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INTRODUCTION TO OLD MORTALITY.
THE remarkable person, called by the title of Old Mor. I am aught, to know if it is still in existence."_" He vas ono lality, was well known in Scotland about the end of the last of those who perished in the Whig's Vault at the castigt said century. His real name was Robert Paterson. He was a native, the minister ; " for there are few southlanders besides lying in it is said, of the parish of Closeburn, in Dumfries-shire, and our churchyard, and none, I think, having monumenty."_"Even probably a mason by profession-alleast educated to the use of sae-even sae," said the old Cameronian, for such was the the chisel. Whether family dissensions, or the deep and en farnier. He then laid down his ypade, cast on his coat, and thusiastic feeling of supposed duty, drove himn to Icave his dwell.heartily offered to see the minister out of the moss, if he should ing, and adopt the singular mode of life in which he wandered, lose the rest of the day's dargue. Mr. Walker was able to relike a palmer, through Scotland, is not known. It could not be quite him amply, in his opinion, by reciting the epitaph, which poverty, however, which prompted his journeys, for he never he remembered by heart. The old man was enchanted with accepted any thing beyond the hospitality which was willingly finding the memory of his grandfather or great-grandfather rendered him, and wlien that was not proffered, he always had faithfully recorded amongst the names of brother sufferers; and money enough to provide for his own humble wants. His per rejecting all other offers of recompense, only requested, after sonal appearance, and favourite, or rather sole occupation, are he had guided Mr. Walker to a safe and dry road, that he would accurately described in the preliminary chapter of the follow let him have a written copy of the inscription. ing work
It was whilst I was listening to this story, and looking at the It is about thirty years since, or more, that the author met monument referred to, that I saw Old Mortality engaged in his this singular person in the churchyard of Dunnotlar, when daily task of cleaning and repairing the ornaments and epitaphs spending a day or two with the late learned and excellent upon the tomb. His appearance and equipment were exactly clergyman, Mr. Walker, the minister of that parish, for the as described in the Novel. I was very desirous to see somepurpose of a close examination of the ruins of the Castle of thing of a person so singular, and expected to have done so as bunnottar, and other subjects of antiquarian research in that he took up his quarters with the hospitable and liberal-spirited neighbourhood. Old Mortality chanced to be at the same place, minister. But though Mr. Walker invited him up after dinner on the usual business of his pilgrimage ; for the castle of Dun. to partake of a glass of spirits and water, to which he was notlar, though lying in the anti-covenanting district of the supposed not to be very averse, yet he would not speak frankly Mearns, was, with the parish churchyard, celebrated for the upon the subject of his occupation. He was in bad humour, oppressions sustained there by the Cameronians in the time of and had, according to his phrase, no freedom for conversation James II.
with us. It was in 1685, when Argyle was threatening a descent upon His spirit had been sorely vexed by hearing, in a certain Scotland, and Monmouth was preparing to invade the west of Aberdonian kirk, the psalmody directed by a pitch-pipe, or England, that the Privy Council of Scotland, with cruel pre- some similar instrument, which was to Old Mortality the caution, made a general arrest of more than a hundred persons abomination of abominations. Perhaps, after all, he did not in the southern and westem provinces, supposed, from their re- fee! himself at ease with his company; he might suspect the ligious principles, to be inimical to Government, together with questions asked by a north-country minister and a young bar. many women and children. These captives were driven north- rister to savour more of idle curiosity than profit. At any rate, ward like a flock of bullocks, but with less precaution to pro- in the phrase of John Bunyan, Old Mortality went on his way, vide for their wants, and finally penned up in a subterranean and I saw him no more. dungeon in the Castle of Dunnottar, having a window opening The remarkable figure and occupation of this ancient pilgrim to the front of a precipice which overhangs the German Ocean. was recalled to my memory by an account transmitted by my They had suffered not a little on the journey, and were much hurt friend Mr. Joseph Train, supervisor of excise at Dumfries, to both at the scoffs of the northern prelatists, and the mocks, whom I owe many obligations of a similar nature. From this, gibes, and contemptuous tunex played by the fiddlers and pipers besides some other circumstances, among, which are those of who had come from every quarter as ihey pa-sed, to triumph the old man's death, I learned the particulars described in the over the revilers of their calling. The repose which the
melan- text. I am also informed, that the old palmer's family, in the choly dungeon affordeu vem, was any thing but undisturbed. third generation, survives, and is highly respected both for The guards made them pay for every indulgence, even that of talents and worth. water; and when some of the priscners resisted a demand so While these sheets were passing through the press, I received unreasonable, and insisted on their right to have this necessary the following communication from Mr. Train, whose undevia or life untaxed, their keepers emptied the water on the prison ting kindners had, during the intervals of laborious duty, colfloor, saying. "If they were obliged to bring water for the cant lected its materials from an indubitable source. ing whigs, they were not bound to afford them the use of buwis "In the course of my periodical visits to the Glenkens, I have or pitchers gratis."
become intimately acquainted with Robert Paterson, a son of to this prison, which is still termed the Whig's Vault, several Old Mortality, who lives in the little village of Balmaclellan ; died of the diseases incidental to such a situation ; and others and althougli he is now in the 70th year of his age, preserves broke their limbs, and incurred fatal injury, in desperate at all the vivacity of youth-has a most retentive memory, and a lempts to escape from their stern prison house. Over the graves mind stored with information far above what could beexpected of these unhappy persons, their friends, after the Revolution, from a person in his station of life. To lum I am indebted for erected a monument with a wuitable inscription.
the following articulars relative to his father, and his descendThis peculiar shrine of the Whig martyrs is very much ho- ants down to the present time. noured by their descendants, though residing at a great distance “Ru bert Paterson, alias Old Mortality, was the son of Walter from the land of their captivity and death. My friend, the Paterson and Margaret Scott, who occupied the farm of Hag. Rev. Mr. Walker, told me, that being once upon a tour in the gisha, in the parish of Hawick, during nearly the first half of south of Scotland, probably about forty years since, he had the the eighteenth century. Here Robert was born, in the memobad luck to involve himself in the labyrinth of pasrages and rable year 1715. tracks which cross, in every direction, the extensive wasle “Being the youngest son of a numerous family, he, at an called Lochar Moss, near Dumfries, out of which it is scarcely learly age, went to serve with an elder brother, named Francis, possible for a stranger to extricate bimbell; and there was no who rented, from Sir John Jardine of Applegarth, a small tract small difficulty in procuring a guide, since such people as he in Comcockle Moor, near Loch-maben. During his residence saw were engized in digging their peat-a work of paramount there, he became acquainted with Elizabeth Gray, daughter of necessity, wuch will hantly brook interruption. Mr. Walker Robert Gray, gardener to Sir John Jardine, whom he anerwards could, therefore, only procure unintelligible directions in the married. His wife had been, for a considerable time, a cooksouthern brogue, which differy widely from that of the Mearns maid to Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, who procured He was beginning to think bimself in a serious dilemma, when for her husband, from the Duke of Queensberry, an advantahe stated his case to a farmer of rather the better class, who geous lease of the feestone quarry of Gatelowbrigg, in the pa. was employed, as the others, in digging his winter fuel. The old fish of Morton. Here he built a house, and had as much land man ni tirst made the same excuse with those who had already as kept a horse and cow. My informant cannot say, with cerdeclined acting as the traveller's guide ; but perceiving him in tainty, the year in which his father took up his residence at great perplexity, and paying the respect due to his profession, Gntel.wbrige, but he is sure it must have iseen only a short
You are a clergyman, sir?" he said. Mr. Walker assented. time prior to the year 1746, as, during the memorable frost in " And I observe from your speech, that you are from the 1740, he says his mother still resided in the service of Sir north?"-" You are right, my good friend," was the reply " And may I ask
Thomas Kirkpatrick. When the Highlanders were returning you have ever heard of a place called Dun from England on their route to Glasgow, in the year 1745.6, nottar?"-"I ought to know something about it, my friend," they plundered Mr. Paterson's house at Gatelowbrigg, and car said
Mr. Walker, "since I have been several years the minister ried him a prisoner ny far as Glenbuck, merely because he said of the parish."-"I am glad to hear it," said the Dumfriesian, for one of my near relations lies buried
there, and there is, i been easily forescen, as the strong arm of the Lord was evident,
to one of the straggling army, that their retreat might have Delieve, a monument over his grave. I would give half of what I ly raised, not only against the bloody and wicked house of
Stewart, but against all who attempted to support the abomi- "Memorandum of the Funral Charges of Robert Paterson, nable heresies of the Church of Rome. From this circumstance dyed at Bankhill on the 14th day of February, 1901. it appears that Old Mortality had, even at that early period of
L. his life, imbibed the religious enthusiasm by which he aster- To a Coffon, wards became so much distinguished.
To Munting for do. " The religious sect called Hill-men, or Cameronians, was at To a Shirt for him, that time much noted for austerity and devotion, in imitation To a pair of Cotton Stockings, of Cameron, their founder, of whose tenets Old Mortality be- To Bread at the Founral,
0 26 came a most strenuous supporter. He made frequent journeys To Chise at ditto, into Galloway to attend their conventicles, and occasionally To 1 pint Rume, carried with him gravestones from his quarry at Gatelowbring,
To i pint Whiskie, to keep in remembrance the righteous whose dust had been
To a man going to Annan, gathered to their fathers. Old Mortality was not one of those To the grave diger, religious devotees, who, although one eye is seemingly turned To Linnen for a sheet to him, towards heaven, keep the other steadfastly fixed on some sub. lunary object. As his enthusiasm increased, his journeys into Galloway became more frequent; and he gradually neglected
Taken off him when dead, 1 even the common prudential duty of providing for bis offspring. From about the year 1758, he neglected wholly to return from
0 14 Galloway to his wife and five children at Gatelowbrige, which induced her to send her eldest son Walter, then only twelve
"The above account is authenticated by the son of the day years of age, to Galloway, in search of his father. After tra ceased, versing nearly the whole of that extensive district, from the "My friend was prevented by indisposition from even going Nick of Benncorie to the Fell of Barullion, he found him at to Bankhill to attend the funeral of his father, which I re last working on the Cameronian monuments,
in the old kirk very much, as he is not aware in what churchyard he was yard of Kirkchrist, on the west side of the Dee, opposite the terred. town of Kirkcudbright. The little wanderer used all the influ. "For the purpose of erecting a sma!! monument to his so ence in his power to induce his father to return to his family ; mory, I have made every possible inquiry, wherever I thought but in vain. Mrs. Paterson sent even some of her female chill there was the least chance of finding out where Old Martel dren into Galloway in search of their father, for the same purpose
was laid ; but I have done so in vain, as his death is not reg of persuading him to return home; but without any
success. Altered in the session book of any of the neighbouring parisien last, in the summer of 1768, she removed to the little upland me sorry to think, that in all probability, this singular persat village of Balınaclellan, in the Glenkens of Galloway, where, who spent so many years of his lengthened existence in string upon the small pittance derived from keeping a little school, with his chisel and mallet to perpetuate the memory of mun she supported her numerous family in a respectable manner.
less deserving than himself, must remain even without a sings "There is a small monumental stone in the farm of the Cal stone to mark out the resting place of bis mortal rempuas don, near the House of the Hill, in Wigtonshire, which is highly “Old Mortality had three sons, Robert, Walter, and Joha, venerated as being the first erected, by Old Mortality, to the the former, as has been already mentioned, lives 10 the villag memory of several persons who fell at that place in defence or of Balmaclellan, in comfortable circumstances, and is much their religious tenets in the civil war, in the reign of Charles respected by his neighbours. Walter died several years ert
leaving behind him a family now respectably situated in tha "From the Calden, the labours of Old Mortality, in the point. John went to America in the year 1776, and, after van course of time, spread over nearly all the Lowlands of Scotland. ous turns of fortune, settled at Baltimore.” There are few churchyards in Ayrshire, Galloway, or Dumfries
Old Nol himself is said to have loved an innocent jest. (Se shiro, where the work of bis chisel is not yet to be seen. It is Captain Hodgson's Memoirs.) Old Mortality somewhat resem casily distinguished from the work of any other artist by the bled the Protector in this turn to festivity. Like Master Silence, primitive rudeness of the emblems of death, and of the inscrip he had been merry twice and once in his time, but even la uons which adorn the ill-formed blocks of his erection. This jests were of a melancholy and sepulchral nature, and some task of repairing and crecting gravestones, practised without times attended with inconvenience to himself, as will appet fee or reward, was the only ostensible employment of this sin- from the following anecdote: gular person for upwards of forty years. The door of every
The old man was at one time following his wonted oceup Cameronian's house was indeed open to him at all times when tion of repairing the tombs of the
martyrs, in the churchyard of he chose to enter, and he was gladly received as an inmate of Girthon, and the sexton of the parish was plying his kindral the family; but he did not invariably accept of these civilities,
task at no small distance. Some roguish urchins were sporting as may be seen by the following account of his frugal expenses, near them, and by their noisy gambols disturbing the old rata found, amongst other little papers, (some of which I have like in their serious occupation. The most petulant of the juvenil wise in my possession,) in his pocket-book after his death. party were two or three boys, grandchildren of a person well "Gatehouse of Fleet, 4th February, 1796.
known by the name of Cooper Climent. This artist enjoyed
almost a monopoly in Girthon and the neighbouring parishet ROBERT PATERSON debtor to MARGARET CHRYSTALE.
for making and selling ladles, caups, bickers, bowls, sports, L.
d. cogues, and trenchers, formed of wood, for the use of the To drye Lodginge for seven weeks,
0 4 1 country people. I must be noticed, that notwithstanding the To Four Auchlet of Ait Meal,
excellence of the Cooper's vessels, they were apt. when 10 To 6 Lippies of Potatoes,
1 3 to impart a reddish tinge to whatever liquor was put into them, To Lent Money at the time of Mr. Reid's
a circumstance not uncommon in like cases, Sacrament,
The grandchildren of this dealer in wooden work took it inb To 3 Chappios of Yell with Sandy the Keel
their head to ask the sexton, what use he could possibly sala man,
9 of the numerous fragments of old coffins which were thrown
up in opening new graves. “Do you not know," said Old Men
0 15 5 tality," that he sells them to your grandfather, who make Received in part,
0 10 0 them into spoons, trenchers, bickers, bowies, and so forth to
At this assertion, the youthful group broke up in great confused Unpaid, 0 5 5 and disgust, on reflecting how many meals they had eaten
of dishes which, by Old Mortality's account, were oply his " This statement shows the religious wanderer to have been be used at a banquet of witches or of ghoules. They carried very poor in his old age ; but he was so more by choice than the tidings home, wlien many a dinner was spoiled by the lealk through necessity, as at the period here alluded to his children ing which the intelligence imparted; for the account of the were all comfortably situated, and were most anxious to keep materials was supposed to explain the reddish tinge which, even their father at home, but no entreaty could induce him to alter in the days of the Cooper's fame, had seemed somewhat cupi his erratic way of life. He travelled from one churchyard to cious. The ware of Cooper Climent was rejected in hormat another, mounted on his old white pony, till the last day of his much to the benefit of his rivals the muggers, who dealt en existence, and died, as you have described, at Bankhill, near earthenware. The man of cutty-spoon and ladle saw his trade Lockerby, on the 14th February, 1801, in the 86th year of his interrupted, and learned the reason, by his quondam custopen age. As soon as his body was found, intimation was sent to coming upon him in wrath to return the goods which we his sons at Balmaclellan; but from the great depth of the snow composed of such unhallowed materials, and demand repaymes at that time, the letter communicating the particulars of his of their money. In this disagreeable predicament, the forlom death was so long detained by the way, that the remains of artist cited Old Mortality into a court of justice, where the pilgrim were interred before any of his relations could arrive proved that the wood he used in his trade was that of tis at Bankhill.
staves of old wine-pipes bought from smugglers, with whom " The following is an exact copy of the account of his funeral the country then abounded, a circumstance which fully account expenses,-the original of which I have in my possession : ed for their imparting a colour to their contents. Old Mortality • " The house was stormed by a Captain Orchard or Urquhart, who was
himself made the fullest declaration, that he had no other pur shot in the attack."
pose in making the assertion, than to check the petulance of "A wellkwn hamorist, still alive, popularly called by the name of Old
children. But it is easier to take away n good name tha Keelylags, who deals in the keal ar chalk with which farmers mark their to restore it. Cooper Climent's business continued to languist, Lue
and he died in a state of poverty.
bably at no very distant day) be my final resting-place Preliminary,
after my mortal pilgrimage.* Why soeke he with unwearied toil
"It is a spot which possesses all the solemnity of Through death's dim walks to urge his way,
feeling attached to a bunal-ground, without exciting Reclaim his long asserted spoil,
those of a more unpleasing description. Having been And lead oblivion into day?
very little used for many years, the few hillocks which "Most readers,” says the Manuscript of Mr. Pattie- rise above the level plain are covered with the same fon, "must have witnessed with delight the joyous short velvet turf. The monuments, of which there are burst which attends the dismissing of a village school not above seven or eight, are half 'sunk in the ground, on a fine summer evening. The buoyant spirit of and overgrown with moss. No newly-erected tomb childhood, repressed with so much difficulty during disturbs the sober serenity of our reflections by remindthe tedious hours of discipline, may then be seen to ing us of recent calamity, and no rank-springing explode, as it were, in shout, and song, and frolic, as grass forces upon our imagination the recollection, the little urchins join in groups on their play-ground, that owes its dark luxuriance to the foul and fester and arrange their matches of sport for the evening. ing remnants of mortality, which ferment beneath. But there is one individual who partakes of the relief The daisy which sprinkled the sod, and the harebell atforded by the moment of dismission, whose feelings which hangs over it, derive their pure nourishment are not so obvious to the eye of the spectator, or so from the dew of heaven, and their growth impresses ant to receive his sympathy. I mean the teacher us with no degrading or disgusting recollections. himself, who, stunned with the hum, and suffocated Death has indeed been here, and its traces are before with the closeness of his school-room, has spent the us; but they are softened and deprived of their horror whole day (himself against a host) in controlling by our distance from the period when they have been petulance, exciting, indifference to action, striving first impressed. Those who sleep beneath are only to enlighten stupidity, and labouring to soften obsti- connecied with us by the reflection, that they have nacy; and whose very powers of intellect have been once been what we now are, and that, as their relics confounded by hearing ihe same dull lesson repeated are now identified with their mother earth, ours shall, a hundred times by rote, and only varied by the at some future period, undergo the same transformavarious blunders of the reciters. Even the flowers of tion. classic genius, with which his solitary fancy is most "Yet, although the moss has been collected on the gratified, have been rendered degraded, in his imagi, most modern of these humble tombs during four nation, by their connexion with tears, with errors, and generations of mankind, the memory of some of with punishment; so that the Eclogues of Virgil and those who sleep beneath them is still held in reverent Odes of Horace are each inseparably allied in associa- remembrance." It is true, that, upon the largest, and, tion with the sullen figure and monotonous recitation to an antiquary, the most interesting monument of of some blubbering school-boy. If to these mental the group, which bears the effigies of a doughty distresses are added a delicate frame of body, and knight in his hood of mail, with his shield hanging on a mind ambitious of some higher distinction than that his breast, the armorial bearings are defaced by time, of being the tyrant of childhood, the reader may have and a few worn-out letters may be read at the pleasure some slight conception of the relief which a solitary of the deciphercr, Dns. Johan --- de Hamel, walk, in the cool of a fine summer evening, affords to Johan ---de Lamel--- And it is also true, that of the head which has ached, and the nerves which another tomb, richly sculptured with an ornamented have been shattered, for so many hours, in plying the cross, mitre, and pastoral staff, tradition can only irksonic task of public instruction.
aver, that a certain nameless bishop lies interred there. "To me these evening strolls have been the happiest But upon other two stones which lie beside, may hours of an unhappy life; and if any gentle reader still be read in rude prose, and ruder rhyme, the history shall hereafter find pleasure in perusing these lucubra- of those who sleep beneath them. They belong, we tions, I am not unwilling he should know, that the are assured by the epitaph, to the class of persecuted plan of them has been usually traced in those mo- Preshyterians who afforded a melancholy subject for mients, when relief from toil and clamour, combined history in the times of Charles II. and his successor.t with the quiet scenery around me, has disposed my In returning from the battle of Pentland Hills, a party mind to the task of composition.
of the msurgents had been attacked in this glen by a "My chic haunt, in these hours of golden leisure, small detachment of the King's troops, and three or is the banks of the small stream, which, winding four either killed in the skirmish, or shot after being through a 'lone vale of green bracken,' passes in front nade prisoners, as rebels taken with arms in their of the village school-house of Gandercleugh. For the hands. The peasantry continued to attach to the tombs first quarter of a mile, perhaps, I may be disturbed of those victims of prelacy an honour which they do not írom my meditations, in order to return the scrape, or render to more splendid inausoleums; and, when they doffed bonnet, of such stragglers among my pupils as point them out to their sons, and narrate the fate of fish for trouts or minnows in the little brook, or scek ihe sufferers, usually conclude, by exhorting them to be rushes and wild-flowers by its margin. But, beyond ready, should times call for it, to resist to the death in the space I have mentioned, the juvenile anglers do the cause of civil and religious liberty, like their brave not, after sunset, voluntarily extend their excursions. forefathers. The cause is, that farther up the narrow valley, and in
*Note, by Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham.--That I kept my plign. a recess which seems scooped out of the side of in this melancholy matter with my deceased and lamented the steep heathy bank, there is a deserted burial friend, appeareth from a handsome head-stone erected at my ground, which the little cowards are fearful of proper charges in this spot, bearing the name and calling of Peter approaching in the twilight. To me, however, the also with a testimony of his merits, attested by myself, as his place has an inexpressible charm. It has been long superior and patron.-J. C. the favourite termination of my walks, and, if my * James, Seventh King of Scotland of that name, and Second kind patron forgets not his promise, will (and pro- | according to the numeration
of the Kings of England.-J. C