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TALES OF MY LANDLORD,
COLLECTED AND ARRANGED BY
SCHOOLMASTER AND PARISH-CLERK OF QANDERCLEUCH.
Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots,
I rede ye tent it;
An' faith he'll prent it!--BURNS.
Ahora bien, dixo il Cura; traedme, senor huésped, aquesos libros, que los quiero ver. Que me place, respondió el ; y entrando en su aposento, sacó dél una malletilla vieja cerrada con una cadenilla, y abriéndola, halló en ella tres libros grandes y unos papeles de muy buena letra escritos de mano.-Don Quixote, Parte I. Capitulo 32.
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 written in a fine character. - JARVIS'S Translation.
It is about thirty years since, or more, that the
author met this singular person in the churchyard The remarkable person, called by the title of Old of Dunnottar, when spending a day or two with the Mortality, was well known in Scotland about the late learned and excellent clergyman, Mr Walker end of the last century. His real name was Robert the minister of that parish, for the purpose of a Paterson. He was a native, it is said, of the pa- close examination of the ruins of the Castle of Dunrish of Closeburn, in Dumfries-shire, and probably nottar, and other subjects of antiquarian research a mason by profession—at least educated to the in that neighbourhood. Old Mortality chanced to use of the chisel. Whether family dissensions, or be at the same place, on the usual business of his the deep and enthusiastic feeling of supposed duty, pilgrimage; for the Castle of Dunnottar, though ly. drove him to leave his dwelling, and adopt the sin- ing in the anti-covenanting district of the Mearns, gular mode of life in which he wandered, like a was, with the parish churchyard, celebrated for the palmer, through Scotland, is not known. It could oppressions sustained there by the Cameronians in not be poverty, however, which prompted his jour- the time of James II. neys, for he never accepted anything beyond the It was in 1685, when Argyle was threatening a hospitality which was willingly rendered him, and descent upon Scotland, and Monmouth was prewhen that was not proffered, he always had money paring to invade the west of England, that the Privy enough to provide for his own humble wants. His Council of Scotland, with cruel precaution, made personal appearance, and favourite, or rather sole a general arrest of more than a hundred persons occupation, are accurately described in the preli- in the southern and western provinces, supposed, minary chapter of the following work.
from their religious principles, to be inimical to VOL. I.
Government, together with many women and chil- about it, my friend,” said Mr Walker, “ since I have dren. These captives were driven northward like been several years the minister of the parish.”— a flock of bullocks, but with less precaution to pro “ I am glad to hear it,” said the Dumfriesian," for vide for their wants, and finally penned up in a one of my near relations lies buried there, and there subterranean dungeon in the Castle of Dunnottar, is, I believe, a monument over his grave. I would having a window opening to the front of a preci- give half of what I am aught, to know if it is still pice which overhangs the German Ocean. They in existence.”—“ He was one of those who perished had suffered not a little on the journey, and were in the Whig's Vault at the castle ?" said the minister; much hurt both at the scoffs of the northern prela-“ for there are few southlanders besides lying in tists, and the mocks, gibes, and contemptuous tunes our churchyard, and none, I think, having monuplayed by the fiddlers and pipers who had come ments.”—“ Even sae—even sae," said the old Cafrom every quarter as they passed, to triumph over meronian, for such was the farmer. He then laid the revilers of their calling. The repose which the down his spade, cast on his coat, and heartily offered melancholy dungeon afforded them was anything to see the minister out of the moss, if he should lose but undisturbed. The guards made them pay for the rest of the day's dargue. Mr Walker was able every indulgence, even that of water; and when to requite him amply, in his opinion, by reciting some of the prisoners resisted å demand so unrea the epitaph, which he remembered by heart. The sonable, and insisted on their right to have this ne old man was enchanted with finding the memory cessary of life untaxed, their keepers emptied the of his grandfather or great-grandfather faithfully water on the prison floors, saying, “ If they were recorded amongst the names of brother sufferers; obliged to bring water for the canting whigs, they and rejecting all other offers of recompense, only were not bound to afford them the use of bowls or requested, after he had guided Mr Walker to a safe pitchers gratis."
and dry road, that he would let him have a written In this prison, which is still termed the Whig's copy of the inscription. Vault, several died of the diseases incidental to such It was whilst I was listening to this story, and a situation, and others broke their limbs, and in- looking at the monument referred to, that I saw curred fatal injury, in desperate attempts to escape Old Mortality engaged in his daily task of cleaning from their stern prison-house. Over the graves of and repairing the ornaments and epitaphs upon the these unhappy persons, their friends, after the Re- tomb. His appearance and equipment were exactly volution, erected a monument with a suitable in- as described in the Novel. I was very desirous to scription.
see something of a person so singular, and expected This peculiar shrine of the Whig martyrs is very to have done so, as he took up his quarters with much honoured by their descendants, though resi- the hospitable and liberal-spirited minister. But ding at a great distance from the land of their cap- though Mr Walker invited him up after dinner to tivity and death. My friend, the Rev. Mr Walker, partake of a glass of spirits and water, to which he told me, that being once upon a tour in the south was supposed not to be very averse, yet he would not of Scotland, robably about forty years since, he speak frankly upon the subject of his occupation. had the bad luck to involve himself in the labyrinth He was in bad humour, and had, according to his of passages and tracks which cross, in every direc- phrase, no freedom for conversation with us. tion, the extensive waste called Lochar Moss, near His spirit had been sorely vexed by hearing, in Dumfries, out of which it is scarcely possible for a a certain Aberdonian kirk, the psalmody directed stranger to extricate himself; and there was no small by a pitch-pipe, or some similar instrument, which difficulty in procuring a guide, since such people as was to Old Mortality the abomination of abominahe saw were engaged in digging their peatsma work tions. Perhaps, after all, he did not feel himself of paramount necessity, which will hardly brook in at ease with his company; he might suspect the terruption. Mr Walker could, therefore, only pro- questions asked by a north-country minister and cure unintelligible directions in the southern brogue, a young barrister to savour more of idle curiosity which differs widely from that of the Mearns. He than profit. At any rate, in the phrase of John was beginning to think himself in a serious dilemma, Bunyan, Old Mortality went on his way, and I saw when he stated his case to a farmer of rather the him no more. better class, who was employed, as the others, in The remarkable figure and occupation of this digging his winter fuel. The old man at first made ancient pilgrim was recalled to my memory by an the same excuse with those who had already de account transmitted by my friend Mr Joseph Train, clined acting as the traveller's guide; but perceiv- supervisor of excise at Dumfries, to whom I owe ing him in great perplexity, and paying the respect many obligations of a similar nature, From this, due to his profession, “You are a clergyman, sir ?" besides some other circumstances, among which he said. Mr Walker assented. “And I observe are those of the old man's death, I learned the from your speech, that you are from the north ?" particulars described in the text. I am also in_“You are right, my good friend,” was the reply. formed, that the old palmer's family, in the third “ And may I ask if you have ever heard of a place generation, survives, and is highly respected both called Dunnottar?"_“I ought to know something for talents and worth.
While these sheets were passing through the and devotion, in imitation of Cameron, their founder, press, I received the following communication from of whose tenets Old Mortality became a most streMr Train, whose undeviating kindness had, during nuous supporter. He made frequent journeys into the intervals of laborious duty, collected its mate- Galloway to attend their conventicles, and occasionrials from an indubitable source:
ally carried with him gravestones from his quarry “ In the course of my periodical visits to the at Gatelowbrigg, to keep in remembrance the rightGlenkens, I have become intimately acquainted eous whose dust had been gathered to their fathers. with Robert Paterson, a son of Old Mortality, who Old Mortality was not one of those religious delives in the little village of Balmaclellan; and votees, who, although one eye is seemingly turned although he is now in the 70th year of his age towards heaven, keep the other steadfastly fixed preserves all the vivacity of youth-has a most on some sublunary object. As his enthusiasm inretentive memory, and a mind stored with infor-creased, his journeys into Galloway became more mation far above what could be expected from a frequent; and he gradually neglected even the person in his station of life. To him I am indebted common prudential duty of providing for his offfor the following particulars relative to his father, spring. From about the year 1758, he neglected and his descendants down to the present time. wholly to return from Galloway to his wife and
“ Robert Paterson, alias Old Mortality, was the five children at Gatelowbrigg, which induced her son of Walter Paterson and Margaret Scott, who to send her eldest son Walter, then only twelve occupied the farm of Haggisha, in the parish of years of age, to Galloway, in search of his father. Hawick, during nearly the first half of the eighteenth After traversing nearly the whole of that extencentury. Here Robert was born, in the memorable sive district, from the Nick of Benncorie to the year 1715.
Fell of Barullion, he found him at last working on “ Being the youngest son of a numerous family, the Cameronian monuments, in the old kirkyard of he, at an early age, went to serve with an elder Kirkchrist, on the west side of the Dee, opposite brother, named Francis, who rented, from Sir John the town of Kirkcudbright. The little wanderer Jardine of Applegarth, a small tract in Comcockle used all the influence in his power to induce his Moor, near Lochmaben. During his residence father to return to his family; but in vain. Mrs there, he became acquainted with Elizabeth Gray, Paterson sent even some of her female children in. daughter of Robert Gray, gardener to Sir John to Galloway in search of their father, for the same Jardine, whom he afterwards married. His wife purpose of persuading him to return home; but had been, for a considerable time, a cook-maid to without any success. At last, in the summer of Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, who procured 1768, she removed to the little upland village of for her husband, from the Duke of Queensberry, Balmaclellan, in the Glenkens of Galloway, where, an advantageous lease of the freestone quarry of upon the small pittance derived fror keeping a Gatelowbrigg, in the parish of Morton. Here he little school, she supported her numerous family in built a house, and had as much land as kept a horse a respectable manner. and cow. My informant cannot say, with certainty, “ There is a small monumental stone in the farm the year in which his father took up his residence of the Caldon, near the House of the Hill, in Wig. at Gatelowbrigg, but he is sure it must have been tonshire, which is highly venerated as being the only a short time prior to the year 1746, as, during first erected, by Old Mortality, to the memory of the memorable frost in 1740, he says his mother several persons who fell at that place in defence of still resided in the service of Sir Thomas Kirk- their religious tenets in the civil war, in the reign patrick. When the Highlanders were returning of Charles Second. 1 from England on their route to Glasgow, in the “ From the Caldon, the labours of Old Mortality, year 1745-6, they plundered Mr Paterson's house in the course of time, spread over nearly all the at Gatelowbrigg, and carried him a prisoner as far Lowlands of Scotland. There are few churchyards as Glenbuck, merely because he said to one of the in Ayrshire, Galloway, or Dumfries-shire, where straggling army, that their retreat might have been the work of his chisel is not yet to be seen. It is easily foreseen, as the strong arm of the Lord was easily distinguished from the work of any other evidently raised, not only against the bloody and artist by the primitive rudeness of the emblems of wicked house of Stuart, but against all who at- death, and of the inscriptions which adorn the illtempted to support the abominable heresies of the formed blocks of his erection. This task of repairChurch of Rome. From this circumstance it ap- ing and erecting gravestones, practised without fee pears that Old Mortality had, even at that early or reward, was the only ostensible employment of period of his life, imbibed the religious enthusiasm this singular person for upwards of forty years. by which he afterwards became so much distin- The door of every Cameronian's house was indeed guished.
open to him at all times when he chose to enter, “ The religious sect called Hill-men, or Came- and he was gladly received as an inmate of the faronians, was at that time much noted for austerity mily; but he did not invariably accept of these civi
!“ The house was stormed by a Captain Orchard or Ur. lities, as may be seen by the following account of qulart, who was shot in the attack.
his frugal expenses, found, amongst other little Vol. I. 603