Grizel Cochrane: A Tale of
When the tyranny and
bigotry of the last James drove his subjects to take up arms against him,
one of the most formidable enemies to his dangerous usurpations was Sir
John Cochrane, ancestor of the present Earl of Dundonald. He was one of
the most prominent actors in Argyles rebellion, and for ages a
destructive doom seemed to have hung over the house of Campbell,
enveloping in a common ruin all who united their fortunes to the cause of
its chieftains. The same doom encompassed Sir John Cochrane. He was
surrounded by the Kings troopslong, deadly, and desperate was his
resistance; but, at length, overpowered by numbers, he was taken prisoner,
tried, and condemned to die upon the scaffold. He had but a few days to
live, and his jailer waited but the arrival of his death-warrant to lead
him forth to execution. His family and his friends had visited him in
prison, and exchanged with him the last, the long, the heart-yearning
farewell. But there was one who came not with the rest to receive his
blessingone who was the pride of his eyes, and of his houseeven Grizel,
the daughter of his love. Twilight was casting a deeper gloom over the
gratings of his prison-house, he was mourning for a last look of his
favourite child, and his head was pressed against the cold damp walls of
his cell, to cool the feverish pulsations that shot through it like stings
of fire, when the door of his apartment turned slowly on its unwilling
hinges, and his keeper entered, followed by a young and beautiful lady.
Her person was tall and commanding, her eyes dark, bright, and tearless;
but their brightness spoke of sorrowof sorrow too deep to be wept away;
and her raven tresses were parted over an open brow, clear and pure as the
polished marble. The unhappy captive raised his head as they entered
"My child! myown
Grizel!" he exclaimed, and she fell upon his bosom.
"My father! my dear
father!" sobbed the miserable maiden, and she dashed away the tear that
accompanied the words.
"Your interview must be
shortvery short," said the jailer, as he turned and left them for a few
"God help and comfort thee,
my daughter!" added the unhappy father, as he held her to his breast, and
printed a kiss upon her brow. "I had feared that I should die without
bestowing my blessing on the head of my own child, and that stung me more
than death;but thou art come, my lovethou art come! and the last
blessing of thy wretched father"
"Nay! forbear! forbear!"
she exclaimed; "not thy last blessing!not thy last! My father shall not
"Be calm! be calm, my
child!" returned he; "would to Heaven that I could comfort thee!my own!
my own! But there is no hopewithin three days, and thou and all my little
ones will be"--
Fatherlesshe would have
said, but the words died on his tongue.
"Three days!" repeated she,
raising her head from his breast, but eagerly pressing his hand"three
days! then there is hope--my father shall live! Is not my
grandfather the friend of Father Petre, the confessor and the master of
the King:from him he shall beg the life of his son, and my father shall
"Nay! nay, my Grizel,"
returned he; "be not deceivedthere is no hopealready my doom is
sealedalready the King has signed the order for my execution, and the
messenger of death is now on the way."
"Yet my father SHALL
not!SHALL not die!" she repeated emphatically, and, clasping her hands
together"Heaven speed a daughters purpose!" she exclaimed; and turning
to her father, said calmly"We part now, but we shall meet again."
"What would my child?"
enquired he eagerly, gazing anxiously on her face.
"Ask not now," she replied,
"my fatherask not now; but pray for me and bless me--but not with thy
He again pressed her to his
heart, and wept upon her neck. In a few moments the jailer entered, and
they were torn from the arms of each other.
On the evening of the
second day after the interview we have mentioned, a wayfaring man crossed
the drawbridge at Berwick, from the north, and, proceeding down Mary-gate,
sat down to rest upon a bench by the door of an hostelry on the south side
of the street, nearly fronting where what was called the "Main-guard" then
stood. He did not enter the inn; for it was above his apparent condition,
being that which Oliver Cromwell had made his head-quartbers, a few years
before, and where, at a somewhat earlier period, James the Sixth had taken
up his residence when in his way to enter on the sovereignty of England.
The traveller wore a coarse jerkin fastened round his body by a leathern
girdle, and over it a short cloak, composed of equally plain materials. He
was evidently a young man; but his beaver was drawn down, so as almost to
conceal his features. In the one hand he carried a small bundle, and in
the other a pilgrims staff. Having called for a glass of wine, he took a
crust of bread from his bundle, and, after resting for a few minutes, rose
to depart. The shades of night were setting in, and it threatened to be a
night of storms. The heavens were gathering black, the clouds rushing from
the sea, sudden gusts of wind were moaning along the streets, accompanied
by heavy drops of rain, and the face of the Tweed was troubled.
"Heaven help thee, if thou
intendest to travel far in such a night as this!" said the sentinel at the
English gate, as the traveller passed him and proceeded to cross the
In a few minutes, he was
upon the borders of the wide, desolate, and dreary moor of Tweedmouth,
which, for miles, presented a desert of whins, fern, and stunted heath,
with here and there a dingle covered with thick brushwood. He slowly
toiled over the steep hill, braving the storm which now raged in wildest
fury. The rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled as a legion of
famished wolves, hurling its doleful and angry echoes over the heath.
Still the stranger pushed onward, until he had proceeded about two or
three miles from Berwick, when, as if unable longer to brave the storm, he
sought shelter amidst some crab and bramble bushes by the wayside. Nearly
an hour had passed since he sought this imperfect refuge, and the darkness
of the night and the storm had increased together, when the sound of a
horses feet was heard, hurriedly plashing along the road. The rider bent
his head to the blast. Suddenly his horse was grasped by the bridle, the
rider raised his head, and the traveller stood before him, holding a
pistol to his breast.
"Dismount!" cried the
The horseman, benumbed and
stricken with fear, made an effort to reach his arms; but, in a moment,
the hand of the robber, quitting the bridle, grasped the breast of the
rider; and dragged him to the ground. He fell heavily on his face, and for
several minutes remained senseless. The stranger seized the leathern bag
which contained the mail for the north, and flinging it on his shoulder,
rushed across the heath.
Early on the following
morning, the inhabitants of Berwick were seen hurrying, in groups, to the
spot where the robbery had been committed, and were scattered in every
direction around the moor; but no trace of the robbery could be obtained.
Three days had passed, and
Sir John Cochrane yet lived. The mail which contained his death-warrant
had been robbed; and, before another order for his execution could be
given, the intercession of his father, the Earl of Dundonald, with the
Kings confessor, might be successful. Grizel now became almost his
constant companion in prison, and spoke to him words of comfort. Nearly
fourteen days had passed since the robbery of the mail had been committed,
and protracted hope in the bosom of the prisoner became more bitter than
his first despair. But even that hope, bitter as it was, perished. The
intercession of his father had been unsuccessfuland a second time the
bigoted, and would-be despotic monarch, had signed the warrant for his
death, and within a little more than another day that warrant would reach
"The will of Heaven be
done!" groaned the captive.
"Amen!" returned Grizel,
with wild vehemence; "but my father shall not die!"
Again the rider with the
mail had reached the moor of Tweedmouth, and a second time he bore with
him the doom of Cochrane. He spurred his horse to its utmost speed, he
looked cautiously before, behind, and around him; and, in his right hand
he carried a pistol ready to defend himself. The moon shed a ghastly light
across the heath, rendering desolation visible, and giving a spiritual
embodiment to every shrub. He was turning the angle of a straggling copse,
when his horse reared at the report of a pistol, the fire of which seemed
to dash into its very eyes. At the same moment, his own pistol flashed,
and the horse rearing more violently, he was driven from the saddle. In a
moment the foot of the robber was upon his breast, who bending over him,
and brandishing a short dagger in his hand, said "Give me thine arms, or
The heart of the Kings
servant failed within him; and without venturing to reply, he did as he
"Now, go thy way," said the
robber sternly, "but leave with me thy horse, and leave with me the
maillest worse thing come upon thee."
The man therefore arose,
and proceeded towards Berwick trembling; and the robber, mounting the
horse which he had left, rode rapidly across the heath.
Preparations were making
for the execution of Sir John Cochrane, and the officers of the law waited
only for the arrival of the mail with his second death-warrant, to lead
him forth to the scaffold, when the tidings arrived that the mail had
again been robbed. For yet fourteen days, and the life of the prisoner
would be again prolonged. He again fell on the neck of his daughter, and
wept, and said "It is goodthe hand of Heaven is in this!"
"Said I not," replied the
maidenand for the first time she wept aloud"that my father should not
The fourteen days were not
yet past, when the prison doors flew open, and the old Earl of Dundonald
rushed to the arms of his son. His intercession with the confessor had
been at length successful, and, after twice signing the warrant for the
execution of Sir John, which had as often failed in reaching its
destination, the King had sealed his pardon. He had hurried with his
father from the prison to his own househis family were clinging around
him shedding tears of joyand they were marvelling with gratitude at the
mysterious providence that had twice intercepted the mail, and saved his
life, when a stranger craved an audience. Sir John desired him to be
admittedand the robber entered. He was habited, as we have before
described, with the coarse cloak and coarser jerkin; but his bearing was
above his condition. On entering, he slightly touched his beaver, but
"When you have perused
these," said he, taking two papers from his bosom, "cast them in the
Sir John glanced on them,
started, and became palethey were his death-warrants.
"My deliverer," exclaimed
he, "how shall I thank theehow repay the saviour of my life! My fathermy
childrenthank him for me!"
The old Earl grasped the
hand of the stranger; the children embraced his knees; and he burst into
"By what name," eagerly
inquired Sir John, "shall I thank my deliverer?"
The stranger wept aloud;
and, raising his beaver, the raven tresses of Grizel Cochrane fell upon
the coarse cloak.
exclaimed the astonished and enraptured father, "my own child! my
saviourmy own Grizel!"
It is unnecessary to add morethe
imagination of the reader can supply the rest.
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