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In the evening I had my revenge; for while the men were boasting after their fashion of their feats of activity and strength, I took up half a hundred weight, and challenged them to try who would throw it the farthest. I threw it a few steps; all the men tried again and again, but could not throw so far. Young Headcroft strained with all his might, but fell short; and after several attempts, each being less successful than the first, he grew peevish and angry. I again took the weight, and exerting myself for the honour of my country, if honour it can be called, with that peculiar spring of the whole body from the ground, which you, dear sir, have seen on many a market day, I fung the weight three times as far as I had done at first. They all seemed astonished, and would try no more: but young Headcroft said it was all a trick, he was sure. “No trick at all,” I replied, “but only practice: what made you mow better than I this morning makes me fling a weight better than you this evening.” However, he was much put out of his way by being outdone, even in so triding a matter, that it was not till I had put myself under his tuition again, and he had an opportunity of showing his superiority in many ways, that he recovered his temper.'
Having furnished specimens which we consider favourable of the author's manner, we will not do him the injustice to attempt an abridgment of his narrative.
ART. VII.-Winter Evening Tales, collected among the
cottagers in the South of Scotland, by James Hogg. 2 vols. 12mo.
[It was sometime since announced in the Edinburgh Journals, that the Ettrick Shepherd,' was engaged in making a collection of popular tales and traditions among the peasantry of Scotland. The result of his labour's has at length reached us in the volumes above mentioned. We extract the two following tales, not as the best, but among the shortest, and as a fair specimen of the whole.]
THE WIFE OF LOCHMABEN. Not many years ago, there lived in the ancient royal borough of Lochmaben, an amiable and good christian woman, the wife of a blacksmith, named James Neil, whose death gave rise to a singularly romantic story, and, finally, to a criminal trial at the Circuit-Court of Dumfries. The story was related to me by a strolling gipsy of the town of Lochmaben, pretty nearly as follows:
The smith's wife had been for several days in a state of great bodily suffering and debility, which she bore with all resignation, and even cheerfulness, although during the period of her illness, she had been utterly neglected by her husband, who was of a loose profligate character, and in every thing the reverse of his wife. Her hours were, however, greatly cheered by the company of a neighbouring widow, of the same devout and religious cast of mind with herself. These two spent most of their time together, taking great delight in each other's society. The widow attended to all her friend's little wants, and often watched by her bed a good part of the night, reading to her out of the Bible, and other religious books, and giving every instance of disinterested kindness and attention.
The gallant blacksmith was all this while consoling himself in the company of another jolly buxom quean, of the tinker breed, who lived in an apartment under the same roof with him and his spouse. He seldom visited the latter; but on pretence of not disdurbing her, both boarded and lodged with his swarthy Egyptian. Nevertheless, whenever the two devout friends said their evening prayers, the blacksmith was not forgotten, but every blessing besought to rest on his head.
One morning, when the widow came in about the usual hour to visit her friend, she found, to her utter astonishment, that she was gone, though she had been very ill the preceding night. The bed-clothes were cold, the fire on the hearth
was gone out, and a part of her dialy wearing apparel was lying at the bed side as usual.
She instantly ran and informed the smith. But he hated this widow, and answered her churlishly, without deigning to look up to her, or so much as delaying his work for a moment to listen to her narrative. There he stood, with his sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, pelting away at his hot iron, and bidding his informant“ gang to the devil, for an auld frazing hypocritical jade; an' if she didna find her praying, snivelling crony there, to seek her where she saw her last-If she didna ken where she was, how was he to ken?”
The widow alarmed the neighbours, and a general search was instantly set on foot; but, before that time, the body of the lost woman had been discovered floating in the middle of the loch adjoining the town. Few people paid any attention to the unfortunate circumstance. They knew, or believed, that the woman lived unhappily, and on bad terms with her husband, and had no doubt that she had drowned herself in a fit of despair; and, impressed with all the horror that country people naturally have of suicide, they refused her the rites of Christian burial. The body was, in consequence, early next morning, tied between two deals, and carried out to the height, several miles to the westward of the town, where it was consigned to a dishonourable grave; being deep buried precisely in the march, or boundary, between the lands of two different proprietors.
Time passed away, and the gossips of Lochmaben were very free both with the character of the deceased and her surviving husband, not forgetting his jolly Egyptian. The more profligate part of the inhabitants said, “ they never saw ony good come o' sae muckle canting an' praying, an' singing o'psalms; an' that for a' the wife's high pretensions to religious zeal, an' faith, an' hope, an' a' the leave o't, there she had gien hersel up to the deil at a smack.” But the more serious part of the community only shook their heads, and said, “ alas, it was hard kenning fouk frae outward appearances; for nane wha kend that wife wad hae expectit sic an end as this!"
But the state of the widow's mind after this horrible catastrophe, is not to be described. Her confidence in the mercy
of Heaven was shaken; and she began to doubt of its justice. Her faith was stunned, and she felt her heart bewildered in its researches after truth. For several days she was so hardened, that she dared not fall on her knees before the footstool of divine grace. But after casting all about, and finding no other hold or anchor, she again, one evening, in full bitterness of heart kneeled before her Maker, and poured out her spirit in prayer; begging, that if the tenets she held, were tenets of error, and disapproven of by the fountain of life, she might be forgiven, and directed in the true path to Heaven.
When she had finished, she sat down on her lowly form, leaned her face upon both her hands, and wept bitterly, as she thought on the dismal exit of her beloved friend, with whom she had last prayed. As she sat thus, she heard the footsteps of one approaching her, and looking up, she beheld her friend whom she supposed to have been dead and buried, standing on the floor, and looking at her with a face of so much mildness and benignity, that the widow, instead of being terrified, was rejoiced to see her. The following dialogue then passed between them, as nearly as I could gather it from the confused narrative of a strolling giysy, who, however, knew all the parties.
“God of mercy preserve us, Mary, is that you? Where have you been? We thought it had been you that was found drowned in the Loch."
“ And who did you think drowned me?”
“ Oh, fie! how could you do me so much injustice? Would that have been ought in conformity to the life we two have ,
led together, and the sweet heavenly conversation we maintained?"
“ What could we say? Or what could we think? The best are sometimes left to themselves. But where have you been, Mary?”
“ I have been on a journey far away.'
away, and had no time?” But you were so ill, how could you go away?” “ I am better now. I never was so well in my life, no, not in the gayest and happiest hour I ever saw. My husband cured me.”
“ How did he cure you?" " With a bottle."
“ Why then did he not inform us? I cannot comprehend this. Where have you been, Mary?”
“ I have been on a journey at a strange place. But you do not know it, my dear friend. You know only the first stage at which I rested on my way, and a cold damp lodging it is. It was at a place called the Crane Moor."
“ Heaven defend us! That was the name of the place where they buried the body that was found in the loch. Tell me implicitly, Mary, were you not dead?”
“How can you ask such a question? Do you not see me alive, and well, and cheerful, and happy?”
“I know and believe that the soul can never die; but strange realities come over my mind. Tell me, was it not your body that was found floating in the loch, and buried in shame and disgrace on the top of the Crane Moor."
“ You have so far judged right; but I am raised from the dead as you see, and restored to life, and it is all for your sake; for the faith of the just must not perish. How could you believe that I would throw away my precious soul, by taking away my own life?
My husband felled me with a bottle on the back part of the head, breaking my scull. He then put