See how he clears the points o faith.- Burns Hamlet: Hold you the watch to-night? Horatio: We do, my lord. - Shakespeare
Day was dawning as our
travellers reached the camp of the Covenanters. They rested for some
time to partake of victuals, which their journey rendered necessary.
Isaac Rolland then judged it proper to present his son to Montrose, and
accordingly conducted him to Dunottar, where the general then was. They were admitted to his presence.
"I expected you sooner,
Rolland," said Montrose. "What intelligence have you gathered?
"The enemy are preparing to take
the field with a numerous and well-appointed force, and I have gathered,
from a sure source, that it is their intention to attack our forces as
soon as some needful supplies are received from the north.
"How do the citizens stand
"Almost to a man they have joined Aboyne. They have
fortified the city and the bridge, and are determined to hold out to the
"The ungrateful truce-breaking slaves!" said
Montrose. . "But vengeance is at hand. Who is this young man whom thou.
hast brought with thee?
"My son," said Isaac, "whom grace hath inclined to
take part with us.
"A youth of gallant bearing ! Young man, thy
fathers faithfulness is a warrant for thine. Let thy fidelity equal thy
reputed spirit, and thou shalt not lack the encouragement due to thy
deserts. You may both retire to rest, and I will apprise you of the
duties required of you.
They saluted the general, and retired.
A foraging party returned with a
report that Aboyne was already on his march. This was found to be
incorrect by some scouts who had been dispatched that evening to gather
what information they could about the enemys motions. They brought the
intelligence, however, that Aboynes equipments were completed, and that
it was the popular belief that he would march immediately to meet the
Covenanters. Preparations were accordingly made for immediate marching.
Numerous foraging parties scoured the adjacent country for provisions,
and horses for transporting the baggage and ammunition. According to the
custom of the Congregation, when about to engage in warfare, the next
day was appointed for a general fast throughout the host.
There perhaps never was
assembled any body for the purposes of religious worship that exhibited
such an appearance of romantic sublimity as the Covenanters did on such
occasions. At the present time they were assembled under the blue canopy
of heaven, in a hollow valley betwixt two mountains, the summits of
which were planted with sentinels, to give notice to the main body of
any interruption. Upon the declivity of one of the mountains was erected
a wooden pulpit, before which was assembled the army, to the number of
about 2000 men. A dead stillness prevailed among them, while the
preacher, a man richly endowed with that nervous and fiery eloquence
which was the most effectual with men in their situation, explained to
them a passage from the fifteenth chapter of Second Samuel :"Thus saith
the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he
laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and
smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not
; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel
and ass." This passage he applied to the condition of the Covenanters.
He described the sufferings and grievances of the persecuted kirk, and
showed that the Almighty did not disregard these, but, in His own time,
would avenge the blood of His saints. He told them that God was now
calling on all who were on His side to fight for the good of the land,
and that His soul could have no pleasure in those who drew back from the
approaching contest. "And now," said he, while the fire flashed from his
eyes, as with prophetic ardour, which was answered by a corresponding
enthusiasm in his hearers; "and now the men of Babylon have set up an
image of gold, even a
molten image, and they say, Fall down and worship the image that we
have set up ; and they have fenced themselves with trenched cities, and
they have encompassed themselves with spears, and a multitude of
horsemen and slingers, and archers, and they say unto this help from
Egypt, This shall be for a deliverance unto us. But fear not ye the
multitude of their strong ones, neither be dismayed at the neighing of
their horses; for the Lord of hosts is on our side, and His right hand
shall work valiantly for us. He breaketh the iron weapon, and burneth
the chariot in the hre. He laugheth at the bow of steel and the rattling
of the quiver. Walled cities are no defence against His hand, nor the
place of strength, when His thunder muttereth in the sky. Wherefore,
gird up your loins to tight the battles of the Lord. Smite the
Amalekites from Dan even unto Beersheba. Destroy the lines of their
tents, and their choice young men, that the reproach may be removed from
the camp of Israel. Turn not aside from the sacrifice like the
faint-hearted Saul, but smite them till they be utterly consumed, and
their name become a hissing, and an abomination, and a by-word upon the
earth. 'Think on your children, and your childrens children, from age
to age, who shall hold your name in everlasting remembrance, and look to
the reward of Him who sitteth between the cherubim, who hath said, that
whosoever layeth down his life for My sake shall find it.
" The days are now come when the
father shall deliver up the son to death, and the son the father; when
the brother shall be divided against the sister, and the sister against
the mother. But the days of Zions peace shall also come, when all the
princes of the earth shall bow down before her, and call her the fairest
among women. (Canticles, sixth and first.) The house of the Lord shall
be established on the tops of the mountains. The New ]erusalem shall
appear as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelations, twenty-first
and second.) The tabernacle of God shall be with men, and He will dwell
with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with
them, and be their God; and God shall wipe away all tears from their
eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor sighing,
neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things shall have
passed away. Go forth, then, to the battle. Quit yourselves like men. Be
strong. Look to those ancient worthles who, through faith, subdued
kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, waxed valiant in fight, turned to
flight the armies of the alien. Fear not their multitude nor their fury,
for he that is with you is greater than your enemies. Think on the
persecuted state of Zion, and may the God of battles be for a buckler
and a defence unto you!"
A hum of approbation ran along the lines of the
Covenanters at the conclusion of this discourse, while the preacher
called upon them to join with him in praising the Almighty. The part
chosen was that eloquent passage of the eightieth psalm, where the
Israelites are spoken of under the similitude of a vine.
As the last note of this hymn
ascended in solemn strains to the lofty heaven, several of the scouts
made their appearance, with jaded horses, bringing the news that Aboyne
was already on his march, and approaching rapidly to Stonehaven. Orders
were immediately given to the army of the Covenanters to set out on
their journey. These were promptly obeyed, and, in a few hours, the
armies met at Megray Hill. This was announced to the Covenanters by
their advanced guard being driven back by the royalists. It was not,
however, Aboynes intention to hazard a general engagement, as his
soldiers were wearied by the march. But Montrose, dispatching a strong
band of infantry, supported by a detachment of cavalry, broke upon them
suddenly both in flank and rear, involved them in the greatest
confusion, and forced them to seek Aberdeen by a rapid flight, after
leaving a considerable number dead on the field. Montrose pursued them,
with the greatest possible dispatch, to Aberdeen, where they made a
stand. The Bridge of Dee was fortified in a very strong manner, and
protected by four field-pieces and a strong guard of the citizens.
Montrose made several attempts at forcing it, but was vigorously
repulsed by the defenders, who poured in a shower of missiles with
effect on the assailants, while they themselves were so sheltered by
their breastworks that they received little injury. Montrose was
obliged, therefore, to draw off his forces, and, as it was evening, gave
up the thought of any farther attack. Having found a convenient place,
he pitched his camp about a mile from the bridge, and stationed his
sentinels on the little eminences in its neighbourhood, while those of
Aboyne were planted on both sides of the river for a considerable
distance above and below the bridge. Both armies, fatigued with the
exertions of the day, availed themselves of the repose offered by their
situation, and in a short time the busy hum of both, camps was changed
Our hero had accompanied the army during the march,
with that wonder and admiration which youthful minds feel in such
spirit-stirring scenes. The strictness of the military duty. the
contempt of danger, the degree of subordination and regularity that
prevailed (for the abilities of Montrose prevented that ruinous
confusion which the camp of the Covenanters too often exhibited), and
the promptness and patience with which the necessary commands were
executed made an impression on the mind of Basil strongly in favour of
his military life. The general, at the commencement of the march,
ordered him to be near his person. and by means, as the Covenanters
would have said, of a "soul-searching conversation, contrived to get a
clear view of his character and worth. The opinion that he made up was
in favour of Basil, and he scrupled not to give him more direct
assurances of his favour than he had hitherto done. The honours that had
been paid him by this distinguished statesman and general gave rise to a
new train of ideas in his mind; and, as the army was preparing for the
nights repose, he was charging the enemy at the head of his own troops,
succouring the distressed damsel, and hurling unheard-of destruction on
his foes. But the mightiest conquerors have often found themselves
conquered when they least expected it; and, as the valiant Don Quixote
felt his very soul withering when thinking on the absence of his
Dulcinea, so our hero regarded the short time that he had been separated
from his Mary to be an age. An ugly river and a hostile army lay between
him and his love. If Leander swam across the Hellespont, surely he might
cross the Dee, and trust the rest to his prudence and good fortune.
His father was engaged with the
general; so out he wandered, and, by his correct local knowledge,
succeeded in passing the various sentinels, and getting to the banks of
the river, a little below the rocks called the Craig-lug, where he had
the fortune to find a small fishing-boat (for, so far back as the year
1290, Aberdeen is celebrated in history for its salmon-fishings). He
easily rowed himself across the river, and, fastening the boat on the
northern bank, stole along the waters edge, and entered that part of
the town which, as fronting the harbour, was not walled. He directed his
course to the Broadgate, and, as there were still several stragglers in
the street, ensconced himself behind a projecting shop till all should
When he left the camp, the night was calm and
serene. The breeze that floated by was unable to curl the surface of the
river, and the moonbeams were dancing in silvery circles on the placid
waters as they gurgled by. But this was not of long continuance. The
atmosphere became quickly loaded with clouds, the moon was obscured, the
rain fell in torrents, and the sullen howling of the east wind, with the
hollow muttering of the thunder, indicated one of those storms which not
unfrequently disturb the beauty of summer. Basil wrapped his cloak the
closer around hin1, and hastened to the provosts house. All in it was
dark and still. He knocked; but no one returned an answer. Astonished at
this, he endeavoured to open the door, but it resisted his efforts.
Being acquainted with all the intricacies of the provosts domicile, he
gained admission by a window, but found the house deserted of its
inhabitants and stripped of its furniture. Mary Leslies apartment was
then the object of his search. It was also desolate. Her lute, her
books, and her landscapes were all removed. In groping through the room,
his hand fell on a small picture, which the next flash of lightning
discovered to be her miniature. He pressed it to his lips and hid it in
his bosom, regarding it, as the holy man did the prophetic mantle, as
the last unexpected memorial of a lost friend. It would be vain to
attempt to describe his amazement at these appearances. He trembled for
his friends, when he knew the deeds of violence that were daily
practised in these perilous times. He determined to arouse the
neighbourhood--to search for, pursue, and destroy in one breath, all who
had been any way concerned in this outrage. Reason, however, came to his
aid, and he saw the utter uselessness of his attempting such a thing,
except by the assistance that he could obtain from the Covenanters. He
therefore turned sorrowfully to retrace his steps, which, from the
darkness of the night and the violence of the storm, was not an easy
matter. Having rowed himself across the river by the little boat, he was
making a circuit to reach the camp, when he saw a light at a small
distance from the landing-place. It proceeded from a hut that was built
at the foot of the rock for the accommodation of the fishermen. Curious
to know who were in it at this untimely hour, he pressed forward, and
listened to the following dialogue :
"Ay! an will ye tell me that
the possession of Joash, the Abiezrite, wasna in Ophrah? But its just
like a` your fouk ; ye ken naething about the Scriptures, but daze
yourselves wi that ill-mumbled mass, the prayer-beuk. But your yills
very gude, and far better than what we have."
"I doubtna, my lad, said
another voice; "your fouk are sae stocked, I daresay Montrose is gaun to
mak you a Nazarenes, for he gies you neither wine nor strong drink.
"Dinna speak lightly o' the
Scriptures, Sawnie Hackit; yere just a blaspheming Shemei, or a
"Hout," said Hackit, "gies nane o` your foul-moud
miscaings. I wunner what the deil garred you turn a Covenanter, Tammas Granehard, for ye usedna to be
that fond o covenants, unless it was ane for a fou pint stoup at Jamie
aye i the right way, Sandie, muckle to my shame; but better late mend
than never do weel; an I`m thinking it would be better for you if ye
would come wi us, for your fouk can never stand ours, and, instead o
getting share o the spuilzie, yell maybe get but a weel-clawed crown.
doubtna but yere very right, Tammas ; but what would come o my ten
achisons ilka day, forby the jibble o drink, an my place at Provost
"Im doubtin your place thereill no be worth
muckle, if we tak the town. The provost isna a man to be passed over,
wha can sae weel afford to pay fors idolatry.
"Did ye ever hear, said Hackit, "o him ever losing ony thing when the whigs had the town one day
and the royalists the next?
Weel, Sandie," said the other,
"I canna just charge my memory wi ony thing o the kind; and gif it
wasna, it was that God-fearing man, Samuel Fairtext, that saved him."
"Ay," said Hackit; "and, when
the royalists were here, it was the jolly old cavalier that saved
Fairtext. Troth, its the only wiselike partnership that I ken o at
present; for, if they had been baith whigs or baith royalists, they
would have been ruined out o house and ha' ere this time. But, ye see,
when the royalists were in the town, Fairtext kept himself quiet, and
they wadna meddle wi him on Provost Leslies account. And now a the
gudes are removed, an put under Fairtexts care; sae that the
Covenanters wudna tak the value of a shoe-tie frae him, for he can pray
and grane as weel as ony o them. The provost and his dochter have left
their ain house, and are to dwell wi Fairtext till the danger be ower."
By the latter part of this
conversation, Basil felt as if the imaginary weight of sorrow were
removed from his bosom ; but, instead of it, his arms were pinioned on a
sudden, by a strong physical force, so firmly, that he was unable to
move himself round to discover the occasion of this unceremonious
"Come here, ye dotterels! said a strong voice;
"ye sit there, gabbin an drinkin awa, nae caring wha may be hearing
you. An you, my birkie, will better be as quiets you can, or, deil tak
rne,an Im no used to swear, but Ill scour my durk atween the ribs
A couple of men now came out of the hut and
assisted in dragging Basil into it. As soon as they had forced him in,
the person who had first seized him quitted his hold, exclaiming, " Eh,
sirs! is that you? Hackit also let him go, and Basil was able to look
around him. There was neither chair nor table in the booth, but turf
seats around the walls, plentifully littered with straw. A candle, fixed
in the neck of an empty bottle, illuminated the place, and revealed a
goodly quantity of bottles, with two or three horn drinking-cups on the
floor, by which it appeared that the party had been engaged in a
Thomas Granehard still kept his hold, and, in a
stern voice, demanded what he was?
"What the deils your business
wi that ? said Hackit. " I ken him, an' thats eneuch.
"But I am strong in spirit,"
muttered the Covenanter.
"The toom bottles testify that, to a certainty,
Tammas, said the other.
"But, never mind; get anither stoup, Geordie, an
sit down, Master Basil.
"Blithely," said Geordie; "and troth, Master
Rolland, I didna ken it was you, or I wudna hae handled you sae roughly.
But sit down, for its a coarse night.
"I may not, said Basil. "I must
to the camp. But why do I find you here?
"Ou, said Hackit, "ye see
Geordie and me belangs to Aboyne, for the provost sent a his servants
to him. Were upon the watch the night, ye mann ken. But wha, i the
name of the seventy disciples, could stand there-out in a night like
this? Sae we made up to the Covenanters warders, and met in wi Tammas
there, an auld acquaintance ; and we thought it best to come here and
keep ourselves warm wi sic liquor as we could get, and let the camps
"Do you know that you all expose yourselves to
death for this frolic ?"
"There gang twa words to that bargain. Weve done
a that could be reasonably expected,we watched till the storm came."
"Well, you are not accountable
to me; I must depart."
"Weel, a gude evening to you. But stop !now that
I mindye maun gie me the pass-word."
The pass-word ! said Basil,
in a tone of surprise.
"Ay, the pass-word! Ye see, Sergeant Clinker says
to me, Now, Saunders, if ony ane comes to you that canna say
BALGOWNIE, yere to keep him and bring him to me. Sae, for as weels I
like you, Master Basil, ye canna pass without it.
"BALGOWNIE, then," said Basil
Hackit turned on his heel, saying it was "vera
satisfactory, when Granehard remembered that he had got a similar
injunction; wherefore, making shift to steady himself a little by
leaning on his arquebuss, he delivered himself thus :
"Beloved brethren,I mean young man,I, even I,
have also received a commandment from ancient Snuffgrace, saying, Thou
shalt abstain from wine and strong drink ; and whosoever cometh unto
thee that cannot give the pass, TIGLATHPELESER, thou shalt by no means
allow him to escape, otherwise thou shalt be hanged on a tree, as was
the bloody Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite. Wherefore now,
repeat unto me the wordthe light of the moon is darkenedanother cup,
Sandiewoe to the Man of Sina fearsome barkingdumb dogsMalachi" And
he sank down in a state of complete and helpless intoxication.
Basil earnestly advised Hackit
and his companions to return immediately to their posts, and retraced
his steps to the camp, as the reader may judge, not excessively
gratified with the issue of the nights adventure.
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