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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


252 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. character of this worthy gentleman ; but it may not be here altogether out of place to reoord an instance of that independence of principle which so much distinguished him in every transaction. Being frequently called to sit as a juryman, and on many of these occasions chosen chancellor, Sir William had occasional opportunities not only of displaying an extensive knowledge of the , laws and constitution of his country, but also of manifesting a spirit sensible of the liberties of the subject, and resolute to maintain them. In a trial on one occasion, for sheep-stealing, the judge on the bench having expressed his dissatisfaction with the verdict of the jury-acquitting the prisoner-& William, with the warmth natural to just feeling, reminded his lordship that “the jury were upon oath-that they had acted accordingly-that they considered themselves as judges of the law as well as of the fact-and that while they sat in judgment they had no superiors ! ” Of SIR JAMES HUNTER BLAIR, the partner of Sir William, a memoir has already been given-(Pu‘o. XXVIII.) place of his concealment was for 8ome time a cave, constructed under the arch of a bridge, at a remote part of the moors of Pitsligo, and the disguise which he assumed was that of a mendicaut. This disguise, though it did not deceive his friends and tenants, saved them from the danger of receiving him in his own person, and served as a protection against soldiers and officers of justice, who were desirous to apprehend him for sake of the price set upon his head. On one occasion he was seized with asthma, just as a patrol of soldiers were coming up behind him. Having no other expedient, he sat down by the road-side, and anxiously waiting their approach, begged alms of the party, and actually received them from a good-natured fellow, who condoled with him at the same time on the severity of his asthma. In this way the romantic adventures and narrow escapes of the old Lord Pitsligo were numerous and interesting. At length, in 1748, the estate having been confiscated and seized upon by Government, the search became less rigorous. His only son, the Master of Pitsligo, had married the daughter of Jsmes Ogilvy of Anchiries, and the house of Auchiries received the proscribed nobleman occasionally under the name of Mr. Brown. The search, however, was frequently renewed ; and on the last occasion his escape was so very singular, that it “made a deep impression at the time, and was long narrated by some of the aotors in it, with those feeliigs of awe which the notion of an approach even ta $he supernatural never fails to produce. “ In March 1766, and of course long after all apprehension of a search had ceased, information having been given to the then commanding officer at Fraserburgh, that Lord Pikiligo was at that moment in the house of Auchries, it waa acted upon with so muoh promptness and secrecy, that the search must have proved successful, but for a very singular occurrence. Mrs. Sophia Donaldson, a lady who lived much with the family, repeatedly dreamed on that particular night that the house was surrounded by soldiers. Her mind became so haunted with the idea, that she got out of bed, and was walking through the room in hopes of giving a different current to her thoughts before she lay down again, when, day beginning to dawn, she accidentally looked out at the window as she passed it in traversing the room, and was astonished at actually observing the figures of soldiers among some trees near the house. So completely had all idea of a search been by that time laid asleep, that she supposed they had come to steal poultry ; Jacobite poultry-yards affording a safe object of pillage for the English soldiers in those days. Under this impression Mrs. Sophia was proceeding to rouse the servants, when her sister, having awaked, and inquiring what was the matter, and being told of soldiers near the house, exclaimed, in great alarm, that she feared they wasted something more than hens 1 She begged Mrs. Sophia to look out at a window on the other side of the house, when not only soldiers were seen in that direction, hut also an officer giving instructions by signals, and frequently putting his fingers ou his lips, &9 if enjoining silence. rousing the family ; and all the haste that could be made was scarcely sufficient to hurry the venerable man from his bed into a amall recefis behind the wainscot of an adjoining room, which was concealed by a bed, in which a lady, Miss Gordon of Towie, who was there on a visit, lay, before the soldiers obtained There was now no time to be lost in’
Volume 8 Page 353
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Volume 8 Page 354
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