enter into my ain private affairs

rest upon the testimony of that light-headed letter?” asked the clerk.
“Not very much,” answered the Bailie; “and yet there is something striking about it too — it seems the letter of a man beside himself, either from great agitation, or some great sense of gui christian louboutin sale lt.”
“Yes,” said the town-clerk, “it is very like the letter of a mad strolling play-actor, who deserves to be hanged with all the rest of his gang, as your honour justly observes.”
“I was not quite so bloodthirsty,” continued the magistrate. “But to the point, Butler’s private character is excellent; and I am given to understand, by some inquiries I have been making this morning, that he did actually arrive in town only the day before yesterday, so that it was impossible he could have been concerned in any previous machinations of these unhappy rioters, and it is not likely that he should have joined them on a suddenty.”
“There’s no saying anent that — zeal catches fire at a slight spark as fast as a brunstane match,” observed the secretary. “I christian louboutin hae kend a minister wad be fair gude-day and fair gude-e’en wi’ ilka man in the parochine, and hing just as quiet as a rocket on a stick, till ye mentioned the word abjuration-oath, or patronage, or siclike, and then, whiz, he was off, and up in the air an hundred miles beyond common manners, common sense, and common comprehension.”
“I do not understand,” answered the burgher-magistrate, “that the young man Butler’s zeal is of so inflammable a character. But I will make farther investigation. What other business is there before us?”
And they proceeded to minute investigations concerning the affair of Porteous’s death, and other affairs through which this history has no jimmy choo occasion to trace them.
In the course of their business they were interrupted by an old woman of the lower rank, extremely haggard in look, and wretched in her appearance, who thrust herself into the council room.
“What do you want, gudewife? — Who are you?” said Bailie Middleburgh.
“What do I want!” replied she, in a sulky tone —“I want my bairn, or I want naething frae nane o’ ye, for as grand’s ye are.” And she went on muttering to herself with the wayward spitefulness of age —“They maun hae lordships and honou christian louboutin boots rs, nae doubt — set them up, the gutter-bloods! and deil a gentleman amang them.”— Then again addressing the sitting magistrate, “Will your honour gie me back my puir crazy bairn? — His honour! — I hae kend the day when less wad ser’d him, the oe of a Campvere skipper.”
“Good woman,” said the magistrate to this shrewish supplicant —“tell us what it is you want, and do not interrupt the court.”
“That’s as muckle as till say, Bark, Bawtie, and be dune wi’t! — I tell ye,” raising her termagant voice, “I want my bairn! is na that braid Scots?”
“Who are you? — who is your bairn?” demanded the magistrate.
“Wha am I? — wha suld I be, but Meg Murdockson, and wha suld my bairn be but Magdalen Murdockson? — Your guard soldiers, and your constables, and your officers, ken us weel eneugh when they rive the bits o’ duds aff our backs, and take what penny o’ siller we hae, and harle us to the Correctionhouse in Leith Wynd, and pettle us up wi’ bread and water and siclike sunkets.”
“Who is she?” said the magistrate, looking round to some of h christian louboutin black is people.
“Other than a gude ane, sir,” said one of the city officers, shrugging his shoulders and smiling.
“Will ye say sae?” said the termagant, her eye gleaming with impotent fury; “an I had ye amang the Figgat-Whins,2 wadna I set my ten talents in your wuzzent face for that very word?” and she suited the word to the action, by spreading out a set of claws resembling those of St. George’s dragon on a country cheap christian louboutin sign-post.
“What does she want here?” said the impatient magistrate —“Can she not tell her business, or go away?”
“It’s my bairn! — it’s Magdalen Murdockson I’m wantin’,” answered the beldam, screaming at the highest pitch of her cracked and mistuned voice —“havena I been telling ye sae this half-hour? And if ye are deaf, what needs ye sit cockit up there, and keep folk scraughin’ t’ye this gate?”
“She wants her daughter, sir,” said the same officer whose interference had given the hag such offence before —“her daughter, who was taken up last night — Madge Wildfire, as they ca’ her.”
“Madge Hellfire, as they ca’ her!” echoed the beldam “and what business has a blackguard like you to ca’ an honest woman’s bairn out o’ her ain name?”
“An honest woman’s bairn, Maggie?” answered the peace-officer, smiling and shaking his head with an ironical emphasis on the adjective, and a calmness calculated to provoke to madness the furious old shrew.
“If I am no honest now, I was honest ance,” she replied; “and that’s mair than ye can say, ye born and bred thief, that never kend ither folks’ gear frae your ain since the day ye was cleckit. Honest, say ye? — ye pykit your mother’s pouch o’ twalpennies Scots when ye were five years auld, just as she was taking leave o’ your father at the fit o’ the gallows.”
“She has you there, George,” said the assistants, and there was a general laugh; for the wit was fitted for the meridian of the place where it was uttered. This general applause somewhat gratified the passions of the old hag; the “grim feature” smiled and even laughed — but it was a laugh of bitter scorn. She condescended, however, as if appeased by the christian louboutin wedding shoes success of her sally, to explain her business more distinctly, when the magistrate, commanding silence, again desired her either to speak out her errand, or to leave the place.
“Her bairn,” she said, “was her bairn, and she came to fetch her out of ill haft and waur guiding. If she wasna sae wise as ither folk, few ither folk had suffered as muckle as she had done; forby that she could fend the waur for hersell within the four wa’s of a jail. She could prove by fifty witnesses, and fifty to that, that her daughter had never seen Jock Porteous, alive or dead, since he had gien her a laundering wi’ his cane, the neger that he was! for driving a dead cat at the provost’s wig on the Elector of Hanover’s birthday.”
Notwithstanding the wretched appearance and violent demeanour of this woman, the magistrate felt the justice of her argument, that her child might be as dear to her as to a more fortunate and more amiable mother. He proceeded to investigate the circumstances which had led to Madge Murdockson’s (or Wildfire’s) arrest, and as it was clearly shown that she had not been engaged in the riot, he contented himself with directing that an eye should be kept upon her by the police, but that for the present she should be allowed to return home with her mother. During the interval of fetching Madge from the jail, the magistrate endeavoured to discover whether her mother had been privy to the change of dress betwixt that young woman and Robertson. But on this point he could obtain no light. She persisted in declaring, that she had never seen Robertson since his remarkable escape during service-time; and that, if her daughter had changed clothes wi cheap louboutins th him, it must have been during her absence at a hamlet about two miles out of town, called Duddingstone, where she could prove that she passed that eventful night. And, in fact, one of the town-officers, who had been searching for stolen linen at the cottage of a washer-woman in that village, gave his evidence, that he had seen Maggie Murdockson there, whose presence had considerably increased his suspicion of the house in which she was a visitor, in respect that he considered her as a person of no good reputation.
“I tauld ye sae,” said the hag; “see now what it is to hae a character, gude or bad! — Now, maybe, after a’, I could tell ye something about Porteous that you council-chamber bodies never could find out, for as muckle stir as ye mak.”
All eyes were turned towards her — all ears were alert. “Speak out!” said th christian louboutin outlet e magistrate.
“It will be for your ain gude,” insinuated the town-clerk.
“Dinna keep the Bailie waiting,” urged the assistants.
She remained doggedly silent for two or three minutes, casting around a malignant and sulky glance, that seemed to enjoy the anxious suspense with which they waited her answer. And then she broke forth at once — “A’ that I ken about him is, that he was neither soldier nor gentleman, but just a thief and a blackguard, like maist o’ yoursells, dears — What will ye gie me for that news, now? — He wad hae served the gude town lang or provost or bailie wad hae fund that out, my jo!”
While these matters were in discussion, Madge Wildfire entered, and her first exclamation was, “Eh! see if there isna our auld ne’er-do-weel deevil’s-buckie o’ a mither — Hegh, sirs! but we are a hopeful family, to be twa o christian louboutin bridal ’ us in the Guard at ance — But there were better days wi’ us ance — were there na, mither?”
Old Maggie’s eyes had glistened with something like an expression of pleasure when she saw her daughter set at liberty. But either her natural affection, like that of the tigress, could not be displayed without a strain of ferocity, or there was something in the ideas which Madge’s speech awakened, that again stirred her cross and savage temper. “What signifies what we, were, ye street-raking limmer!” she exclaimed, pushing her daughter before her to the door, with no gentle degree of violence. “I’se tell thee what thou is now — thou’s a crazed hellicat Bess o’ Bedlam, that sall taste naething but bread and water for a fortnight, to serve ye for the plague ye hae gien me — and ower gude for ye, ye idle taupie!”
Madge, however, esca christian louboutin uk ped from her mother at the door, ran back to the foot of the table, dropped a very low and fantastic courtesy to the judge, and said, with a giggling laugh — “Our minnie’s sair mis-set, after her ordinar, sir — She’ll hae had some quarrel wi’ her auld gudeman — that’s Satan, ye ken, sirs.” This explanatory note she gave in a low confidential tone, and the spectators of that credulous generation did not hear it without an involuntary shudder. “The gudeman and her disna aye gree weel, and then I maun pay the piper; but my back’s broad eneugh to bear’t a’— an’ if she hae nae havings, that’s nae reason why wiser folk shouldna hae some.” Here another deep courtesy, when the ungracious voice of her mother was heard.
“Madge, ye limmer! If I come to fetch ye!”
“Hear till her,” said Madge. “But I’ll wun out a gliff the night for a’ that, to dance in the moonlight, when her and the gudeman will be whirrying through the blue lift on a broom-shank, to see Jean Jap, that they hae putten intill the Kirkcaldy Tolbooth — ay, they will hae a merry sail ower Inchkeith, and ower a’ the bits o’ bonny waves that are poppling and plashing against the rocks in the gowden glimmer o’ the moon, ye ken. — I’m coming, mother — I’m coming,” she concluded, on hearing a scuffle at the door betwixt the beldam and the officers, who were endeavouring to prevent her re-entrance. Madge then waved her hand wildly towards the ceiling, and sung, at the topmost pitch of her voice,
“Up in the air,
On my bonny grey mare,
And I see, and I see, and I see her yet;”
and with a hop, skip, and jump, sprung out of the room, as the witches of Macbeth used, in less refined days, to seem to fly upwards from the stage.
Some weeks intervened before Mr. Middleburgh, agreeably to his benevolent resolution, found an opportunity of taking a walk towards St. Leonard’s, in order to discover whether it might be possible to obtain the evidence hinted at in the anonymous letter respecting Effie Deans.
In fact, the anxious perquisitions made to discover the murderers of Porteous occupied the attention of all concerned with the administration of justice.
In the course of these inquiries, two circumstances happened material to our story. Butler, after a close investigation of his conduct, was declared innocent of accession to the death of Porteous; but, as having been present during the whole transaction, was obliged to find bail not to quit his usual residence at Liberton, that he might appear as a witness when called upon. The other incident regarded the disappearance of Madge Wildfire and her mother from Edinburgh. When they were sought, with the purpose of subjecting them to some farther interrogatories, it was discovered by Mr. Sharpitlaw that they had eluded the observation of the police, and left the city so soon as dismissed from the council-chamber. No efforts could trace the place of their retreat.
In the meanwhile the excessive indignation of the Council of Regency, at the slight put upon their authority by the murder of Porteous, had dictated measures, in which their own extreme desire of detecting the actors in that conspiracy were consulted in preference to the temper of the people and the character of their churchmen. An act of Parliament was hastily passed, offering two hundred pounds reward to those who should inform against any person concerned in the deed, and the penalty of death, by a very unusual and severe enactment, was denounced against those who should harbour the guilty. But what was chiefly accounted exceptionable, was a clause, appointing the act to be read in churches by the officiating clergyman, on the first Sunday of every month, for a certain period, immediately before the sermon. The ministers who should refuse to comply with this injunction were declared, for the first offence, incapable of sitting or voting in any church judicature, and for the second, incapable of holding any ecclesiastical preferment in Scotland.
This last order united in a common cause those who might privately rejoice in Porteous’s death, though they dared not vindicate the manner of it, with the more scrupulous Presbyterians, who held that even the pronouncing the name of the “Lords Spiritual” in a Scottish pulpit was, quodammodo, an acknowledgment of prelacy, and that the injunction of the legislature was an interference of the civil government with the jus divinum of Presbytery, since to the General Assembly alone, as representing the invisible head of the kirk, belonged the sole and exclusive right of regulating whatever pertained to public worship. Very many also, of different political or religious sentiments, and therefore not much moved by these considerations, thought they saw, in so violent an act of parliament, a more vindictive spirit than became the legislature of a great country, and something like an attempt to trample upon the rights and independence of Scotland. The various steps adopted for punishing the city of Edinburgh, by taking away her charter and liberties, for what a violent and overmastering mob had done within her walls, were resented by many, who thought a pretext was too hastily taken for degrading the ancient metropolis of Scotland. In short, there was much heart-burning, discontent, and disaffection, occasioned by these ill-considered measures.3
Amidst these heats and dissensions, the trial of Effie Deans, after she had been many weeks imprisoned, was at length about to be brought forward, and Mr. Middleburgh found leisure to inquire into the evidence concerning her. For this purpose, he chose a fine day for his walk towards her father’s house.
The excursion into the country was somewhat distant, in the opinion of a burgess of those days, although many of the present inhabit suburban villas considerably beyond the spot to which we allude. Three-quarters of an hour’s walk, however, even at a pace of magisterial gravity, conducted our benevolent office-bearer to the Crags of St. Leonard’s, and the humble mansion of David Deans.
The old man was seated on the deas, or turf-seat, at the end of his cottage, busied in mending his cart-harness with his own hands; for in those days any sort of labour which required a little more skill than usual fell to the share of the goodman himself, and that even when he was well to pass in the world. With stern and austere gravity he persevered in his task, after having just raised his head to notice the advance of the stranger. It would have been impossible to have discovered, from his countenance and manner, the internal feelings of agony with which he contended. Mr. Middleburgh waited an instant, expecting Deans would in some measure acknowledge his presence, and lead into conversation; but, as he seemed determined to remain silent, he was himself obliged to speak first.
“My name is Middleburgh — Mr. James Middleburgh, one of the present magistrates of the city of Edinburgh.”
“It may be sae,” answered Deans laconically, and without interrupting his labour.
“You must understand,” he continued, “that the duty of a magistrate is sometimes an unpleasant one.”
“It may be sae,” replied David; “I hae naething to say in the contrair;” and he was again doggedly silent.
“You must be aware,” pursued the magistrate, “that persons in my situation are often obliged to make painful and disagreeable inquiries of individuals, merely because it is their bounden duty.”
“It may be sae,” again replied Deans; “I hae naething to say anent it, either the tae way or the t’other. But I do ken there was ance in a day a just and God-fearing magistracy in yon town o’ Edinburgh, that did not bear the sword in vain, but were a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to such as kept the path. In the glorious days of auld worthy faithfu’ Provost Dick,4 when there was a true and faithfu’ General Assembly of
the Kirk, walking hand in hand with the real noble Scottish-hearted barons, and with the magistrates of this and other towns, gentles, burgesses, and commons of all ranks, seeing with one eye, hearing with one ear, and upholding the ark with their united strength — And then folk might see men deliver up their silver to the state’s use, as if it had been as muckle sclate stanes. My father saw them toom the sacks of dollars out o’ Provost Dick’s window intill the carts that carried them to the army at Dunse Law; and if ye winna believe his testimony, there is the window itsell still standing in the Luckenbooths — I think it’s a claith-merchant’s booth the day5 — at the airn stanchells, five doors abune Gossford’s Close.
— But now we haena sic spirit amang us; we think mair about the warst wallydraigle in our ain byre, than about the blessing which the angel of the covenant gave to the Patriarch even at Peniel and Mahanaim, or the binding obligation of our national vows; and we wad rather gie a pund Scots to buy an unguent to clear out auld rannell-trees and our beds o’ the English bugs as they ca’ them, than we wad gie a plack to rid the land of the swarm of Arminian caterpillars, Socinian pismires, and deistical Miss Katies, that have ascended out of the bottomless pit, to plague this perverse, insidious, and lukewarm generation.”
It happened to Davie Deans on this occasion, as it has done to many other habitual orators; when once he became embarked on his favourite subject, the stream of his own enthusiasm carried him forward in spite of his mental distress, while his well-exercised memory supplied him amply with all the types and tropes of rhetoric peculiar to his sect and cause.
Mr. Middleburgh contented himself with answering —“All this may be very true, my friend; but, as you said just now, I have nothing to say to it at present, either one way or other. — You have two daughters, I think, Mr. Deans?”
The old man winced, as one whose smarting sore is suddenly galled; but instantly composed himself, resumed the work which, in the heat of his declamation, he had laid down, and answered with sullen resolution, “Ae daughter, sir — only ane.”
“I understand you,” said Mr. Middleburgh; “you have only one daughter here at home with you — but this unfortunate girl who is a prisoner — she is, I think, your youngest daughter?”
The Presbyterian sternly raised his eyes. “After the world, and according to the flesh, she is my daughter; but when she became a child of Belial, and a company-keeper, and a trader in guilt and iniquity, she ceased to be a bairn of mine.”
“Alas, Mr. Deans,” said Middleburgh, sitting down by him, and endeavouring to take his hand, which the old man proudly withdrew, “we are ourselves all sinners; and the errors of our offspring, as they ought not to surprise us, being the portion which they derive of a common portion of corruption inherited through us, so they do not entitle us to cast them off because they have lost themselves.”
“Sir,” said Deans impatiently, “I ken a’ that as weel as — I mean to say,” he resumed, checking the irritation he felt at being schooled — a discipline of the mind which those most ready to bestow it on others do themselves most reluctantly submit to receive —“I mean to say, that what ye o serve may be just and reasonable — But I hae nae freedom to enter into my ain private affairs wi’ strangers — And now, in this great national emergency, When there’s the Porteous’ Act has come doun frae London, that is a deeper blow to this poor sinfu christian louboutin shoe sale ’ kingdom and suffering kirk than ony that has been heard of since the foul and fatal Test — at a time like this —”

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