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The Cameronians were at this time strong in number, and had joined Mackay, who was gone to attack Claverhouse and the Jacobites. Ringan remained in on account of his age and ill health. The following extract terminates the history, and is, perhaps, the best passage it contains:
I was an old man, verging on threescore.
'I went to and fro in the streets of Edinburgh all day long, inquiring of every stranger the news; and every answer that I got was some new triumph of Dundee.
'No sleep came to my burning pillow, or if, indeed, my eyelids for very weariness fell down, it was only that I might suffer the stings of anxiety in some sharper form; for my dreams were of flames kindling around me, through which I saw behind the proud and exulting visage of Dundee.
'Sometimes in the depths of the night I rushed into the street, and I listened with greedy ears, thinking I heard the trampling of dragoons and the heavy wheels of cannon; and often in the day, when I saw three or four persons speaking together, I ran towards them, and broke in upon their discourse with some wild interrogation, that made them answer me with pity.
'But the haste and frenzy of this alarm suddenly changed: I felt that I was a chosen instrument; I thought that the ruin which had fallen on me and mine was assuredly some great mystery of Providence: I remembered the prophecy of my grandfather, that a task was in store for me, though I knew not what it was; I forgot my old age and my infirmities; I hastened to my chamber; I put money in my purse; I spoke to no one; I bought a carabine; and I set out alone to reinforce Mackay.
'As I passed down the street, and out at the West Port, I saw the people stop and look at me with silence and wonder. As I went along the road, several that were passing inquired where I was going so fast? but I waived my hand, and hurried by.
"I reached the Queensferry without as it were drawing breath. I embarked; and, when the boat arrived at the northern side, I had fallen asleep; and the ferryman, in compassion, allowed me to slumber unmolested. When I awoke I felt myself refreshed. I leapt on shore, and went again impatiently on.
'But my mind was then somewhat calmer; and, when I reached Kinross, I bought a little bread, and, retiring to the brink of the lake, dipt it in the water, and it was a savoury repast.
As I approached the Brigg of Earn I felt age in my limbs, and though the spirit was willing the body could not; and I sat down, and I mourned that I was so frail and so feeble. But a marvellous vigour was soon again given to me, and I rose refreshed from my restingplace on the wall of the bridge, and the same night I reached Perth. I stopped in a stabler's till the morning. At break of day, having hired a horse from him, I hastened forward to Dunkeld, where he told me Mackay had encamped the day before, on his way to defend the Pass of Killicrankie.'
• General Mackay halted the host on a spacious green plain which lies at the meeting of the Tummel and the Gary, and which the High
landers call Fascali, because, as the name in their tongue signifies, no trees are growing thereon. This place is the threshold of the Pass of Killicrankie, through the dark and woody chasms of which the impatient waters of the Gary come with hoarse and wrathful mutterings and murmurs. The hills and mountains around are built up in more olden and antic forms than those of our Lowland parts, and a wild and strange solemnity is mingled there with much fantastical beauty, as if, according to the minstrelsy of ancient times, sullen wizards and gamesome fairies had joined their arts and spells to make a common dwelling-place.
As the soldiers spread themselves over the green bosom of Fascali, and piled their arms and furled their banners, and laid their drums on the ground, and led their horses to the river, the general sent forward a scout through the Pass, to discover the movements of Claverhouse, having heard that he was coming from the castle of Blair-Athol, to prevent his entrance into the Highlands.
'The officer sent to make the espial had not been gone above half an hour, when he came back in great haste, to tell that the Highlanders were on the brow of a hill above the house of Rinrorie; and that, unless the house was immediately taken possession of, it would be mastered by Claverhouse that night.
Mackay, at this news, ordered the trumpets to sound, and as the echoes multiplied and repeated the alarum, it was as if all the spirits of the hills called the men to arms. The soldiers looked around as they formed their ranks, listening with delight and wonder at the universal bravery.
'Mackay directed the troops, at crossing a raging brook called the Girnaig, to keep along a flat of land above the house of Rinrorie, and to form in order of battle on the field beyond the garden, and under the hill where the Highlanders were posted; the baggage and camp equipages he at the same time ordered down into a plain that lies between the bank on the crown of which the house stands and the river Gary. An ancient monumental stone in the middle of the lower plain shows that in some elder age a battle had been fought there, and that some warrior of might and fame had fallen.
In taking his ground on that elevated shelf of land, Mackay was minded to stretch his left wing to intercept the return of the Highlanders towards Blair, and, if possible, oblige them to enter the Pass of Killicrankie, by which he would have cut them off from their resources in the North, and so perhaps mastered them without any great slaughter.
'But Claverhouse discerned the intent of his movement, and before our covenanted host had formed their array, it was evident that he was preparing to descend; and as a foretaste of the vehemence wherewith the Highlanders were coming, we saw them rolling large stones to the brow of the hill.
"In the mean time the house of Rinrorie having been deserted by the family, the lady, with her children and maidens, had fled to Lude or Struan, Mackay ordered a party to take possession of it, and to post themselves at the windows which look up the hill. I was among those who went into the house, and my station was at the eastermost
window, in a small chamber which is entered by two doors,--the one opening from the stair-head, and the other from the drawing-room. In this situation we could see but little of the distribution of the army or the positions that Mackay was taking, for our view was confined to the face of the hill whereon the Highlanders were busily preparing for their descent. But I saw Claverhouse on horseback riding to and fro, and plainly inflaming their valour with many a courageous gesture; and as he turned and winded his prancing war-horse, his breastplate blazed to the setting sun like a beacon on the hill.
"When he had seemingly concluded his exhortation, the Highlanders stooped forward, and hurled down the rocks which they had gathered for their forerunners; and while the stones came leaping and bound. ing with a noise like thunder, the men followed in thick and separate bands, and Mackay gave the signal to commence firing.
We saw from the windows many of the Highlanders, at the first volley, stagger and fall, but the others came furiously down; and before the soldiers had time to stick their bayonets into their guns, the broad swords of the clansmen hewed hundreds to the ground.
"Within a few minutes the battle was general between the two armies; but the smoke of the firing involved all the field, and we could see nothing from the windows. The echoes of the mountains raged with the din, and the sounds were multiplied by them in so many different places, that we could not tell where the fight was hottest. The whole country around resounded as with the uproar of a universal battle.
'I felt the passion of my spirit return; I could no longer restrain myself, nor remain where I was. Snatching up my carabine, I left my actionless post at the window, and hurried down stairs, and out of the house. I saw by the flashes through the smoke that the firing was spreading down into the plain where the baggage was stationed, and by this I knew that there was some movement in the battle; but whether the Highlanders or the Covenanters were shifting their ground I could not discover, for the valley was filled with smoke, and it was only at times that a sword, like a glance of lightning, could be seen in the cloud wherein the thunders and tempest of the conflict were raging.'
The defeat of Mackay's troops seemed certain; they were in full flight, and the Highlanders were endeavouring to cut off their retreat. Ringan falls into a fit of despair, from which, however, he soon
'I took up.my carabine, which in these transports had fallen from my hand, and I went round the gable of the house into the gardenand I saw Claverhouse, with several of his officers, coming along the ground by which our hosts had marched to their position, and ever and anon turning round, and exhorting his men to follow him. It was evident he was making for the Pass to intercept our scattered fugitives from escaping that way.
The garden in which I then stood was surrounded by a low wall. A small goose-pool lay on the outside, between which and the garden I perceived that Claverhouse would pass.
'I prepared my flint, and examined my firelock, and I walked to
wards the top of the garden with a firm step. The ground was buoyant to my tread, and the vigour of youth was renewed in my aged limbs: I thought that those for whom I had so mourned walked before me that they smiled, and beckoned me to come on, and that a glorious light shone around me.
Claverhouse was coming forward; several officers were near him, but his men were still a little behind, and seemed inclined to go down the hill, and he chided at their reluctance. I rested my carabine on the garden-wall. I bent my knee, and knelt upon the ground. I aimed, and fired; but when the smoke cleared away, I beheld the oppressor still proudly on his war-horse.
'I loaded again, again I knelt, and again rested my carabine upon the wall, and fired a second time, and was again disappointed.
'Then I remembered that I had not implored the help of Heaven, and I prepared for the third time, and when all was ready, and Claverhouse was coming forward, I took off my bonnet, and kneeling with the gun in my hand, cried, "Lord, remember David and all his afflic tions ;" and, having so prayed, I took aim as I knelt, and Claverhouse raising his arm in command, I fired. In the same moment I looked up, and there was a vision in the air, as if all the angels of brightness, and the martyrs in their vestments of glory, were assembled on the walls and battlements of heaven to witness the event; and I started up and cried, "I have delivered my native land !” But in the same instant I remembered to whom the glory was due, and falling again on my knees, I raised my hands and bowed my head as I said, “Not mine, O Lord, but thine is the victory!"
'When the smoke rolled away I beheld Claverhouse in the arms of his officers, sinking from his horse, and the blood flowing from a wound between the breastplate and the arm-pit. The same night he was summoned to the audit of his crimes.
'It was not observed by the officers from what quarter the summon. ing bolt of justice came, but, thinking it was from the house, every window was instantly attacked, while I deliberately retired from the spot, and, till the protection of the darkness enabled me to make my escape across the Gary, and over the hills in the direction I saw Mackay and the remnants of the flock taking, I concealed myself among the bushes and rocks that overhung the violent stream of the Girnaig.
'Thus was my avenging vow fulfilled,-and thus was my native land delivered from bondage. For a time yet there may be rumours and bloodshed, but they will prove as the wreck which the waves roll to the shore after a tempest. The fortunes of the papistical Stuarts are foundered for ever. Never again in this land shall any king, of his own caprice and prerogative, dare to violate the conscience of the people.'
In his postscript the author endeavours to excuse the coarseness of his style; and his strongest plea is, that it is at least new. Even this, sorry as it is, we deny there is nothing new in the attempt to write vulgarly, but it has never been so successful as to invite general imitation. It is one thing to elevate a mean subject, and another to write meanly on every subject. The author's forte lies in the latter,
WINE AND WALNUTS; OR AFTER DINNER CHIT-CHAT.
BY EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE, CITIZEN AND DRYSALTER.
THIS is one of the most amusing parlour-window books that we have lately seen its design is somewhat original; and, if the execution is not always so happy as to keep up the delusion which the author intends, it is quite sufficient to be always entertaining. It purports to be an account of the recollections of an old citizen, who was born in that part of the last century which was richer in eminent men in literature and the arts than that in which we live. We are not prone to be enthusiastic in our admiration temporis acti, and should be willing enough to believe, if we could, that there are as many great men in our times; but the fact is lamentably against the latter conclusion. The condition of society, the tone and manners of this period, are, it must be allowed, very different from those to which the scenes in Mr. Hardcastle's book refers: the same good-fellowship does not prevail among men of talent as did formerly; there is no longer a free-masonry of genius; and men do not associate, as they did then, because their pursuits tended, or their abilities were exerted, in similar directions. The coffee-houses, once the resort of wits, where, as in a free community, every man might enter, and make good his standing by the display of such qualities as he possessed, exist no longer. For this reason, therefore, if for no other, we fear no future Ephraim Hardcastle will be enabled to chronicle the social doings and sayings of the great men of our times.
This ingenious author describes himself as having been born 80 years ago, the son of an eminent weaver in Spitalfields. A disposition to learn and to record all the remarkable facts relative to old buildings and old people distinguished his earliest years, and this antiquarian predilection gained him the name of Old Mortality. His connexions threw him into the acquaintance of some of the greatest painters, and wits and players, of the day, and he soon seems to have been on terms with them all. He describes various conversations and parties at which they were assembled; and he has so cleverly collected the remarkable points of their characters, that he gives a singular indentity and truth to his descriptions. In his magic lantern he alternately shows up Pope, Swift, Hogarth, Handel, Sterne, Garrick, and all the other men of that age, great as well as small, who presented any claim to distinction. In these colloquies he has sometimes great disadvantages to cope with; and, although he does not always give us a fitting idea of the powers of the greater men among them, he never goes so far below them as to incur a very heavy censure. It is no easy
thing to talk in the vein of Swift and Fielding; and yet the narration of a visit paid by the former to a whimsical bookseller on London Bridge, as it then stood, covered with houses, is one of the best in the collection. For this reason, and to give a favorable idea of the author's style, we have extracted it :
"Good morrow, master Crispin," thus familiarly saluted the Dean of St. Patrick the spruce old Tucker, as he entered his little slip of a shop under the gateway on London Bridge. "Well, how does the world use you these ticklish times ?"-"Thank your reverence,”