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Chapter 13
To face the garment of rebellion
With some fine colour, that may please the eye
Of fickle changelings, and poor discontents,
Which gape and rub the elbow at the news
Of hurlyburly innovation. --- HENRY THE FOURTH, PART II.
There had been great preparations made at Ellieslaw Castle for the
entertainment on this important day, when not only the gentlemen of note in the
neighbourhood, attached to the Jacobite interest, were expected to rendezvous,
but also many subordinate malecontents, whom difficulty of circumstances, love
of change, resentment against England, or any of the numerous causes which
inflamed men's passions at the time, rendered apt to join in perilous enterprise.
The men of rank and substance were not many in number; for almost all the
large proprietors stood aloof, and most of the smaller gentry and yeomanry were
of the Presbyterian persuasion, and therefore, however displeased with the
Union, unwilling to engage in a Jacobite conspiracy. But there were some
gentlemen of property, who, either from early principle, from religious motives, or
sharing the ambitious views of Ellieslaw, had given countenance to his scheme;
and there were, also, some fiery young men, like Mareschal, desirous of
signalizing themselves by engaging in a dangerous enterprise, by which they
hoped to vindicate the independence of their country. The other members of the
party were persons of inferior rank and desperate fortunes, who were now ready
to rise in that part of the country, as they did afterwards in the year 1715, under
Forster and Derwentwater, when a troop, commanded by a Border gentleman,
named Douglas, consisted almost entirely of freebooters, among whom the
notorious Luck-in-a-bag, as he was called, held a distinguished command. We
think it necessary to mention these particulars, applicable solely to the province
in which our scene lies; because, unquestionably, the Jacobite party, in the other
parts of the kingdom, consisted of much more formidable, as well as much more
respectable, materials.
One long table extended itself down the ample hall of Ellieslaw Castle, which was
still left much in the state in which it had been one hundred years before,
stretching, that is, in gloomy length, along the whole side of the castle, vaulted
with ribbed arches of freestone, the groins of which sprung from projecting
figures, that, carved into all the wild forms which the fantastic imagination of a
Gothic architect could devise, grinned, frowned, and gnashed their tusks at the
assembly below. Long narrow windows lighted the banqueting room on both
sides, filled up with stained glass, through which the sun emitted a dusky and
discoloured light. A banner, which tradition averred to have been taken from the
English at the battle of Sark, waved over the chair in which Ellieslaw presided, as
if to inflame the courage of the guests, by reminding them of ancient victories
over their neighbours. He himself, a portly figure, dressed on this occasion with
uncommon care, and with features, which, though of a stern and sinister
expression, might well be termed handsome, looked the old feudal baron