FROM THE PAST.
"Domestic Annals of
VIL—AULD WATT OF
WALTER SCOTT OF
HARDEN, a famous Border chief, was this year (1567*) married to Mary
Scott of Dryhope, commonly called the "Flower of Yarrow." The pair had
six sons, from five of whom descended the families of Harden (which
became extinct) ; Highchesters, now represented by Lord Polwarth,
Raeburn (from which came Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford), Wool, and
Synton ; and six daughters, all of whom were married to gentlemen of
figure, and all had issue.
Harden was a man
of parts and sagacity, and living to about the year 1629, was popularly
remembered for many a day thereafter under the name of "Auld Watt." One
of his descendants relates the following anecdote of him : —His sixth
son was slain at a fray, in a hunting-match, by Scott of Gilmanscleuch.
His brothers flew to arms ; but the old laird secured them in the
dungeon of his tower, hurried to Edinburgh, stated the crime, and
obtained a gift of the lands of the offenders from the Crown. He
returned to Harden with equal speed, released his sons, and showed them
the charter. " To horse, lads !" cried the savage warrior, " and let us
take possession. The lands of Gilmanscleuch are well worth a dead son."
* This date (1567)
appears to be erroneous. The marriage-contract is dated March 21, 1576,
and is still preserved in the charter-room of Mertoun, the seat of the
present Baron Polwarth, auld Wat's descendant. But it does not confirm
the story of the " horse meat and man's meat for a year and a day," nor
of Harden undertaking to give his father-in-law the "profits of the
first Michaelmas moon." Auld Wat's son and heir, William, afterwards
knighted by King James, married (1611) Agnes Murray, daughter of Sir
Gideon Murray of Elibank, but the story of the wooing of " Muckle-mou'd
Meg," as told by Sir Walter Scott, is pure fiction, as is proved by
documents preserved at Mertoun House.
VIII.—STORY OF QUAKER RAEBURN.
Walter Scott of
Raeburn, brother of William Scott of Harden, had been converted to
Quakerism, and on that account was incarcerated in the Tolbooth of
Edinburgh. There it was soon discovered by his relations that he was
exposed to the conversation of other Quakers, prisoners like himself,
whereby he is hardened in his pernicious opinions and principles,
without all hope of recovery, unless he be separate from such pernicious
The younger son of the Quaker Raeburn was Walter Scott, commonly called " Beardie," great-grandfather of an illustrious modern novelist. Beardie, so styled from wearing a long beard, escaped Quakerism, but fell into Jacobitism at a time when that was not less dangerous than Quakerism had once been. The circumstances here narrated form part of what is alluded to by Sir Walter Scott, when he makes Jedidiah Cleishbotham confess himself as bound to a kind of impartiality between the Prelatic and Presbyterian factions of the seventeenth century by reason that "my ancestor was one of the people called Quakers, and suffered a severe handling from either side, even to the extenuation of his purse and the incarceration of his person." (" Introduction to the Heart of Midlothian.")