Yes ye moss-green walls,
Ye towers defenceless, I revisit ye
Shame-stricken! Where are all your trophies now?
Your thronged courts, the revelry, the tumult,
That spoke the grandeur of my house, the homage
Of neighbouring barons?
Entering the castle of Ellangowan by a postern doorway which
showed symptoms of having been once secured with the most jealous
care, Brown (whom, since he has set foot upon the property of his
fathers, we shall hereafter call by his father's name of Bertram)
wandered from one ruined apartment to another, surprised at the
massive strength of some parts of the building, the rude and
impressive magnificence of others, and the great extent of the
whole. In two of these rooms, close beside each other, he saw
signs of recent habitation. In one small apartment were empty
bottles, half-gnawed bones, and dried fragments of bread. In the
vault which adjoined, and which was defended by a strong door,
then left open, he observed a considerable quantity of straw, and
in both were the relics of recent fires. How little was it
possible for Bertram to conceive that such trivial circumstances
were closely connected with incidents affecting his prosperity,
his honour, perhaps his life!
After satisfying his curiosity by a hasty glance through the
interior of the castle, Bertram now advanced through the great
gateway which opened to the land, and paused to look upon the
noble landscape which it commanded. Having in vain endeavoured to
guess the position of Woodbourne, and having nearly ascertained
that of Kippletringan, he turned to take a parting look at the
stately ruins which he had just traversed. He admired the massive
and picturesque effect of the huge round towers, which, flanking
the gateway, gave a double portion of depth and majesty to the
high yet gloomy arch under which it opened. The carved stone
escutcheon of the ancient family, bearing for their arms three
wolves' heads, was hung diagonally beneath the helmet and crest,
the latter being a wolf couchant pierced with an arrow. On either
side stood as supporters, in full human size or larger, a salvage
man PROPER, to use the language of heraldry, WREATHED AND
CINCTURED, and holding in his hand an oak tree ERADICATED, that
is, torn up by the roots.
'And the powerful barons who owned this blazonry,' thought
Bertram, pursuing the usual train of ideas which flows upon the
mind at such scenes--'do their posterity continue to possess the
lands which they had laboured to fortify so strongly? or are they
wanderers, ignorant perhaps even of the fame or power of their
fore-fathers, while their hereditary possessions are held by a
race of strangers? Why is it,' he thought, continuing to follow
out the succession of ideas which the scene prompted--'why is it
that some scenes awaken thoughts which belong as it were to dreams
of early and shadowy recollection, such as my old Brahmin moonshie
would have ascribed to a state of previous existence? Is it the
visions of our sleep that float confusedly in our memory, and are
recalled by the appearance of such real objects as in any respect
correspond to the phantoms they presented to our imagination? How
often do we find ourselves in society which we have never before
met, and yet feel impressed with a mysterious and ill-defined
consciousness that neither the scene, the speakers, nor the
subject are entirely new; nay, feel as if we could anticipate that
part of the conversation which has not yet taken place! It is even
so with me while I gaze upon that ruin; nor can I divest myself of
the idea that these massive towers and that dark gateway, retiring
through its deep-vaulted and ribbed arches, and dimly lighted by
the courtyard beyond, are not entirely strange to me. Can it be
that they have been familiar to me in infancy, and that I am to
seek in their vicinity those friends of whom my childhood has
still a tender though faint remembrance, and whom I early
exchanged for such severe task-masters? Yet Brown, who, I think,
would not have deceived me, always told me I was brought off from
the eastern coast, after a skirmish in which my father was killed;
and I do remember enough of a horrid scene of violence to
strengthen his account.'
It happened that the spot upon which young Bertram chanced to
station himself for the better viewing the castle was nearly the
same on which his father had died. It was marked by a large old
oak-tree, the only one on the esplanade, and which, having been
used for executions by the barons of Ellangowan, was called the
Justice Tree. It chanced, and the coincidence was remarkable, that
Glossin was this morning engaged with a person whom he was in the
habit of consulting in such matters concerning some projected
repairs and a large addition to the house of Ellangowan, and that,
having no great pleasure in remains so intimately connected with
the grandeur of the former inhabitants, he had resolved to use the
stones of the ruinous castle in his new edifice. Accordingly he
came up the bank, followed by the land-surveyor mentioned on a
former occasion, who was also in the habit of acting as a sort of
architect in case of necessity. In drawing the plans, etc.,
Glossin was in the custom of relying upon his own skill. Bertram's
back was towards them as they came up the ascent, and he was quite
shrouded by the branches of the large tree, so that Glossin was
not aware of the presence of the stranger till he was close upon
'Yes, sir, as I have often said before to you, the Old Place is a
perfect quarry of hewn stone, and it would be better for the
estate if it were all down, since it is only a den for smugglers.'
At this instant Bertram turned short round upon Glossin at the
distance of two yards only, and said--'Would you destroy this fine
old castle, sir?'
His face, person, and voice were so exactly those of his father in
his best days, that Glossin, hearing his exclamation, and seeing
such a sudden apparition in the shape of his patron, and on nearly
the very spot where he had expired, almost thought the grave had
given up its dead! He staggered back two or three paces, as if he
had received a sudden and deadly wound. He instantly recovered,
however, his presence of mind, stimulated by the thrilling
reflection that it was no inhabitant of the other world which
stood before him, but an injured man whom the slightest want of
dexterity on his part might lead to acquaintance with his rights,
and the means of asserting them to his utter destruction. Yet his
ideas were so much confused by the shock he had received that his
first question partook of the alarm.
'In the name of God, how came you here?' said Glossin.
'How came I here?' repeated Bertram, surprised at the solemnity of
the address; 'I landed a quarter of an hour since in the little
harbour beneath the castle, and was employing a moment's leisure
in viewing these fine ruins. I trust there is no intrusion?'
'Intrusion, sir? No, sir,' said Glossin, in some degree recovering
his breath, and then whispered a few words into his companion's
ear, who immediately left him and descended towards the house.
'Intrusion, sir? no, sir; you or any gentleman are welcome to
satisfy your curiosity.'
'I thank you, sir,' said Bertram. 'They call this the Old Place, I
'Yes, sir; in distinction to the New Place, my house there below.'
Glossin, it must be remarked, was, during the following dialogue,
on the one hand eager to learn what local recollections young
Bertram had retained of the scenes of his infancy, and on the
other compelled to be extremely cautious in his replies, lest he
should awaken or assist, by some name, phrase, or anecdote, the
slumbering train of association. He suffered, indeed, during the
whole scene the agonies which he so richly deserved; yet his pride
and interest, like the fortitude of a North American Indian,
manned him to sustain the tortures inflicted at once by the
contending stings of a guilty conscience, of hatred, of fear, and
'I wish to ask the name, sir,' said Bertram, 'of the family to
whom this stately ruin belongs.'
'It is my property, sir; my name is Glossin.'
'Glossin--Glossin?' repeated Bertram, as if the answer were
somewhat different from what he expected. 'I beg your pardon, Mr.
Glossin; I am apt to be very absent. May I ask if the castle has
been long in your family?'
'It was built, I believe, long ago by a family called Mac-
Dingawaie,' answered Glossin, suppressing for obvious reasons the
more familiar sound of Bertram, which might have awakened the
recollections which he was anxious to lull to rest, and slurring
with an evasive answer the question concerning the endurance of
his own possession.
'And how do you read the half-defaced motto, sir,' said Bertram,
'which is upon that scroll above the entablature with the arms?'
'I--I--I really do not exactly know,' replied Glossin.
'I should be apt to make it out, OUR RIGHT MAKES OUR MIGHT.'
'I believe it is something of that kind,' said Glossin.
'May I ask, sir,' said the stranger, 'if it is your family motto?'
'N--n--no--no--not ours. That is, I believe, the motto of the
former people; mine is--mine is--in fact, I have had some
correspondence with Mr. Cumming of the Lyon Office in Edinburgh
about mine. He writes me the Glossins anciently bore for a motto,
"He who takes it, makes it."'
'If there be any uncertainty, sir, and the case were mine,' said
Bertram, 'I would assume the old motto, which seems to me the
better of the two.'
Glossin, whose tongue by this time clove to the roof of his mouth,
only answered by a nod.
'It is odd enough,' said Bertram, fixing his eye upon the arms and
gateway, and partly addressing Glossin, partly as it were thinking
aloud--'it is odd the tricks which our memory plays us. The
remnants of an old prophecy, or song, or rhyme of some kind or
other, return to my recollection on hearing that motto; stay--it
is a strange jingle of sounds:--
The dark shall be light,
And the wrong made right,
When Bertram's right and Bertram's might
Shall meet on---
I cannot remember the last line--on some particular height; HEIGHT
is the rhyme, I am sure; but I cannot hit upon the preceding
'Confound your memory,' muttered Glossin, 'you remember by far too
much of it!'
'There are other rhymes connected with these early recollections,'
continued the young man. 'Pray, sir, is there any song current in
this part of the world respecting a daughter of the King of the
Isle of Man eloping with a Scottish knight?'
'I am the worst person in the world to consult upon legendary
antiquities,' answered Glossin.
'I could sing such a ballad,' said Bertram, 'from one end to
another when I was a boy. You must know I left Scotland, which is
my native country, very young, and those who brought me up
discouraged all my attempts to preserve recollection of my native
land, on account, I believe, of a boyish wish which I had to
escape from their charge.'
'Very natural,' said Glossin, but speaking as if his utmost
efforts were unable to unseal his lips beyond the width of a
quarter of an inch, so that his whole utterance was a kind of
compressed muttering, very different from the round, bold,
bullying voice with which he usually spoke. Indeed, his appearance
and demeanour during all this conversation seemed to diminish even
his strength and stature; so that he appeared to wither into the
shadow of himself, now advancing one foot, now the other, now
stooping and wriggling his shoulders, now fumbling with the
buttons of his waistcoat, now clasping his hands together; in
short, he was the picture of a mean-spirited, shuffling rascal in
the very agonies of detection. To these appearances Bertram was
totally inattentive, being dragged on as it were by the current of
his own associations. Indeed, although he addressed Glossin, he
was not so much thinking of him as arguing upon the embarrassing
state of his own feelings and recollection. 'Yes,' he said, 'I
preserved my language among the sailors, most of whom spoke
English, and when I could get into a corner by myself I used to
sing all that song over from beginning to end; I have forgot it
all now, but I remember the tune well, though I cannot guess what
should at present so strongly recall it to my memory.'
He took his flageolet from his pocket and played a simple melody.
Apparently the tune awoke the corresponding associations of a
damsel who, close beside a fine spring about halfway down the
descent, and which had once supplied the castle with water, was
engaged in bleaching linen. She immediately took up the song:--
'Are these the Links of Forth, she said,
Or are they the crooks of Dee,
Or the bonnie woods of Warroch Head
That I so fain would see?'
'By heaven,' said Bertram, 'it is the very ballad! I must learn
these words from the girl.'
'Confusion!' thought Glossin; 'if I cannot put a stop to this all
will be out. O the devil take all ballads and ballad-makers and
ballad-singers! and that d--d jade too, to set up her pipe!'--'You
will have time enough for this on some other occasion,' he said
aloud; 'at present' (for now he saw his emissary with two or three
men coming up the bank)--'at present we must have some more
serious conversation together.'
'How do you mean, sir?' said Bertram, turning short upon him, and
not liking the tone which he made use of.
'Why, sir, as to that--I believe your name is Brown?' said
Glossin. 'And what of that, sir?'
Glossin looked over his shoulder to see how near his party had
approached; they were coming fast on. 'Vanbeest Brown? if I
'And what of that, sir?' said Bertram, with increasing
astonishment and displeasure.
'Why, in that case,' said Glossin, observing his friends had now
got upon the level space close beside them--'in that case you are
my prisoner in the king's name!' At the same time he stretched his
hand towards Bertram's collar, while two of the men who had come
up seized upon his arms; he shook himself, however, free of their
grasp by a violent effort, in which he pitched the most
pertinacious down the bank, and, drawing his cutlass, stood on the
defensive, while those who had felt his strength recoiled from his
presence and gazed at a safe distance. 'Observe,' he called out at
the same time, 'that I have no purpose to resist legal authority;
satisfy me that you have a magistrate's warrant, and are
authorised to make this arrest, and I will obey it quietly; but
let no man who loves his life venture to approach me till I am
satisfied for what crime, and by whose authority, I am
Glossin then caused one of the officers show a warrant for the
apprehension of Vanbeest Brown, accused of the crime of wilfully
and maliciously shooting at Charles Hazlewood, younger of
Hazlewood, with an intent to kill, and also of other crimes and
misdemeanours, and which appointed him, having been so
apprehended, to be brought before the next magistrate for
examination. The warrant being formal, and the fact such as he
could not deny, Bertram threw down his weapon and submitted
himself to the officers, who, flying on him with eagerness
corresponding to their former pusillanimity, were about to load
him with irons, alleging the strength and activity which he had
displayed as a justification of this severity. But Glossin was
ashamed or afraid to permit this unnecessary insult, and directed
the prisoner to be treated with all the decency, and even respect,
that was consistent with safety. Afraid, however, to introduce him
into his own house, where still further subjects of recollection
might have been suggested, and anxious at the same time to cover
his own proceedings by the sanction of another's authority, he
ordered his carriage (for he had lately set up a carriage) to be
got ready, and in the meantime directed refreshments to be given
to the prisoner and the officers, who were consigned to one of the
rooms in the old castle, until the means of conveyance for
examination before a magistrate should be provided.