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Book of Scottish Story
The Laird of Cool's Ghost


Part Two

OGIL.-- I read that there are ten thousand times ten thousand angels that wait upon God, and sing His praise and do His will; and I cannot understand how the good angels can be inferior in number to the evil.

COOL-- Did not I say, that whatever the number be, the spirits departed are employed in the same business ; so that as to the number of original deities, where-of Satan is chief, I cannot determine, but you need not doubt but there are more souls departed in that place, which in a loose sense you call hell, by almost an infinity, than what are gone to that place, which, in a like sense, you call heaven, which likewise are employed in the same purpose ; and I can assure you that there is as great a difference between angels, both good and bad, as there is among men, with respect to their sense, knowledge, cunning, cleverness, and action; nay, which is more, the departed souls on both sides outdo severals, from their very first departure, of the original angels. This you will perhaps think a paradox, but is true.

OGIL.-- I do not doubt it ; but what is that to my question, about which I am solicitous?

COOL—Take a little patience, sir; from what I have said you might have understood me, if you had your thoughts about you; but I shall explain myself to you. Both the good and the bad angels have stated times of rendezvous, and the principal angels, who have the charge either of towns, cities, or kingdoms, not to mention particular persons, villages, and families, and all that is transacted in these several parts of the country, are there made open; and at their re-encounter on each side, every thing is told, as in your parish, in milns, kilns, and smithies, with this difference, that many things false are talked at the living re-encounters, but nothing but what is exact truth is said or told among the dead ; only I must observe to you,
that, as I am credibly informed, several of the inferior bad angels, and souls of wicked men departed, have told many things that they have done, and then when a more intelligent spirit is sent out upon inquiry, and the report of the former seeming doubtful, he brings in a contrary report, and makes it appear truth, the former fares very ill: nevertheless their regard to truth prevents it; for while they observe the truth, they do their business and keep their station, for God is truth.

OGIL.-- So much truth being among the good angels, I am apt to think that lies and falsehood will be as much in vogue among the bad.

COOL-- A gross mistake, and it is not alone the mistake which the living folks fall under with respect to the other world; for the case plainly is this: an ill man will not stick at a falsehood to promote his design; as little will an evil soul departed stop at anything that can make himself successful; but in admitting report he must tell the truth, or woe be to him. But besides their monthly, quarterly, or yearly meetings, or whatever they be, departed souls acquainted may take a trip to see one another yearly, weekly, daily, or oftener, if they please. Thus, then, I answer your question that you was so much concerned about; for my information was from no less than three persons, viz., Aikman, who attends Thurston’s family ; James Corbet, who waits upon Mr Paton ; for at that time he was then looking after Mrs Sarah Paton, who was at your house, and an original emissary appointed to wait upon yours.

At this I was much surprised, and after a little thinking, I asked him, And is their really, Cool, an emissary from hell, in whatever sense you take it, that attends my family ?

COOL-- You may depend upon it.

OGIL.-- And what do you think is his business ?

COOL-- To divert you from your duty, and cause you to do as many ill things as he can ; for much depends on having the minister on their side.

Upon this I was struck with a sort of terror, which I cannot account for. In the meantime he said several things I did not understand. But after coming to my former presence of mind, said—
OGIL.-- But, Cool, tell me, in earnest, if there be a devil that attends my family, though invisible.

COOL-- Just as sure as you are breathing ; but be not so much dejected upon this information, for I tell you likewise that there is a good angel who attends you, who is stronger than the other.

OGIL.-- Are you sure of that, Cool?

COOL-- Yes; there is one riding on your right hand, who might as well have been elsewhere, for I meant you no harm.

OGIL.-- And how long has he been with me?

COOL-- Only since we passed Brand’s Lee, but now he is gone.

OGIL.-- We are just upon Elenscleugh, and I desire to part with you, though perhaps I have gained more by conversation than I could have otherwise done in a twelvemonth. I choose rather to see you another time, when you’re at leisure, and I wish it were at as great a distance from Innerwick as you can.

COOL-- Be it so, sir; but I hope you will be as obliging to me next re-encounter, as I have been to you this.

OGIL.-- I promise you I will, as far as is consistent with my duty to my Lord and Master Christ Jesus ; and since you have obliged me so much by information, I will answer all the questions you propose, as far as consists with my knowledge; but I believe you want no information from me.

COOL-- I came not here to be instructed by you, but I want your help of another kind.

Upon the 5th of April 1722, as I was returning from Old Hamstooks, Cool came up with me on horseback at the foot of the ruinous enclosure, before we came to Dod. I told him his last conversation had proved so acceptable to me, that I was well pleased to see him again; that there was a number of things that I wanted to inform myself further of if he would be so good as satisfy me.

COOL-- Last time we met, I refused you nothing you asked; and now I expect that you shall refuse me nothing that I shall ask.

OGIL.-- Nothing, sir, that is in my power, or that I can do with safety to my reputation and character. What, then, are your demands?

COOL-- All that I desire of you is, that as you promised that on a Sabbath-day you would go to my wife, who now possesses all my effects, and tell her the following particulars—tell her in my name to rectify these matters :—First,
That I was owing justly to Provost Crosby £50 Scots, and three years interest, but on hearing of his death,
my good-brother the Laird of C--l and I forged a discharge, narrated the bond, the sum, and other particulars, with this honourable clause, "And at the time it had fallen by, and could not befound ;” with an obligation on the provost’s part to deliver up this bond as soon as he could hit upon it. And this discharge was dated three months before the provost’s death. And when his son and successor, Andrew Crosby, wrote to me concerning this bond, I came to him and showed him the forged discharge, which silenced him; so that I got upmy bond without more ado. And when I heard of Robert Kennedy’s death, with the same help of C--l, I got a bill upon him for £190, of which I got full and complete payment. C--l got the half. When I was at Dumfries, the same day that Robert Grier died, to whom I was owing an account of £36, C--l, my good-brother, was then at London; and not being able of myself, being but a bad writer, to make out a discharge of the account, which I wanted, I met accidently with one Robert Boyd, a poor writer lad in Dumfries; I took him to Mrs Carnock’ s, and gave him a bottle of wine, and told him I had paid Thomas Grier’s account, but had neglected to get a discharge, and if he would help me to one I would reward him. He flew away from me in a great passion, saying, he would rather be hanged; but if I had a mind for these things, I had better wait till C--l came home. This gave me great trouble, fearing what C--l and I had done formerly was no secret. I followed Boyd to the street, and made an apology, saying, I was jesting, commending him for his honesty, and got his promise never to repeat what had passed. I sent for my Cousin B—m H—rie, your good-brother, who, with no difficulty, for a guinea and a half undertook and performed all that I wanted ; and for a guinea more made me up a discharge for £200 Scots that I was owing to your father-in•law and his friend Mr Muirhead, which discharge I gave to John Ewart, when he desired the money ; and he, at my desire, produced it to you, which you sustained.

A great many of the like instances were told, of which I cannot remember the persons, names, and things; but, says he, what vexes me more than all these, is the injustice I did Homer Maxwell, tenant to my Lord Nithsdale, for whom I was factor. I borrowed £2000 from him, £500 of which he borrowed from another hand: I gave him my bond, and, for reasons I contrived, I obliged him to secrecy. He died within the year, and left nine children, his wife being dead before himself. I came to seal up his papers for my lord’s security ; his eldest daughter entreated me to look through them all, and to give her an account of what was their stock and what was their debt. I very willingly undertook it; and in going through the papers, I put my own bond in my pocket. His circumstances proving bad, his nine children are now starving. These things I desire you to represent to my wife, and take her brother with you, and let them be immediately rectified, for she has a sufficient funds to do it upon; and if it were done, I think I would be easy, and therefore I hope you will make no delay.

After a short pause, I answered, ’Tis a good errand, Cool, you are sending me to do justice to the oppressed and injured ; but notwithstanding I see myself come in for £200 Scots, yet I beg a little time to consider the matter. And since I find you are as much master of reason now as ever, and more than ever, I will reason upon the matter in its general view, and then with respect to the expediency of my being the messenger ; and this I will do with all manner of frankness. From what you have said, I see clearly what your present condition is, so that I need not ask any more questions on that head ; and you need not bid me take courage, for at this moment I am no more afraid of you than a new-born child.

COOL-- Well, say on.

OGIL.-- Tell me, then, since such is your ability that you can fly a thousand miles in the twinkling of an eye, if your desire to do the oppressed justice be as great as you pretend, what’s the reason you don’t fly to the coffers of some rich Jew or banker, where are thousands of gold and silver, invisibly lift, and invisibly return it to the coffers of the injured? And since your wife has sufficient funds, and more, why cannot you empty her purse invisibly, to make these people amends ?

COOL-- Because I cannot.

OGIL.-- You have satisfied me entirely upon that head. But pray, Cool, what is the reason that you cannot go to your wife yourself, and tell her what you have a mind? I should think this a more sure way to gain your point.

COOL-- Because I will not.

OGIL.-- That is not an answer to me, Cool.

COOL-- That is one of the questions that I told you long ago I would not answer : but if you go as I desire, I promise to give you full satisfaction after you have done your business. Trust me for once, and believe me I will not disappoint you.

Upon the 10th of April 1722, coming from Old Cambus, upon the post-road, I met with Cool on the head
of the heath called the Pees. He asked me, if I had considered the matter he had recommended? I told him I had, and was in the same opinion I was in when we parted ; that I would not possibly undertake his commissions, unless he could give me them in writing under his hand. I told him that the list of his grievances were so great that I could not possibly remember them without being put in writing ; and that I wanted nothing but reason to determine me in that, and all other affairs of my life.

" I know, ” says he, " this is a mere evasion : but tell me if the Laird of Thurston will do it? ”

"I am sure,” said I, "he will not ; and if he should, I would do all that I could to hinder him ; for I think he has as little to doing these matters as myself. But tell me, Cool, is it not as easy to write your story as tell it, or ride on what-do-ye-call-him? for I have forgot your horse’s name.”

COOL-- No, sir, it is not; and perhaps I may convince you of the reasonableness of it afterwards.

OGIL.-- I would be glad to hear a reason that is solid for not speaking to your wife yourself; but, however, any rational creature may see what a fool I would make of myself, if I would go to Dumfries, and tell your wife you had appeared to me, and told of so many forgeries and villanies that you had committed, and that she behoved to make reparation; the consequence might perhaps be, that she would scold me; for she would be loath to part with any money she possesses, and therefore tell me I was mad, or possibly pursue me for calumny. How would I vindicate myself; how could I prove that you ever spoke with me? Mr Paton and other ministers in Dumfries would tell me the devil had spoken with me; and why should I repeat these things for truth which he, that was a liar from the beginning, had told me? C—p—l and B—r— H--rie would be upon me, and pursue me before the commissary; everybody would look upon me as brain-sick or mad : therefore, I entreat you, do not insist upon sending me so ridiculous an errand. The reasonableness of my demands I leave to your own consideration, as you did your former to mine. But dropping the matter till our next interview, give me leave to enter upon some more diverting subject. I do not know, Cool, but the information you have given may do as much service to mankind, as the redress of all these grievances would amount to. Mr Ogilvie died very soon after. --- OLD CHAPBOOK


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