« PreviousContinue »
that enterprise, for which your oppressed country calls with the voice of a parent, entreating her children for aid-or against that noble revenge which your father's blood demands from his dishonored grave. His skull is yet standing over the Rikargate, and even its bleak and mouldered jaws command you to be a man. I ask you, in the name of God, will you draw your sword, and go
with me to Carlisle, were it but to lay your father's head, now the perch of the obscene owl and carrion crow, and the scoff of every ribald clown, in consecrated earth, as befits his long ancestry.
Have I forgot my brother's blood? Can I-dare I even now repeat the pater noster, since my enemies and the murderers remain unforgiven? Is there an art I have not practiced--a privation to which I have not submitted ? Have I not been a vowed and devoted man, foregoing every comfort of social life, renouncing even the exercise of devotion, unless when I might name in prayer my prince and country, submitting to every thing to make converts to this noble cause ? Have 1 done this, and shall I now stop short ?
Peace, heir of my ancestor's fame-heir of all my hopes and wishes,-peace, son of my slaughtered brother! I have sought for thee, and mourned for thee, as a mother for her only. child. Do not let me again lose you in the moment when you are restored to my hopes. Believe me, I distrust so much my own impatient temper, that I entreat you, as the dearest boon, do nought to awaken it at this crisis.
Listen to me, my dearest Arthur; the state of the nation no more implies prosperity than the florid color of a fevered patient is a sympton of health. All is false and hollow—the apparent success of Chatham's administration has plunged the country deeper in debt than all the barren acres of Canada are worib, were they as fertile as Yorkshire—the dazzling luster of the victories of Minden and Quebec, have been dimmed by the disgrace of the hasty peace : by the war, England, at immense
expense, gained nothing but honor, and that she has gratuitously resigned. Many eyes, formerly cold and indifferent, are now looking towards the line of our ancient and rightful monarchs, as the only refuge in the approaching storm—the populace are inflamed—and a band of patriots, whose measures are more safe that their numbers are few, have resolved to set up king Charles' standard.
I will not give you my confidence by halves, Sir Arthur; look at that scroll—what say you to these names? Are they not the flower of the western shires—of Wales -of Scotland ? For thee and thine I can be myself responsible, for if thou hast not the courage to head the force of thy house, the leading shall pass to other hands, and thy inheritance shall depart from thee, like vigor and verdure from a rotten branch. For these honorable persons, a slight condition there is which they annex to their friendship-something so trifling that it is scarcely worthy of mention. This boon granted to them by him who is most interested, there is no question they will take the field in the manner there stated.
I have told you, Sir Arthur, that I do not urge your immediate accession to my proposal; indeed, the consequences of a refusal would be so dreadful to yourself, so destructive to all the hopes which I have nursed, that I would not risk, by a moment's impatience, the hopes of my whole life. Yes, Arthur, I have been a self-denying hermit at one time—at another, the apparent associate of outlaws and desperadoes-at another, the subordinate agent of men whom I felt every way my
purpose my own, no, not even to win for myself the renown of being the principal instrument in restoring my king and freeing my country. My first wish on earth is for that restoration and that freedommy next, that my nephew, the representative of my house, and of the brother of my love, may have the advantage and the credit of all my efforts in the good cause. But if Scotland and my father's house cannot stand and
flourish together, then perish the very name of Redgauntlet! perisha the son of my brother, with every recollection of the glories of my family, of the affections of my youth, rather than my country's cause should be injured in the tithing of a barley corn! The spirit of Sir Alberie is alive within me at this moment, and if you yourself crossed my path in opposition, I swear by the mark that darkens my brow, that a new deed should be done—a new doom should be deserved.
Henry IV. Part 1. Act iv. Scene 4. If I be not asham'd of my soldiers, I am souc'd gurnet. I have misus’d the king's press damnably, I have got in exchange of an hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds; I press me none but goud householders—yeomen's sons; inquire me out contracted bachelors, such as had been ask'd twice on the banns
; such a commodity of warm slaves, as had as lief hear the devil as a drum ; such as fear the report of a caliver, worse than a stuck fowl, or a hurt wild duck. I
press me none but such toasts and butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins' heads; and they have bought out their services. And now my whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of companies ! slaves as ragged as Lazarus, in the painted cloth; and such as, indeed, were never soldiers; but discarded unjust servingmen, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters, and ostlers trade-fallen; the cankers of a calm world and long peace; and such have I to fill up the room of them that have bought out their services; that you would think I had a hundred and fifty tatter'd prodigals, lately come from swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me on the way, and told me, I had unloaded all the gibbets, and press'd
the dead bodies. No eye has seen such scare-crows. I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat. Nay, and the villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had gyves on; for, indeed, I had the most of them out of prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my company: and the half shirt is two napkins tacked together, and thrown over the shoulders, like a herald's coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say the truth, stolen from my host of St. Albans, or the red-nos'd innkeeper of Daintry. But that's all one, they'll find linen enough on every hedge.-“ And as for the rest”-Tut, tut, “ they're good enough to toss”—Mortal men-mortal men !- fair” food for powder; they'll fill a pit as well as better; "or stand as well in the mouth of a cannon."
REPLY OF ROB ROY MAC GREGOR TO MR. OSBALDISTONE.
You speak like a boy—like a boy, who thinks the old gnarled oak can be twisted as easy as the young sapling. Can I forget that I have been branded as an outlaw, stigmatized as a traitor, a price set on my head as if I had been a wolf, my family treated as the dain and cubs of the hill-fox, whom all may torment, vilify, degrade, and insult ;—the very name which came to me from a long and noble line of martial ancestors, denounced, as if it were a spell to conjure up the devil with ?
And they shall find that the name they have dared to proscribe—that the name of Mac Gregor is a spell to raise the wild devil withal. They shall hear of my vengeance, that would scorn to listen to the story of
my wrongs. The miserable Highland drover, bankrupt, barefooted, stripped of all, dishonored and hunted down, because the avarice of others grasped at more than that poor all could pay, shall burst on them in an awful change.
They that scoffed at the groveling worm, and trod upon him, may cry and howl when they see the stoop of the flying and fiery-mouthed dragon. But why do I speak of all this ?-only, ye may opine, it frets my patience to be hunted like an otter, or a seal, or a salmon upon the shallows, and that by my very friends and neighbors : and to have as many sword-cuts made, and pistols flashed at me, as I had this day in the ford of Avondow, would try a saint's temper, much more a Highlander's, who are not famous for that good gift, as you may have heard. But one thing bides with me of what Nicol said. I'm vexed for the bairns-I'm vexed when I think of Robert and Hamish living their father's life. But let us say no more of this.
You must think hardly of us-and it is not natural that it should be otherwise. But remember, at least, we have not been unprovoked :-we are a rude and an ignorant, and it may be, a violent and passionate, but we are not a cruel people. The land might be at peace and in law for us, did they allow us to enjoy the blessings of peaceful law. But we have been a persecuted people; and if persecution maketh wise men mad, what must it do to men like us, living as our father's did a thousand years since, and possessing scarce more lights than they did ? Can we view their bloody edicts against us—their hanging, heading, hounding, and hunting down an ancient and honorable name-as deserving better treatment than that which enemies give to enemies?—Here I standhave been in twenty frays, and never hurt man but when I was in hot blood -and yet, they would betray me, and hang me, like a masterless dog, at the gate of any great man that has an ill will at me.
You are a kind-hearted and an honorable youth, and understand, doubtless, that which is due to the feelings of a man of honor.-But the heather that I have trod upon when living, must bloom over me when I am dead
-my heart would sink, and my arm would shrink and wither, like fern in the frost, were I to lose sight of my