particularly indebted indeed. I am
likely to remember for some time the consequences
of the experiment, as your lordship is pleased to
call it.''

  ``Nay, now you are unjust, my dear friend,''
said Lord Woodville. ``You have only to reflect
for a single moment, in order to be convinced that
I could not augur the possibility of the pain to
which you have been so unhappily exposed. I was
yesterday morning a complete sceptic on the subject
of supernatural appearances. Nay, I am sure
that had I told you what was said about that room,
those very reports would have induced you, by
your own choice, to select it for your accommodation.
It was my misfortune, perhaps my error,
but really cannot be termed my fault, that you
have been afflicted so strangely.''

  ``Strangely indeed!'' said the General, resuming
his good temper; ``and I acknowledge that I have
no right to be offended with your lordship for
treating me like what I used to think myself---a
man of some firmness and courage.---But I see my
post horses are arrived, and I must not detain your
lordship from your amusement.''

  ``Nay, my old friend,'' said Lord Woodville,
since you cannot stay with us another day, which,
indeed, I can no longer urge, give me at least half
an hour more. You used to love pictures, and I
have a gallery of portraits, some of them by Vandyke,
representing ancestry to whom this property
and castle formerly belonged. I think that several
of them will strike you as possessing merit.''

  General Browne accepted the invitation, though
somewhat unwillingly. It was evident he was not
to breathe freely or at ease till he left Woodville
Castle far behind him. He could not refuse his
friend's invitation, however; and the less so, that
he was a little ashamed of the peevishness which
he had displayed towards his well-meaning entertainer.

  The General, therefore, followed Lord Woodville
through several rooms, into a long gallery
hung with pictures, which the latter pointed out
to his guest, telling the names, and giving some
account of the personages whose portraits presented
themselves in progression. General Browne
was but little interested in the details which these
accounts conveyed to him. They were, indeed, of
the kind which are usually found in an old family
gallery. Here, was a cavalier who had ruined the
estate in the royal cause; there, a fine lady who
had reinstated it by contracting a match with a
wealthy Roundhead. There, hung a gallant who
had been in danger for corresponding with the
exiled Court at Saint Germain's; here, one who
had taken arms for William at the Revolution; and
there, a third that had thrown his weight alternately
into the scale of whig and tory.

  While Lord Woodville was cramming these
words into his guest's car, ``against the stomach
of his sense,'' they gained the middle of the gallery,
when he beheld General Browne suddenly
start, and assume an attitude of the utmost, surprise,
not unmixed with fear, as his eyes were
caught and suddenly riveted by a portrait of an
old lady in a sacque, the fashionable dress of the
end of the seventeenth century.

  ``There she is!'' he exclaimed; ``there she is
in form and features, though inferior in demoniac
expression to the accursed hag who visited me
last night!''

  ``If that be the case,'' said the young nobleman,
there can remain no longer any doubt of the
horrible reality of your apparition. That is the
picture of a wretched ancestress of mine, of whose
crimes a black and fearful catalogue is recorded in
a family history in my charter-chest. The recital
of them would be too horrible; it is enough to
say, that in yon fatal apartment incest and unnatural
murder were committed. I will restore
it to the solitude to which the better judgment of
those who preceded me had consigned it; and never
shall any one, so long as I can prevent it, be
exposed to a repetition of the supernatural horrors
which could shake such courage as yours.''

  Thus the friends, who had met with such glee,
parted in a very different mood; Lord Woodville
to command the Tapestried Chamber to be unmantled,
and the door built up; and General Browne
to seek in some less beautiful country, and with
some less dignified friend, forgetfulness of the
painful night which he had passed in Woodville

[3. Death of The Laird's Jock]




[The manner in which this trifle was introduced
at the time to Mr. F. M. Reynolds,
editor of The Keepsake of 1828, leaves no
occasion for a preface.]

_August_, 1831.



  You have asked me, sir, to point out a subject
for the pencil, and I feel the difficulty of complying
with your request; although I am not certainly
unaccustomed to literary composition, or a total
stranger to the stores of history and tradition,
which afford the best copies for the painter's art.  
But although _sicut pictura poesis_ is an ancient and
undisputed axiom---although poetry and painting
both address themselves to the same object of exciting
the human imagination, by presenting to it
pleasing or sublime images of ideal scenes; yet
the one conveying itself through the ears to the
understanding, and the other applying itself only
to the eyes, the subjects which are best suited to
the bard or tale-teller are often totally unfit for
painting, where the artist must present in a single
glance all that his art has power to tell us.  The
artist can neither recapitulate the past nor intimate
the future.  The single _now_ is all which he can
present; and hence, unquestionably, many subjects
which delight us in poetry or in narrative, whether
real or fictitious, cannot with advantage be transferred
to the canvass.

  Being in some degree aware of these difficulties,
though doubtless unacquainted both with their extent,
and the means by which they may be modified
or surmounted, I have, nevertheless, ventured
to draw up the following traditional narrative as
a story in which, when the general details are
known, the interest is so much concentrated in one
strong moment of agonizing passion, that it can
be understood, and sympathized with, at a single
glance.  I therefore presume that it may be acceptable
as a hint to some one among the numerous
artists, who have of late years distinguished themselves
as rearing up and supporting the British

  Enough has been said and sung about

         The well contested ground,
     The warlike border-land---

to render the habits of the tribes who inhabited
them before the union of England and Scotland
familiar to most of your readers.  The rougher
and sterner features of their character were softened
by their attachment to the fine arts, from which
has arisen the saying that, on the frontiers, every
dale had its battle, and every river its song.  A
rude species of chivalry was in constant use, and
single combats were practised as the amusement
of the few intervals of truce which suspended the
exercise of war.  The inveteracy of this custom
may be inferred from the following incident.

  Bernard Gilpin, the apostle of the north, the
first who undertook to preach the Protestant doctrines
to the Border dalesmen, was surprised, on
entering one of their churches, to see a gauntlet or
mail-glove hanging above the altar.  Upon enquiring
the meaning of a symbol so indecorous
being displayed in that sacred place, he was informed
by the clerk that the glove was that of a
famous swordsman, who hung it there as an emblem
of a general challenge and gage of battle, to any
who should dare to take the fatal token down.  
``Reach it to me,'' said the reverend churchman.  
The clerk and sexton equally declined the perilous
office, and the good Bernard Gilpin was obliged to
remove the glove with his own hands, desiring
those who were present to inform the champion
that he, and no other, had possessed himself of the
gage of defiance.  But the champion was as much
ashamed to face Bernard Gilpin as the officials of
the church had been to displace his pledge  of

  The date of the following story is about the
latter years of Queen Elizabeth's reign; and the
events took place in Liddesdale, a hilly and pastoral
district of Roxburghshire, which, on a part
of its boundary, is divided from England only by
a small river.

  During the good old times of _rugging and riving_,
(that is, tugging and tearing,) under which term
the disorderly doings of the warlike age are affectionately
remembered, this valley was principally
cultivated by the sept or clan of the Armstrongs.  
The chief of this warlike race was the Laird of
Mangerton.  At the period of which I speak, the
estate of Mangerton, with the power and dignity
of chief, was possessed by John Armstrong, a man
of great size, strength, and courage.  While his
father was alive, he was distinguished from others
of his clan who bore the same name, by the epithet
of the _Laird's Jock_, that is to say, the Laird's son
Jock, or Jack.  This name he distinguished by so
many bold and desperate achievements, that he
retained it even after his father's death, and is
mentioned under it both in authentic records and
in tradition.  Some of his feats are recorded in the
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and others mentioned
in contemporary chronicles.

  At the species of singular combat which we have
described, the Laird's Jock was unrivalled, and
no champion of Cumberland, Westmoreland, or
Northumberland, could endure the sway of the
huge two-handed sword which he wielded, and
which few others could even lift.  This ``awful
sword,'' as the common people term it, was as dear
to him as Durindana or Fushberta to their respective
masters, and was nearly as formidable to his
enemies as those renowned falchions proved to the
foes of Christendom.  The weapon had been bequeathed
to him by a celebrated English outlaw
named Hobbie Noble, who, having committed some
deed for which he was in danger from justice fled
to Liddesdale, and became a follower, or rather a
brother-in-arms, to the renowned Laird's Jock;
till, venturing into England with a small escort, a
faithless guide, and with a light single-handed
sword instead of his ponderous brand, Hobbie Noble,
attacked by superior numbers, was made prisoner
and executed.

  With this weapon, and by means of his own
strength and address, the Laird's Jock maintained
the reputation of the best swordsman on the border
side, and defeated or slew many who ventured
to dispute with him the formidable title.

  But years pass on with the strong and the brave
as with the feeble and the timid.  In process of,
time, the Laird's Jock grew incapable of wielding
his weapons, and finally of all active exertion, even
of the most ordinary kind.  The disabled champion
became at length totally bed-ridden, and entirely
dependent for his comfort on the pious duties
of an only daughter, his perpetual attendant
and companion.

  Besides this dutiful child, the Laird's Jock had
an only son, upon whom devolved the perilous task
of leading the clan to battle, and maintaining the
warlike renown of his native country, which was
now disputed by the English upon many occasions.  
The young Armstrong was active, brave, and
strong, and brought home from dangerous adventures
many tokens of decided success.  Still the
ancient chief conceived, as it would seem, that his
son was scarce yet entitled by age and experience
to be intrusted with the two-handed sword, by the
use of which he had himself been so dreadfully distinguished.

  At length, an English champion, one of the
name of Foster, (if I rightly recollect,) had the
audacity to send a challenge to the best swordsman
in Liddesdale; and young Armstrong, burning
for chivalrous distinction, accepted the challenge.

  The heart of the disabled old man swelled with
joy, when he heard that the challenge was passed
and accepted, and the meeting fixed at a neutral
spot, used as the place of rencontre upon such occasions,
and which he himself had distinguished by
numerous victories.  He exulted so much in the conquest
which he anticipated, that, to nerve his son
to still bolder exertions, he conferred upon him,
as champion of his clan and province, the celebrated
weapon which he had hitherto retained in his
own custody.

  This was not all.  When the day of combat arrived,
the Laird's Jock, in spite of his daughter's
affectionate remonstrances, determined, though he
had not left his bed for two years' to be a personal
witness of the duel.  His will was still a law to his
people, who bore him on their shoulders, wrapt
in plaids and blankets, to the spot where the combat
was to take place, and seated him on a fragment
of rock, which is still called the Laird's Jock's
stone.  There he remained with eyes fixed on the
lists or barrier, within which the champions were
about to meet.  His daughter, having done all she
could for his accommodation, stood motionless beside
him, divided between anxiety for his health,
and for the event of the combat to her beloved
brother.  Ere yet the fight began, the old men
gazed on their chief, now seen for the first time
after several years, and sadly compared his altered
features and wasted frame, with the paragon of
strength and manly beauty which they once remembered.
The young men gazed on his large
form and powerful make, as upon some antediluvian
giant who had survived the destruction of
the Flood.

  But the sound of the trumpets on both sides
recalled the attention of every one to the lists,
surrounded as they were by numbers of both
nations eager to witness the event of the day.  
The combatants met in the lists.  It is needless to
describe the struggle: the Scottish champion fell.  
Foster, placing his foot on his antagonist, seized
on the redoubted sword, so precious in the eyes of
its aged owner, and brandished it over his head as
a trophy of his conquest.  The English shouted in
triumph.  But the despairing cry of the aged champion,
who saw his country dishonoured, and his
sword, long the terror of their race, in possession
of an Englishman, was heard high above the acclamations
of victory.  He seemed, for an instant,
animated by all his wonted power; for he started
from the rock on which he sat, and while the garments
with which he had been invested fell from
his wasted frame, and showed the ruins of his
strength, he tossed his arms wildly to heaven, and
uttered a cry of indignation, horror, and despair,
which, tradition says, was heard to a preternatural
distance and resembled the cry of a dying lion
more than a human sound.

  His friends received him in their arms as he sank
utterly exhausted by the effort, and bore him back
to his castle in mute sorrow; while his daughter
at once wept for her brother, and endeavoured to
mitigate and soothe the despair of her father.  But
this was impossible; the old man's only tie to life
was rent rudely asunder, and his heart had broken
with it.  The death of his son had no part in his
sorrow: if he thought of him at all, it was as the
degenerate boy, through whom the honour of his
country and clan had been lost, and he died in the
course of three days, never even mentioning his
name, but pouring out unintermitted lamentations
for the loss of his noble sword.

  I conceive, that the moment when the disabled
chief was roused into a last exertion by the agony
of the moment is favourable to the object of a painter.
He might obtain the full advantage of contrasting
the form of the rugged old man, in the
extremity of furious despair, with the softness and
beauty of the female form.  The fatal field might
be thrown into perspective, so as to give full effect
to these two principal figures, and with the single
explanation, that the piece represented a soldier
beholding his son slain, and the honour of his country
lost, the picture would be sufficiently intelligible
at the first glance.  If it was thought necessary
to show more clearly the nature of the conflict,
it might be indicated by the pennon of Saint
George being displayed at one end of the lists, and
that of Saint Andrew at the other.

               I remain, sir,

                 Your obedient servant,

                         THE AUTHOR OF  WAVERLEY.

[End of The Keepsake Stories]


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