Myself. And why were ye thinking of him? The English hanged him long since, as I have heard say.

David Haggart. I was thinking that I should wish to be like him.

Myself. Do ye mean that ye would wish to be hanged?

David Haggart. I wadna flinch from that, Geordie, if I might be a great man first.

Myself. And wha kens, Davie, how great you may be, even without hanging? Are ye not in the high road of preferment? Are ye not a bauld drummer already? Wha kens how high ye may rise? perhaps to be general, or drum-major.

David Haggart. I hae nae wish to be drum-major; it were nae great things to be like the doited carle, Else-than-gude, as they call him; and, troth, he has nae his name for naething. But I should have nae objection to be a general, and to fight the French and Americans, and win myself a name and a fame like Willie Wallace, and do brave deeds, such as I have been reading about in his story book.

Myself. Ye are a fule, Davie; the story book is full of lies. Wallace, indeed! the wuddie rebel! I have heard my father say that the Duke of Cumberland was worth twenty of Willie Wallace.

David Haggart. Ye had better sae naething agin Willie Wallace, Geordie, for, if ye do, De’il hae me, if I dinna tumble ye doon the craig.

Fine materials in that lad for a hero, you will say. Yes, indeed, for a hero, or for what he afterwards became. In other times, and under other circumstances, he might have made what is generally termed a great man, a patriot, or a conqueror. As it was, the very qualities which might then have pushed him on to fortune and renown were the cause of his ruin. The war over, he fell into evil courses; for his wild heart and ambitious spirit could not brook the sober and quiet pursuits of honest industry.

‘Can an Arabian steed submit to be a vile drudge?’ I cries the fatalist. Nonsense! A man is not an irrational creature, but a reasoning being, and has something within him beyond mere brutal instinct. The greatest victory which a man can achieve is over himself, by which is meant those unruly passions which are not convenient to the time and place. David did not do this; he gave the reins to his wild heart, instead of curbing it, and became a robber, and, alas! alas! he shed blood - under peculiar circumstances, it is true, and without Malice Prepense - and for that blood he eventually died, and justly; for it was that of the warden of a prison from which he was escaping, and whom he slew with one blow of his stalwart arm.

Tamerlane and Haggart! Haggart and Tamerlane! Both these men were robbers, and of low birth, yet one perished on an ignoble scaffold, and the other died emperor of the world. Is this justice? The ends of the two men were widely dissimilar - yet what is the intrinsic difference between them? Very great indeed; the one acted according to his lights and his country, not so the other. Tamerlane was a heathen, and acted according to his lights; he was a robber where all around were robbers, but he became the avenger of God - God’s scourge on unjust kings, on the cruel Bajazet, who had plucked out his own brothers’ eyes; he became to a certain extent the purifier of the East, its regenerator; his equal never was before, nor has it since been seen. Here the wild heart was profitably employed, the wild strength, the teeming brain. Onward, Lame one! Onward, Tamur - lank! Haggart . . . .

But peace to thee, poor David! why should a mortal worm be sitting in judgment over thee? The Mighty and Just One has already judged thee, and perhaps above thou hast received pardon for thy crimes, which could not be pardoned here below; and now that thy feverish existence has closed, and thy once active form become inanimate dust, thy very memory all but forgotten, I will say a few words about thee, a few words soon also to be forgotten. Thou wast the most extraordinary robber that ever lived within the belt of Britain; Scotland rang with thy exploits, and England, too, north of the Humber; strange deeds also didst thou achieve when, fleeing from justice, thou didst find thyself in the Sister Isle; busy wast thou

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