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The estate which my ancestor received from King Robert's bounty was not indeed large, but one or two prudent marriages augmented it considerably in the course of the century; and as the father and eldest son always adhered to the ancient rule of taking different sides on every occasion of public tumult and political dissension, while the younger branches were invariably portioned off with a sword or a crucifix, there was little chance of the barony's suffering any remarkable curtailment during several subsequent ages. were so lucky as to see through all the abominable errors of the Popish system earlier than most of our neighbours, and our timely conversion was not unrewarded even in this world. We were also good enough to stick by the Covenant, so that although the estate was given to an English officer in 1679, we recovered it in 1688, much improved by the management he had bestowed on it. Besides hedges and ditches, before unimagined, he had built a good house, and furnished it in a handsome manner; and I have even heard it whispered, that there was some money in the cabinet, which he never had any
opportunity of claiming, otherwise than by letters from Spain, for the gentleman was pleased to take service in that country immediately after the Revolution. At the commencement of the last century, then, our affairs may be said to have been rather in a prosperous condition.
My grandfather in due time succeeded to the property;―gave his hand to a young lady of great merit, who happened to be heiress of a farm that had often and often been talked of as lying in to the estate, and was now (it was indeed high time) legally united to it for ever; and in process of time begat a great many more sons and daughters than would have been at all consistent with prudence, had vaccination or cleanliness been at that period naturalized in our part of the globe.
They all died young, except John, Matthew, and Dorothy. The cadet was my father; and I need not inform you that you have the honour to be the lady's grandson.
As little need I tell that The Union was, at the time when it took place, and long after indeed, extremely unpopular in this part of the island. Some few approved of it from the begin
ning, because they were shrewd enough to foresee the benefits which it has eventually conferred upon commerce and younger brothers, and many more supported and applauded it for reasons of a more private nature. My grandfather despised the name of traffic, would have preferred to see five sons in their shrouds rather than one Wald in a furred gown and gold chain, and was too inconsiderable a person to be bribed, so that his voice was with the majority. And in this faith he religiously educated his children.
John, the first hope of the house, adhered to his father's prejudices; so firmly, indeed, that he even pushed matters considerably farther than the old gentleman's nerves would have approved of. In short, my uncle was one of those excellent protestants and patriots who quite forgot James II., in the immediate contemplation of Scotland degraded to a province of England. My father, on the other hand, was a soldier and a stout Hanoverian; and the two brothers first argued, then quarrelled, and ended with avoiding each other in calm and deliberate aversion. They had, though living scarcely ten miles apart, refrained entirely from
visiting each other during the three or four years that preceded my birth.
Both were men of stern temper and high passions. Each had married, each had become a parent-one (my father) had lost a wife in the interim; yet neither had, in joy or in sorrow, made the least advance towards a reconciliation. The two proud men were become strangers; they had hardened their hearts, and erased, to all appearance, every trace of sympathy.
My father had heard, without surprise, that the Laird had joined Charles Edward at Edinburgh, and gone with the Highland army into England. He had heard, also, that this proceeding was extremely disagreeable to his brother's wife, who, being a lady of the west country, abhorred the names of Pope and Pretender from her cradle; and who, moreover, was said to be, at this particular time, far advanced in a condition, which, however interesting and amiable, has never been celebrated for disarming contradiction of its sting..
At last came the full accounts of the catastrophe at Culloden. My father learned that his brother's
corps had been almost entirely put to the sword, and nobody dreamt that he, a man in all situations distinguished for violence of temperament, could have escaped the slaughter-unless, indeed, he had been disabled and made prisoner; a fate which, considering his station in life, and the feelings of an exasperated government, it was impossible not to regard as more cruel than any other.
The second day after he heard this news, my father mounted his horse and rode across the country, with a single servant, to Blackford. He found the house entirely deserted and shut up; and, calling on the minister of the parish, was informed that the lady had removed to Edinburgh two or three weeks ago, with her infant daughter, in the utmost distress of mind.-The total desolation of the old place affected the Captain a good deal, and he came home at night-fall in a gloomy mood.
The night, as it happened, set in wet and stormy after his return. He had supped, and was sitting alone by the fireside about eleven o'clock, when he heard some noise at the window; he thought it was the plashing of the rain, and did