« PreviousContinue »
a public-house, where they had some refreshment, for which Hastie paid. And now,' said he, 'I will stop here for at least a few days, till I can get all my creditors together, and settle with them, and I wish you to be present when I do so, that I may justify you to every one. In the meantime, you may go home, and on next Friday I will be glad to see you in this house at twelve o'clock
A man was then sent round to all the creditors, telling them to appear on Friday, which they did not fail to do, and David French was also there. Every man was paid his full demand. They all had dinner, which Hastie had beforehand ordered to be prepared for the occasion. The table being cleared, Hastie proposed a bumper to the health of David French-A man,' said he, whom I have wronged very much, for which I am extremely sorry.'
The health being drunk, Hastie said : 'Now, gentlemen, you may perhaps be curious to hear the cause of my mysterious disappearance, which I will tell you in as few words as possible. You all know it is a year past in September since I set out for England with about ninescore of draught ewes. Although the sales were rather dull, yet I got them tolerably well off in the end. The young man that I took with me had found another master, and was going further on, so I turned to come home with my money, which was all in gold. I had first got forty pounds, which I sewed in a pocket in the inside of my waistcoat. I next got fifty pounds, which I put in a pocket in another part of my clothes, till I could find it convenient to sew it in. It was on the 12th of November; the day was very bad, and I had come a long way. I came to a public-house in the evening, where I had stayed before. The house was a good deal crowded, and I wished to have given my money in charge to the landlord, but he was intoxicated, and so I did not do so. I was shewn into a room where there were two beds; I asked who was to lie in the other one, and was told there was no person for it. I lay down, keeping on my waistcoat, but put my clothes and what was in them below my head. Being wearied, I slept very soundly till about three o'clock in the morning; as soon as I awaked, I felt for that part of my dress containing my money, and found it was gone. I jumped out of bed in a moment, and immediately found the clothes on the floor among my feet, but the money was away; I made such a noise, that I soon raised the most part of the family. The landlord came with a light, and understanding what was the matter, asked who had been in the other bed. The girl said, two men came after I was asleep, and she had put them in. Her master blamed her for taking in any person after he was gone to bed, and especially at such unseasonable hours. But then the deed was done: they were gone, and had taken my fifty pounds along with them, and there was no remedy. I stayed some days at the house, and sent in all directions, but no kind of description could be given, as no person had seen them but the girl, and she could tell nothing; so I was obliged again to take the road, which I did with a sorrowful heart; and all the way home to Scotland, I was thinking how I would face my creditors, or if I would face them at all. At last, I came to the house of this good man, and having had myself warmed and dried, it struck me, that if I called my people together, and told them, most likely they would not believe me; and what a pity would be, thought I, to suffer such a loss, and be counted a liar and a cheat into the bargain. It then came into my head that I would go to my brother, who, I had heard, was in a good way as a master-cooper at New York; but I considered that if I stayed a single day where I was, it would be known, and I would not get easily away. The horse was so wearied, that I could not think to take him one foot further, and it was the same with the dog, which had followed me all day through wind and rain ; and I knew that if I had taken him, I would not have got him into a vessel with me; so I left them both together, and set out for Greenock on foot. After waiting about a week, I found a vessel going to New York, and took my
passage in her. We had a quick but a very stormy voyage. On landing, I soon found my brother, who was glad to see me; he had plenty of work, but said he had not been well for some time. I procured a situation in a store as a porter ; but my brother getting worse and worse, and being unable to attend to any business, I left my place, that I might wait on him in his illness. One day, when we were alone, he said to me: “Now, Thomas, I am fully persuaded that I am dying, but I am very glad that you are here to be with me at my latter end. I have a little money, which you can more easily get
you could have done if you had been at home. I have put everything into writing that I wish to be done; and as all that I have will go to yourself and our brother James, I wish you to have fifty pounds more than he, to pay your expenses to and from America." He then gave me a list of some small debts he owed, which he wished me to settle; “ And now,” said he, “my last advice to you is, that you go home and pay all your debts, and then you can live in comfort; for as you have learned no trade, you cannot do much good here." I still had some hopes that my brother would have recovered, but he became daily worse, and in two weeks he died. I fulfilled all his injunctions to the very least, and now I have executed the last of them in paying you all. I am still sorry for the hurt I did to this honest man, David French; but if ever I can do him good, I will:
On hearing this strange story, all agreed that the narrator of it had done a very wrong thing in going away clandestinely, and that he should have faced his creditors manfully, as they all had great confidence in his integrity. At the same time, however, they gave him great credit for returning, particularly on poor French's account.
Hastie was fully sensible that he had committed a serious error, and therefore now did all in his power to repair it. Next day, he went to the toll-bar, and presented Mrs French with silk for a gown, and, 'David,
said he, “I have not much money, but there is ten pounds for you; with the one half, I wish you to buy yourself a suit of new clothes, and with the other five pounds, a good silver watch; and may God bless you both; and as far as I can further help you, I will still do it.'
THE GREAT DOUGLAS CAUSE.
Many persons will have heard of this celebrated lawsuit, without being informed of its particulars. It occurred in Scotland about a century ago, and created an extraordinary excitement. The following account of the cause is given by Mr James Macmillan in a neat little volume, entitled Guide to the Chapel-Royal and Palace of Holyrood :
Lady Jane Douglas was one of the handsomest and most accomplished women of her age, and bade fair, in her youth, to have been one of the happiest of her family; but, unfortunately, her fortunes were clouded in early life by the interruption of a nuptial agreement which was all but concluded between her and the Earl of Dalkeith, who was afterwards Duke of Buccleuch. Ever after, till she was advanced in life, she resolutely rejected all offers of marriage; but in August 1746, being then fortyeight years of age, she was secretly married to Mr Stewart, afterwards Sir John Stewart of Grantully. Mr Stewart was a younger brother of no fortune, and he had no profession by the fruits of which he could hope to maintain his lady in any degree equal to her high rank. Their whole resources consisted of an allowance of L.300 per annum, made to Lady Jane by her brother the duke, with whom she was, at the time of her marriage, on bad terms.
This misunderstanding with her brother was the reason assigned by Lady Jane for keeping her marriage secret; and the more effectually to conceal it, she and her husband went abroad a few days after their marriage. They resided abroad, principally in France, from 1746 till the end of December 1749. At the latter date they returned to this country, and took up their residence in London. They brought with them two male children, of whom they stated that Lady Jane had been delivered in Paris, at a twin-birth, in the month of July in the year 1748. When they came to London, they were in the deepest distress for want of money, their only resource, the allowance from the Duke of Douglas, having been stopped in the month of July 1749, before which time her marriage with Mr Stewart had been made public. In addition to their misery arising from this, Mr Stewart was heavily involved in debt, and totally without the means of paying his creditors, who threw him into jail
. In this appalling situation, some of the friends of her happier days applied to government on behalf of Lady Jane, and obtained a pension for her of L.300 per annum. By some cause or other unknown to us, although this munificence on the part of the crown to Lady Jane should have secured her and her husband from want, and might even have enabled them to live in comparative comfort, yet they still continued to suffer from penury to a deplorable extent, Lady Jane having been obliged more than once to sell her clothes and other trifling effects to support her husband, who was still a prisoner in the King's Bench prison. She lived for some time, while Mr Stewart was in prison, with the children at Chelsea; and from the tenor of numerous letters which passed between the unhappy pair, produced in the legal process afterwards spoken of, they seem to have treated the children most affectionately, and in every respect as the kindest of parents. In 1752, Lady Jane came to Scotland, and attempted to effect a reconciliation with her brother the duke, but in vainshe was not even admitted into his presence. She returned again to London, leaving the children in Edinburgh, under the care of a woman who had formerly