Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Tales of the Scottish Peasantry
The Deformed


Deformity is daring.
It is its essence to o'ertake mankind
By heart and soul, and make itself the equal-
Ay, the superior of the rest. There is
A spur in its halt movements, to hecome
All that the others cannot, in such things
As still are free to both, to compensate
For stepdame Nature's avarice at first.

Byron.

It has been observed, that deformed people are often envious and vindictive, and that few of them are remarkable for those social qualities which are the constituents of domestic happiness. The mind may sometimes be influenced by the formation of the body, but the extraordinary development of evil passions, and the comparative want of kindly feeling, in the victims of deformity, may more frequently be traced to other causes. The scoffs and ridicule to which they are too often subjected in youth are in themselves sufficient to dry up the sources of affection, or convert them into bitter springs from which no waters of sympathy can afterwards flow.

If the boy should be so fortunate as to experience the effects of kindness, without being pampered into arrogance or spoiled by improper indulgence, he will naturally acquire the qualities and imitate the example of his guardians and protectors, and as he grows up he may become the ornament of his kind. The fountains of his heart, by being imbued with kindly feeling at their very opening, may pour forth the stream of universal benevolence; and by comforting the distressed, ministering to the wants of the poor, and conferring happiness on all with whom he is concerned, he may prove, to those who would darken futurity with sceptical doubts, that so -much excellence cannot end with "darkness and the worm." But if, on the contrary, the boy, from deformity or any other cause, should be made the subject of ridicule and scorn among his play-fellows, and treated with contempt or left to wither in neglect by older people—should he be condemned to suffer insults and injuries without pity or protection, his heart will naturally yearn to be revenged, and as he grows up he will grasp at every opportunity for gratifying this passion. Marked out as a fit subject for ridicule when young, he insensibly imbibes the desire to inflict on others what he has himself suffered^ The lesson of malevolence is easily learned, and he soon becomes an adept in that which it should be the care of all to avoid—the art of making others unhappy.

What the effect of such treatment may be, even upon a powerful and, naturally, a benevolent mind, the following story is intended to illustrate.

Hugh M'Arthur was one of those children who, though born without any apparent defect, became afterwards deformed, no one can tell how. At three years of age, when he should have been all life and motion, his legs were so feeble that he was seldom out of his mother's arms; and when set down, he could only tumble about on the floor, assuming attitudes so grotesque, that he appeared more than half an idiot. For the next five or six years, little alteration in his habits or constitution ensued : his growth was stunted, and the weakness in his legs still continued. But as it was impossible for his parents, who were very poor, to provide him with a nurse, he was left to his own instincts, which led him to crawl forth and mingle with the other children as he best could. Here a new source of vexation awaited him. His mis-shapen body and awkward motions made him a common object of sport. They mimicked his uncouth figure, and waddled along on their hands and knees, in mockery of his painful mode of progression; and when, in this way, they had chafed him into a rage, he vented his wrath in unavailing efforts to take vengeance, which but increased the merriment of his tormentors', whose superior agility gave them the most perfect security. They would continue thus to tease him with perverse ingenuity, till the overwrought passions of the wretched boy, after having exhausted themselves in fruitless efforts to punish the aggressors, sunk into moody silence; and then, as a last refuge from insults which he had neither patience to bear nor power to repel, he would crawl home, there to sit in a corner, and sob bitterly for hours together.

To add to his other causes of discomfort and discontent, his little tormentors now began to bestow on him a number of opprobrious names, such as "Hirplin' Hugh," "Hugh the hobbler," "Humphy Hugh," etc.; and the elder boys, improving upon the hints which these afforded, soon formed them into alliterative rhymes, which were for ever rung in his ears. Of these the following may serve as a specimen :—

"Hobblin'Hugh!
A hairy worm crawls like you."

"Hirplin' Hugh 'ill never grow Strang,
But creep like a puddock, his hale life lang."

"Humphy M'Arter—hirplin' Hugh,
Gets gutters to hobble in the hale year through."

To these, and many more of the same kind, which were calculated to keep him in remembrance of his weakness and deformity, he was compelled daily to listen. It is true, his parents might have done something to prevent the annoyance to which the unfortunate child was in this manner exposed; but they were exactly of that class of persons who never trouble themselves about any thing, so long as they are not personally affected. They had other children, moreover, who, with the thoughtlessness of youth, sometimes joined in tormenting their brother abroad; and then, to save themselves from that chastisement with which otherwise they might have been visited, combined in misrepresenting him at home. Hugh was, besides, no favourite with his mother. His own account was seldom believed; and a kick, or a cuff, accompanied with—"Haud yer tongue, ye dour little scoundrel!" or, "Gae to the door, ye ill-lookin' vagabond!" was the only redress he got when he ventured to complain. Thus he passed his years of infancy and boyhood,—a creature, as it appeared, destined to receive none of the benefits of parental tenderness, and an utter stranger to "the milk of human kindness."

About this time, however, he experienced some alleviation of his sufferings, by being put to school. The school was kept by a female—-the wife of an artisan—who, having had a better education than usually falls to her class, conceived she might turn it to some account, by teaching a few children to read. This individual felt for the unfortunate boy; and, by interposing her authority, succeeded for a time in rescuing him from that contempt, with which his heart had hitherto been crushed. Under her care he took to reading with extraordinary diligence; and, as a reward for his assiduity and good conduct, he was permitted to be the playmate of her little daughter—an only child—during the intervals of school hours. To this humble pair he looked up with the most deferential respect, and his infant companion engaged a large share of his boyish attention. When about fifteen years of age, a remarkable change began to manifest itself in his frame. Nature, curbed, as it appeared, in his lower extremities, began to operate, with increased power, in the upper part of his body. His chest became capacious ; his shoulders swelled out to an uncommon breadth; and, by the time he attained to years of maturity, but for his legs, which were still feeble and disproportionably short, his hands, arms, and the whole upper part of his body, might have passed for those of a giant. His hands and arms, in particular, gave him a decided superiority over ordinary men,—the latter being long to deformity; while, in the former, he possessed such power, that it was almost impossible to loose his hold. People now became cautious of maltreating him. He was known to be a dangerous enemy; and thus he commanded a certain kind of respect, which, however, he attributed solely to fear. He never forgot the ill treatment he had experienced in infancy and boyhood : and this, together with the conviction that, were he again to become the helpless being he had been before, his reception would still be the same, gave an unsocial turn to his thoughts, and a coldness to his manner, which effectually repelled all attempts at kindness on the part of others, and kept him in a sort of isolation from his fellows. His countenance, however, was manly; and, when silent, a close observer would have said there was in it an expression of benevolence, or generosity, or some good feeling, at least; but, when he spoke, there was often biting irony in his very look. He never forgot his own deformity, nor seemed to wish that others should forget it; but in his conversation he took satirical vengeance upon the mental weaknesses of others. For this his early training had given him uncommon abilities. Despised and scorned when young, he had been accustomed, from the dawn of reason, to search into the characters of men; and when he there found scope for the exercise of his satirical vein, he used it less for the purpose of retaliation, than for the gratification of that proud sense of mental superiority, which in some degree compensated him for what he considered the partiality of Nature to those who were better formed, and more fortunate, than himself. From this habit of mind, all the weak and inconsistent points of men's characters became familiar to him: all hearts seemed to be laid bare before him. He saw through hypocrisy, and detected lurking fraud at a glance: and his remarks often fell, with fearful effect, on those who least expected it. The consequence of all this was, that he became exceedingly unpopular among his neighbours, who would have treated him with less ceremony, had it not been that no one cared for being the first to give him offence. Still it must not be forgotten, that this morbid state of mind, and the position in society in which it placed him, originated rather in the combination of circumstances already noticed, than in any natural defect in his disposition, as his subsequent career may, perhaps, serve to show.

When young, Hugh had been considered incapable of learning any trade, and he was therefore allowed to loiter about, doing occasionally little jobs, though much oftener idle. But, when about seventeen, both his parents died. As this event threw him utterly destitute upon the world, it became indispensable that he should do something for his own support. In this many supposed he would utterly fail, and that he would ultimately settle down into a wandering beggar; but here they were mistaken; there was a latent energy in his character, upon which they had not calculated.

He now became a doer of all sorts of drudgery; sometimes feeding cattle for the neighbouring farmers; at others, thrashing with the flail, when he could procure such employment— any thing by which he could command a livelihood, no matter how coarse or mean the labour. Not choosing to become a lodger in the houses of others, he hired a house of his own, which he supplied with some rude articles of furniture, such as a bed, a chair, and a few culinary utensils. Here he lived a sort of hermit; no one intruded upon his privacy, and for a time he showed no disposition to intrude upon that of others. But the most unsociable being on earth can seldom live long in a state of perfect loneliness. It is natural for the heart of man to seek the support of some human sympathy—the intercourse of some kindred spirit,—in short, a refuge from itself; nor was even Hugh M'Arthur altogether without this relief. With his early friends, the schoolmistress and her husband, he was brought once more in contact. With them were associated no bitter recollections. They both possessed feeling dispositions; and, as his helplessness had formerly induced them to afford him all the protection they could, the loneliness in which he now lived elicited their sympathy, and made them treat him with even more than ordinary kindness. It was here he found all the friendship he sought, and, perhaps, all he could enjoy.

The schoolmistress, who had discontinued teaching, now took an interest in some of his domestic arrangements; and the attentions he received were to his heart like the " spring of the desert," which gives a freshness to the arid soil around it. They came mingled with no alloy of bitterness; the recollection that he had experienced the same treatment in his feeble and defenceless boyhood enhanced their value, and he regarded those who bestowed them with an affection only- the deeper for its being thus concentrated. The better part of his nature was thus brought to light; and his humble friends, in their turn, manifested a growing esteem for him. But like the water of the desert, which vivifies and fertilises that portion only of the wide waste which lies nearest to it, the new feelings thus awakened in M'Arthur's breast were only local in their operation. His heart overflowed with grateful affection to his generous friends, but to the rest of the world he was still the same. Thus, without any visible alteration in his manners, he reached his twenty-sixth year, hated by some, feared by others, and treated with the mere semblance of respect by all save the members of one little circle.

It was now his misfortune to lose both his friends, who died, leaving an only daughter to the protection of a world, which too often cares but little for such wards.

Lilias, at the time of her bereavement, was about seventeen —a slender, brown' haired, blue eyed lass; and though many have been left destitute at an earlier period of life, yet her prospects were sufficiently dreary. Infancy may look upon the death of the nearest and dearest without fully comprehending the extent of its loss; and riper age, with blunted feelings, accumulated interests, and gathered experience, may better bear it; but Lilias was exactly at that time of life when the feelings are keenest, when the counteracting influence of time is unfelt, and the lessons of experience are scarcely begun.

Thus situated, Hugh M'Arthur felt for her as if he had heen a brother: not only did he sympathise with her in her sorrow, but, for several days, he laboured incessantly to devise some means by which he might assist her in providing for herself. This, however, was no easy task. Delicacy prevented him from taking a young female under his own protection, because he knew the world would not be tardy in making its own uses of the circumstance; and the habits of thought which his early ill-treatment had produced, deterred him from making any application to others in her behalf. The only scheme he could think of was to pay the rent of the house in which her father and mother had died, if she would consent to remain in it; and, by lessening his own expenses, to assist her in supporting herself there, until marriage, or some other honourable means of subsistence, should render farther aid unnecessary. This alternative he determined to adopt; but he had himself a stern regard for independence, and a horror at the bare idea of incurring an obligation. He sometimes made his own heart a key to the hearts of others—ascertaining their feelings through the medium of his own; and here a voice within made him pause and ponder over the most delicate way of offering his services. While he thus hesitated between an ardent desire to befriend this deserted orphan, and an almost unnecessary jantion as to the manner in which it should be done, a kind lady came forward, and proposed to engage her as a servant to her son, who was then establishing himself, for the first time, upon a farm. He was a young unmarried man; an experienced female had been already procured to manage the affairs of his household, and Lilias was to be her assistant. The situation seemed exactly fitted to her years and capacity; and, in her destitute state, it was an easy matter to prevail upon her to accept of it.

Her master's farm was at a distance of several miles, and Hugh now saw her but seldom, though she still continued to occupy a place in his thoughts. He would have kept up a more friendly intercourse; for the respect which he entertained for her parents, now that they were no more, had been transferred to her, and he regarded her with an affection which would have been love, had it not been for the idea of his own deformity, which never ceased to haunt him. But he knew that were he to appear on terms of intimacy with her, his most disinterested attentions would be attributed by others to a different motive than mere friendship; and many scornful jests at her expense, and witty allusions to her mis-shapen lover, would be the certain result. For these reasons, he locked up his feelings in his own breast, and forebore all exhibition of kindness; reserving his friendship till she should stand in need of such assistance as he could bestow.

The reader must now suppose that an interval of nearly two years has been passed over.

Early in the month of November, an annual fair was held in the principal town of the district in which the subject of our narrative had settled himself: and to this fair the peasantry, for many miles round, dressed in their holiday apparel, had long been accustomed to go indiscriminately. The men went, home to be in the way of procuring masters, others to purchase articles of clothing, and many merely "to see and be seen." The young women, on their part, rarely failed to frame some excuse for going, the real object being that they might have an opportunity of seeing old sweethearts, or, where these were ranting, be in the way of making new ones. The presence of he matrons was also necessary to see that their husbands did lot indulge in too much spirituous liquor, and to direct them n buying clothes for the children, or their own winter dresses. Thus, all went, and most were happy in the anticipation, if not in the actual enjoyment, of Martinmas Market. It was, moreover, considered a point of etiquette among the unmarried men, that each should have his less to come home with; and when two or more became rivals for the smiles of some rural beauty, animosities, and petty brawls, and cuffs, and' sometimes broken leads, were the consequence. But this seems to be a cause which operates in the same way everywhere, however its effects nay be restrained or modified by fashion or education. Nor does it appear that the rich and the learned possess the slightest advantage over the poor and the ignorant in these matters; for very rich and very learned men have frequently been known to forge an excuse out of such an affair for shooting a fellow-creature, or standing up themselves to be shot, when their poor and unlearned brethren, in all probability, would have only exchanged a few bad names, or, at worst, taken a bout at fisticuffs. But both systems are moral evils, the existence of which in society is the more to be deplored, that there is little likelihood of their ever being eradicated.

In the proceedings thus imperfectly sketched, Hugh M'Arthur bad no share. An event which involved the interests of many —which was a source of mirth and enjoyment to thousands— and which would afford abundant topic for future gossip to all —possessed no interest for him. No one thought of the poor reformed recluse, and he cared not for them. On that day he toiled as usual; and when night set in clear and frosty, he reared to his solitary abode by the road-side, and betook himself ;o his book, after closing his door, that he might not be disturbed by the groups of people who were now returning from ;he market,—some sober and silent, some half tipsy and noisy, and others in such a plight that they could not walk without ;he assistance of their more temperate companions. It was now nine o'clock, and Hugh, having laid aside his book, was preparing to extinguish his light and go to bed, when he was alarmed by an impatient knocking at his door. He arose and approached it, with what haste he could, to drive away the disturbers of his peace; but on removing the bolt, what was his surprise to see Lilias stand before him, with her hair dishevelled, her dress partially torn, and her whole manner and appearance bethkening a state of the greatest agitation and alarm. In the middle of the road two men were staggering to and fro, quarrelling, and occasionally exchanging blows. To see the being for whose welfare he was most warmly interested so situated, was enough for Hugh. Lilias was kindly welcomed in; but before he could inquire the cause of her distress, the belligerent parties on the road had cemented their quarrel, and united in demanding her back. "They would have her," they said. "She had promised to go along with them; and Humpy M'Arter had better give her up, or they would beat his bones for him." To this Hugh made no reply; but laying hold of them, one in each hand, he led them to the middle of the road, as easily as if they had been children, and then pushing them as far apart as the length of his arms would admit, he brought them suddenly together, as if he intended to make their heads clash; but, by another effort, checking them as suddenly before they met, he let them go, and asked, in a calm, but stern voice, "What more they wanted?"

The touch of his hand, like the spell of a magician, dissipated the fumes of the liquor, and restored them to their sober senses. They felt that farther resistance would only be provoking an enemy with whom they had no power to contend; and without a word they walked off, glad, as it seemed, to be thus permitted to depart.

Lilias explained that she had been at the fair. The fellow-servant who accompanied her deserted her in the early part of the day; and when about to return home, she was compelled to accept the escort of another. But her first companion overtook them on the road, and claimed her as his charge. Both being excited with liquor, a violent altercation ensued, which, but for Hugh's timely interference, might have terminated seriously to her.

Hugh, with all his eccentricities, and in the midst of that misanthropy which circumstances had conspired to infuse into him, was still a man, and liable to be affected by all that affects others. He felt proud of being thus trusted by a woman in the bloom of youth and beauty. He would have been proud of the distinction, trifling as it was, though conferred by a stranger ; but when it was bestowed by the sole-surviving stem of the only two individuals for whom he had ever cherished the glow of friendship, its value was increased a thousand fold.

That Lilias might not again be exposed to insult or ill treatment, he offered to accompany her home, and the readiness with which his offer was accepted, awakened feelings of gratification he had never known before. There is no heart so callous as not to exult in the consciousness of having done a virtuous or a generous deed., Mortals are so constituted, that they 6an enjoy little hut in communion with their kind—to give is to receive; and a trifling service bestowed may return, either at the time or long afterwards, in a host of pleasing recollections, worth ten times the labour which it cost: nor does it at all invalidate the truth of this, that there are men who will not allow themselves to be beguiled into the purest pleasure which man can enjoy—that of increasing the happiness of another.

On the road to her master's farm, the girl's gratitude for the protection and kindness she had met, gave a warm frankness to her voice and manner, which would have gratified anyone not wholly dead to the charms of female society. Her words, indeed, were only such as might have been used hy another in the same situation; but to the discriminating ear of her deformed guide, the tone in which they were uttered told that they came from her heart. And on him, accustomed as he was to the show rather than the reality of feeling, their effect was scarcely to he calculated. He felt as if he could have sacrificed life, and all he held dear, to be of the slightest service to one who could repay with gratitude so deep the trifling effort he had made in her behalf. He strove, however, to conceal his emotions, lest their expression should alarm her; and for a time he succeeded. But when they were about to part, as he took her hand to bid her "good night," his pent-up feelings rushed to his lips, and forced a vent for themselves in words.

"Lilias," said he, "I know that I am deformed; but I loved your parents for the respect and kindness which they extended towards me when I was scorned and rejected by every one else; I shall cherish their memories while life remains; and now, I cannot tell the pleasure I have derived from being thus honoured by you, their only daughter! Yes," he continued, his enthusiasm increasing, "I know that I am deformed and ugly—that scorn and contempt, in the garb of respect, is all I must look for; hut I have a heart to feel like other men; and though the feelings of that heart have been seared, and its sympathies recklessly trampled down, it has ever scorned a dishonest deed; nor has it once stooped to the meanness of deceit!"

"I know your worth," said the girl, half timidly.

"Till this heart ceases to beat," continued he, placing her hand, which he still held in his, upon that part of his breast where the strong pulsations of his heart gave an undulating motion to its surface—she felt alarmed at the unwonted emotion which he betrayed, and made a. gentle effort to withdraw her hand; but he pressed it so close, in a tumult of feeling, that the circumstance escaped his notice, and he proceeded, "Till this heart ceases to beat, continue to think you have a friend; and whatever your wants or distresses may be, scruple not to make them known to him, and trust to his affection for every assistance. I have always looked upon you with a fond regard. When you were a child, to lead you forth to play was my greatest happiness; and now, had I been younger, and richer, and fairer, I should have been proud"------He paused abruptly, and in a dejected tone of voice continued, "but I am older than you, and deformed, and poor, and I must keep my affection for you within the bounds of a brother's for a sister."

Here he paused, as though he expected a reply; but Lilias had no powers to speak. Young, and susceptible of gratitude for the slightest kindness, her feelings were at that moment too much for utterance, and she could not articulate a single word during the short interval which he allowed her. He, however, did her wrong in supposing that she could not return his affection; she knew and appreciated his worth, and there wanted but a more explicit declaration of a warm attachment on his part to call forth a corresponding sentiment on hers. Indeed, it was difficult to say, friendless as she was, but she might even wish for some such declaration, some word which would give her the prospect of a permanent claim upon that heart which now beat beneath her hand; and the tumult of these wishes, riot altogether unmingled with hopes, might contribute materially to her agitation. But upon this subject he said nothing more, and her extreme sensibility prevented her from making any reply. A vain or selfish mind might have been piqued at her silence,—not so her poor mis-shapen friend. He slowly drew her hand from his bosom, as if loath to lose the grateful feeling which it imparted, and pressing it gently and even tenderly in his own,—"Farewell," said he, "I was not made for woman's love; you cannot look upon me with affection, but if ever your sunshiny friends should forsake you, come to me, and I will cleave to you in the storm! Farewell, Lilias. Do not forget what I have said—farewell!"

The sensitive girl faintly returned his parting salute; and when he was gone, she wept like a child bereft of its nurse. The sense of safety and protection—the new and conflicting emotions—which his presence and impassioned language had awakened, gave place to feelings of loneliness and dejection, rendered the more bitter by the recollection of her desolate condition.

The lapse of nearly another year found Hugh in every respect unaltered. His days were spent in the severest drudgery, and his evenings in the solitary seclusion of his home. One evening in the latter end of Autumn he had returned from the labours of a wet and stormy day. The twilight had faded to that faint glimmer which ushers in the night. He had been drenched by the storm, and, as he sat by a cheerful fire drying his wet clothes, Lilias once more stood before him. She had not knocked at the door, nor asked admittance, but opening it herself, came in, and stood, with a bewildered air, in the middle of the floor. She was so changed since he last saw her that for a moment he doubted his senses. The bloom had forsaken her cheeks; she seemed exhausted; there was an unspeakable wildness in her air; her eyes were inflamed, and their lashes were still wet with tears.

Hugh rose from his seat, re-assured himself of her identity, and, observing that she was shivering with cold, placed his own chair close by the fire, and then almost forced her into it, Remarking her visible distress he insisted on knowing the cause of it, or at least what he could do to assuage it; But not a word could she speak, every attempt at utterance ended only in tears and sobs. Anxious and perplexed he. bent over her in silence for a few minutes, while her bosom seemed to heave with a convulsive motion, and she covered her eyes with her hands. At last he caught the contagion of her sorrow; and, while his voice trembled, and a tear stood in his eye, he entreated her, for God's sake, if the power of utterance remained, to keep him no longer in suspense. His growing agitation overcame her scruples, and with a desperate effort she began the story of her misfortunes.

The lovers of high-wrought character and unmixed fiction, where all is immaculately good or extravagantly bad, may perhaps find fault with what follows. But these should be reminded that perfection is not to be found in man or in woman: the best may fall; and those who have watched their own hearts most narrowly will seldom he the most forward to boast of their stability.

Lilias, who was with child by her master, had been turned out of his house on the forenoon of the day on which she nought the shelter of Hugh M'Arthur's roof; and it would be impossible to imagine a state more miserable and forlorn than that to which she was now reduced. For a young woman, in any circumstances, to have her fair fame, and prospects of an honourable marriage, thus blasted is distressing enough; but when the case is that of a friendless orphan it is much worse. In the present instance, it was supposed, that on the part of her seducer there existed a disposition to acknowledge his fault, and make some provision for her and her unborn babe; but he wanted resolution to avow his guilt at once, and a combination of circumstances soon put it out of his power.

For more than a year back his friends, and particularly his mother, had been looking forward to what was considered an excellent match for him, in the hand of a young lady who was sole heiress to a considerable property; and when poor Lilias's state could no longer be concealed, these friends poured in upon him, some with hopes that he was not guilty, others with representations of the ruin which it would bring upon his prospects if he were but suspected; and, among the rest, his mother, who was a well-meaning woman, but too partial to the so called honour of her son, declared, that if he should confess himself the father of the child, she would have him disowned and disinherited. Overborne by the fear of shame and poverty, the young man, naturally facile, though by no means reprobate, resolved on sacrificing justice to expediency; and, by so doing, exposed the deluded victim of his passion and folly to be branded as a strumpet and a cheat by his mother and her female friends, and, ultimately, turned out of doors to beg, or starve, if she could not do better.

Among her few acquaintances there were some who pitied her destitute condition, and would have afforded her shelter; but to take her in was to give countenance to her story, and certain offence to the many friends of her seducer. The labouring population in rural districts are ever fearful of offending those above them. Thinly scattered, and often but indifferently educated, they have no organisation among themselves; their living, in many instances, seems to depend upon the good-will of their employers. And thus it was with these poor people: they allowed the fear of future evil to overpower their sense of humanity. All wished to shift the responsibility from themselves, and each advised the poor outcast to try some other; declaring, at the same time, that had it not been for their dependence on Mr. This or Mrs. That, who was an uncle, or an aunt, or a cousin to her former master, they would have befriended her. Thus disappointed, heartbroken, and on the point of sinking under the influence of fatigue, shame, and despair, she at last recollected the words of her kind-hearted, though uncouth, friend. Her "sunshiny friends" had indeed "forsaken her," but he had promised to "cleave to her in the storm." His remembered words served somewhat to revive her; and though the day, wet and stormy, was wearing to its close, she bent her weary steps toward his dwelling. But, as she approached the house, a bewildering sense of her shame and guilt again overwhelmed her, and she stood irresolute before the door. "What if he too should refuse her admittance". And then the stormy night—a hedge for shelter, and the hare ground for a bed, presented themselves to her imagination. She felt her brain reel beneath the weight of these accumulated terrors; her mind wandered, and, in a state of temporary insanity, she lifted the latch and entered.

The kind reception she met with gradually recalled her scattered senses, and strengthened her in the delicate task of telling her melancholy tale. Nor did she tell it in vain. To be poor, friendless, homeless, and denied the common privilege of society, were to the poor deformed peasant sufficient motives to befriend her; nay, to be disowned by the whole human race would only have stimulated his generosity, for he even longed for opportunities to show how light the opinions of others weighed with him. But he needed not this motive to awaken his benevolence. On that night, he warmed, and fed, and laboured to cheer her with the words of consolation. No harsh upbraiding of her weakness, or coarse allusion to "her innocence and honour lost;" no reflection on the past, or admonition for the future, did he suffer to escape him—but with courtesy and kindness, he endeavoured to reconcile the disconsolate girl to her forlorn condition.

As soon as it was day, he left her, and taking with him all the ready money he could collect, proceeded to the next village. Here, by dint of entreaties, promises, and pledges of indemnification for all expenses, he succeeded in procuring her lodgings in the house of a respectable tradesman, whither she removed without loss of time. After this, he administered the means of her support till she became the mother of a boy, and then assisted her in taking a house for herself—still continuing to contribute such sums of money as he could spare, to enable h to maintain herself and her child. To make these contrittions, he was often obliged to subject himself to the seven privations. He had never exhibited a wish to hoard money and his employers, aware of this, and thinking that he had one but himself to provide for, uniformly took advantage him, by allotting him an undue proportion of labour, and a very meagre remuneration. But Hugh murmured not at their d honesty; nor, amid the embarrassments to which it subject him, did he ever regret or grudge to implement the obligation he had voluntarily imposed on himself. On the contrary, seemed to consider Lilias as much entitled to his care as if s had a legal claim on him for support; and it is probable the relation might have lasted during their lives, had her she continued to require it. But the same Providence—if we may so far presume to trace the ways of Omnipotence—which he punished her for her transgression, by the hopeless despair which seemed to close around her, after her ejectment, had a train of effects ready to bring into operation for her full support. The extraordinary beauty of her infant son so drew the general attention of their humble neighbours. That led to an intimacy with the mother, whose story they listened to with commiseration, acknowledging her own comparate innocence, and the injustice with which she had been treat This kind of intercourse gradually became more familiar, she ultimately attained a place of permanent respect in estimation of all. Thus a favourable change was produced in her circumstances. The feelings and responsibility of a moth roused her to extreme diligence; and, with the native independence of poverty, she soon found assistance in providing herself unnecessary. Still, however, her first benefactor continued to watch over her, and to lend his help when a unforeseen contingency occurred. His last act of benevolence was to appropriate a small sum of money for the child's education, who had now grown a fine active boy, and promised soon to be able to earn his own subsistence, by herding cattle or sheep for some of the neighbouring farmers.

When he had performed these beneficent deeds, actuated a desire to see more of the world, M'Arthur left his native county, and went northward to A---------shire. Here again settled, and betook himself regularly to the feeding cattle. In this occupation many years passed over him. Meanwhile his character instead of altering as his life advanced only became more confirmed. Flashes of eccentric benefence, or generosity, at times would burst from the cloud of gloom and mystery which hung over him; but the common tone of his conversation was as sarcastic and ironical as before; always managed in such a way, however, that for any one to take offence, would have been to acknowledge that he deserved personally the censure which was couched in general terms.

He now became attached to wandering about, seldom remaining more than a year in one place; and, in that short period, though those with whom he was associated could easily perceive his extraordinary personal strength, and forbidding temper, no one had time to discover his better qualities; and he was generally regarded, all over the country, as a misanthrope—one whose hatred of mankind would certainly drive him, sooner or later, to commit some crime which would bring him to punishment. His only redeeming features were an independent spirit and strict honesty, and these were acknowledged by all. He was now in the decline of life; but a robust constitution, strict habits of temperance, and constant exercise, warded off decay; so that he still possessed his animal functions unimpaired, and in the full vigour of health.

Circumstances about this time compelled him to attend the great hiring market of the district. Here, after wandering about in the crowded streets for the greater part of the day, and hearing his ungainly appearance made the subject of several ludicrous remarks, towards evening an upland farmer asked him, between jest and earnest, if he wanted a master; and the question being answered in the affirmative, they set about making an agreement.

The farmer, not altogether certain if he would answer his purpose, and thinking, moreover, that he would be easily satisfied, offered him the merest trifle as wages. Hugh had never been accustomed to great rewards, but here the matter was carried rather too far: his temper had been previously ruffled, and he rejected the offer with marked disdain. The other, who was a humorist in his own way, supposing him a fit subject for sport, began to jeer him on his uncouth appearance: "I'm thinkin' I've offered ye owr muckle, man,'' said he; "thae shanks o' yours wadna carry your maut-seck o' a body atween the barn an' the byre in a hale half day."

"They've carried me farrer, in less time," was the reply.

"But if your hands be like your feet," rejoined the other, "I'm sure ye wad be, at best, but a guid-for-naething kind o' creatur about a farm town!"

"Whatever my hands may be," retorted the peasant, "hitherto they've aye provided for my head."

"Troth, I wadna wonder but fat ye're right," said the farmer: "hands an' head o' ye look no that oonlike things made for making ither fok's pouches an pantries licht an tooni, an' keeping yer ain aye moderately foo an heavy."

"And for teaching fools," interrupted Hugh, " that their owner may not be insulted with impunity!"

"Weel, man, that's wonderfu'," said the farmer in a sneering tone; "but if they hae ta'en up the trade o' teachers, I'm thinking they'll no want scholars; for I'm far cheated, if they haena had, at least, ae fool no far bye since that day your mother bore you."

"And, perhaps, this day they have another near enough to be made wiser," retorted Hugh, no longer able to control his passion; and with these words he lifted his giant arm to fell him to the earth.

The farmer's wit, such as it was, had attracted a number of listeners, who now interposed in his behalf, and by their efforts prevented the parties from coming to blows.

"The filthy creatur!" said the farmer, as he was leaving the place of contention, "wha wad hae thought it wad hae the face to offer to strike a man"

"When we next meet," said the other, whose thoughts were still occupied with the insulting taunts with which he had been greeted—"when we next meet, maybe we'll hae fewer onlookers, an' then you may learn at your ain expense, whether it has the face------." Here he checked himself, and leaving the sentence unfinished, moved away in a contrary direction; and as he walked off, those who had witnessed the scene indulged each his own conjecture as to what might be the purport of the unfinished threat, while all agreed that it was a threat, and "something no fit to be spoken out."

After being thus baffled in his attempt to take vengeance for what he considered a gross insult, Hugh's next care was to steal out of the town, and, by an unfrequented road, return home.

Those who have been exposed to any particular kind of obloquy, and accustomed to guard against it, are often ready to make their minds "suspicion's sanctuary." The farmer's remarks might be dictated by mere thoughtlessness, or a natural turn for dry humour; but as Hugh proceeded on his solitary route, pondering on the imputations of dishonesty and folly which had thus wantonly, as he conceived, and without the shadow of a foundation, been cast in his face, and when he reflected on the hollow respect with which he had often been treated, when insolence could not be safely offered, it appeared to him that mankind were in league against him. Such is the effect of a partial view. He even questioned the justness of the Creator's laws, in, having made him a" thing to be hooted and scorned. Dissatisfaction with himself, and disgust at others, grew upon his mind. He avoided every house and place, where he had a chance of meeting any one, with as much care as if it had been contamination to look on a human face; and when by footpaths and byeways he reached his bothie, he entered it unperceived, and shut himself in.

On that night, Mr. Oakfield, the farmer with whom he had the discord, was missing; and the next morning his body was found at a, solitary part of the road, where he had been murdered, and afterwards robbed, as it appeared, of a large sum of money in bank notes, his watch, and every thing valuable which could be found about his person.

At whose door the murder was laid need hardly be told ; a general suspicion prevailed, that Hugh M'Arthur was the guilty person; and, on the forenoon of the same day he was taken from his employment by the executive of the district, and conveyed to prison.

A precognition was immediately entered into. Several witnesses were examined, all of whom declared that they had been witness to the quarrel, and heard the half-uttered threat; others had observed him in the market but, of those present, no one could be found to say, that they had seen him on the way home, or that he had arrived there early. A boy was examined, who slept in the bothie with him; but he had been late in leaving the market, and stopped over night with his mother, who resided in the outskirts of the town. Against this, it was in vain that the prisoner urged his having quitted the market early, taken an unfrequented road, and gone immediately to bed after his return. Nothing positively exculpatory appeared; the circumstantial evidence went far to criminate him; and he was finally committed for trial.

In the present instance, the tide of popular opinion was decidedly against the prisoner. His solitary habits were talked of in every circle, and invariably attributed to a mind brooding on desperate deeds. His former sayings were dragged from the oblivion into which they had fallen, and bandied about from mouth to mouth with unceasing diligence; his cutting sarcasms, ,and the manner in which he had been accustomed to speak of the conduct of others, were carefully commented on; and all concurred in believing that they proceeded from a heart imbued with bitterness to mankind, and a total want of all fellow-feeling and natural affection. Those who had suffered, no matter how justly, from the dissecting criticism of his remarks, or the heart-searching glance of his eye, were now the most busy in disseminating bad reports concerning his conduct and character. The murder, which gave birth to the discussion, gave it also a fearful interest; and thus distorted accounts and exaggerated stories continued to multiply and spread, till the indignation of the country against the supposed murderer was wrought up to the highest pitch. Time would have moderated this fever of excitement; but unfortunately, in the plenitude of the frenzy, his trial came on.

Without friend or relation, or any one to comfort or speak a kind word to him in this trying juncture, he bore all with a magnanimity and firmness which might have done honour to the greatest stoic of the Grecian school; but this, so far from securing admiration, was construed into obduracy of heart, and only served to strengthen the general impression of his guilt.

In the midst of these malignant influences, all of which were against him, he found a powerful friend in one who was, to appearance, a perfect stranger. A young gentleman, by name Mr. Stevenson, who was fast rising to eminence at the Scottish bar, and at the time residing with his mother in Edinburgh, happening to read his name and commitment in the newspapers, immediately left his other business, and hurried northward to procure the necessary information for enabling him to conduct the defence. On arriving in the vicinity, his first care was to examine narrowly what' character the prisoner had borne previous to the commission of the alleged crime. In the excited state of the country, it was difficult to come at any thing like the truth; but he gleaned enough to satisfy him that the temper and general habits of Hugh M'Arthur were not such as to warrant the belief that he would engage in a secret murder to gratify a momentary feeling of revenge several hours after the offence had been given. This, taken in conjunction with the circumstance that neither the money, watch, nor any of the other articles abstracted from the pockets of the deceased, had been found upon the supposed culprit, though his seizure was almost immediate, convinced him that the murderer must be sought somewhere else. But for a time nothing transpired which could fix even suspicion on any other.

The prisoner himself was the first to give the hint. He recollected having seen two thimble-rig men in the market, who had endeavoured to inveigle him into their game, and though he had eluded them, he set them down at the time, in his own mind, for pick-pockets. One of them was present during the altercation, and when it was ended Hugh heard him say, with reference to himself: "That old blackguard would murder a man for his money!"

A pedlar boy was next discovered, who had been favoured with a night's lodging in Mr. Oakfield's barn, and knew him perfectly. On the day of the fair he had been enticed into a game by the thimble men; and, having lost the whole of his ready-money, remained late in the streets, trying to sell as much as would enable him to pay for his bed and supper. He recollected seeing Mr. Oakfield enter a tavern, after it was dusk, and also encountering one of the thimble men several times in passing and re-passing the street where it stood. The circumstance caused him some alarm, for hejaloused they were desperate villains. "When Mr. Oakfield left the house, he saw the fellow set off with a hasty step, in the same direction, and pass him on the other side of the street. This was exactly what Mr. Stevenson wanted, and he now began to entertain hopes, that, if one or both of these individuals could be found, some circumstance might be elicited which would give a different aspect to the whole affair. On making farther inquiry, it was discovered that the thimble men had never been seen since the night in which the murder and robbery were committed. Suspicion in his mind now amounted to conviction; and, though the county magistrates were so prepossessed with the idea that the murderer was already in custody, as to refuse all assistance, he, at his own risk, brought Mr. Samuel Sleuth, at the time one of the most eminent thief-catchers in Europe, to the place, to ascertain the marks of the fugitives; and, after having procured the necessary warrants, he dismissed him, with instructions only to make despatch, and spare no expense in tracking his prey. So far all was well; but still it was to be feared, unless these men should be found, or strong reasons appear for transferring the charge to some other, the unfavourable circumstances in which the prisoner was placed would of themselves condemn him.

The trial came on, and the last accounts from Mr. Sleuth; received only three days previous, were, that though he had been able to track one of the fugitives for a time with tolerable accuracy, at a place which he named, he had there lost all trace of him; and that he was now in pursuit of a person bearing some of the marks, but so few and faint, that his hopes of success were by no means sanguine.

When placed at the bar, to be tried for his life, the prisoner showed no sign of sorrow or dejection. He was pale from confinement, but his manner was firm and collected. The indictment, which had been framed with all the circumlocution of the law, charged him with the crimes of murder and robbery. After it was read, the evidence was produced, and a number of witnesses examined, none of whom had any thing directly criminatory to allege, though they proved a great deal about the solitary habits, and strange disposition, of the prisoner, at which a smile occasionally played on his strongly marked features. The quarrel at the fair, and the subsequent murder and robbery of Mr. Oakfield, were also clearly proved; and, from the connection which appeared ,to exist between the two, the guilt of the individual at the bar seemed to be strangely made- out.

Mr. Stevenson, the counsel for the prisoner, who had hitherto laboured, by cross-examination, to shake the testimony of the witnesses, now endeavoured to avail himself of the exculpatory evidence which had been summoned in. But, as matters stood, this was to little purpose; for the very witnesses whom he had selected with the greatest care, though they told what they considered the truth, were so imbued with the popular prejudice against the prisoner, that their evidence did not essentially differ from what was already adduced, and tended only to produce signs of impatience in the jury; nor was it till Mr. Winterface, the public prosecutor, rose to address them, that they seemed to resume their attention.

It would be tiresome to the reader, and could serve little purpose, to give the address at full length. But an extract from it, and another from that of Mr. Stevenson, may serve to show the different lights in which the same subject may be exhibited, and the conflicting deductions which may be drawn from the same occurrences.

Mr. "Winterface, in addressing the jury, said, "that the crime of murder had been committed on the person of an unoffending and respectable subject. No one had seen the horrid deed; but an individual was now placed before them, whom, from all the circumstances which had been adduced, and so clearly proven, they were warranted to look on as the murderer. That individual was known to have been a man of a gloomy disposition, and retired habits. He had never shown the slightest trait of kindness for his fellow creatures, or kept up a community of sentiment with them. He had wandered from place to place, and lived in loneliness—the companion of his own dark thoughts, and a prey to misanthropic musings. No pity had softened his nature—no friendly intercourse had humanised his heart—no sympathy with man, or fear of God, could be found in the tenor of his conduct. His manner of life had been well calculated to harden the heart, and prepare it for crime. In such an individual the dark passions of envy, malice, revenge, were likely to predominate; and these circumstances were of themselves sufficient to fix suspicion upon him. But when the dark tissue of events, which preceded the murder, were brought together, in an unbroken chain of evidence, this suspicion of guilt rose to a certainty of crime. When a man of such habits and temper had been heard quarrelling with the deceased in the streets of a populous town, and seen to lift his hand, in direct violation of the laws of his country, to strike a fellow-subject in a public market, almost without provocation; and, when prevented from offering violence on the spot, indulging in muttered threats, and half finished sentences, the meaning of which evidently was, that he would wait a fitting opportunity to avenge the supposed insult; when, after all this, the unfortunate man, who had unwittingly been the cause of ruffling his gloomy temper, and stirring his worst passions, is found—murdered! without any assignable cause, and without even a suspicion attaching itself to any other,—where were they to look for the murderer?" &c. Mr. Stevenson, after going over the whole of the evidence, and noticing its inconsistencies and assailable points in the most forcible and eloquent manner, said, "Gentlemen of the jury, I have thus endeavoured to show the inconclusiveness of the evidence upon which you are called to decide; permit me now to remind you of the awful nature of the trust reposed in you. It is not to settle a disputed point of property—it is not to decide who shall be the heir of an estate—it is not to award damages and repel slander propagated by one party to the injury of another. These, and similar matters of civil discord, are of every-day occurrence; and although justice ought always to be sacred, however petty the cause which calls for its exercise, the very familiarity of such cases may render jurymen indifferent to the consequences of their judgment—and men who have been ruined by a judicial verdict may live to attain higher honours and greater possessions than those of which they were deprived, or to recover, by future probity, that reputation which the law denied. But it is none of these matters which awaits your decision on the present occasion. The case before you is one, the vital importance of which demands the most calm and profound deliberation. You are to decide whether a fellow-creature, possessing the same feelings and sympathies, and the same love of life, as yourselves—whether he shall live to participate in the enjoyments of that existence which God hath conferred on us all, or, on the mere suspicion which an accidental coincidence seems to have woven around him, be condemned to ignominy, and death, and the execration of all who hear his name spoken. Yes, the life of one, to whom life is as sweet as to any or all of you, hangs quivering on the balance of your thoughts. Pause, therefore, and consider, that life is a gift which God alone can give, and which, if man take away without a sufficient reason, instead of doing justice, he becomes a murderer; nor will his crime be lessened, in the- eyes of his Maker, for its being cloaked by the sanction of law. It is a light thing that one guilty man may escape, but it is truly awful to condemn the innocent to death. Gentlemen, the character of the prisoner has already been sufficiently darkened by that inexplicable train of accidents which has brought him here. You have heard peculiarities, in themselves innocent, with strange ingenuity tortured into an evidence of guilt; and seen his solitary habits, by being viewed through the uncertain medium of suspicion, made to witness against him, as if it were a virtue to steep his character and name in the very dregs of infamy, wrung from a crime of which there is no proof that he has been guilty. It'is a maxim, that wherever there is an effect, there must be a cause. Let us trace these peculiarities to their source; and, when we have discovered the cause from which they sprung, perhaps they may cease to be received as evidence against him. Let any of you suppose an exchange of condition with the prisoner, and then, what an alteration in your feelings and social affections this exchange would make! Suppose that you were thrown upon the world with all the ardent feelings and warm-heartedness of youth, but, by some mischance, less elegantly formed than others; and, in consequence of a defect which you could not remedy, treated by your play-fellows and companions as a being made only for their sport—persecuted with malicious jests and bitter mockery—made a mark for contumely and coarse wit—loaded with nick-names and low abuse—the laughing-stock and scorn of all; nor even allowed to enjoy a quiet hour of pleasing reflection, till Nature, as if repenting of her former partiality, had endowed you with extraordinary strength of both body and mind. Would your relish for society have improved, or your sympathies been stirred and expanded in such a waste, and under the care of such cultivators] Suppose, then, that those who before had scorned and abused you, finding that they could no longer do so with safety, should turn and crouch before you, and, with servile submission, and fawning artifices, seek your favour. To an individual with little knowledge of man, a weak memory, and feeble reflecting powers, this might be happiness; but with a mind constituted like that of the prisoner, and all the insults you had endured bearing bitter fruit in your bosom, I ask you, would you not attribute the change to some motive not differing materially from fear? and would not its natural consequence be, to make you withdraw from that society where you could expect no return for affections wasted—no genuine sympathy—and no reciprocity of feeling? Such, gentlemen, is the history of the prisoner, and the origin of his solitary habits. Yet, for all this, where he was treated with only common kindness, his affections were warm, and his gratitude unbounded. And, did the forms of the Court permit, it could easily be proved that he has exhibited traits of character, and shown himself possessed of a fund of benevolence which might shame the pretensions of the greatest philanthropists.

"Though the tide of prejudice and popular indignation, which has set so strongly in against him, has had a most unfavourable influence, and tended materially to make the proof less clear than otherwise it would have been, still it has been proved, that his previous life, up to the unfortunate night which consigned him to a prison, has been one not only of strict honesty, but abhorrence of crime—this has been proved, while not a shadow of proof exists that he is a robber. Had he been of an inconsiderate or nervous temperament, it might have been argued, that after taking a fatal revenge remorse had seized him, and he had fled from the scene of his guilt, leaving the body to enrich some future passenger. But who among the praised, or the proudly innocent, ever bore himself with more dignified calmness, or showed less of perturbation under the trial of misfortune, than he has done since he was placed at the bar? In the midst of every thing to appal, and nothing to support the guilty heart, no nerve of his has been shaken, and he has noticed the grievous accusations which have been brought against him with a smile. Is this evidence of mental imbecility? or could he have done so, had an atrocious murder been weighing on his conscience? And, besides, let it never be forgotten, that the crime, if perpetrated by him, must have been the offspring, not of a sudden burst of passion, but of a resolution deliberately formed. And who, I now ask, after he had contemplated such a deed, and determined to do it, would have hesitated to avail himself of the only advantage which it offered 1 It may be said, that he has secreted the money; but the thing, if it were not impossible, is altogether improbable. He had not time to carry it to a distance, nor did he make the attempt; he could not conceal it in the fields with the prospect of deriving any advantage from it, for it consisted wholly of paper; he entered no house, save that in which he slept, and there, after the most careful search, nothing was found. Gentlemen, I mention not these things as mere flashes of rhetoric, or because it is my business to declaim; but from a strong conviction that the prisoner at the bar has been brought there without a just cause. And I feel confident, that time will yet unravel this mystery, and bring to light the secret murderer. For these reasons, I do hope that you will consider this case well before you come to a decision; and that you will not, upon the slender evidence which has been produced, consign a fellow-creature to infamy and an ignominious death."

A. suppressed murmur of applause ran through the court as Mr. Stevenson concluded. The spectators had never before heard one word said in defence of the prisoner; they now felt their minds wander in uncertainty as to his guilt, and many of them wished that he might yet escape. The conviction of the jurymen was also shaken: upon them the efforts of the counsel for the prisoner had produced their full effect; but the judge, who was himself fully satisfied as to the guilt of the individual in question, foresaw the turn which this was likely to give to their decision; and in his charge stated the case in such a manner that his own opinion of it could not be misunderstood,

It is quite possible, even at the present day, for a jury to degrade themselves into becoming the mouthpiece of a judge; and in this instance, a few men, little accustomed to think for themselves in aught save the matter of fortune-making, summoned from the obscurity of their daily employments, and trusting implicitly to the superior learning and discrimination of a presiding power, easily fell into the error of adopting the judge's ideas, and echoing back his sentiments.

The jury retired, and after a few minutes' deliberation, were "unanimously of opinion that the prisoner was guilty of the crime of murder, as libelled."

The awful sentence of death was then pronounced in due form, and with the usual exhortation to the prisoner, "to listen attentively to such spiritual guides as might be provided for him—to repent of his former transgressions—and, in particular, of that most aggravated crime which had called down the vengeance of his country—and to seek mercy while it might be found."

During this awfully imposing part of the ceremony, he stood with the most perfect composure; and, while the hearts of the spectators scarcely beat, so intense was their feeling, he noticed its conclusion with a smile. With him all hopes of escape, if such had been, were now over, and the officers in attendance were preparing to convey him back to prison; but while they were endeavouring to open a passage, he requested permission to speak a few words. The court, thinking he might intend to thank them for the manner in which his trial had been conducted, granted his request, and he proceeded. He had anticipated the issue of the trial; his thoughts had been previously arranged, his words selected, and his sentences formed; and he spoke without embarrassment or hesitation.

"Gentlemen of the jury," said he, "I should perhaps thank you for your good and patient conduct; but as condemning an innocent man to death is no very fit subject for congratulation, I cannot presume to praise, and to censure would serve no end. I have read your thoughts throughout; your minds were open to conviction; and had you been left unawed by imposing forms, and unswayed by popular prejudice, you would have done me justice. To those on the bench I have nothing to say; they have done for me in their vocation what they would have done for another in my place. But there is one here, whose conduct should call forth other expressions—I mean the man who has voluntarily come forward to plead the cause of one, against whom the imputation of the most horrid crime, and the cry of causeless indignation, has gone abroad. His exertions have been great; and for the sake of his fame, I am almost sorry that they have been unsuccessful. For myself, I have no such feeling. I have been a thing only not made the subject of mockery every hour of my life, because I had the power of inflicting pain ; not openly ridiculed by every one I chanced to meet, because I could hurl back their weapons with a keener edge than they came; and not trodden into mire, because my frame was not among the substances which yield easily to the foot of the passenger. I have no dishonest deed with which to accuse myself; no friend to sympathise with what I suffer, or mourn my fate; and no infamy can penetrate the grave, Of disturb the repose of the dead—that repose which awaits alike the king and the beggar, the sage, so called, who is supposed to die in peace, and the man who makes his exit amid the execrations of assembled thousands. For me, it is a light thing to leave the world. My history has been truly narrated; but, if it were not too much, I should be fain to know how, at this distance of time and space, from the day and the place of my nativity, the narrator became so well acquainted with it."

Here the speaker was interrupted, by the attendants of the court endeavouring to enforce silence among the spectators. For some minutes past, a faint whispering had prevailed near the door, and this was now beginning to spread, in spite of the efforts which were making to suppress it. The last words of the condemned man had been addressed to Mr. Stevenson; but he either did not hear them, or was too deeply engaged to make any answer. The whispering was occasioned by a man on horseback galloping up to the place : some words which he had dropped at the door had been eagerly "caught up by the crowd, and communicated from man to man, in an under tone, till the noise began to disturb the solemnity of the scene within. The horseman was the bearer of a letter for Mr. Stevenson; it had the word "express" written in very large characters, and underlined, above the address. He pressed through the crowd, and without ceremony delivered it to that gentleman in the court, who immediately broke the seal, and seemed to forget every thing else in perusing it. Having caught its import, almost without reading, as soon as comparative silence was procured, he rose, with the excitement of hope portrayed in his countenance, to request that the prisoner might not be removed for at least half-an-hour, as he had strong reasons for believing that some circumstances, to him of the very greatest importance, would be brought before the court within that time.

To his request there was some demur, and some observations about precedents and impropriety; but the court at last acceded to the proposal.

Before the half hour had expired, the real robber and murderer was brought before the judges in the person of one of the before-mentioned thimble men! He had fled from the scene of his guilt to the remotest parts of the country; and, after being disappointed in several attempts to leave it, and hearing that he was pursued, with the cunning of the fox, he had doubled/ and having disguised himself by dyeing his hair, and otherwise metamorphosed his dress and countenance, he again made for the vicinity of the place where he had done the deed. But at the very time when he began to consider himself safe, and was indulging in a day's rest, he was seized by his indefatigable pursuer, who had followed him through all his windings, with a determination not to be baffled while the smallest hope of success remained.

After divesting his victim of the money and other articles, the murderer had sewed the large bank notes into the lining of his trousers; imagining, no doubt, that he would be able to issue them with safety after the murder was forgotten. On after thoughts, he had again torn them out and burned them, but still continued to keep the watch, which, by means of a false crown, he had contrived to secrete in his hat. The watch, and one of the notes, which had slipped through a hole from among the rest, and escaped the burning, were found on his person. These were incontestable proofs against him; and, terror-struck by the unexpectedness of his capture, and smitten by the pangs of a guilty conscience, he had already confessed the wh'ole.

When this circumstance was announced, an involuntary shout of triumph burst from the crowd who now thronged the court-house, and stood around the doors, anxious to learn the issue of these strange events. A complete revulsion of feeling had supervened; and they now rejoiced in the innocence of that individual, of whose guilt, but a few hours before, they had not entertained a doubt.

Hugh MArthur bore this unexpected brightening up of his prospects as he had borne his former reverses, without any extravagant expression of emotion. His manner was composed, with a slight degree of—it might be assumed—indifference, as if he still wished to make it appear that the change was to him a matter of no very great importance; but the events of the day had been working a silent change in his heart, and he felt a sentiment growing within him which he had never before experienced. He was still retained a prisoner; but his confinement was a mere matter of form: no one now entertained the slightest doubt of his innocence, or of his being ultimately set at liberty.

On the day after his trial, he was visited in the jail by a female, having the appearance of a lady : and in her though much altered, ho instantly recognised his former protege, Lilias, now Mrs. Stevenson. Such a meeting under any circumstances would have been interesting; but recent events, combined with the time which had elapsed, the changes which had taken place in the fortunes of either since they parted, and the place in which they met—all tended to make it doubly affecting. Prom her it was that he first learned the extent of their mutual obligation. It was her son—the very child she had nursed while he supported her, who had so ably pleaded his cause, and whose efforts in his behalf had been at last crowned with success in the detection of the real murderer. That these should still continue his firm friends was only what he would have expected, but how they came to be in circumstances to befriend him so effectually required some explanation.

The reader may now be told, that the name of Lilias's seducer was Mr. Stevenson. His addresses were rejected by the lady, for a union with whom, as already noticed, his friends so anxiously wished; and this disappointment, connected as it was with previous events, operated so powerfully upon his mind, that he did not afterwards seek any other alliance. After Hugh M'Arthur left the country, he fell into ill-health, and became melancholy. A lingering disease, and the prospect of its probable termination, entirely altered his ideas of the world, and of his past life. He never approved of some parts of his conduct; but he now reflected, with feelings of the deepest remorse, on those promises which, prompted by early passion, he had made and never performed—the broken vows and solemn obligations he had come under to his once innocent and unsuspecting servant girl—the sacrifice of that innocence which she had made tp him, and the degradation and misery into which it had subsequently plunged her,—all these were conjured up by the solitude of a sick-room; and his own conscience— that stern monitor within—now accused him loudly for his infidelity.

He now expressed a wish to make some reparation to the only individual whom he considered himself to have wronged. Lilias, he said, was the first and only object of his affection : to please his friends he had abandoned her after he had done her a deep wrong; and now, to quiet his own conscience and remove a stigma from the name of his son—for he acknowledged the child as his—he considered it his duty to give both a legal claim upon those comforts which he might leave behind him. And he declared that, unless he were permitted to do this, he could not leave the world in peace.

He was himself an only son, and his mother doated upon him with more than common fondness. Her former abuse of the unfortunate participator in his youthful passion had sprung from an overstrained anxiety for his respectability in the eyes of the world; but now when he spoke of leaving it, her maternal solicitude for his peace of mind overcame every other feeling: her cordial consent was easily obtained, and he and Lilias were married.

This timely gratification of his wishes brought back his banished comfort. The consciousness of having acted according to the dictates of virtue and justice produced the happiest effect upon his spirits: the change extended itself to his corporeal frame, and his health began slowly to return. After living happy for a number of years, he died, bequeathing his name and the whole of his fortune to his wife and son, with the exception of a small annuity which they were to pay to their early preserver, if ever he should be discovered. With every intention to discharge the debt with which they had been intrusted, they had not been able to find the means till the newspapers announced the commitment of their creditor for murder: then all was bustle and anxiety with both mother and son, and the full determination to do for him whatever his case would admit of.

The events narrated in the former part of this story, though for the most part of a gloomy texture, were the means of evolving the true character of the extraordinary individual who forms, the subject of it. As the thunder-cloud carries in its bosom the electric flash which penetrates the gloomy recesses of the cavern, those dark suspicions in which he had been involved emitted a ray which penetrated that obscurity in which his best actions lay concealed. And, in the reflux of that tide which had lately threatened to bear him to destruction, his merit became the theme of every conversation; the fortitude which he had displayed received its full reward of praise; and people marvelled at and magnified those stern virtues which, under his dark exterior, they had never before been able to discover. These feelings manifested themselves in the most hearty congratulations on his deliverance, and the deepest sympathy for his unmerited sufferings. He saw and knew that these expressions were unfeigned. The anxiety of Mrs. Stevenson, the exertions of her son, and the bequest of her husband, all originating at a time when no sinister purpose could be placed against them—these were proofs of a generous and disinterested philanthropy, which came warm to his heart, and, under their genial influence, united with the circumstances already noticed, that ice which, in the frost of neglect and early scorn, had grown over his better feelings, melted away. He received and returned the looks and the words of kindness in the true spirit of social intercourse; and in the scene which was thus opened up, he found what to him. after so many years of seclusion and solitude, was an unexplored paradise. After his liberation, the annuity, which he continued regularly to receive, and the bounty of his friends, more than supplied his few wants: he was in independent circumstances, and, as long as he lived, it was his delight to contribute to the happiness of all around him.

If this story possess any moral, it is this: That kindness is the best teacher of philanthropy, and the only nurse of the social virtues. It may also remind us, that it is not always the fairest exterior that encloses the noblest spirit. We ought ever to keep present to our judgment the distinction thus laid down by Shakespeare:—

In Nature there's no blemish but the mind,
None can be call'd deformed but the unkind:
Virtue is beauty; but the beauteous, evil—
Are empty trunks o'erflourish'd by the devil!


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast