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Book of Scottish Story
Lady Jean: a Tale of the Seventeenth Century


Chapter I

‘The Yerl o’ Wigton had three dauchters,
O braw walie! they were bonnie!
The youngest o’ them and the bonniest too,
Has fallen in love wi’ Richie Storie.’ --- Old Ballad

The Earl of Wigton, whose name figures in Scottish annals of the reign of Charles II, had three daughters, named Lady Frances, Lady Grizel, and Lady Jean, — the last being by several years the youngest, and by many degrees the most beautiful. All the three usually resided with their mother at the chief seat of the family, Cumbernauld House, in Stirlingshire; but the two eldest were occasionally permitted to attend their father in Edinburgh, in order that they might have some chance of obtaining lovers at the court held there by the Duke of Lauderdale, while Lady Jean was kept constantly at home, and debarred from the society of the capital, lest her superior beauty might interfere with and foil the attractions of her sisters, who, according to the notion of that age, had a sort of "right of primogeniture” in matrimony, as well as in what was called "heirship."

It may be easily imagined that, while the two marriageable ladies were enjoying all the delights of a third flat in one of the "closes" of the Canongate, spending their days in seeing beaux, and their nights in dreaming of them, Lady Jean led no pleasant life amidst the remote and solitary splendour of Cumbernauld, where her chief employment was the disagreeable one of at tending her mother, a very infirm and querulous old dame, much given (it was said) to strong waters. At the period when our tale opens, Lady Jean’s charms, though never seen in the capital, had begun to make some noise there; and the curiosity excited respecting them amongst the juvenile party of the vice-regal court, had induced Lord Wigton to confine her ladyship even more strictly than heretofore, lest perchance some gallant might make a pilgrimage to his country seat, in order to behold her, and from less to more, induce her to quit her retirement, in such a way as would effectually discomfit his schemes for the pre-advancement of his elder daughters. He had been at pains to send an express to Cumbernauld, ordering Lady Jean to be confined to the precincts of the house and the terrace-garden, and to be closely attended in all her movements by a trusty domestic. The consequence was that the young lady complained most piteously to her deaf old lady-mother of the tedium and listlessness of her life, and wished with all her heart that she was as ugly, old, and happy as her sisters.

Lord Wigton was not insensible to the cruelty of his policy, however well he might be convinced of its advantage and necessity. He loved his youngest daughter more than the rest; and it was only in obedience to what he conceived to be the commands of duty, that he subjected her to the restraint. His lordship, therefore, felt anxious to alleviate in some measure the ‘desagremens’ of her solitary confinement; and knowing her to be fond of music, he had sent to her by the last messenger a theorbo lute, with which he thought she would be able to amuse herself in a way very much to her mind, — not considering that, as she could not play upon the instrument, it would be little better to her than an unmeaning toy. By the return of his messenger, he received a letter from Lady Jean, thanking him for the theorbo, but making him aware of his oversight, and begging him to send some person who could teach her to play.

The earl, whose acquirements in the philosophy of politics had never been questioned, felt ashamed of having committed such a solecism in so trivial a matter; and like all men anxious to repair or conceal an error in judgment, immediately ran into another of ten times greater consequence and magnitude: he gratified his daughter in her wish.

The gentry of Scotland were at that time in the custom of occasionally employing a species of servants, whose accomplishments and duties would now appear of a very anomalous character, though at that time naturally arising from the peculiar situation of this country, in respect to its southern neighbour. They were, in general, humble men who had travelled a good deal, and acquired many foreign accomplishments; who, returning to their native country after an absence of a few years, usually entered into the service of the higher class of families, partly as ordinary livery-men, and partly with the purpose of instructing the youth of both sexes, as they grew up and required such exercises, in dancing, music, writing, &c., besides a vast variety of other arts, comprehended in the general phrase of "breeding." Though these men received much higher wages, and were a thousand times more unmanageable than common serving men, they served a good purpose in those days, when young people had scarcely any other opportunities of acquiring the ornamental branches of education, except by going abroad.

It so happened that not many days after Lord Wigton received his daughter’s letter, he was applied to for employment by one of these useful personages, a tall and handsome youth, apparently five-and-twenty, with dark, Italian-looking features, a slight moustache, and as much foreign peculiarity in his dress as indicated that he was just returned from his travels. After putting a few questions, his lordship discovered that the youth was possessed of many agreeable accomplishments; was, in particular, perfectly well qualified to teach the theorbo, and had no objection to entering the service of a young lady of quality, only with the proviso that he was to be spared the disgrace of a livery. Lord Wigton then made no scruple in engaging him for a certain period; and next day saw the youth on the way to Cumbernauld, with a letter from his lordship to Lady Jean, setting forth all his good qualities, and containing among other endearing expressions, a hope that she would both benefit by his instructions, and be in the meantime content on their account with her present residence.

Any occurrence at Cumbernauld of higher import than the breaking of a needle in embroidering, or the miscarriage of a brewing of currant-wine, would have been quite an incident in the eyes of Lady Jean; and even to have given alms at the castle-gate to an extraordinary beggar, or to see so much as a "stranger" in the candle, might have supplied her with amusement infinite, and speculation boundless. What, then, must have been her delight, when the goodly and youthful figure of Richard Storie alighted one dull summer afternoon at the gate, and when the credentials he presented disclosed to her the agreeable purpose of his mission! Her joy knew no bounds; nor did she know in what terms to welcome the stranger; she ran from one end of the house to the other, up stairs and down stairs, in search of she knew not what; and finally, in her transports, she shook her mother out of a drunken slumber, which the old lady was enjoying as usual in her large chair in the parlour.

Master Richard, as he was commonly designated, soon found himself comfortably established in the good graces of the whole household of Cumbernauld, and not less so in the particular favour of his young mistress. Even the sour old lady of the large chair was pleased with his handsome appearance, and was occasionally seen to give a preternatural nod and smile at some of his musical exhibitions, as much as to say she knew when he performed well, and was willing to encourage humble merit. As for Lady Jean, whose disposition was equally lively and generous, she could not express, in sufficiently warm terms, her admiration of his performances, or the delight she experienced from them. Nor was she ever content without having Master Richard in her presence, either to play himself, or to teach her the enchanting art. She was a most apt scholar - so apt, that in a few days she was able to accompany him with the theorbo and voice, while he played upon an ancient harpsichord belonging to the old lady, which he had rescued from a lumber room. and had been at some pains to repair. The exclusive preference thus given to music for the time threw his other accomplishments into the shade, while it, moreover, occasioned his more constant presence in the apartments of the ladies than he would have been otherwise entitled to. The consequence was, that in a short time he almost ceased to be looked upon as a servant, and began gradually to assume the more interesting character of a friend and equal.
It was Lady Jean’s practice to take a walk, prescribed by her father, every day in the garden, on which occasions the countess conceived herself as acting up to the letter of her husband’s commands, when she ordered Master Richard to attend his pupil. This arrangement was exceedingly agreeable to Lady Jean, as they sometimes took out the theorbo, and added music to the pleasures of the walk. Another out-of-doors amusement, in which music formed a chief part, was suggested to them by the appropriate frontispiece of a book of instruction for the theorbo, which Master Richard had brought with him from Edinburgh. This engraving represented a beautiful young shepherdess, dressed in the fashionable costume of that period: a stupendous tower of hair hung round with diamonds, and a voluminous silk gown with a jewel-adorned stomacher, a theorbo in her arms, and a crook by her side, — sitting on a flowery bank under a tree, with sheep planted at regular distances around her. At a little distance appeared a shepherd with dressed hair, long-skirted coat, and silk stockings, who seemed to survey his mistress with a languishing air of admiration, that appeared singularly ridiculous as contrasted with the coquettish and contemptuous aspect of the lady. The plate referred to a particular song in the book, entitled "A Dialogue betwixt Strephon and Lydia; or the proud Shepherdess’s Courtship," the music of which was exceedingly beautiful, while the verses were the tamest and most affected trash imaginable.

It occurred to Lady Jean’s lively fancy, that if she and her teacher were to personify the shepherdess and shepherd, and thus, as it were, to transform the song to a sort of opera, making the terrace-garden the scene, not a little amusement might be added to the pleasure she experienced from the mere music alone. This fancy was easily reduced to execution; for, by seating herself under a tree, in her ordinary dress, with the horticultural implement called a rake by her side, she looked the very Lydia of the copperplate; while Richard, standing at his customary respectful distance, with his handsome person and somewhat foreign apparel, was a sufficiently good representation of Strephon. After arranging themselves thus, Master Richard opened the drama by addressing Lady Jean in the first verse of the song, which contained, besides some description of sunrise, a comparison between the beauties of nature, at that delightful period, and the charms of Lydia, the superiority being of course awarded to the latter. Lady Jean, with the help of the theorbo, replied to this in a very disdainful style, affecting to hold the compliments of lovers very cheap, and asseverating that she had no regard for any being on earth besides her father and mother, and no care but for these dear innocent sheep (here she looked kindly aside upon a neighbouring bed of cabbages), which they had entrusted to her charge. Other verses of similar nonsense succeeded, during which the representative of the fair Lydia could not help feeling rather more emotion at hearing the ardent addresses of Strephon than was strictly consistent with her part.

At last it was her duty to rise and walk softly away from her swain, declaring herself utterly insensible to both his praises and his passion, and her resolution never again to see or speak to him. This she did in admirable style, though perhaps rather with the dignified gait and sweeping majesty of a tragedy queen, than with anything like the pettish or sullen strut of a disdainful rustic.

Meanwhile, Strephon was supposed to be left inconsolable. Her ladyship continued to support her assumed character for a few yards, till a turn of the wall concealed her from Master Richard when, resuming her natural manner she turned back, with sparkling eyes, in order to ask his opinion of her performance, and it was with some confusion and no little surprise, that on bursting again into his sight, she discovered that Richard had not yet thrown off his character. He was standing still as she had left him, fixed immovably upon the spot in an attitude expressive of sorrow for her departure, and bending forward as if imploring her return. It was the expression of his face that astonished her most; for it was not at all an expression appropriate to either his own character or to that which he had assumed. It was an expression of earnest and impassioned admiration; his whole soul seemed thrown into her face, which was directed towards her, or rather the place where she had disappeared; and his eyes were projected in the same direction, with such a look as that perhaps of an enraptured saint of old at the moment when a divinity parted from his presence. This lasted, however, but for a moment, for scarcely had that minute space of time elapsed before Richard, startled from his reverie by Lady Jean’s sudden return, dismissed from his face all trace of any extraordinary expression, and stood before her, endeavouring to appear, just what he was, her ladyship’s respectful servant and teacher. Nevertheless, this transformation did not take place so quickly as to prevent her ladyship from observing the present expression, nor was it accomplished with such address as to leave her room for passing it over as unobserved. She was surprised—she hesitated—she seemed, in spite of herself conscious of something awkward — and finally she blushed slightly. Richard caught the contagion of her confusion in a double degree; and Lady Jean again became more confused on observing that he was aware of her confusion. Richard was the first to recover himself and speak. He made some remarks upon her singing and acting — not, however, upon her admirable performance of the latter part of the drama; this encouraged her also to speak, and both soon became somewhat composed. Shortly afterwards they returned to the house; but from that moment a chain of the most delicate, yet indissoluble sympathies began to connect the hearts of these youthful beings, so alike in all natural qualities, and so dissimilar in every extraneous thing which the world is accustomed to value.

After this interview there took place a slight estrangement between Master Richard and Lady Jean that lasted a few days, during which they had much less of conversation and music than for some time before. Both observed this circumstance; but each ascribed it to accident, while it was in reality occasioned by mutual reserve. Master Richard was afraid that Lady Jean might be offended were he to propose anything like a repetition of the garden drama; and Lady Jean, on her part, could not, consistently with the rules of maidenly modesty, utter even a hint at such a thing, however she might secretly wish or long for it. The very consciousness, reciprocally felt, of having something on their minds, of which neither durst speak, was sufficient to produce this reserve, even though the emotions of the "tender passion" had not come in, as they did, for a large share of the cause.

At length, however, this reserve was so far softened down, that they began to resume their former practice of walking together in the garden; but, though the theorbo continued to make one of the party, no more operatic performances took place. Nevertheless, the mutual affection which had taken root in their hearts, experienced on this account no abatement, but, on the contrary, continued to increase.

As for Master Richard, it was no wonder that he should be deeply smitten with the charms of his mistress; for, ever as he stole a long, furtive glance at her graceful form, he thought he had never seen in Spain or Italy any such specimens of female loveliness; and (if we may let the reader so far into the secret) he had indeed come to Cumbernauld with the very purpose of falling in love.

Different causes had operated upon Lady Jean. Richard being the first love-worthy object she had seen since the period when the female heart becomes most susceptible, — the admiration with which she knew he beheld her, — his musical accomplishments, which had tended so much to her gratification, — all conspired to render him precious in her sight. In the words of a beautiful modern ballad, "all impulses of soul and sense had thrilled " her gentle and guileless heart —

——— hopes, and fears that kindled hopes,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes, long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long,

had exercised their tender and delightful influence over her; like a flower thrown upon one of the streams of her own native land, whose course was through the beauties, the splendours, and the terrors of nature, she was borne away in a dream, the magic scenery of which was alternately pleasing, fearful, and glorious, and from which she could no more awake than could the flower restrain its course on the gliding waters. The habit of contemplating her lover every day, and that in the dignified character of an instructor, gradually blinded her in a great measure to his humbler quality, and to the probable sentiments of her lather and the world upon the subject of her passion. lf by any chance such a consideration was forced upon her notice, and she found occasion to tremble lest the sentiments in which she was so luxuriously indulging should end in disgrace and disaster, she soon quieted her fears, by reverting to an idea which had lately occurred to her, namely, that ‘Richard was not what he seemed’. She had heard and read of love assuming strange disguises. A Lord Belhaven, in the immediately preceding period of the civil war, had taken refuge from the fury of Cromwell in the service of an English nobleman.

whose daughter’s heart he won under the disguise of a gardener, and whom, on the recurrence of better times, he carried home to Scotland as his lady. This story was then quite popular, and at least one of the parties still survived to attest its truth. But even in nursery tales Lady Jean could find examples which justified her own passion. The vilest animals, she knew, on finding some beautiful dame, who was so disinterested as to fall in love with them, usually turned out to be the most handsome princes that ever were seen, who invariably married and made happy the ladies whose affection had restored them to their natural form and just inheritance. "Who knows," she thought, "but Richard may some day, in a transport of passion, throw open his coat, exhibit the star of nobility glittering on his breast, and ask me to become a countess!”

Such are the excuses which love suggests to reason, and which the reason of lovers easily accepts; while those who are neither youthful nor in love wonder at the hallucination of their impassioned juniors. Experience soon teaches us that this world is not one of romance, and that few incidents in life ever occur out of the ordinary way. But before we acquire this experience by actual observation, we all of us regard things in a very different light. The truth seems to be that, in the eyes of youth, "the days of chivalry" do not appear to be gone; our ideas are, then contemporary, or on a par with the early romantic ages of the world; and it is only by mingling with mature men, and looking at things as they are, that we at length advance towards, and ultimately settle down in the real era of our existence. Was there ever yet a youth who did not feel some chivalrous impulses, — some thirst for more glorious scenes than those around him, — some aspirations after lofty passion and supreme excellence — or who did not cherish some pure first-love that could not prudentially be gratified?

The greater part of the rest of the summer passed away before the lovers came to an ‘eclaircissement’; and such, indeed, was their mutual reserve upon the subject, that had it not been for the occurrence of a singular and deciding circumstance, there appeared little probability of this ever otherwise taking place. The Earl of Home, a gay and somewhat foolish young nobleman, one morning, after attending a convivial party, where the charms of Lady Jean Fleming formed the principal topic of discourse, left Edinburgh, and took the way to Cumbernauld, on the very pilgrimage, and with the very purpose, which Lord Wigton had before anticipated. Resolved first to see, then to love, and lastly to run away with the young lady, his lordship skulked about for a few days, and at last had the pleasure of seeing the hidden beauty over the garden-wall, as she was walking with Master Richard. He thought he had never seen any lady who could be at all compared to Lady Jean, and, as a matter of course, resolved to make her his own, and surprise all his companions at Edinburgh with his success and her beauty. He watched again next day, and happening to meet Master Richard out of the bounds of Cumbernauld policy, accosted him, with the intention of securing his services in making his way towards Lady Jean. After a few words of course, he proposed the subject to Richard, and offered a considerable bribe, to induce him to work for his interest. Richard at first rejected the offer, but immediately after, on bethinking himself, saw fit to accept it. He was to mention his lordship’s purpose to Lady Jean, and to prepare the way for a private interview with her. On the afternoon of the succeeding day, he was to meet Lord Home at the same place, and tell him how Lady Jean had received his proposals. With this they parted — Richard to muse on this unexpected circumstance, which he saw might blast all his hopes, unless he should resolve upon prompt and active measures, and the Earl of Home to enjoy himself at the humble inn of the village of Cumbernauld, where he had for the last few days enacted the character of "the daft lad frae Edinburgh, that seemed to hae mair siller than sense."

On the morning of the tenth day after Master Richard’s first interview with Lord Home, that faithful serving-man found himself jogging swiftly along the road to Edinburgh, mounted on a stout nag, with the fair Lady Jean seated comfortably on a pillion behind him. It was a fine morning in autumn, and the road had a peculiarly gay appearance from the multitude of country people, mounted and dismounted, who seemed also hastening towards the capital. Master Richard, upon inquiry, discovered that it was the "market-day," a circumstance which seemed favourable to his design, by the additional assurance it gave him of not being recognised among the extraordinary number of strangers who might be expected to crowd the city on such an occasion.

The lovers approached the city by the west, and the first street they entered was the suburban one called Portsburgh, which leads towards the great market-place of Edinburgh. Here Richard, impatient as he was, found himself obliged, like many other rustic cavaliers, to reduce the pace of his horse to a walk, on account of the narrowness and crowded state of the street. This he felt the more disagreeable, as it subjected him and his interesting companion to the close and leisurely scrutiny of the inhabitants. Both had endeavoured to disguise everything remarkable in their appearance, so far as dress and demeanour could be disguised; yet, as Lady Jean could not conceal her extraordinary beauty, and Richard had not found it possible to part with a slight and dearly beloved moustache, it naturally followed that they were honoured with a good deal of staring. Many an urchin upon the street threw up his arms as they passed along, exclaiming,"Oh! the black-bearded man!" or, "Oh! the bonnie leddie !" — the men all admired Lady Jean, the women Master Richard — and many an old shoemaker ogled them earnestly over his half-door, with his spectacles pushed up above his dingy cowl. The lovers, who had thus to run a sort of gauntlet of admiration and remark, were glad when they reached an inn, which Richard, who was slightly acquainted with the town, knew to be a proper place for the performance of a "half-merk marriage."

They alighted. and were civilly received by an obsequious landlady, who conducted them into an apartment at the back of the house, There Lady Jean was for a short time left to make some arrangements about her dress, while Richard disclosed to the landlady in another room the purpose upon which he was come to her house, and consulted her about procuring a clergyman. The dame of the house, to whom a clandestine marriage was the merest matter of course, showed the utmost willingness to facilitate the design of her guests, and said that she believed a clerical official might be procured in a few minutes, provided that neither had any scruples of conscience, as "most part o’ fouk frae the west had," in accepting the services of an episcopal clergyman. The lover assured her that so far from having any objection to a "government minister" (for so they were sometimes termed), he would prefer such to any other, as both he and his bride belonged to that persuasion. The landlady heard this declaration with complacency, which showed that she loved her guests the better for it, and told Richard, that if he pleased, she would immediately introduce him to the Dean of St Giles, who, honest man, was just now taking his "meridian" in the little back garret-parlour, along with his friend and gossip, Bowed Andrew, the waiter of the West Port. To this Richard joyfully assented, and speedily he and Lady Jean were joined in their room by the said Dean, — a squat little gentleman, with a drunken but important-looking face, and an air of consequentiality even in his stagger that was partly imposing and partly ridiculous. He addressed his clients with a patronising simper, of which the effect was grievously disconcerted by an unlucky hiccup, and in a speech which might have had the intended tone of paternal and reverend authority, had it not been smattered and degraded into shreds by the crapulous insufficiency of his tongue. Richard cut short his ill-sustained attempts at dignity by requesting him to partake of some liquor. His reverence almost leaped at the proffered jug, which contained ale. He first took a tasting, then a sip — shaking his head between — next a small draught, with a still more convulsion — like shake of the head; and, lastly, he took a hearty and persevering swill, from the effects of which his lungs did not recover for at least twenty respirations. The impatient lover then begged him to proceed with the ceremony; which he forthwith commenced in presence of the landlady and the abovementioned Bowed Andrew; and in a few minutes Richard and Lady Jean were united in the holy bonds of matrimony.

Chapter II

WHEN the ceremony was concluded, and both the clergyman and the witnesses had been satisfied and dismissed, the lovers left the house, with the design of walking forward into the city. In conformity to a previous arrangement, Lady Jean walked first, like a lady of quality, and Richard followed closely behind, with the dress and deportment of her servant. Her ladyship was dressed in her finest suit, and adorned with her finest jewels, all of which she had brought from Cumbernauld on purpose, in a mail or leathern trunk—for such was the name then given to the convenience now entitled a portmanteau. Her step was light, and her bearing gay, as she moved along; not on account of the success which had attended her expedition, or her satisfaction in being now united to the man of her choice, but because she anticipated the highest pleasure in the sight of a place whereof she had heard such wonderful stories, and from a participation in whose delights she had been so long withheld.

Like all persons educated in the country, she had been regaled in her childhood with magnificent descriptions of the capital—of its buildings, that seemed to mingle with the clouds—its shops, which apparently contained more wealth than all the world beside—of its paved streets (for paved streets were then wonders in Scotland)—and, above all, of the grand folks that thronged its Highgates, its Canongates, and its Cowgates—people whose lives seemed a perpetual holiday, whose attire was ever new, and who all lived in their several palaces.

Though, of course, Edinburgh had then little to boast of, the country people who occasionally visited it did not regard it with less admiration than that with which the peasantry of our own day may be supposed to view it, now that it is something so very different. It was then, as well as now, the capital of the country, and, as such, bore the same disproportion in point of magnificence to inferior towns, and to the country in general. In one respect it was superior to what it is in the present day, namely, in being the seat of government and of a court, Lady Jean had often heard all its glorious peculiarities described by her sisters, who, moreover, took occasion to colour the picture too highly, in order to raise her envy, and make themselves appear great in their alliance and association with so much greatness. She was, therefore, prepared to see a scene of the utmost splendour—a scene in which nothing horrible or paltry mingled, but which was altogether calculated to awe or to delight the senses.

Her ladyship was destined to be disappointed at the commencement, at least, of her acquaintance with the city. The first remarkable object which struck her eye, after leaving the inn, was the high "bow," or arch, of the gate called the West Port. In this itself there was nothing worthy of particular attention, and she rather directed her eyes through the opening beneath, which half disclosed a wide space beyond, apparently crowded with people. But when she came close up to the gate, and cast, before passing, a last glance at the arch, she shuddered at the sight then presented to her eyes. On the very pinnacle of the arch was stuck the ghastly and weather-worn remains of a human head, the features of which, half flesh, half bone, were shaded and rendered still more indistinctly horrible by the long dark hair, which hung in meagre tresses around them.

"Oh, Richard, Richard!" she exclaimed, stopping and turning round, "what is that dreadful-looking thing?’

"That, madam," said Richard, without any emotion, "is the broken remnant of a west country preacher, spiked up there to warn his countrymen who may approach this port, against doing anything to incur the fate which has overtaken himself. Methinks he has preached to small purpose, for yonder stands the gallows, ready, I suppose, to bring him some brother in affliction.”

"Horrible!” exclaimed Lady Jean; "and is this really the time town of Edinburgh, where I was taught to expect so many grand sights? I thought it was just one universal palace, and it turns out to be a great charnel-house!"

"It is indeed more like that than anything else at times," said Richard; "but, my dear Lady Jean, you are not going to start at this bugbear, which the l very children, you see, do not heed in passing."

"Indeed, I think, Richard,” answered her ladyship, "if Edinburgh is to be at all like this, it would be just as good to turn back at once, and postpone our visit to better times."

"But it is not all like this,” replied Richard; "I assure you it is not. For Heaven’s sake, my lady, move on. The people are beginning to stare at us. You shall soon see grand sights enough, if we were once fairly out of this place. Make for the opposite corner of the Grassmarket, and ascend the street to the left of that horrible gibbet. We may yet get past it before the criminals are produced.”

Thus admonished, Lady Jean passed, not without a shudder, under the dreadful arch, and entered the spacious oblong square called the Grassrnarket. This place was crowded at the west end with rustics engaged in all the bustle of a grain and cattle market, and at the eastern and most distant extremity, with a mob of idlers, who had gathered around the gibbet in order to witness the awful ceremony that was about to take place. The crowd, which was scarcely so dense as that which attends the rarer scene of a modern execution, made way on both sides for Lady Jean as she moved along; and wherever she went, she left behind her a "wake," as it were, of admiration and confusion. So exquisite and so new a beauty, so splendid a suit of female attire, and so stout and handsome an attendant—these were all calculated to inspire reverence in the minds of the beholders. Her carriage at the same time was so stately and so graceful, that no one could be so rude as to interrupt or disturb it. The people, therefore, parted when she approached, and left a free passage for her on all sides, as if she had been an angel or a spirit come to walk amidst a mortal crowd, and whose person could not be touched, and might scarcely be beheld—whose motions were not to be interfered with by those among whom she chose to walk—but who was to be received with prostration of spirit, and permitted to depart as she had come, unquestioned and unapproached. In traversing the Grassmarket, two or three young coxcombs, with voluminous wigs, short cloaks, rapiers, and rose-knots at their knees and shoes, who, on observing her at a distance, had prepared to treat her with a condescending stare, fell back, awed and confounded, at her near approach, and spent the gaze, perhaps, upon the humbler mark of her follower, or upon vacancy.

Having at length passed the gibbet, Lady Jean began to ascend the steep and tortuous street denominated the West Bow. She had hitherto been unable to direct any attention to what she was most anxious to behold,—the scenic wonders of the capital. But having now got clear of the crowd, and no longer fearing to see the gallows, she ventured to lift up her eyes and look around. The tallness and massiveness of the buildings, some of which bore the cross of the Knights Templar on their pinnacles, while others seemed to be surmounted or overtopped by still taller edifices beyond, impressed her imagination; and the effect was rendered still more striking by the countless human figures which crowded the windows, and even the roofs of the houses, all alike bending their attention, as she thought, towards herself. The scene before her looked like an amphitheatre filled with spectators, while she and Richard seemed as the objects upon the arena. The thought caused her to hurry on, and she soon found herself in a great measure screened from observation by the overhanging projections of the narrower part of the West Bow, which she now entered.

With slow and difficult, but stately and graceful steps, she then proceeded, till she reached the upper angle of the street, where a novel and unexpected scene awaited her. A sound like that of rushing waters seemed first to proceed from the part of the street still concealed from her view, and presently appeared round the angle, the first rank of an impetuous crowd, which, rushing downward with prodigious force, would certainly have overwhelmed her delicate form, had she not dexterously avoided them, by stepping aside upon a projecting stair, to which Richard also sprung just in time to save himself from a similar fate. From this place of safety, which was not without its own crowd of children, women, and sage—looking elderly mechanics, with Kilmarnock cowls, they in the next moment saw the massive mob rush past, like the first wave of a flood, bearing either along or down everything that came in their way. Immediately after, but at a more deliberate pace, followed a procession of figures, which struck the heart of Lady jean with as heavy a sense of sorrow as the crowd had just impressed with terror and surprise. First came a small company of the veterans of the city-guard, some of whom had perhaps figured in the campaigns of Middleton and Montrose, and whose bronzed, inflexible faces bore on this melancholy occasion precisely the same expression which they ordinarily exhibited on the joyful one of attending the magistrates at the drinking of the King’s health on the 29th of May.

Behind these, and encircled by some other soldiers of the same band, appeared two figures of a different sort. One of them was a young-looking, but pale and woe-worn man, the impressive wretchedness of whose appearance was strikingly increased by the ghastly dress which he wore. He was attired from head to foot in a white shroud, such as was sometimes worn in Scotland by criminals at the gallows, but which was, in the present instance, partly assumed as a badge of innocence. The excessive whiteness and emaciation of his countenance suited well with this dismal apparel, and, with the wild enthusiasm that kindled in his eyes, gave an almost supernatural effect to the whole scene, which rather resembled a pageant of the dead than a procession of earthly men. He was the only criminal: the person who walked by his side, and occasionally supported his steps, being, as the crowd whispered around, with many a varied expression of sympathy—his father. The old man had the air of a devout Presbyterian, with harsh, intelligent features, and a dress which bespoke his being a countryman of the lower rank. According to the report of the bystanders, he had educated this, his only son, for the unfortunate Church of Scotland, and now attended him to the fate which his talents and violent temperament had conspired to draw down upon his head. If ever he felt any pride in the popular admiration with which his son was honoured, no traces of such a sentiment now appeared. On the contrary, he seemed humbled to the very earth with sorrow; and though he had perhaps contemplated the issue, now about to take place, with no small portion of satisfaction, so long as it was at a distance and uncertain, the feelings of a father had evidently proved too much for his fortitude, when the event approached in all its dreadful reality. The emotions perceptible in that rough and rigid countenance were the more striking, as being so much at variance with its natural and characteristic expression; and the tear which gathered in his eye excited the greater commiseration, in so far as it seemed a stranger there. But the hero and heroine of our tale had little time to make observations on this piteous scene, for the procession passed quickly on, and was soon beyond their sight. When it was gone, the people of the Bow, who seemed accustomed to such sights, uttered various expressions of pity, indignation, and horror, according to their respective feelings, and then slowly retired to their dens in the stairs and booths which lined the whole of this ancient and singular street.

Lady Jean, whose beautiful eyes were suffused with tears at beholding so melancholy a spectacle, was then admonished by her attendant to proceed. With a heart deadened to all sensations of wonder and delight, she moved forward, and was soon ushered into the place called the Lawnmarket, then perhaps the most fashionable district in Edinburgh, but the grandeur and spaciousness of which she beheld almost without admiration. The scene here was, however, much gayer, and approached more nearly to her splendid preconceptions of the capital than any she had yet seen. The shops were, in her estimation, very fine, and some of the people on the street were of that noble description of which she had believed all inhabitants of cities to be. There was no crowd on the street, which, therefore, afforded room for the better, display of her stately and beautiful person; and as she walked steadily onwards, still "ushed” (for such was then the phrase) by her handsome and noble-looking attendant, a greater degree of admiration was excited amongst the gay idlers whom she passed, than even that which marked her progress through the humbler crowd of the Grassmarket. Various noblemen, in passing towards their homes in the Castle Hill, lifted their feathered hats and bowed profoundly to the lovely vision; and one or two magnificent dames, sweeping along with their long silk trains borne up by liverymen, stared at or eyed askance the charms which threw their own so completely into shade. By the time Lady Jean arrived at the bottom of the Lawnmarket, that is to say, where it was partially closed up by the Tolbooth, she had in a great measure recovered her spirits, and found herself prepared to enjoy the sight of the public buildings, which were so thickly clustered together at this central part of the city.

She was directed by Richard to pass along the narrow road which then led between the houses and the Tolbooth on the south, and which, being continued by a still narrower passage skirting the west end of St Giles’ Church, formed the western approach to the Parliament Close. Obeying his guidance in this tortuous passage, she soon found herself at the opening, or the square space—so styled on account of its being closed on more than one side by the meeting-place of the legislative assembly of Scotland. Here a splendid scene awaited her. The whole square was filled with the members of the Scottish Parliament, Barons and Commons, who had just left the House in which they sat together, —with ladies, who on days of unusual ceremony were allowed to attend the House, and with horses richly caparisoned, and covered with gold-embroidered foot-cloths, some of which were mounted by their owners, while others were held in readiness by foot-men. All was bustle and magnificence. Noblemen and gentlemen in splendid attire threaded the crowd in search of their horses; ladies tripped after them with timid and careful steps, endeavouring, by all in their power, to avoid contact with such objects as were calculated to injure their fineries; grooms strode heavily about, and more nimble lackeys jumped everywhere, here and there, some of them as drunk as the Parliament Close claret could make them, but all intent on doing the duties of attendance and respect to their masters. Some smart and well-dressed young gentlemen were arranging their cloaks and swords, and preparing to leave the square on foot, by the passage which had given entry to Master Richard and Lady Jean.

At sight of our heroine, most of these gallants stood still in admiration, and one of them, with the trained assurance of a rake, observing her to be beautiful, a stranger, and not too well protected, accosted her in a strain of language which caused her at once to blush and tremble. Richard’s brow reddened with anger as he hesitated not a moment in stepping up and telling the offender to leave the lady alone, on pain of certain consequences which might not prove agreeable.

"And who are you, my brave fellow?" said the youth, with bold assurance.

"Sirrah!" exclaimed Richard, so indignant as to forget himself, "I am that lady’s husband—her servant, I mean," and here he stopped short in some confusion.

"Admirable!" exclaimed the other. "Ha! ha! ha! ha! Here, sirs, is a lady’s lacquey, who does not know whether he is his mistress’ servant or her husband. Let us give him up to the town-guard, to see whether the black hole will make him remember the real state of the case."

So saying, he attempted to push Richard aside, and take hold of the lady. But he had not time to touch her garments with so much as a finger, before her protector had a rapier flourishing in his eyes, and threatened him with instant death, unless he desisted from his profane purpose. At sight of the bright steel he stepped back one or two paces, drew his own sword, and was preparing to tight, when one of his more grave associates called out—"For shame, Rollo! —with a lady’s lacquey, too, and in the presence of the duke and duchess! I see their royal highnesses, already alarmed, are inquiring the cause of the disturbance."

It was even as this gentleman said, and presently came up to the scene of contention some of the most distinguished personages in the crowd, one of whom demanded from the parties an explanation of so disgraceful an occurrence.

"Why, here is a fellow, my lord,” answered Rollo, "who says he is the husband of a lady whom he attends as a liveryman, and a lady, too, the bonniest, I daresay, that has been seen in Scotland since the days of Queen Magdalen! "

"And what matters it to you,” said the inquirer, who seemed to be a judge of the Session, "in what relation this man stands to his lady? Let the parties both come forward, and tell their ain tale. May it please your royal highness” he continued, addressing a very grave dignitary, who sat on horseback behind him, as stiff and formal as a sign-post, "to hear the ‘declarator’ of thir twa strange incomers. But see—see—what is the matter wi’ Lord Wigton?" he added, pointing to an aged personage on horseback, who had just pushed forward, and seemed about to faint and fall from his horse. The person alluded to, at sight of his daughter in this unexpected place, was, in reality, confounded, and it was some time before he mastered voice enough to ejaculate—

"Oh, Jean, Jean ! what is this ye’ve been about? or what has brocht you to Edinburgh?"

"Lord have a care of us!" exclaimed at this juncture another venerable peer, who had just come up, "what has brocht my sonsie son, Richie Livingstone, to Edinburgh, when he should have been fechtin’ the Dutch by this time in Transylvania?”

The two lovers, thus recognised by their respective parents, stood with downcast looks, and perfectly silent, while all was buzz and confusion in the brilliant circle around them; for the parties concerned were not more surprised at the aspect of their affairs, than were all the rest at the beauty of the far-famed but hitherto unseen Lady Jean Fleming. The Earl of Linlithgow, Richard’s father, was the first to speak aloud, after the general astonishment had for some time subsided; and this he did in a laconic though important query, which he couched in the simple words,—

"Are ye married, bairns?"

"Yes, dearest father," said his son, gathering courage, and coming close up to his saddle-bow; and I beseech you to extricate Lady Jean and me from this crowd, and I shall tell you all when we are alone."

"A pretty man ye are, truly," said the old man, who never took anything very seriously to heart, "to be staying at hame, and getting yoursel married, all this time you should have been abroad, winning honour and wealth, as your gallant granduncle did wi’ Gustavus i’ the thretties! Hooever, since better mayna be, I maun try and console my Lord Wigton, who, I doot, has the worst o' the bargain, ye ne’er-do-weel!”

He then went up to Lady Jean’s father, shook him by the hand, and said, that "though they had been made relations against their wills, he hoped they would continue good friends. The young people," he observed, "are no that ill-matched; and it is not the first time that the Flemings and the Livingstones have melled together, as witness the blithe marriage of the Queen’s Marie to Lord Fleming in the fifteen-saxty-five. At ony rate, my lord, let us put a good face on the matter, afore thae glowerin’ gentles, and whipper-snapper duchesses. I’ll get horses for the two, and they`ll join the riding’ down the street; and de’il hae me, if Lady Jean doesna outshine the hale o’ them!"

“My Lord Linlithgow," responded the graver and more implacable Earl of Wigton, "it may set you to take this matter blithely, but let me tell you, it’s a muckle mair serious affair for me. What think ye am I to do wi’ Frances and Grizzy noo?"

"Hoot toot, my lord," said Linlithgow with a sly smile, "their chance is as gude as ever it was, I assure you, and sae will everybody think that kens them. I maun ca’ horses though, or the young folk will be ridden ower afore ever they do more gude, by thae rampaugin’ young men.” So saying, and taking Lord Wigton’s moody silence for assent, he proceeded to cry to his servants for the best pair of horses they could get, and these being speedily procured, Lord Richard and his bride were requested to mount; after which they were formally introduced to the gracious notice of the Duke and Duchess of York, and the Princess Anne, who happened to attend Parliament on this the last day of its session, when it was customary for all the members to ride both to and from the House in an orderly cavalcade.

The order was given to proceed, and the lovers were soon relieved in a great measure from the embarrassing notice of the crowd, by assuming a particular place in the procession, and finding themselves confounded with more than three hundred equally splendid figures. As the pageant, however, moved down the High Street in a continuous and open line, it was impossible not to distinguish the singular loveliness of Lady Jean, and the gallant carriage of her husband, from all the rest. Accordingly, the trained bands and city guard, who lined the street, and who were in general quite as insensible to the splendours of "the Riding” as are the musicians in a modern orchestra to the wonders of a l melodrama in its fortieth night,—even they perceived and admired the graces of the young couple, whom they could not help gazing after with a stupid and lingering delight. From the windows, too, and the “stair-heads,” their beauty was well observed, and amply conjectured and commented on; while many a young cavalier endeavoured, by all sorts of pretences, to find occasion to break the order of the cavalcade, and get himself haply placed nearer to the exquisite figure, of which he had got just one killing glance in the square. Slowly and majestically the brilliant train paced down the great street of Edinburgh—the acclamations of the multitude ceaselessly expressing the delight which the people of Scotland felt in this sensible type and emblem of their ancient independence.

At length they reached the courtyard of Holyrood-house, where the duke and duchess invited the whole assemblage to a ball, which they designed to give that evening in the hall of the palace; after which all departed to their respective residences throughout the town, Lords Wigton and Linlithgow taking their young friends under their immediate protection, and seeking the residence of the former nobleman, a little way up the Canongate. In riding thither, the lovers had leisure to explain to their parents the singular circumstances of their union, and address enough to obtain unqualified forgiveness for their impudence.

On alighting at Lord Wigton’s house, Lady Jean found her sisters confined to their rooms with headache, or some such serious indisposition, and in the utmost dejection on account of having been thereby withheld from the Riding of the Parliament. Their spirits, as may be supposed, were not much elevated, when, on coming forth in dishabille to welcome their sister, they learned that she had had the good fortune to be married before them. Their ill-luck was, however, irremediable, and so, making a merit of submitting to it, they condescended to be rather agreeable during the dinner and the afternoon. It was not long before all parties were perfectly reconciled to what had taken place; and by the time it was necessary to dress for the ball, the elder young ladies declared themselves so much recovered as to be able to accompany their happy sister.

The Earl of Linlithgow and his son then sent a servant for proper dresses, and prepared themselves for the occasion without leaving the house. When all were ready, a number of chairs were called to transport their dainty persons down the street. The news of Lady Jean’s arrival, and of her marriage, having now spread abroad, the court in front of the house, the alley, and even the open street, were crowded with people of all ranks, anxious to catch a passing glimpse of the heroine of so strange a tale. As her chair was carried along, a buzz of admiration from all who were so happy as to be near it, marked its progress. Happy, too, was the gentleman who had the good luck to be near her chair as it was set down at the palace-gate, and assist her in stepping from it upon the lighted pavement. From the outer gate, along the piazza of the inner court, and all the way up the broad staircase to the illuminated hall, two rows of noblemen and gentlemen formed a brilliant avenue, as she passed along, while a hundred plumed caps were doffed in honour of so much beauty, and as many youthful eyes glanced bright with satisfaction at beholding it. The object of all this attention tripped modestly along in the hand of the Earl of Linlithgow, acknowledging, with many a graceful flexure and undulation of person, the compliments of the spectators.

At length the company entered the spacious and splendid room in which the ball was to be held. At the extremity, opposite to the entry, upon an elevated platform, sat the three royal personages, all of whom, on Lady Jean’s introduction, rose and came forward to welcome her and her husband to the entertainments of Holyrood, and to hope that her ladyship would often adorn their circle. In a short time the dancing commenced; and, amidst all the ladies who exhibited their charms and their magnificent attire in that captivating exercise, who was, either in person or dress, half so brilliant as Lady Jean? —Chambers’ Edin. Journal.


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