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Jeanie and the Laird of Dumbiedykes

Drawn by W:il. Paget — Etched by V. Focillon

Illustrated Sterling 6dition















Jeanie and the Laird of Dumbiedykes . . Frontispiece
The Laird of Dumbiedykes in Dean's Cottage, Wood-
end 78

MuscHATS Cairn 146

Madge Wildfire before Bailie Middleburgh . . 182
The Interview between Effie Deans and Her Sister

IN Prison , . 200

View from Richmond Hill ...... 363

The Death of Sir George Staunton .... 518





Ravenswood Castle ..... ^ .
Lucy Ashton at the Fountain ....

Wolfs Craig .

Caleb Balderstone's Ruse .....
Lady Ashton's Interview with Her Husband Relative

TO Ravenswood's Quitting the Mansion .
Scene in the Bridal Chamber — ^olonel Ashton

Finding the Body of Bucklaw 294




Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's,
If there's a hole in a' your coats,

I rede ye tent it ;
A duel's amang you takin' notes,

An' faith he'U prent it !


Ahora Men, dixo il Cura, traedme, senor huesped, aquesos lihro,.^
^ue los quiero ver. Que me place, respondio el, y entrando en su
aposento, saco del una maletilla vieja cerrada con una cadenilla, y
abriendola hallo en ella tres libros grandes y unos papeles de muy
buena letra escritos de mano. — Don Quixote, Parte I. , Capitulo

It is mighty well, said the priest ; pray, landlord, bring me
those books, for I have a. mind to see them. With all my heart,
answered the host ; and going to his chamber, he brought out a
little old cloke-bag, with a padlock and chain to it, and opening it,
he took out three large volumes, and some manuscript papers writ-
ten in a fiae character. — Jarvis's Translation,




The Author has stated in the preface to the Chronicles of
the Canongate, 1827, that he received from an anonymous
correspondent an account of the incident upon which the
following story is founded. He is now at liberty to say that
the information was conveyed to him by a late amiable and
ingenious lady, whose wit and power of remarking and
judging of character still survive in the memory of her
friends. Her maiden name was Miss Helen Lawson, of
Girthhead, and she was wife of Thomas Goldie, Esq., of
Craigmuie, Commissary of Dumfries.

Her communication was in these words :

" I had taken for summer lodgings a cottage near the old
Abbey of Lincluden. It had formerly been inhabited by a
lady who had pleasure in embellishing cottages, which she
found perhaps homely and even poor enough ; mine there-
fore possessed many marks of taste and elegance unusual in
this species of halaitation in Scotland, where a cottage is
literally what its name declares.

" From my cottage door I had a partial view of the old
Abbey before mentioned ; some of the highest arches were
seen over, and some through, the trees were scattered along
a lane which led down to the ruin, and the strange fantastic
shapes of almost all those old ashes accorded wonderfully
well with the building they at once shaded and ornamented.

" The Abbey itself from my door was almost on a level
with the cottage ; but on coming to the end of the lane, it
was discovered to be situated on a high perpendicular bank,
at the foot of which run the clear waters of the Cluden,
where they hasten to join the sweeping Nith,



Whose distance roaring swells and fa's.

As my kitchen and parlor were not very far distant, I one
day went in to purchase some chickens from a person I heard
offering them for sale. It was a little, rather stout-looking
woman, who seemed to be between seventy and eighty years
of age ; she was almost covered with a tartan plaid, and her
cap had over it a black silk hood tied under the chin, a
piece of dress still much in use among elderly women of that
rank of life in Scotland ; her eyes were dark, and remark-
ably lively and intelligent. I entered into conversation with
her, and began by asking how she maintained herself, etc.

*' She said that in winter she footed stockings, that is,
knit feet to country people's stockings, which bears about
the same relation to stocking-knitting that cobbling does to
shoemaking, and is of course both less profitable and less
dignified ; she likewise taught a few children to read, and
in summer she whiles reared a few chickens.

I said I could venture to guess from her face she had
never been married. She laughed heartily at this, and said,
"1 maun hae the queerist face that ever was seen, that ye
could guess that. Now, do tell me, madam, how ye cam to
think sae "}" I told her it was from her cheerful disengaged
countenance. She said, " Mem, have ye na far mair reason
to be happy than me, wi' a gude husband and a fine family
o' bairns, and plenty o' everything ? For me, I'm the
puirest o' a' puir bodies, and can hardly contrive to keep
mysell alive in a' thae wee bits o' ways I hae tell't ye."
After some more conversation, during which I was more
and more pleased with the old woman's sensible conver-
sation and the naivete of her remarks, she rose to go away,
when I asked her name. Her countenance suddenly
clouded, and she said gravely, rather coloring, " My name
is Helen Walker ; but your husband kens weel about

" In the evening I related how much I had been pleased, and
inquired what was extraordinary in the history of the poor wo-
man. Mr. said, there were perhaps few more remarkable

people than Helen Walker. She had been left an orphan, with
the charge of a sister considerably younger than herself, and
who was educated and maintained by her exertions. At-
tached to her by so many ties, therefore, it will not be easy to
conceive her feelings wlien she found that this only sister
must be tried by the laws of her country for child-murder, and
upon being called as principal witness against her. The


counsel for the prisoner told Helen, that if she could declare
that her sister had made any preparations, however slight, or
had given her any intimation on the subject, such a statement
would save her sister's life, as she was the principal witness
against her. Helen said, ' It is impossible for me to swear
to a falsehood ; and, whatever may be the consequence, I will
give my oath according to my conscience.'

'"Tiie trial came on, and the sister was found guilty and
condemned ; but, in Scotland, six weeks must elapse between
the sentence and the execution, and Helen Walker availed her-
self of it. The very day of her sister's condemnation, she got a
petition drawn up, stating the peculiar circumstances of the
case, and that very night set out on foot to London.

"Without introduction or recommendation, with her sim-
ple, perhaps ill-expressed, petition, drawn up by some inferior
clerk of the court, she presented herself, in her tartan plaid
and country attire, to the late Duke of Argyle, who immedi-
ately procured the pardon she petitioned for, and Helen re-
turned with it on foot, just in time to save her sister.

'^ I was so strongly interested by this narrative, that I
determined immediately to j)rosecute my acquaintance with
Helen Walker ; but as I was to leave the country next day, I
was obliged to defer it till my return in spring, when the first
walk I took was to Helen ^Valker's cottage.

" She had died a short time before. My regret was ex-
treme, and I endeavored to obtain some account of Helen from
an old woman who inhabited the other end of her cottage. I
inquired if Helen ever spoke of her past history, her journey
to London, etc. ' Na,' the old woman said, ' Helen was a wily
body, and whene'er ony o' the neebors asked anything about
it, she aye turned the conversation.'

" In short, every answer I received only tended to increase
my regret, and raise my opinion of Helen Walker, who could
unite so much prudence with so much heroic virtue."

This narrative was enclosed in the following letter to the
Author, without date or signature:

" SiE — The occurrence just related happened to me
twenty-six years ago. Helen Walker lies buried in the church-
yard of Irongray, about six miles from Dumfries. I once pro-
posed that a small monument should have been erected to
commemorate so remarkable a character, but I now prefer
leaving it to you to perpetuate her memory in a more dura-
ble manner."


The reader is now able to judge how far the Anthor has
improved upon, or fallen short of, the pleasing and interest-
ing sketch of high principle and steady affection displayed by
Helen Walker, the prototype of the fictitious Jeanie Deans.
Mrs. Goldie was unfortunately dead before the Author had
given his name to these volumes, so he lost all opportunity of
thanking that lady for her highly valuable communication.
But her daughter, Miss Goldie, obliged him with the follow-
ing additional information :

" Mrs. Goldie endeavored to collect further particulars of
Helen Walker, particularly concerning her journey to London,
but found this nearly impossible ; as the natural dignity of her
character, and a high sense of family respectability, made her
so indissolubly connect her sister's disgrace with her own exer-
tions, that none of her neighbors durst ever question her upon
the subject. One old woman, a distant relation of Helen's,
and who is still living, says she worked an harvest with her,
but that she never ventured to ask her about her sister's trial,
or her journey to London. ' Helen,' she added, ' was a
lofty body, and used a high style o' language.' The same old
woman says that every year Helen received a cheese from her
sister, who lived at Whitehaven, and that she always sent a
liberal portion of it to herself or to her father's family. This
fact, though trivial in itself, strongly marks the affection sub-
sisting between the two sisters, and the complete conviction
on the mind of the criminal that her sister had acted solely
from high principle, not from any want of feeling, which an-
other small but characteristic trait will further illustrate. A
gentleman, a relation of Mrs, Goldie's, who happened to be
travelling in the North of England, on coming to a small inn,
was shown into the parlor by a female servant, who, after
cautiously shutting the door, said, ' Sir, I'm Nelly Walker's
sister.' Thus practically showing that she considered her sis-
ter as better known by her high conduct than even herself by
a different kind of celebrity.

" Mrs. Goldie was extremely anxious to have a tombstone
and an inscription upon it erected in Irongray churchyard ;
and if Sir Walter Scott will condescend to write the last, a
little subscription could be easily raised in the immediate
neighborhood, and Mrs. Goldie's wish be thus fulfilled."

It is scarcely necessary to add, that the request of Miss
Goldie will be most willingly complied with, and without the
necessity of any tax on the public* Nor is there much oc-

* See Tombstone to Helen Walker. Nof p »


casiou to repeat how much the Author conceives himself
obliged to his unknown correspondent, who thus supplied him
with a theme affording such a pleasing view of the moral
dignity of virtue, though unaided by birth, beauty, or talent.
If the picture has suffered in the execution, it is from the
failure of the Author's powers to present in detail the same
dmple and striking portrait exhibited in Mrs. Goldie's letter.

Abbotsford, April 1, 1830.

Although it would be impossible to add much to Mrs. Goldie's
picturesque and most interesting account of Helen Walker,
the prototype of the imaginary Jeanie Deans, the Editor may
be pardoned for introducing two or three anecdotes respect-
ing that excellent person, which he has collected from a vol-
ame entitled Sketches from Nature, by John M^Diarmid, a
gentleman who conducts an able provincial paper in the town
of Dumfries.

Helen was the daughter of a small farmer in a place called
Dalquhairn, in the parish cf Irongray ; where, after the death
of her father, she continued, with the unassuming piety of a
Scottish peasant, to support her mother by her own unremit-
ted labor and privations ; a case so common that even yet, I
am proud to say, few of my countrywomen would shrink from
the duty.

Helen Walker was held among her equals '^pensy," that
is, proud or conceited ; but the facts brought to prove this
accusation seem only to evince a strength of character supe-
rior to those around her. Thus it was remarked, that when it
thundered, she went with her work and her Bible to the front
of the cottage, alleging that the Almighty could smite in the
city as well as in the field.

Mr. M'^Diarmid mentions more particularly the misfortune
of her sister, which lie supposes to have taken place previous
to 1736. Helen Walker, declining every proposal of saving
her relation's life at the expense of truth, borrowed a sum of
money sufficient for her journey, walked the whole distance
to London barefoot, and made her way to John Duke of
Argyle. She was heard to say that, by the Almighty's strength,
she had been enabled to meet the Duke at the most critical
moment, which, if lost, would have caused the inevitable for-
feiture of her sister's life.

Isabella, or Tibby Walker, saved from the fate which im-


pended over her, was married by the person who had wronged
her (named Waugh), and lived happily for great part of a
century, uniformly acknowledging the extraordinary affec-
tion to which she owed her preservation.

Helen Walker died about the end of the year 1791, and
her remains are interred in the churchyard of her native parish
of Irongray, in a romantic cemetery on the banks of the Cairn.
That a character so distinguished for her undaunted love of
virtue lived and died in poverty, if not want, serves only to
show us how insignificant, in the sight of Heaven, are our
principal objects of ambition upon earth.




wishes health, and increase, and contentment

Courteous Reader,

If ingratitude comprehendeth every vice, surely so foul a
stain worst of all beseemeth him whose life has been de-
voted to instructing youth in virtue and in humane letters.
Therefore have I chosen, in this prolegomenon, to unload
my burden of thanks at thy feet, tor the favor with which
thou hast kindly entertained the Tales of my Landlord.
Certes, if thou hast chuckled over their facetious and fes-
tivous descriptions, or liast thy mind filled with pleasure at
the strange and pleasant turns of fortune which they record,
verily, I have also simpered when I beheld a second story
with attics, that has arisen on the basis of my small domi-
cile at Gandercleugh. the walls having been aforehand pro-
nounced by Deacon Barrow to be capable of enduring such
an elevation. Nor lias it been without delectation that I
have endued a new coat (snuff-brown, and with metal but-
tons), having all nether garments corresponding thereto.
We do therefore lie, in respect of each other, under a re-
ciprocation of benefits, whereof those received by me being
the most solid, in respect that a new house and a new coat
are better than a new tale and an old song, it is meet that
my gratitude should be expressed with the louder voice and
more prepondei-ating vehemence. And how sliould it be so
expressed ? Certainly not in words only, but in act and
deed. It is with this sole purpose, and disclaiming all in-
tention of purchasing that pendicle or poffle of land called
the Carlinescroft. lying adjacent to my garden, and measur-
ingseven acres, three roods, and four perches, that I have com-
mitted to the eyes of those who thought well of the former
tomes, these four additional volumes* of the TaUs of my

* [The He' rt of Midlothian was originally published in four


Landlord. Not the less, if Peter Pra3'fort be minded to sell
the said poffle, it is at his own choice to say so ; and, perad-
venture, lie may meet with a purchaser ; unless, gentle Eeader,
the pleasing pourtraictures of Peter Pattieson, now given unto
thee in particular, and unto the public in general, shall have
lost their favor in thine eyes, whereof I am no way distrust-
ful. And so much confidence do I repose in thy continued
favor, that, should thy lawful occasions call thee to the town
of Gandercleugh, a place frequented by most at one time or
other in their lives, I will enrich thine eyes with a sight of
those precious manuscripts whence thou hast derived so much
delectation, thy nose with a snuff from my mull, and thy
palate with a dram from my bottle of strong waters, called by
the learned of Gandercleugh the Dominie's Dribble o' Drink.
It is there, highly esteemed and beloved Eeader^ thou
wilt be able to bear testimony, through the medium of thine
own senses, against the children of vanit}^ who have sought
to identify thy friend and servant with I know not what
inditer of vain fables ; who hath cumbered the world with
his devices, but shrunken from the responsibility thereof.
Truly, this hath been well termed a generation hard of faith;
since what can a. man do to assert his property in a printed
tome, saving to put his name in the title-page thereof, with
his description, or designation, as the lawyers term it, and
place of abode ? Of a surety I would have such sceptics con-
sidf.r how they themselves would brook to have their works
ascribed to others^ their names and professions imputed as
"torgyries, nnd their very existence brought into question ;
*iven although, peradventure, it may be it is of little conse-
quence to any but themselves, not only whether they are liv-
ing or dead, but even whether they ever lived or no. Yet have
my maligners carried their uncharitable censures still farther.
These cavillers have not only doubted mine identity, although
thus plainly proved, but they have impeached my veracity
and the authenticity of my historical narratives ! Verily, I
can only say in answer, that I have been cautelous in quoting
mine authorities. It is true, indeed, that if I had hearkened
with only one ear, I might have rehearsed my tale with more
acceptation from those who love to hear but half the truth.
It is, it may hap, not altogether to the discredit of our kindly
nation of Scotland, tb^t we are apt to take an interest, warm,
yea partial, in the deeds and sentiments of our forefathers.
He whom his adversaries describe as a perjured Prelatist, is
desirous that his predecessors should be held moderate in
their power, and just in their execution of its privileges, when.


truly, the tinimpassioned peruser of the annals of those times
shall deem them sanguinary, violent, and tyrannical.

Again, the representatives of the suffering nonconform-
ists desire that their ancestors, the Cameronians, shall be rep-
resented not simply as honest enthusiasts, oppressed for con-
science' sake, but persons of fine breeding, and valiant heroes.
Truly, the historian cannot gratify these predilections. He
must needs describe the Cavaliers as proud and high-spirited,
cruel, remorseless, and vindictive ; the suffering party as hon-
orably tenacious of their opinions under persecution, their own
tempers being, however, sullen, fierce, and rude, their opin-
ions absurd and extravagant, and their whole course of conduct
that of persons whom hellebore would better have suited than
prosecutions unto death for high treason. Natheless, while
such and so preposterous were the opinions on either side,
there were, it cannot be doubted, men of virtue and worth on
both, to entitle either party to claim merit from its martyrs.
It has been demanded of me, Jedediah Cleishbotham, by what
right I am entitled to constitute myself an impartial judge of
their discrepancies of opinions, seeing (as it is stated) that I
must necessarily have descended from one or other of the con-
tending parties, and be, of course, wedded for better or for
worse, according to the reasonable practice of Scotla'nd, to its
dogmata, or opinions, and bound, as it were, by the tie matri-
monial, or, to speak without metaphor, ex jure sanguinis, to
maintain them in preference to all others.

But, nothing denying the rationality of the rule, which calls
on all now living to rule their political and religious opinions by
those of their great-grandfathers, and inevitable as seems the
one or the other horn of the dilemma betwixt which my adver-
saries conceive they have pinned me to the wall, I yet spy some
means of refuge, and claim a privilege to write and speak of
both parties with impartiality. For, ye powers of logic !
when the Prelatists and Presbyterians of old times went together
by the ears in this unlucky country, my ancestor — venerated be
his memory ! — was one of the people called Quakers,* and suf-
fered severe handling from either side, even to the extenua-
tion of his purse and the incarceration of his person.

Craving thy pardon, gentle Keader, for these few words
concerning me and mine, I rest, as above expressed, thy sure
and obligated friend, J. Q

Ganderoleugh, this 1st of April, 1818.

* See Sir Walter Scott's Relations with the Quakers. Note •i.




So down thy hill, romantic Ashbourn, glides
The Derby dilly, carrying six insides.


The times have changed in nothing more — we follow as we
were wont the manuscript of Peter Pattieson — than in the
rapid conveyance of intelligence and communication betwixt
one part of Scotland and another. It is not above twenty or
thirty years, according to the evidence of many credible wit-
nesses now alive, since a little miserable horse-cart, perform-
ing with difficulty a journey of thirty miles per diem, carried
our mails from the capital of Scotland to its extremity. Nor
was Scotland much more deficient in these accommodations
than our richer sister had been about eighty years before.
Fielding, in his Tom Jones, and Farquhar, in a little farce
called the Stage-Coach, have ridiculed the slowness of these
vehicles of public accommodation. According to the latter
authority, the highest bribe could only induce the coachman
to promise to anticipate by half an hour the usual time of his
arrival at the Bull and Mouth.

But in both countries these ancient, slow, and sure modes
of conveyance are now alike unknown: mail-coach races
against mail-coach, and high-flier against high-flier, through
the most remote districts of Britain. And in our village
alone, three post-coaches, and four coaches with men armed,
and in scarlet cassocks, thunder through the streets each day,
and rival in brilliancy and noise the invention of the cele-
brated tyrant :

Demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen,
^re et cornipedum pulsu, simularat, equorum.

Kow and then, to complete the resemblance, and to cor-
rect the presumption of the venturous charioteers, it does


happen that the career of these dashing rivals of Salmonens
meets with as undesirable and violent a termination as that
of their prototype. It is on such occasions that the " insides"
and "outsides," to use the appropriate vehicular phrases,
have reason to rue the exchange of the slow and safe motion
of the ancient fly-coaches, which, compared with the chariots
of Mr. Palmer, so ill deserve the name. The ancient veliicle
used to settle quietly down, like a shijD scuttled and^ left to
sink by the gradual influx of the waters, while the modern is
smashed to pieces with the velocity of the same vessel hurled
against breakers, or rather with the fury of a bomb bursting
at the conclusion of its career through the air. The late in-
genious Mr. Pennant, whose humor it was to set his face in
stern opposition to these speedy conveyances, had collected,
I have heard, a formidable list of such casualties, which,
joined to the imposition of innkeepers, whose charges the
passengers had no time to dispute, the sauciness of the coach-
man, and the uncontrolled and despotic authority of the ty-
rant called the guard, held forth a picture of horror, to which
murder, theft, fraud, and peculation lent all their dark color-
ing. But that which gratifies the impatience of the human

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe heart of Midlothian; The bride of Lammermoor → online text (page 1 of 91)