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father was a highly respectable writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, and was connected by blood with several noble families. Scott was a sickly boy, and lame from his infancy. His delicate health led to the cultivation of his mind according to his own tastes; and the love of fiction gave the chief direction to his studies and amusements. Gradually, however, his constitution was established, though he remained always lame, but wonderfully active. He went through the formalities of a lawyer's education, was called to the Scottish bar in 1802; was appointed Sheriff of Selkirkshire in 1799; and one of the principal Clerks of Session in 1806. During this period he had some independence and much leisure; and from the time when he published a German translation in 1796, to the appearance of the Lord of the Isles' in 1814, he was cultivating that taste which during ten years rendered him the most popular poet of the day. In 1814 . Waverley.' was published anonymously. The success of this remarkable novel, and the rapid appearance of a succession of works by the same master, produced an era in our literature. Never was such triumphant success witnessed during an author's life-time. In 1826, Scott, who was mixed up with commercial undertakings, and who had too freely used the dangerous power of anticipating revenue by unlimited credit, was brought to ruin by the failure of these artificial resources, in connection with publishers and printers. This is the heroic period of his life. His struggles to do justice to his creditors are beyond praise—they are for example, and are sacred. He fell in the contest with circumstances. The last words which he used in a public assembly were significant ones—they were those of the dying gladiator.]
Their morality was of a singular kind. The rapine by which they subsisted, they accounted lawful and honourable. Ever liable to lose their whole substance by an incursion of the English on a sudden breach of truce, they cared little to waste their time in cultivating crops to be reaped by their foes. Their cattle was, therefore, their chief property; and these were nightly exposed to the southern Borderers, as rapacious and active as themselves. Hence robbery assumed the appearance of fair reprisal. The fatal privilege of pursuing the marauders into their own country, for recovery of stolen goods, led to continual skirmishes. The warden also, himself frequently the chieftain of a Border horde, when redress was not instantly granted by the opposite officer for depredations sustained by his district, was entitled to retaliate upon England by a warden raid. In such cases, the moss-troopers, who crowded to his standard, found themselves pursuing their craft under legal authority, and became the followers and favourites of the military magistrate, whose ordinary duty it was to check and suppress them. Equally unable and unwilling to make nice distinctions, they were not to be convinced that what was to-day fair booty was to-morrow a subject of theft. National animosity usually gave an additional stimulus to their rapacity; although it must be owned that their depredations extended also to the more cultivated parts of their own country.
The Borderers had, in fact, little reason to regard the inland Scots as their fellow-subjects, or to respect the power of the crown. They were frequently resigned, by express compact, to the bloody retaliation of the English, without experiencing any assistance from their prince and his more immediate subjects. If they beheld him, it was more frequently in the character of an avenging judge than of a protecting sovereign. They were, in truth, in the time of peace, a kind of outcasts, against whom the united powers of England and Scotland were often employed. Hence, the men of the Borders had little attachment to their monarchs, whom they termed, in derision, the Kings of Fife and Lothian ; provinces which they were not legally entitled to inhabit, and which, therefore, they pillaged with as little remorse as if they had belonged to a foreign country. This strange, precarious, and adventurous mode of life, led by the Borderers, was not without its pleasures, and seems, in all probability, hardly so disagreeable to us, as the monotony of regulated society must have been to those who had been long accustomed to a state of rapine. Well has it been remarked, by the eloquent Burke, that the shifting tides of fear and hope, the flight and pursuit, the peril and escape, alternate famine and feast, of the savage and the robber, after a time render all course of slow, steady, progressive, unvaried occupation, and the prospect only of a limited mediocrity, at the end of long labour, to the last degree tame, languid, and insipid. The interesting nature of their exploits may be conceived from the account of Camden.
" What manner of cattle-stealers they are that inhabit these valleys in the Marches of both kingdoms, John Lesley, a Scotchman himself, and Bishop of Ross, will inform you. They sally out of their own Borders, in the night, in troops, through unfrequented by-ways, and many intricate windings. All the day-time they refresh themselves and their horses in lurking holes they had pitched upon before, till they arrive in the dark at those places they have a design upon. As soon as they have seized upon the booty, they, in like manner, return home in the night, through blind ways, and fetching many a compass. The more skilful any captain is to pass through those wild deserts, crooked turnings, and deep precipices, in the thickest mists and darkness, his reputation is the greater, and he is looked upon as a man of an excellent head. And they are so very cunning, that they seldom have their booty taken from them, unless sometimes, when, by the help of blood-hounds, following them exactly upon the track, they may chance to fall into the hands of their adversaries. When, being taken, they have so much persuasive eloquence, and so many smooth insinuating words at command, that if they do not move their judges, nay, and even their adversaries (notwithstanding the severity of their natures), to have mercy, yet they incite them to admiration and compassion.”
The inroads of the Marchers, when stimulated only by the desire of plunder, were never marked with cruelty, and seldom even with bloodshed unless in the case of opposition. They held, that property was common to all who stood in want of it; but they abhorred and avoided the crime of unnecessary homicide. This was perhaps partly owing to the habits of intimacy betwixt the Borderers of both kingdoms, notwithstanding their mutual hostility and reciprocal depredations. A natural intercourse took place between the English and Scottish Marches, at Border meetings, and during the short intervals of peace. They met frequently at parties of the chase and football; and it required many and strict regulations, on both sides, to prevent them from forming intermarriages and from cultivating too closely a degree of intimacy. The custom also of paying black-mail, or protection rent, introduced a connection betwixt the countries; for a Scottish Borderer, taking black-mail from an English inhabitant, was not only himself bound to abstain from injuring such person, but also to maintain his quarrel, and recover his property if carried off by others. Hence, a union arose betwixt the parties, founded upon mutual in. terest, which counteracted, in many instances, the effects of national prejudice. The similarity of their manners may be inferred from that of their language. In an old mystery, imprinted at London, 1654, a mendicant Borderer is introduced, soliciting alms of a citizen and his wife. To a question of the latter he replies, “ Savying your honour, good mistress, I was born in Redesdale, in Northumberlande, and
come of a wight riding surname, call'd the Robsons : gude honeste men, and true, savying a little shiftynge for theyr livyng; God help them, silly pure men.”
The wife answers,
“ What doest thou here, in this countrie ? me thinke thou art a Scot by thy tongue.” Beggar, " Trowe me never mair then, good deam; I had rather be hanged in a withie of a cow-taile, for thei are ever fare and fause." From the wife’s observation, as well as from the dialect of the beggar, we may infer that there was little difference between the Northumbrian and the border Scottish; a circumstance interesting in itself, and decisive of the occasional friendly intercourse among the Marchmen. From all these combining circumstances arose the lenity of the Borderers in their incursions, and the equivocal moderation which they sometimes observed towards each other in open war.
This humanity and moderation was, on certain occasions, entirely laid aşide by the Borderers. In the case of deadly feud, either against an Englishman or against any neighbouring tribe, the whole force of the offended clan was bent to avenge the death of any of their number. Their vengeance not only vented itself upon the homicide and his family, but upon all his kindred, on his whole tribe, and on every one, in fine, whose death or ruin could affect him with regret.
For fidelity to their word, Lesley ascribes high praise to the in. habitants of the Scottish frontier. Robert Constable (himself a traitorous spy) describes the outlaws, who were his guides into Scotland, as men who would not hesitate to steal, yet would betray no man that trusted in them for all the gold in Scotland or France. They are my guides," said he, “and outlaws who might gain their pardon by surrendering me, yet I am secure of their fidelity, and have often proved it." Indeed, when an instance happened of breach of faith, the injured person, at the first Border meeting, rode through the field, displaying a glove (the pledge of faith) upon the point of his lance, and proclaiming the perfidy of the person who had broken his word. So great was the indignation of the assembly against the perjured criminal, that he was often slain by his own clan, to wipe out the disgrace he had brought on them. In the same spirit of confidence it was not unusual to behold the victors, after an engagement, dismiss their prisoners upon parole, who never failed either to transmit the stipulated ransom, or to surrender themselves to bondage if unable to do so. But the virtues of a barbarous people being founded not upon moral principle, but upon the dreams of superstition, or the capricious dictates of ancient custom, can seldom be uniformly relied on. We must not, therefore; be surprised to find these very men, so true to their word in general, using upon other occasions various resources of cunning and chicane, against which the Border laws were in vain directed.
The immediate rulers of the Borders were the chiefs of the different clans, who exercised over their respective septs a dominion partly patriarchal and partly feudal. The latter bond of adherence was, however, the more slender; for, in the acts regulating the Borders, we find repeated mention of “ Clannes having captaines and chieftaines whom on they depend, oft-times against the willes of their landelordes." Of course these laws looked less to the feudal superior, than to the chieftain of the name, for the restraint of the disorderly tribes; and it is repeatedly enacted, that the head of the clan should be first called upon to deliver those of his sept, who should commit any trespass, and that, on his failure to do so, he should be liable to the injured party in full redress. By the same statutes, the chieftains and landlords presiding over Border clans were obliged to find caution, and to grant hostages, that they would subject themselves to the due course of law. Such clans as had no chieftain of sufficient note to enter bail for their quiet conduct became broken men, outlawed to both nations. From these enactments the power of the Border chieftains may
be conceived, for it had been hard and useless to have punished them for the trespass of their tribes, unless they possessed over them unlimited authority. The abodes of these petty princes by no means corresponded to the extent of their power. We do not find on the Scottish Borders the splendid and extensive baronial castles which graced and defended the opposite frontier. The Gothic grandeur of Alnwick, of Raby, and of Naworth, marks the wealthier and more secure state of the English nobles. The Scottish chieftain, however extensive his domains, derived no pecuniary advantage save from such parts as he could himself cultivate or occupy. Payment of rent was hardly known on the Borders till after the Union of 1603. All that the landlord could gain from those residing upon his estate was their personal service in battle, their assistance in labouring the land retained in his natural possession, some petty quit rents of a nature resembling the feudal casualties, and perhaps a share in the spoil which they acquired