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of sheep, and sheep to that of hares. On the present occasion, however, it was filled to the brim by the dense fog which pervaded the atmosphere, so that the road winding along the top appeared like the shore of a deep bay of the sea, to step from which would have been to plunge into an abyss, and be lost
The soldiers, though the country was entirely new to them, passed along the high and perilous road with feelings little impressed by it. The dreariness and monotony of their day's march had rendered their minds dull and inattentive, and instead of keeping in a close circle round their prisoner, they straggled along in a line, in which he was sometimes near the front, and sometimes near the rear. Very different was the mental condition of Maclaren, who, from his having frequently passed this way with cattle, as many Highland gentlemen of superior rank to himself were accustomed to do, was acquainted with every foot of the way, and had long meditated a particular mode of escape, which he was now to put into execution. How great was the astonishment of the soldiery when Maclaren, who at one moment was pacing quietly along in the dreary march, was the next seen to start, as if instinct with new life, from their line, towards the edge of the precipice, over which he plunged head foremost, and was instantly out of sight! To rush after him was but the work of a moment; yet so quick had been his movements, that he was already absorbed in the sea of mist which filled the Beef-Tub. With his head firmly clenched between his knees, and holding his feet in his hands, he had formed his body as nearly as possible into a round form, and allowed himself freely to roll heels over head down the steep side of the hollow, the surface of which he knew presented at this place no obstructions capable of injuring him. `In their ignorance of the ground, no one durst follow him. The brave lieutenant could only, as soon as he recovered breath, exclaim with an oath, “Stop, sir-I arrest you in the king's name !” while the soldiers fired their muskets at random into the misty gulf, or ran a little way round its edges in the hope of finding a less perilous descent to the bottom. It was all in vain; and, after once more gathering, they could only console themselves with the undoubting assurance that the rascal must have broken his neck in the descent, and so relieved the king of the duty of punishing his rebellion.
At the moment when the lieutenant uttered his characteristic exclamation, Neil Maclaren could have stopped his career neither for king nor kaisar. He arrived, however, at the bottom of the Beef-Tub without the slightest injury; and the moment that he did so, he commenced his ascent of the opposite side with the speed of one who hears behind him the bloodhound's bay. When he reached the top, being well acquainted with the ground, he set off at full speed in the direction of his father-in-law's house, following, not the road by which he had come, but the hill-sides, where he was not likely to be seen by any one. He took this route, in the hope that in some of the many corner-holes about the Crook he might easily lie concealed until the hue-and-cry was blown over. Nor was he wrong in his anticipations.
After the departure of the soldiers with their prisoner, Geordie Black was surprised by the arrival of visitors that were near and dear to him-namely, his daughter Ailie, with her infant child. The poor young creature knew of her husband's capture, and was on her way to Carlisle to beg his life, or to die with him. Her
på rents persuaded, or rather compelled her to stay a night with them, in order to take that rest of which she stood in so much need; but it may be imagined that they could offer her no other consolation. Consolation, however, was not far off, though they then saw it not. After night had set in, Geordie, with the view of excluding as much as possible all spectators of his daughter's grief, went out in person to bring a supply of fuel for the parlour fire from the peat-stalk. While in the act of lifting these combustibles, a voice whispered his name, and finding, by the terrified “ Gudesake! what's that!” that it was his father-inlaw, Maclaren revealed himself, and told the story of his marvellous escape. It would be hard to say whether joy or alarm was predominant in the old man's mind on hearing it, for he feared the return of the soldiers. He had, nevertheless, no thought for an instant of abandoning Neil. Going into the house for a lantern, he led his son-in-law to an unoccupied and well-concealed corner of his premises, and then, having prepared both of them for the joyful and most unexpected interview, he conducted the wife to her husband's arms. They were strongly attached to each other, and their feelings on meeting are not to be described.
Lieutenant Howison and two of his men reached the Crook during the night, the rest having gone, according to command, in various directions in search of the fugitive. In anticipation of such a visit, Maclaren had been carefully and securely secreted; and the servants of the household being put upon their guard, were too faithful not to avoid all mention of Maclaren's wife's name. The lieutenant, indeed, never entertained the slightest suspicion of the landlord, but on the contrary condescended, as if sure of the sympathies of his auditor, to repeat to Geordie many emphatic denunciations of the scoundrel who kept “ tumbling and rolling” down the Devil's Beef-Tub, though called upon to halt “in the king's name.” The unwelcome military visitants departed from the Crook on the following day.
Neil Maclaren, the hero of this remarkable escape, contrived, with the aid of his friends, to keep himself concealed, sometimes in one way, and sometimes in another, until the act of indemnity was passed by the government. He then returned with his wife to the Braes of Balquhidder, in which district he was a dunieWassal, or small proprietor. Like Rob Roy, he had not disdained to seek the improvement of his fortunes by sending cattle to England, and these expeditions he sometimes guided in person. While on one of these journeys, he had seen and loved, wooed and
won, Ailie Black. After claiming and obtaining the immunity alluded to, he recovered (chiefly by the help of Geordie Black's well-saved pose) the greater part of his former heritage, and lived in peace for the rest of his days in the bosom of his family.
THE FIRST EARL OF TRAQUAIR.
In the lower part of Peeblesshire, on the south bank of the Tweed, stands Traquair House, the seat of the Earls of Traquair, of one of whom tradition has preserved some particulars which throw a light on the manners of a bygone age.
Sir John Stewart, created Earl of Traquair by Charles I. in 1628, was also raised by that monarch to the dignity of Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, in which office he acted a conspicuous part in the history of that stirring period. Circumstances having on one occasion led the earl to visit Jedburgh, he there learned that a person of whom he had some knowledge, Willie Armstrong, of Gilnockie, was in confinement for cattle-stealing-an offence far from uncommon in these times. Interested in the fate of the Borderer, the earl exerted his influence, and succeeded in releasing Willie from bondage.
Some time afterwards, a lawsuit of importance to Lord Traquair was to be decided in the Court of Session, and there was every reason to believe that the judgment would turn upon the voice of the presiding judge, who has a casting vote in case of an equal division among his brethren. The opinion of the president was unfavourable to Lord Traquair, and the point was, therefore, to keep him out of the way when the question should be tried. In this dilenıma the earl had recourse to Willie Armstrong, who at once offered his services to kidnap the president.
On due inquiry, the unscrupulous Borderer found that it was the judge's practice frequently to take the air on horseback on the sands of Leith without an attendant. In one of these excursions, Willie, who had long watched his opportunity, ventured to accost the president, and engage him in conversation. His address and language were so amusing, that he decoyed the president into an unfrequented and furzy common, called the tiggate Whins, where, riding suddenly up to him, he pulled him from his horse, muffled him in a large cloak which he had provided, and rode off with the luckless judge trussed up behind him.' Will crossed the country with great expedition, by paths known only to persons of his description, and deposited his weary and terrified burden in an old castle in Annandale, called the Tower of Graham. The judge's horse being found, it was concluded he had thrown his rider into the sea : his friends went into mourning, and a successor was appointed to his office.
Meanwhile the poor president spent a heavy time in the vault of the castle. He was imprisoned, and solitary; receiving his food through an aperture in the wall, and never hearing the sound of a human voice, save when a shepherd called his dog by the name of Batty, and when a female domestic called upon Madge the cat. These, he concluded, were invocations of spirits; for he held himself to be in the dungeon of a sorcerer. At length, after three months had elapsed, the lawsuit was decided in favour of Lord Traquair, and Will was directed to set his prisoner at liberty. Accordingly, he entered the vault at the dead of night, seized the president, muffled him once more into the cloak, without speaking a single word; and using the same mode of transportation, conveyed him to Leith sands, and set down the astonished judge on the very spot where he had taken him up.
The joy of his friends, and the less agreeable surprise of his successor, may be easily conceived, when the president appeared in court to reclaim his office and honours. All embraced his own persuasion that he had been spirited away by witchcraft; nor could he himself be convinced of the contrary; until, many years afterwards, happening to travel in Annandale, his ears were saluted once more with the sounds of Madge and
Batty, the only notes which had solaced his long confinement. This led to a discovery of the whole story; but in these disorderly times it was only laughed at as a fair ruse. Wild and strange as this tradition may seem, there is little doubt of its foundation in fact. The judge upon whose person this extraordinary stratagem was practised was Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord Durie, who died in July 1646.
Lord Traquair does not appear to have been benefited by the unlawful exploit of the Border freebooter. From a high position in the state, he made a fall as great as was ever known in the vicissitudes of court favour: from being a wealthy and influential nobleman, he actually sunk to the condition of a beggar in the street. The cause of this extraordinary decline of fortune is to be found partly in the political troubles and changes in the reign of Charles I., and partly in private misfortune. For some reason, now unknown, the earl resigned his whole estates to his son, and like most others who, during their lives, have abandoned their entire means to their children, he was left by his ungrateful descendant to pine and die in misery, an object of commiseration to strangers. In a history of the Family of Fraser, by the Rev. James Fraser, minister of Kirkhill, on the Beauly Firth, the writer mentions the following circumstances of this unfortunate earl, under the date 1668:
“A remarkable death this year was that of John Stewart, the old Earl of Traquair, time, place, and manner considered. This man was King James VI.'s cousin and courtier. Charles I. sent him as High Commissioner down to Scotland, and he sat as viceroy in the parliament, June 1639. He was early at court, the haven of happiness for all aspiring spirits; and this broke him at last-he became the tennis-ball of fortune. What power and sway, place and preferment, he had then, I need not mention; only this, keeping then with the revered bishops, and tampering under board with the Covenanters, he acknowledged to be his bane; but whether then by his own misconduct, or by paction and resignation of his interest to his son, or the immediate hand of God upon him, I search not, but he proved a true emblem of the vanity of the world-a very meteor. I saw him, in 1661, begging in the streets of Edinburgh. He was in an antiqué garb, and wore a broad old hat, short cloak, and pannier breeches; and I contributed, in my quarters in the Canongate, towards his relief. We gave him a noble, he standing with his hat off. The Master of Lovat, Calbockie, Glenmoriston, and myself, were there, and he received the piece of money from my hand as humbly and thankfully as the poorest supplicant. It is said that at a time he had not (wherewithal] to pay cobbling his boots, and died in a poor cobbler's house."
On the bank of a small mountain rivulet which dashes down towards the Tweed, about the centre of the county, stands a neat though humble cot, the residence not many years ago of Allan Scott, a youth whose early fate excited considerable interest in the district.
The father of Allan was an exemplification of a truth most honourable to human nature. He evinced in his own person how much respect and esteem can be attained by sobriety and good conduct, even in the midst of poverty and distress. Every, body loved the old man, who was a hard-working tradesman, and when sorrow fell upon him, there was no one in our little town who did not sympathise with him. Allan was an only son, and was about thirteen years of age when his mother died, and the first blow was given to his father's happiness. The old man's health became broken, and it was only at intervals that he was able to work, and to teach his son his own trade. Hence, willing and diligent'as Allan was, his want of skill rendered him barely able to maintain his father and himself during those attacks of illness which fell more severely upon the old man the oftener they were repeated. It was an affecting sight at these times to see the son, in the short moments of evening relaxation, supporting and tending his infirm parent, as they crept slowly along the river-bank-the walk which the old man loved most, having been that which he had often trod with his departed partner