Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

ghost." A ghaist ! Preserve us a'! light, and the candlestick dropt from I hope it's naething o' that kind; but my hand. Darkness was now added I am sure it canna be for me, for I a am to my other terryrs-deep groans and nae waur than my neighbours, and moaning were heard, and a hissing that's a good deal to say."" Never noise, like the rushing of water, sound mind,” said I to Betty; " if it does no ed in my ears. more harm, it may e'en ring the bell Deprived for a few seconds of my as long as it pleases. You may go muscular strength, I attempted in vain away."_"Awa! 'deed, sir, to tell ye to move from the spot; a cold dew , the truth, I'm fear'd to gang down the trickled down my forehead, and I felt stair my lane, in case it's something all the horrors of a premature connec ụncanny." “ Go, you stupid fool, tion with the invisible world. Recoverthere is no such thing as ghosts," re- ing my recollection, I rushed up stairs, plied I, in a tone of assurance“ all The groans now swelled louder on my nursery tales." Betty went away, not ear, the hişsing noise again began, and without apprehensions of something to escape from both, I bounded up like supernatural ; but in place of going an antelope, taking the reach of two down to the kitchen, she went up steps at one. I had almost reached stairs.

the second floor, when my foot, stri. I now began to think of the cause king a soft substance violently, I lost of the bell ringing so unexpectedly, my balance, and tumbled over a hų. and at such an hour, for it was near man body. Gracious powers! what twelve o'clock; and as I myself had is this!" I involuntarily exclaimed, heard it distinctly, I could not be pere" Lord have mercy upon me!” cried suaded it was altogether an illusion. out a voice in a stifled tone of anguish, The sight of the bell-rope still vibra- " and preserve me from the Evil One! ting, to which I now turned my eyes, I'm gone now !—I'm murdered outalso shewed that there was soinething right." Luckily for us all, I had by in it more than the poor girl's appre- this time become so accustomed to fear, hensions. I trust I am not very defi- that it did not deprive me of the use cient in personal courage upon proper of my voice; and I cried out with occasions ; but I thought at this mo- vehemence, " Lights a light here ment that the candle gave a fainter there is a body in the stair.” A

light than usual, and another look chamber-lamp now peeped from the .convinced me that the flame was ac- nursery door. “! There it's again!" tually of a deeper blue than ordinary. said the voice; see till't coming To ascertain if any thing was wrong again !-the awfu' thing's coming!" with the bell, I applied my hand to The whole house was now alarmed, the cord, and pulled it once or twice. at least all the grown-up inmates ; Mrs It rung violently, and a loud scream, Columbus appeared half-dressedand the sound as of a heavy body lights were procured, and I found by falling on the floor above, instant- this means that one cause of my terror Jy succeeded. Fear is sympathetic, was removed. The body upon which and I now began to feel that I was I had stumbled was that of poor Betnot insensible to terror. My stick also ty, who had fallen down in a fainting lost its balance, from some unknown fit at the second ringing of the bell; caușe, and fell from its situation in and the terror occasioned by my violent the corner ; and though at any other fall, and perhaps pain by the pros. time this circumstance should not have tration so suddenly of my specific graalarmed me, yet I cannot say I was free vity, (I weigh ten stone, jockeyfrom apprehension. I looked round the weight,) made her think the Enemy of room to see if the other articles in it Mankind had clutched, and was going retained their quiescent posture, and in to fly away with her out at the win. dread that the poker and tongs might dow. take it into their heads to waltz,- my " What a ridiculous business is pen and ink dance a saraband before this,” said Mrs Columbus ; "and how my astonished eyes,---and the tables does it happen that you and your masand chairs arrange themselves for a ter are scrambling in the stair together country dance. After a moment's he at this time of night?" and she eyed sitation, I snatched up the candle, and me, as if she had detected me in leserushed towards the door ; but, o hor- majesty to her highness." It's someror!-a gust of wind blew out the thing no canny in the house, mem,'

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

answered Betty, with great simplicie no persuasion could induce the girls to ty;

" for as I was sitting in the kito move from my side. Here, in close #chen all the bells rung at once; and conclave, it was resolved, in the first

when I went up the stair and found place, that the house was certainly it was naebody ringing, I was gaun up haunted by some “ perturbed spirit

to cry on Jenny, for I was feart, when or other; and, in the second place, the they a' rung again ; a flash of fire upon the suggestion of Mrs Columbus,

glanced in my een, and an unearthly it was unanimously agreed on, that, in

cry, like a howlet's whusht, made me case the alarming sounds had proceedali fa' down in a dwaum.”—The other girl ed from thieves, (though that was

seemed to swallow the ñarration greed- scarcely possible, considering the care dily, and the expression of her counte- had in locking the doors,) it would be

nance, and the trembling of her hand necessary to arm, and examine the di. which held the candle, shewed that ning-room, from which apartment the she was prepared to be as terrified as noise seemed to have proceeded. The possible, did any thing occur to alarm order of march was the next consider: her fears.

ation. I had the honour to be selectI have broken

my shins on your ed as the forlorn hope, and was armed account, Mrs Betty,” said I; you with a poker, the only weapon which

tripped me up so completely, as I was was at hand. The two girls followed, A running up stairs."-Lordsake, sir, one of them carrying a light, linked

was it you that fell aboon me! I'm arm in arm, like a Macedonian phaglad o that, for I thought it was the lanx ; and Mrs Columbus brought up ghaist, or that the ceiling o' the house the rear, protected by one of the chilhad fa'en down."-"Well, well,” said dren's school Bibles, which she was Mrs Columbus, “ I don't understand forced to take up, on the asseverations this story, but we will see about it of the lassies, that its possession would all tomorrow. Meantime, go you, keep us unhurt should the Enemy of Betty, and get the candle from the paró Mankind dare to shew his face. We lour, and go to bed.”—“ Me gang for descended the stair cautiously, and in the candle, mem!" answered Betty, "I silence, except the muttering of occa wadna gang

down the stair again the sional wishes for our preservation, by night, if ye war to gie me the haill the frightened maidens. The hissing house to mysell. I winná sleep anither noise had ceased ; no groans were night in't. 'I'm sure I wad gang out oʻ heard ; but at the bottom of the stair my judgment if I did." - Jenny, go lay the

candlestick which I had dropyou ; Mr Columbus will go with you, ped. The dining-room door was parand take this light in your hand.' tially open; I grasped the poker more “Eh, mem, you manna ask me to firmly in my hand, and set my teeth gang, för if I war to see ony thing un- in firm defiance. Before entering, eanny, I am sure it would drive me however, I listened for a moment, dementit.” "Come, give me the light my left hand in the act of pushand I'll go myself,” said I; “ we can- ing up the door. My female comhot stop here all night.” Just as I was panions, with eyes like saucers, stood about to take the light and descend, à two or three steps behind me, ready long-sounding “ hush” was heard, to scream at the sight of the terrible which was followed by a noise like the apparition. I pushed the door hastily report of a pistol, but which, increased open ; the hissing sound again was by the silence, resounded in our ears heard; a loud noise succeeded, minga like a peal of thunder. Mrs Columbus led with the crashing as of glass; the exclaimed in terror, seizing my arm, candle dropt from the hand that held “Gracious, what's that! Christopher, it, and was extinguished ; and the you must not go!" The two girls yell screams of the females added to the ed in chorus, their eyes like to start horrors of a scene already almost overfrom their sockets, and likewise clung powering. Had the devil, or a robber, found me for protection, ejaculating now appeared, he would have been in such portions of Scripture as fear had perfect safety for me, for my arms and not totally banished from their mo coat were seized, and that so firmly,

by the womankind, that I could not We now, by common consent, ad- move. By common consent, or rather journed to a bed-room, leaving the instinct, we again retreated up stairs, children to take care of themselves, as in hollow square, as well as three indi

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mory.

viduals could form a square ; and, opening of the door. One thing alone after some further deliberations, in remained to be accounted for, and which I reassured myself it could not that was, the supernatural ringing of be thieves, I procured a light, and the bell. This was also, after some went down boldly, the candle in one experiments on the bell-rope, satisfachand, and the poker in the other. The torily ascertained to have proceeded females, as usual, persuaded me not to from some slight injury to the spring. venture ; but, as I saw there was to be The family were now about to reno end to the business without a little tire, when the noise of a distant drum risk, I determined to persevere. At vas heard. " What can that be ?" the fatal door, I hesitated a moment, said Mrs Columbus; and new seriwhether or not I should enter, but at ousness, if not terror, again began to last. I rushed in, and found -how overspread our countenances. “ It shall I tell it? - that the cause of sounds very like the fire-drum," said our terror was - the bursting of two I." You're right, sir, you're quite beer-bottles, under the side-board. right; I'm sure it's just the fire

The extremes of passion are nearly drum," said Betty. " Eh ! it sounds allied, and laughing and crying often awfu' at this time o' night.” The conaccompany one another on any strong jecture was but too true. It was the excitement. I was almost ready to fire-drum; and a gleam of light to the drop the candle once more with down- northward, and a confused noise of right laughter; and all my alarm was voiceś, shewed that the fire was at no changed to mirth, by the appearancé great distance. Fire is a dreadful caof the beerless and shattered bottles. lamity; and even excess of caution is The noise I made reached the apart. laudable to prevent or lessen its de ment above, and I understood after- vastations. In a few minutes the parwards, before I had communicated tial appearance of the flames waving the true reason, it was conjectured beyond the chimney-tops pointed out that my laughter was hysterical, or the precise spot, and we were rivetted the sportive effusions of mirth-loving to the window looking at its incontrollfiends, enjoying the trepidation of me, able progress. I was on the eve of Christopher Columbus. But I soon putting on my hat, and going to see put an end to all apprehensions for if proper assistance had been promy safety, by calling out, -"Betty! cured ; but was stopped by the perBetty come down, and wipe up the suasions of Mrs Columbus, who said heart's blood of the murdered beer- that on these occasions in Edinburgh bottles !"_“Eh! what !” said Betty, there were always too many people as" is a' safe? --- Is there naething to be sembled. “ Besides," said she, “ you fear'd for?”—“Nothing but your own will catch cold, not being accustomed foolish imaginations," replied I. The to be out at night, and 1 should be party now descended. “Gude sake, is afraid to be left alone after what has that a'?” said Jenny. “Quite enough happened.” I allowed myself to be at once,” said Mrs Columbus ; " but persuaded ; though we could not think you must never leave your beer there of going to bed, but stood fascinated at again all night, Betty.-It is mon- the window, gazing in hopeless concern strously teasing to have the house for the preservation of the little furturned upside down for such a silly niture of the inmates. thing."

The flames now ascended to a great Our fears were now at an end. The height, and illuminated the surroundhissing noise, which sounded in the ing

streets to a distance. The chimmoment of alarm like the fall of a dis- neys rose in striking outline annidst tant cataract, was now easily traced to the general darkness. It was a subthe action of the fermenting liquid, lime sight; and could one have die and the noise that had alarmed us vested one's self of the apprehension of so much proceeded from the action of danger or ruin to those who occupied the same agent, in expelling the un- the houses in flames, it might have willing corks. The groans I heard, furnished a desirable study for a painton first leaving my apartment, were er. It struck one o'clock in St Giles's. traced to the fear of Mrs Betty,

which The noise increased, and the rattling made her fall in the stair ; and the gust of the fire-engines to the spot conveyof wind, which extinguished my candle, ed the idea of a city taken by storm. was found to be owing to the hurried The exertions to moderate the violence

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be

of the fire, seemed to little purpose. the houses in Edinburgh, being built "God preserve us from accidents by of stone, and their division-walls and fire!” said Mrs Columbus.-" It's stairs of the same material, fortunate. a terrible flame that !-we hear the ly renders loss of life an uncommon very joists crackling," answered Mrs accident. It was not till next mornBetty.

“ If the folks' lives be safe, let ing we learned that the fire we had their gudes gang,” remarked Jenny; witnessed had occasioned the death of

the warld's aye to the fore for the three unfortunate creatures, and what winning."

was more melancholy still, all of one In a little time the roof fell with a family. They had been roused from tremendous crash, and the flames their beds by the

progress of the flames, ascended with redoubled violence, far which had already cut off their retreat; above the surrounding buildings, car- and in the agony of despair, the poor rying with them the embers of the man, with a hatchet, had begun, it is wood, which were thrown like rockets said, to open a way through the parto a considerable distance. A kind of tition-wall of the neighbouring house, shout accompanied the falling in of when the hatchet unfortunately broke the roof,'and the noise of the voices was with the violence of the strokes. There heard in louder command and re- was now no alternative but in leaping ply. The appearance of the fire was from a height (three stories) which now strikingly grand ; the whole sur

uld render death as certain, though rounding houses and projecting chim- not so terrible, as being destroyed by ney stalks were lighted up with the fire. The alarm at this time had scarceglare; and the venerable spire of St ly been given the crowd had not col. Giles rose in magnificence, one side lected—when the man, an old soldier gilded by the light, while the other who had served in the Peninsula, tawas in deep shadow. Every scene in king a child in his hand, (a boy of nature acquires a deeper interest as hu- about six years of age,) took the fatal man beings are connected with it either leap. The child was killed on the spot,

as actors or sufferers; and had weknown and the man severely bruised. His wife, ** the melancholy fate of some of the a Portuguese woman, whom he had

inhabitants of the pile now in flames married in his campaigns, followed the es before us, we should have felt an in- fatal example, with an infant in her

terest incalculably deeper in the spec- arms not a year old. The unfortunate, ambasi tacle of the destructive element, whose woman and the little innocent were

rapid progress had rendered means of found a few minutes after beyond escape to them impossible. As it was, hopes of recovery; and the husband, we were fascinated to the spot, ex- whom his overpowering calamity had, pressing vain regrets for the loss which it is said, almost driven to distraction, must be occasioned to the poor inha- deposited (with a solitary exception) bitants, who very seldom avail them- his whole family in one grave, two selves of the protection of insurance days after. against fire. The structure of most of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PRIVATE NOTE, TO ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.
This is to be carefully read once a-day by all the citizens of Edinburgh,

till further notice. Hey guy I already tremble for the honour of the Scottish capital, when the King and his

Court shall visit us next summer ; and I blush even now to think that our city state must be beholden to John Wells’s hackney-coaches. What will the nobles of England and Ireland, and the Mayors of London and Dublin think of us, that we cannot afford a state coach for our chief magistrate, nor pay the expence of a mansion-house ! Upon my word, dearly as I should like to see the Parthenon of Athens perched on the top of the Calton-hill, I would almost vote to take the cash subscribed for this purpose, and cover our nakedness by the building of a mansion-house, and the purchase of a coach, for the credit of the city. Charles Oman is a good enough fellow in his way; but will it be decoroas on the part of the city rulers to ask his Majesty to a tavern dinner Vol. X.

3 E

either at Charlie's or in the Assembly-rooms ? Or is it consistent with the pride of Scotsmen to allow the first magistrate of their chief city to be obliged for the display of his brief dignity to John Wells ? No, fellow-citizens ! Let a coach be commissioned this instant from Messrs Crichton and Co.; let it be a good, thrifty, substantial article, with plenty of room inside, (magistrates are sometimes bulky men ;) and let the large building in the west of George'sstreet, called the Tontine, be immediately purchased, and fitted up as a mansion for our Provosts, where these right honourable gentlemen may do the honours of the city to illustrious strangers, as becomes the modern Athens. The thing is not yet too late. The building above-mentioned may be put in order in less than three months, provided it be immediately set about; and before his Majesty arrives, we may be in a situation to shew that we have a mansion for our Provost, as well as a palace for our Prince.

As I am on city politics, I take the liberty of suggesting, that in place of carrying our races in future to Musselburgh, it would be desirable to confine them to our own neighbourhood. For this purpose no place is so well adapted as the parks in the neighbourhood of the Palace, called St Anne's Yards, and the Duke's Walk ; and were Comely Garden and the park and garden to the N. E., (now divided from the Duke's Walk by an old dike,) purchased by Government, along with the two old houses, and the wretched cottages and cow-houses at Croftangrie removed, it would not only be a permanent improvement to the palace and city, but afford a racing ground no where to be surpassed. The unrivalled amphitheatre of hills by which this level track is surrounded, including the Calton-Hill and Arthur's Seat, would form a grand feature in the scene, and afford accommodation to twice the population of the capital to behold the races in safety. The tents and stalls for drinking, puppet shows, and all the other little requisites expected by the crowd at a horse-race, might be snugly arranged in the neighbouring valley; and there might our humble fellow-citizens amuse themselves at the rowley powley and quoits, or get tipsey in rural retirement, and sleep without danger of horses and carriages, till the bleating of sheep and the shrill cries of the wild birds aroused them to work and sobriety.

But whether or not it were desirable to convert this fine piece of ground into a racing-course, I do insist that the said property be purchased, the dikes levelled, and the old houses removed, for the purpose of making a proper entrance to the Palace, and forming a corresponding lawn. The old flower plot at the back of the Palace must also be removed, its enclosure taken down, and the ground levelled to the bottom of the walls. In this case, what a splendid approach might be formed, connected with the eastern termination of the road over the Calton-Hill, to our Palace of Holyroodhouse ;” and another, still more splendid, might be formed at the other termination of the Park, near to what is now called the Watering-Stane. One or other, or both of these approaches, is absolutely necessary to avoid the long, dirty, and narrow suburb of Canongate, and the still more horrible entrance by Croftangrie. No gentleman of moderate fortune, were such a piece of ground, and such a house, his property, but would adopt something of the kind I have now suggested ; and so satisfied am I of even its advantage to increase the beauty and grandeur of " mine own romantic town,” that I, for one, shall not advise his Majesty to come to Edinburgh if this be not done ; nay, so far as my influence goes, endeavour to prevent the royal visit altogether. It is far better that the King should dream or read of having a fine Palace called Holyroodhouse in the capital of Scotland, where his ancestors, and our native princes, held their royal courts, than that he should come unawares upon us, and find himself obliged to engage a bed at

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »