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قراءة كتاب Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 701 June 2, 1877

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Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 701
June 2, 1877

Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 701 June 2, 1877

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL
OF
POPULAR
LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

CONTENTS

WINDOW WILLIE
THE LAST OF THE HADDONS.
THE STORY OF THE PRISM.
THE ROMANCE OF A LODGING.
MYSTICAL PLANTS.
MEMORY.
GOSSIP ABOUT TAILS.


Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art. Fourth Series. Conducted by William and Robert Chambers.

No. 701. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1877. Priced.

WINDOW WILLIE

A TWEEDSIDE TRADITION, BY W. CHAMBERS, LL.D.

Crossing the tall and narrow old bridge of several arches which spans the Tweed at Peebles, is seen an aged gentleman riding composedly on a small white pony. His head is bent droopingly down, as if meditating on some important mission. From his general aspect, he may be a gentleman-farmer, disposed to take things easily at his time of life; or he may be some retired public official who keeps a pony, and in good weather pops about for amusement. His dress has nothing particular about it. He wears a blue coat with metal buttons and capacious outside pockets. His legs are endued in buff breeches, white rig-and-fur woollen stockings, and black spats, a kind of short gaiters, over the ankles. Any one may observe that he is no common person. At the end of his watch-chain dangle a gold seal, a Queen Anne sixpence, a small and very pretty shell, and a flexible watch-key. Instead of using a riding-whip, he has in his right hand a perfectly respectable gold-headed cane, with which he occasionally gives a gentle pat on the side of the pony. Altogether a creditable affair, as things went towards the end of last century.

This imposing personage, according to tradition, was proceeding in a southerly direction across the bridge from his residence at Cabbage Hall, on Tweed Green, in order to pursue his way down the right bank of the river to the mansion of Traquair. It is a pleasant ride of seven to eight miles; and looking to the leisurely progress of the little nag, it is not unlikely he may reach his destination in an hour and a half. So far well. But who is this venerable gentleman? His proper designation is of no consequence. Locally, and somewhat irreverently, he is known as Window Willie, a man of genial temperament, but who professionally commands a degree of respect in the neighbourhood; for he is the district inspector in relation to the tax on window-lights, and it is not surprising that with all his good humour people are a little afraid of him.

Is Window Willie going to inspect windows in that old weather-beaten château of the Earl of Traquair? Not at all. He is a chum of the old Earl, and what his particular business happens to be on the present occasion will afterwards appear. In the meantime, as paving the way for Window Willie's interview, we may run over a few particulars concerning the Traquair family. There need be the less ceremony in speaking of them, as all have gone to their rest. The family is extinct, leaving not a shred behind.

The Stewarts of Traquair come first prominently into notice in the reign of Charles I., 1628, when Sir John Stewart of Traquair, Knight, was raised to the peerage as Lord Stewart of Traquair, and shortly afterwards elevated to the dignity of Earl of Traquair, Lord Linton, and Caberston. In looking into history, we cannot discover that this gentleman had a single good quality. Like too many at that period, he was a time-server, devoid of anything like settled principle. In politics and religion he discreetly sided with the uppermost—a Puritan or an Anglican of the Laud type, whichever seemed to promise to pay best.

There is a very curious old book, which few know anything about, called the 'Staggering State of Scots Statesmen, for one hundred years from 1550 to 1650, by Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit.' It was printed from a manuscript in 1754, and is exceedingly rare. This little book is full of amusing gossip about the wretchedly struggling noblemen and officers of state at that unhappy period of Scottish history, during a large portion of which the central ruling authority was in London, and only a delegation of subordinates, who domineered at will, in Edinburgh. These subordinates were needy Scotsmen, of whom for more than a century hardly a good word can be said. They did as they liked, plundered and tyrannised without mercy. The Staggering State gives an awful account of them. Among the whole, none was such an adept at looking to his own interest as the newly created Earl of Traquair. Appointed Lord High Treasurer, he 'managed matters so nimbly' that in a short time he was able, by purchase, to vastly extend the possessions of the family. He also enlarged the old mansion at Traquair, and made a handsome avenue lined with trees as an approach.

When Charles I. got into trouble, the Earl of Traquair for a time stuck to his cause, which in a half-hearted way he afterwards thought fit to desert. The Commonwealth under Cromwell proved a sore trial to every class of home-rulers in Scotland. A stern system of honesty and justice was introduced, at which the native nobility and judges stood aghast. Monopolies were abolished. Free trade was established between England and Scotland. Very hard all this on those who had been pocketing the public money, thriving on monopolies, and selling justice to the highest bidder. Turned out of office, and his estate being sequestrated, the Earl of Traquair was ruined. By some manœuvre, his son Lord Linton had the address to save for himself and his heirs at least a portion of the family property, and was able to keep house at Traquair, while the Earl was exposed to vicissitudes, uncheered by public respect or sympathy. Lord Linton can hardly be acquitted of having acted an unnatural part towards his father. He allowed him to drop into such extreme poverty that he was fain to accept an alms from an old friend, and to dine on a salt herring and an onion. Broken in spirit, he died in 1659; and as evidencing the meanness of his circumstances, it is recorded that at his burial there was no pall, but only a black apron over the coffin.

So ended the first Earl, who though not without the

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